With Pruitt, even the happy talk is serious.

It’s the offseason, when a frustrated Dawg fan’s heart turns to fancy.  We relive last season’s flaws, whether they’re of the tactical, talent, attitude or any other variety that comes to mind, and we grasp at whatever straw we think is the perfect remedy.

We appreciate new straws the most.  Novelty is exciting.  Novelty is promise.  Novelty is hope.  (Not to mention there are only so many times we can be assured that this is the season some flaw is really going to be fixed before tuning out altogether.)

Jeremy Pruitt is this year’s straw, baby.  The question is, how different a straw is he from his predecessor, whom, you may recall, was a pretty hot straw for us, too.  Seth Emerson gets at that some here:

But when Pruitt walked into a team meeting at Georgia in January, minutes after being hired as defensive coordinator, he received a standing ovation. It wasn’t so much for his credentials, though by then many players were aware of them. It was more because he represented a new start, something Georgia’s defense desperately needed.

“A lot of guys probably needed a fresh start,” senior cornerback Damian Swann says.

Before getting into why Pruitt is seen as the right guy at Georgia, it’s important to know the state of the defense — both playing-wise and emotionally — after last season.

Todd Grantham had his good moments in four years as defensive coordinator, especially the first two. He brought a much-needed fire to the defense, which was one of the best in the nation in 2011. But the unit struggled the following season, which was a surprise given all its talent, and last year it struggled even more, crippled by youth and inexperience.

Yeah, there’s that.  But Grantham got plenty of mileage out of Willie Martinez’ failings, too.  So why aren’t we more cynical about what Pruitt’s up to?

I would suggest that one reason is Pruitt appears to have a low tolerance for bullshit.  Some of that can be gleaned from the offseason departures from some of last year’s defensive starters.  There are also stories like this:

… No player on the roster would say Georgia is better off without those guys. However, there has been an increased sense of resolve among the players I spoke to, as you can see here and here. Even the incoming freshmen can tell that there has been a paradigm shift with the new coaches. I overhead this conversation two weeks ago:

Player 1: “Coach [Jeremy] Pruitt doesn’t talk to anybody…”

Player 2: “He hasn’t spoken to Lorenzo [Carter] since he got here.”

It was off the record so I omitted their names. We may never find out if that was a real thing or just an exaggeration. The point is, Pruitt doesn’t appear to be a player’s coach. He is tough, demanding and doesn’t coddle anyone. In the short run, the team has been hurt by transfers and dismissals, In the long run, the team will be strengthened. The players still on the roster keep telling me they love Tracy Rocker, Kevin Sheerer and Mike Ekeler, but I think there is more respect (and a little bit of fear) when it comes to Pruitt.

Now this may turn out to be little more than myth-building.  (Which is not to say that myth-building can’t be an effective motivator.)  But in any event it has a different feel to it than what we’ve been accustomed to for a while.  I’m almost tempted to say it’s VanGorder-esque, except even VanGorder didn’t run players off the way Pruitt’s been willing to as a price for his demands.  (VanGorder wasn’t the recruiter or team player Pruitt has demonstrated himself to be, but that’s a subject for another story.)

I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out.  But I’m not gonna get too crazy about it yet.  I don’t think Pruitt would approve.

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42 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

42 responses to “With Pruitt, even the happy talk is serious.

  1. Spike

    One of his first order of business is to coach up Damien Swann.

  2. About Couch Pruitt:
    1) He lives vicariously through himself.

    2) He once had an awkward moment, just to see how it feels.

    3) His bald head alone has experienced more than a lesser man’s entire body.

    4) When it is raining, it is because he is thinking of something sad.

    5) His shirts never wrinkle.

    6) He is left-handed and right-handed.

    7) If he were to mail a letter without postage, it would still get there.

    8) The police often question him just because they find him interesting.

    9) His blood smells like cologne.

    10) On every continent in the world, there is a sandwich named after him. His hands feel like rich brown suede.

    11) Cuba imports cigars from him. Mosquitos refuse to bite him purely out of respect. In museums, he is allowed to touch the art.

    12) His business card simply says “I can replace you.”

    13) He has won the lifetime achievement award, three times.

    14) If he were to punch you in the face, you would have to fight off the urge to thank him.

    15) He bowls overhand.

