Notebook: Grantham calls goal-line stand best he’s seen

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Defensive lineman Luke Ancrum and the rest of the Florida defense stuff Georgia running back D'Andre Swift at the goal line Saturday at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. [Brad McClenny/Staff photographer]

Veteran defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has witnessed many goal-line stands over the course of his coaching career. The one his Florida defensive players put together last Saturday in Jacksonville ranks above all the others.

“That’s probably the greatest goal-line stand I’ve ever been a part of,” he said. “I was really proud of it. It really says a lot about the attitude of our players. It talks about their belief in what we’re doing, their belief in each other and really it kind of goes back to that game from a standpoint of ‘I really liked our effort, I liked the way we played.’

“When you face a talented team like that, you gotta be exact in your fundamentals and what you’re doing. The biggest thing is, you’ve got to give that kind of effort.

“Anytime you have a blade of grass to defend, you’ve got to continue to defend it. And you got to trust the guys beside you are going do their jobs. I was really proud of that effort, made sure they knew that and we’ve just got to continue to play every snap like that.”

After quarterback Feleipe Franks lost a fumble on UF’s 1-yard line late in the third quarter, the Florida defense kept the Bulldogs out of the end zone for six consecutive plays and forced Georgia to settle for a field goal.

The Gators appeared to have the Bulldogs stopped in three downs, but a pass interference call in the end zone on C.J. McWilliams on third down gave UGA another set of downs.

It didn’t matter. The Gators stuffed the ’Dogs on three consecutive running plays.

The stand is something the Gators can build on, Grantham said.

“Oh, absolutely,” he said. “It shows the attitude of our players. It shows the commitment of our players. It shows the belief in us and in themselves and in the people around them.

“You know, that hey, ‘I’m going to do my job, because I know if I’m in this gap, I got somebody inside of me in their gap, somebody outside of me in their gap and we’re going to knock this back and we’re going to play as a team.’ The biggest thing I got from that is we played as a team. And if you do that, you’re going to be good.”

Staying at star

With the lack of depth at cornerback, there’s been speculation that starting star/nickel Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, a former corner, could move to cornerback if needed.

Grantham said that’s not going to happen.

“When you play the star position, it’s a combination of corner, safety, you have to have some size, physicality to you,” Grantham said. “You got to be able when you blitz to affect the quarterback a little bit.

“With his skill set and all the things that he does, he makes plays there and he can play fast and it’s best suited to him. It kind of goes back to the adage, if you move him from that spot to another spot now you’ve made two spots worse. So, let’s keep him where he is and let him continue to play and we’ll work to correct other issues if we have them.”

Trending in recruiting?

Florida’s success on the field in Dan Mullen’s first season also could lead to success on the recruiting trail.

“Guess we’ll find out in mid-December and early February,” Mullen said. “I think there’s a lot of interest in our program right now. I think a lot of young players around the country are looking and saying, ‘Hey, Florida is going to be back and competing for championships in the very, very near future.’

“When you combine that with the history and tradition here, the opportunity to play in The Swamp, to be a Florida Gator, and the academics that are second to none in the SEC and really in the South, combine that all together and it’s certainly sparking a lot of interest from players.

“But we’ll see how that pans out not just on signing day, but two, three years down the road in not just getting top players, but the right guys, and their performance on the field.”

34 COMMENTS

  1. The goal line stand gave me chills (the best series of defensive plays I have ever seen by any team ever), and especially after the horrible interference call against McWilliams gave Georgia four more downs to get a short-yardage score. But, Grantham, please tell Joseph and Gardner-Johnson that they cannot just ignore tight ends coming out of the backfield over and over again. And, coach, “third and Grantham” raised its ugly head again v. Georgia big time. The inability of Florida (and Grantham’s defense) to get off the field on third down was a major factor, other than the turnovers and Franks poor play, in the loss to Georgia. And I did not see a lot of adjustments to Georgia keeping their TEs in to help block Zuinga and Polite off the edge. LSU went to zone defenses when Georgia did that. Florida stayed mostly in one on one coverages which resulted in wide open Georgia receivers when the DEs and blitzing LBs could not get to Fromm due to those TEs remaining in to block (sometimes two TEs).

