The outlook for a Georgia Bulldog defense in desperate need of development took a major step backward as a position coach stepped down on Thursday evening. Secondary coach Scott Lakatos' resignation makes defensive improvements unlikely for a unit that ranked 10th in the SEC in points allowed in 2013.
We are very appreciative of Scott's contributions to our program over the last four years and I have a great amount of respect for him as a coach and as a person. We wish him and his family nothing but the best.
Lakatos was criticized much of the 2013 season thanks in no small part to the Dawgs' poor performance against the pass, which was highlighted by Auburn's miraculous go-ahead score in November and a 99-yard touchdown pass by Nebraska last week in the Gator Bowl. Nonetheless, he found success in the first three years of his tenure in Athens.
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More Bad News for Georgia's Defense
Which facet of Lakatos' departure concerns you the most?
His departure comes laced with bad news for the Bulldogs. With national signing day just a few weeks away, this undoubtedly damages Georgia's chances at landing in-limbo defensive back recruits like Wesley Green. Furthermore, Richt and athletic director Greg McGarity are now tasked with the inauspicious decision of either rushing to find a replacement to offer stability to recruits or waiting to tab a new assistant after a more thorough search.
Lakatos' absence does not bode well for defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, either. Grantham arrived in 2010 and quickly assembled a staff that included just one holdover (Rodney Garner, now with Auburn) from the previous regime. Four years later, the entirety of that group is gone, leaving Grantham as the lone survivor.
Once a new hire is made, Grantham, whose performance has been questioned regularly since a stellar 2011 campaign, will face the daunting task of getting yet another assistant up to speed with terminology, strategy and coaching methods.
Such a transition will require more than a mere crash course. As the young 2013 Bulldog defense demonstrated, Grantham's 3-4 scheme is not the easiest to master. Even Georgia's most talented defensive backs were consistently out of position, allowing for big plays in the passing game time and time again.
Georgia returns a wealth of talent in the defensive backfield. Unfortunately, that star-studded cast has yet to produce a consistent on-field product. As Mark Richt stressed to Seth Emerson of the Macon Telegraph in early December, stability was something needed within the Bulldog coaching staff. "Continuity," Richt said, "is a good thing for Georgia."
Now, the defensive unit most in need of the continual progress that a returning coach brings is awaiting another transition.
Scott Lakatos was keenly aware of the strengths and weaknesses of players like Damian Swann, Shaq Wiggins, Tray Matthews and Josh Harvey-Clemons. A new coach will have to spend valuable time learning these nuances.
Lakatos was, at least in theory, poised to groom his unit into the next generation of Dawg defender. After all, he'd already helped the likes of Brandon Boykin, Sanders Commings, Bacarri Rambo and Shawn Williams thrive in the Grantham's defensive system and earn spots in the NFL.
The next man, no matter how good he may be, has a deck stacked against him as he enters into a job as an assistant to a coordinator whose seat is hot and with players who remain unproven.
That kind of pressure does not necessarily yield success. It certainly did not for Lakatos in 2013.
The 2014 defense was supposed to be much improved as 10 returning starters continued their development. Instead, Georgia Bulldog fans will never know what might have come from continuity.