Coach Willie Martinez: Is 2009 His Last Season As D-Coordinator?

Wes HoltzclawCorrespondent IAugust 14, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 01:  Defensive coordinator Willie Martinez and Dannell Ellerbe #33 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrate after Ellerbe intercepted the ball against the Hawai'i Warriors during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome on January 1, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Georgia won 41-10. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

After the 2008 season, a majority of Georgia fans were disappointed in how the defense performed, especially in the regular season finale against Georgia Tech.

It seemed as though the defense, after starting out strong, played worse as the season went on.

Was it the embarrassment of the 31-0 first half against Alabama during a “blackout” that started the downward spiral?

Was it the loss of the leadership that DT Jeff Owens provided on the field after he went down with a knee injury during the Georgia Southern game?

Was it the fact that the Dawgs had no defensive ends that even came close to applying pressure to the QB so that the defensive backs could capitalize on their mistakes?

Was it a combination of all three?

One thing is for sure, the defensive did not play up to their abilities in 2008.

Many believe it is because the Dawgs did not hit as much at practice hoping to prevent any further season-ending injuries.

Coach Martinez during his seven years at Georgia has proven that he can coach, both as a defensive backs coach and as the defensive coordinator.

If you look back over his years at Georgia and even Central Michigan, his defenses have been some of the best in the nation.

While he has been at Georgia he has coached players such as All-SEC corner back Tim Jennings, All-American safety Greg Blue, All-SEC corner back DeMario Minter, All-American safety Thomas Davis, All-American safety Sean Jones, and safety Jermaine Phillips.

As the defensive coordinator, Martinez’ 2006 defense ranked No. 8 in the country in total defense and No. 5 in pass defense. His 2005 SEC Championship defense finished No. 8 in the country in scoring defense as well.

As primarily the defensive backs coach, he was part of a defensive staff who coached the 2003 SEC Eastern Division Champs that finished No. 2 in the country in Scoring Defense, No. 4 in Total Defense,and No. 6 in Passing Defense.

He was also part of the 2002 SEC Champions that finished No. 4 in the country in scoring defense, No. 1 in the SEC in Red Zone Defense, and allowed only 31 second half points in the final seven games of the season.

This season he will have senior leadership in DT Jeff Owens, DT Kade Weston, DT Geno Atkins, DE Rodrick Battle, CB Prince Miller, FS Bryan Evans, LB Darius Dewberry, and LB Marcus Washington.

The seniors will want to prove that last season was a fluke and that they are one of the best units in the SEC. Every practice so far in camp you hear of players scooping up fumbles and picking off passes, returning most for touchdowns.

In the first scrimmage of fall camp, DE Roderick Battle recorded 3.5 sacks against the second team offense that is led by QB Logan Gray. Defensive back Shawn Williams also had a fumble return for touchdown on the day.

All I’m asking for is for the Bulldog faithful to give Martinez one more year to prove that last year was a fluke. It won’t take long as the we face a team in Oklahoma State that has a high powered offense led by Zac Robinson and Dez Bryant.

If the defense plays flat once again, then so be it, let's get someone else in there that can get the job done.

But until then, let's pull together and support the man that leads our sacred “Junkyard Dawg” defense. Who knows, with our support maybe 2009 will be a special season that we can all be proud of.