    16) He is fluent in all languages, including three that he only speaks.

    17) He tips an astonishing 100%.

    18) Once while sailing around the world, he discovered a short cut.

    19) Panhandlers give him money.

    20) He divorced his wife because he caught her littering. He is remarried but refused to take a honeymoon.

    21) His passport requires no photograph.

    22) When he drives a new car off the lot, it increases in value.

    23) He often replaces Bluto’s posts with his own but no one can tell the difference.

  3. Deutschland Domiciliary Dog

    The O Line is more of a concern than the D.

    Of course, I said the same thing last year.

    • Reipar

      The oline will be a liability but the skill players and bobo can play around that as long they are not forced by game circumstances to become one dimensional. The offense has one short coming. The defense on the other hand fails at all three levels against the passing game. That is major issue and too much to fix in a single season. The hope is can it be improved enough to make a difference.

  4. siskey

    I just want to see the DBs look like they are not confused and if they make one out of every two tackle opportunities, I, will be very excited about our chances.

  5. CannonDawg

    Pruitt is a man on a mission. He doesn’t need the friendship of players. He needs impressive results from yet another high-profile program. That’s what will propel him to his next gig, which I’m sure he expects to be a major head coaching opportunity. Unlike the Smart/Saban arrangement, I’ve never had the sense that he’ll be with us for more than 2-3 seasons, so we’d better ride him while we’ve got him. GATA, Jeremy!

    • Dog in Fla

      “That’s what will propel him to his next gig, which I’m sure he expects to be a major head coaching opportunity. ”

      Not only that, he’s got his very own go-to song

    • adam

      I’m not sure Pruitt will be looking for the next gig as quickly as people thing. Kirby Smart recently said – very publicly, mind you – that he could spend his entire career as a defensive coordinator and be happy with that. Pruitt has never been a head man at any level and I’m not totally sure he wants to be. If we have to pay him 1.5m to keep him as a DC and he proves to be worth it, I hope we do that.

      This staff is MUCH better than the most recent defensive staff we had. I’m of the opinion that good position coaches go a really long way and there’s evidence to support that – our ILB play went way up when Jancek’s guys got coached by Belin and the Olivadotti, our receivers improved dramatically from Eason to Ball, the defensive line improved greatly from Garner to Wilson. This kind of thing happens frequently. Our worst position coaches last year were Lakatos (who was gone even if Grantham, Olivadotti, and Wilson had stayed) and Friend. I’m willing to give Friend a bit of a pass because he’s had essentially a rebuilding job to do and no personal or school reputation to help with recruiting. He’s also only been able to bring in 2 classes and one of those classes JUST got to campus. Our OL has improved from getting beaten by bad teams to occasionally dominating good teams. Maybe this year they take another step forward and we have a good chance at a crazy good OL class with Hardin, Allen, Seymour, and maybe Minshew or Edoga. Pruitt is arguably the best DB coach in the country. Other than Smart, Saban, Travaris Robinson, or the cat from Michigan State, no one else can claim to have recruited and coached on Pruitt’s level in the defensive backfield. I expect huge improvement everywhere on defense. Rocker is a brilliant coach. Sherrer is a surprisingly good recruiter and knows EXACTLY what Pruitt wants. Ekeler is a good coach, is a high energy motivator, and will be a huge asset for our special teams. There’s a lot to be optimistic about. I mean, we replaced half of our coaching staff.

  6. This is all good, but we haven’t played a down yet.

    • Dog in Fla

      Sure, but why get hung up on minor details

      • Cosmic Dawg

        Personally, I will not even be watching the games this season – totally superfluous to the conversation.

    • charlottedawg

      Exactly, anoint the guy as a savior at your own peril.

    • Cojones

      So the Spring Game was a farsical acting job by the D? Even w/o all the receivers in place, the O ran rampant. Was that lack of talent or being poorly coached? While that game costitutes “playing of downs” ,I’ve never reviewed the film and my long-term memories have holes where secondary talent was concerned. Anyone want to fill in my missing links (with deference to DIF)?

  7. Interesting.

    As you guys know, changing the culture has been the number one need in our program for a long time, IMHO. It is so important because it is foundational to everything else. You can’t have a culture of entitlement, laziness, loafing, a lack of discipline and focus, etc., on a big-time CF team and not expect it to show up on the field.

