Jeff Schultz has a good piece on how Georgia’s defensive players – at least the ones who are still in Athens – have taken the transition from Todd Grantham to Jeremy Pruitt. In a nutshell,
Returning defensive players — those who haven’t already been dismissed from the program or left because their feelings were hurt — seem to speak in ways about Pruitt that they never did about Grantham. There’s reverence, respect, a belief in their coach. Before, it seemed more focused on whether their coach was their pal and played to their ego.
Defensive back Damian Swann said Pruitt brings something to Georgia that was missing under Grantham:
“The demand. He tells you what he wants, and he demands it. And I don’t mean that in a bad way — he shows you. He’s an excellent teacher.”
Linebacker Jordan Jenkins referred to Grantham, now at Louisville, as “an NFL coach.” It wasn’t meant as a compliment.
“He’s good with guys who aren’t wrong,” Jenkins said. “But young guys would get confused (at his scheme). I just feel like we all are going to understand things a lot more now. I was in a meeting today when he was going over a play, and coach Pruitt said, ‘Now, don’t not listen to me about this play just because it doesn’t relate to your position. Knowing this will help you understand the defense.’
“While he was speaking, I kept picturing myself in a similar situation last year where if I understood the principle better I could’ve made a play. I got goose bumps just thinking about it. Really, I got goose bumps.”
Hell, that last comment by Jenkins gives me goose bumps. And it feeds into this observation from Pruitt:
I asked Pruitt what struck him most when he first watched game film from last season.
“Inconsistency,” he said. “There’s one quarter when they don’t give up any points and the next quarter when they give up 21. What was different? Sure, the other team is going to make plays, but once they do you can’t duck your head, you have to keep fighting and make plays.”
Ain’t that the troof.
There’s talent. There’s been talent. There have been plenty of smart coaches. That hasn’t been the problem. I wrote a few years ago about how the issue with the defense under Martinez was a complete breakdown in faith – the coaches didn’t trust the players to make plays and the players didn’t trust the coaches’ calls. That wasn’t last year’s problem. Under Grantham, the players didn’t trust themselves and there wasn’t a transcendent talent like Jarvis Jones to bail everyone out.
Job number one for Pruitt is to restore a level of player confidence that eliminates inconsistency. We joke about last season’s pre-snap frantic hand waving, but the only people who will be more relieved than us to see that gone will be the players themselves.