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Let's talk Al Groh and the 3-4 with a Virginian!

Look for a spike in GT sweatshirt sales.
Look for a spike in GT sweatshirt sales.

Al Groh is solidifying himself as a Techie now but there is still quite a bit for us to learn from his time at the University of Virginia. We sent some questions to Brendan From Old Virginia to get some opinions, ideas, and hopefully a story or two.

Let's get to it!

1. Georgia Tech fans are elated to have Al Groh, the defensive coach, on our side and are looking forward to the 3-4 defense. What are your opinions on the 3-4? Did your players struggle to get it right?
Brendan From Ol' VA: I don't think our guys had any special trouble learning the 3-4 - it's not an especially difficult defense to learn.  It's the most complex for linebackers but Groh is a brilliant linebacker coach.
I think it's a very effective defense, but it relies on key personnel more than a 4-3 would.  Linebackers get all the glory, but you have to have an effective nose tackle that can hold the middle of the line in place and hopefully draw a double-team, or else the entire middle of the field is exposed.  Brennan Schmidt and Andrew Hoffman are two of the best examples at UVA.  You can get away with less-athletic guys at ILB, but the OLBs have to be very athletic and able to rush the passer as well as drop into coverage.  Groh loves having a hybrid DE/OLB that will play with his hand on the ground in passing situations (thus making it resemble a more traditional 4-3) and rush the passer.  Think Clint Sintim, Cam Johnson, Darryl Blackstock.
Plus, Groh knows the 3-4 inside and out and whenever he was acting as his own DC, there were a lot of different, more complex blitz packages that were excellent at confusing the offense.  Now that he only has the defense to focus on, GT fans can expect to see some interesting things in that area. 

2. What was the main problem with Groh while he was at Virginia? Did he just have too much to do in addition to working with the defense?
Brendan From Ol' VA: I'll leave out the recruiting limitations UVA places on a head coach and focus on Groh here.  When it came down to it, he didn't know offense like he thought he did and micromanaged his OCs too much.  We haven't had a really effective offense for years.

3. We know about Chris Long and his defensive accomplishments as a Cavalier. Can you tell us of any high profile defensive players that came out from under Al Groh?
Brendan From Ol' VA: Lots.  Groh turned out a lot of defensive NFL talent besides Long.  Most notable is probably Chris Canty, who had a pretty successful run with the Cowboys and plays for the Giants now.  Clint Sintim will probably start for the Giants this year too.  Darryl Blackstock was a sack machine in college but kind of a tweener in the pros; same for Ahmad Brooks.  Haven't heard much from Angelo Crowell lately, because he keeps ending up on IR, but he's done very well for himself in the NFL.  Another linebacker - see a trend?  Fact is, it's mostly linebackers with some defensive linemen, though nobody's been quite on the stature of Long.  And not many defensive backs, either, although Ras-I Dowling counts as one of Groh's and should go early in the '11 draft with a good season next year.

4. Finally, do you know of any stories or random experiences with Al Groh? Personal stories, rumors, or jokes are all welcome!

Brendan From Ol' VA: Get used to the word "circumstance."  Groh-speak in press conferences is awesome, and he has a pretty low reservoir of patience with the media at times.  It's unfortunate that you'll miss out on his sideline interviews since he's not the head coach.  Also, Groh probably has the record for earliest 9/11 joke by a public personality, when just a week after the attacks he was asked about how he felt about flying to Clemson for that weeks game and cracked that he was OK with it since there weren't any Arabs in the traveling party.  There's always potential for crazy hijinx when Groh and the media interact.

Thoughts: EXTREMELY happy to have Al Groh in his element. I know the turkey birds who read this blog always harp that Groh couldn't beat 'em but that was as HC. A DC who is the MAN for the 3-4 should bring a different result. Additionally, two coaches who tell the media exactly what is up??? This is going to be a fun season.

Special thanks to Brendan for working with us. Be on the lookout for some baseball talk when we go to Virginia for a Coastal Division showdown.