    It’s not as bad now as it has been in the past, but any extent of it is still bad. Does anybody remember the play at the end of the Auburn game last year, when we had them beat, but decided we’d go ahead and risk handing them the game on a silver platter, anyway? That play can be traced straight back to the culture issue. And that is a good example of why it’s foundational.

    Would that play have happened under Pruitt? NO CHANCE. And it wouldn’t have happened under VanGorder, either, IMO.

    The cultural climate Pruitt inherited began under Martinez and flourished. Richt attempted to address it, at least partially and too late, by firing Martinez and making a lot of other changes. He hired Grantham, but for whatever reason, Grantham never did anything about it.

    Richt can’t change who and what he is. He’s an offensive coach, and a player’s coach. Therefore, by definition, his DC has to be the guy who is tough and demanding, but respected, in order to have the proper balance needed on the staff. Maybe even aloof and somewhat distant from his players. And IMO, it’s also important that that coach have integrity, and be totally honest with this players.

    That’s exactly the balance Dooley and Erk had. Erk was the player’s coach, and Dooley was the respected, demanding, and brutally honest disciplinarian. It’s much easier, IMO, when the HC is like that – Saban, Bryant, Dooley, Lombardi, being good examples – because then that role isn’t required of a coordinator.

    But what you can’t have is 100% player’s coaches, since by nature kids will be kids.

    I don’t know what our record will be this year. Or next. But will the cultural change Pruitt brings have a positive impact on our record in the next 3-5 years? I’m confident it will. Will it manifest itself on the field, in terms of the way we play football? Absolutely. It HAS TO. And that is what will make it possible for Richt’s teams to, once again, play for and win our share of championships.

    For me, it would almost be enough, just to be proud once again, of the way the play the game.
    ~~~

    • Dog in Fla

      “Will it manifest itself on the field, in terms of the way we play football? Absolutely. It HAS TO. ”

      No kidding. All one has to do is look at allthegoodnameswereused’s analysis below of the third-person war on culture being waged right now

    • Reipar

      Didn’t we change the culture when we hired our last DC?

      • No. The scheme changed, but not the culture. Grantham even made it worse in some ways, with such things as playing favorites and refusing to sub and play more guys, even after they’d earned the right to play.
        ~~~

  8. “I don’t think Pruitt would approve.”

    Amen. Coach Pruitt isn’t impressed with all this happy talk. Coach Pruitt thinks it’s too early to dole out praise for Coach Pruitt. Coach Pruitt doesn’t think Coach Pruitt has done anything yet. Coach Pruitt is gonna hold Coach Pruitt’s feet to the fire.

  9. W Cobb Dawg

    BVG’s D’s won a lot of games for us and always were near the top nationally. Sure hope CJP can do as well or better. But I think calling him a better coach, recruiter, or team player is a stretch before his first game as our DC. BVG was much better than some folks give him credit for. Our D hasn’t been the same since he left.

    • But I think calling him a better coach, recruiter, or team player is a stretch before his first game as our DC. BVG was much better than some folks give him credit for.

      I haven’t seen that POV, but I certainly agree with you. Pruitt is a breath of fresh air to me, but whether he’s a better DC than VanGorder remains to be seen.

      BVG was a heckuva gameday coach, too. He could adjust as well as anybody I’ve ever seen. And nobody was better at preparation. Both himself, and preparing his defense for the game. He would present the defensive game plan to his defense, in detail, without notes.

      An outstanding defensive mind.
      ~~~

  10. MykieSee

    Ya’ll need to slow down. I done ’bout drunk up all my Koolaid.

  11. Derek

    We’ve been soft for far too long. It’s time we start playing with an edge about us again. Say what you will about van gorder, our defense was putting some fear into people when he was here. That intimidation factor is something we need to revive. Simplicity can allow needed aggression to be realized. Stop thinking and start hitting!!!

    • +1.

      Say what you will about Van Gorder, our defense was putting some fear into people when he was here. That intimidation factor is something we need to revive.

      Exactly right. It seems simpleton, but there’s a lot to be said for that. Though it can be so very complex around the edges, in the end it’s still football.
      ~~~

  12. Dawg Stephen

    Sharks have a week devoted to CJP

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