“I know some guys left,” Swann said, “but I want to play for this guy.”

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.

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25 Comments

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25 responses to ““I know some guys left,” Swann said, “but I want to play for this guy.”

  1. Gene Simmons

    It will be refreshing to see the players on the field on the D side who have actually earned their spot and not just the ones favored by the coach. