2014 Spring Questions
No. 24 - Will Pruitt help Georgia?
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24. Can new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt do for Georgia what he did for Florida State in 2013—and Alabama before that?
Dean Legge, Publisher of DawgPost.com:
Well that's certainly the question, because about the only thing Mark Richt is lacking in his time at Georgia is a national title. Todd Grantham got him about as far as he was going to go in that department, so enter Jeremy Pruitt, who has had limited experience at the college level, but tremendous success in his short time.
The entire point of anything from this point on at Georgia under Richt is to win it all - that was the point of aggressively going after Pruitt. Knowing something could or can happen is totally different than making it happen, and that is was remains to be seen, but there's a fair amount of confidence about the immediate and foreseeable future.
Pete Fiutak: Don't just go by this year. Pruitt is a master recruiter and he's going to be a big help
over the next few seasons for a coaching staff that's already great at bringing in the talent. Of course, Georgia fans want a national title.
However, here's the thing – it's not like Georgia hasn't had a great defense
under Mark Richt.
The 2011 D was dominant, allowing just 277 yards per game and giving up nothing through the air. However, it collapsed against the teams with an actual offense, but the 2007 defense was a killer on the way to an 11-2 season.
There aren't a lot of defensive players gone from the 2013 team, but seven Bulldog defenders were taken in
last year's draft, two were taken in 2012, and a total of 20 have been taken off the board over the last five drafts. What did all that talent do for the 2012 team? Jack squat against the run, and not enough pressure into the backfield when Jarvis Jones wasn't dominating. Injuries were to blame for the problems last year – taking the ball away was like pulling teeth
- and the secondary got torched way too easily. Pruitt can change that.
So maybe a hotshot defensive coordinator really can be that final piece of the puzzle. The East is far easier than the West, so if he can take all the returning talent and change Georgia's defense into a killer that can get into the backfield on a regular basis, then that might be the difference.
Pruitt has the track record, he has the juice, and for a program looking to finally – FINALLY – get its turn on the SEC national champion wheel, he might be the difference between a very good Georgia program and one that can win it all.
Of course, Pruitt doesn't have Jameis Winston on offense and he doesn't have Nick Saban as his head coach. He has a shaky safety situation and he needs his front seven to heal up and attack, attack, attack.
Even with the concerns, of course it was a great move to get Pruitt. Georgia is going to be better because of him.
Rich Cirminiello:A coup. It's the only way to describe Mark Richt's luring of Pruitt out of Tallahassee in January.
It wasn't a coincidence that Pruitt was on the staff of the last three national champions. And Richt knew it. This past year, Pruitt was especially instrumental in Florida State's perfect season, elevating a group that was retooling up front into the nation's stingiest scoring D. Fair or not, the bar will now be set somewhere in the stratosphere for a coordinator who's growing accustomed to pressure-cooker jobs.
Pruitt had access to more talent in 2013 than he will in 2014; in particular, there's no Timmy Jernigan up front or Lamarcus Joyner in the secondary in Athens. But the Dawgs still have a high ceiling, higher than where former coordinator Todd Grantham was able to take the unit the past two seasons. Georgia returns most of last year's regulars, including what could be the SEC's best collection of linebackers.
With Pruitt in charge, the Bulldogs will be better coached, in better shape and generally better prepared to handle the league's more potent offenses. They'll make substantial strides on defense this fall, even if those gains don't reach the level of success that Florida State enjoyed a year ago.
Doug Chapman: If the old adage "numbers don't lie" is in fact true, then the easy answer is yes. During his three years at Alabama he was part of a defense that allowed an average of 10.8 points per game, a total of 53 interceptions, and an average of four measly yards per play while racking up two National Championships.
He then took his talents to FSU, and as Defensive Coordinator he helped the Noles win a BCS championship with a D that finished third in the nation. He implements an attacking, heavy blitzing style that caters to the personnel he has on the roster. He was blessed with superior athletes at Alabama and FSU and there will be no shortage of talent to play with.
Losing key safety Josh Harvey-Clemons stinks – he was suspended for a violation of team rules – but nine of 11 starters return on defense, a healthy Trey Matthews is back, four four-star defensive commits, and five-star DE Lorenzo Carter are part of the incoming class to add an embarrassment of riches for Pruitt to play with. UGA will have one of the SEC's best defenses in 2014.