    • I don’t know if we can really classify what happened in that game under the “third and Grantham” moniker. I think that was more a result of “third and 4th string secondary”. Kind’ve hard for any coach to overcome losing that many starters to one position group. I think Grantham was kind’ve handcuffed and had to dial back a lot of the exotic packages he likes to use because of the lack of experience in the secondary.

      • 5 times, Georgia had third and long in the game. Five times, Georgia got a first down on the next play, or a touchdown. It is what it is. Grantham’s history at Georgia, Louisville, MSU, and now Florida. And especially true in big games.

        • Which was a direct result of the depleted secondary. Coming into the game, they were one of the best defenses in the country on 3rd down. LSU only managed to covert 4-17 in those situations. MSU was 5-14. Grantham’s attacking style of defense is only as good as the talent he has, and that’s been proven at every stop he’s been at. It’s been proven here as well. In the 2 losses, the defense was very pedestrian, but also happened to be missing some very key players. I’m sure if you take Bama’s best defensive players away, they’ll struggle on defense as well.

          • Stiner has been the starting safety for most of the year. Georgia was missing two starters on their OL but they still executed their offense and blocked people. Actually, they blocked extremely well. We need to stop making excuses, both the Florida fans and the players, if Florida and Gator Nation wants a championship program again.

          • It’s not.. just.. an excuse. The secondary has been demolished and that lead DIRECTLY to a lot of these 3rd and long completions. McWilliams himself gave up two TDs on 3rd downs. As for UGA injuries, obviously, their depth far outshines UF. Even with that said, the UF secondary was down a lot more than simply 2 players. Even UGA, with it’s depth, would start having problems after they lose 4-5 players from a position group — rather than one.

            Stop calling legitimate issues “excuses” and please continue to use your perspective Gator fans. It sucks to lose a winnable game but the fact that it WAS a winnable game, that we already have bowl eligibility despite fears that we may miss a bowl this year, and that this team can potentially play it’s way into a New Year’s bowl game and 10-11 wins is mind blowing. Do not forget to let your mind get blown.

          • Damnit I used “it’s” incorrectly. I blame TampaGator.

            Also, I meant “rather than two” in the end of the first paragraph.

            I will try to proof BEFORE I hit Submit next time…

          • Come on Tampa we all know this isn’t a championship roster and knew going into the season that the secondary was extremely thin and any injury to that group would be devastating, and we’ve had about 4 or 5 players missing between injuries and suspensions. It’s actually more surprising they’ve done as well as they have and didn’t get exposed sooner. Yeah Stiner made a few mistakes, but the biggest issue was McWiliams, who gave up 2 third down TDs. Comparing a couple of backup o lineman on UGA’s loaded with 5*’s roster is not the best comparison. It’s not making excuses, it’s a reality. This team can’t afford to lose anyone cause they’re lacking depth on offense and defense and UGA isn’t plain and simple.

    • Against Mizzou, maybe the Gators need to try to allow the Tigers to get just enough yards on 1st and 2nd down to entice them into running the ball on 3rd down. Seems the Gator D, at present, is better able to hold on 3rd and 1 than 3rd and 15. I agree with Joe, though, that this is probably more of a personnel problem than a scheme problem.

    • If you play zone defense against Fromm, you better have a great secondary. Backups without lots game experience could easily get torched. LSU’s secondary at this point is much more experienced (and better right now) than UF’s. Gators are a man coached team, and sometimes you just get beat.

    • I always thought the goal line stand in the ’84 Ga game couldn’t be topped but this one was the best. The DEs were awesome running the backs down from behind. If only we’d had another Bell to Nattiel play right after that.

  2. While the Gator ‘D’ goal line stand against Georgia was a great one, and will even end up in Gator folklore, it wasn’t a ”game winning defensive stand” like the L.S.U game was a few year back in ‘”Death Valley.”
    But more importantly, D.C. Grantham needs to pay attention to opposing teams utilizing the ”Coach Spurrier idea.” Run the same dang pass play (like U.G.A. used the same pass play to the T.E. in the closing seconds of the 1st half) UNTIL THE OTHER TEAM CAN STOP IT! And it worked, as strangely as it was for U.G.A. to use it against Florida’s ‘D’. Ironically though, few O.C.s implement that ”philosophy” anymore. But my real point is that Grantham’s defense on ”3rd and long” is in serious need of attention, in my opinion. It’s ranked near last in the S.E.C. for 3rd down defensive stands, and 65th in the nation. U.F. is presently trailing MIZZOU, CAROLINA, and even FLORIDA STATE (teams yet to play) in 3rd down ‘D’ stands. So, ”Come on Gators, get up and go!”

  3. That was the stuff of legends and a great sign moving forward as there was no quit, even when the crooked official tried to cheat the stand away and hand UGA a touchdown, the players didn’t let that stop them. The third down stuff is disappointing, especially third and long, and I believe we gave up three touchdowns on third down. However, I have been very happy overall with the play of the defense and the style. It will keep getting better with time.

  4. Great goal line defense. Kirby thought he would blow our Gators off the line and walk his puppy in for the score. I guess we showed him whose the baddest; right? I can only imagine what criticism he would have gotten for his play calling on that series (x2+) if he had lost the game…haha! Back to our defensive schemes! Blitzing, blitzing, and more blitzing…great idea unless you lose the element of surprise. Don’t think it can be your every down play. I like Grantham, but he has to rethink his philosophy on this if he really wants to become a GREAT DEFENSIVE coach. He needs more counter defensive schemes for different situations. You can’t give up pass coverage and pray you will get to the qb before he can get his pass off; especially if they can predict your play actions or calling…Go Gators!

  5. The goal line stand was awesome, but hard to overlook that our gators allowed 430 yards of BALANCED offense to the leg humpers. An offense that looked confused and mediocre in B Rouge came out with fireworks. I know we were depleted in areas, but good grief….

  6. I understand the situation last Saturday with a depleted secondary, some young guys on the field who likely were worn down for lack of substitution. Grantham does have a history of giving up such third down conversions, however. It reminded me of the Les Miles offense when LSU converted five fourth downs to come back and beat the Gators. Recruiting more DBs will help. More immediately we must get back Henderson and Stewart.

    I saw a Georgia Tech goal line stand when I was a kid over 50 years ago to defeat a Doug Dickey-coached Tennessee team. It made such an impression I can still recall some of the players’ names. This one by our
    Gators is the best I’ve ever witnessed. The stand against LSU a couple years back ranks second.

  7. The best goal line stand I’ve ever seen also. Previous to that was the stand we made against FSU back when they were good. I think it was a Gator win of 9 to 7 or some really low score game. I’m sure some of you remember that game.
    Tampa, you should text Mullen/Grantham with your insight, he probably doesn’t read this board.

  8. I have never seen anything like our goal line stand either in college or the pros, period.
    I hope we use that video for recruiting films, football documentaries and SEC promos. It will never be duplicated, except, maybe by another Gator team.
    Sure, there are many things to tweak and improve, but one thing that can never be improved was the heart, hustle and technique displayed in that goal line stand. No brag, just fact.

  9. The Orange and Blue will come out Saturday clicking on all cylinders. Now that Felipe is out of contention for the Heisman; look for Captain Mullen to rotate Felipe and the young gun Emory Jones this week. Just like the Head Ball Coach did in the Glory days; Dr. Grantham will take the defensive backs to Gatorland. Having them wrestle real Alligators to make them tougher and quicker when it comes to defending the pass. 😉

  10. I can’t get a better goal line stand by anyone. I remember LSU but also we needed one I think against Oklahoma in the national championship game. I think. We had some talented guy that could only stay out of trouble for that one game.
    Hopefully the guy Stewart will only be in trouble for one game.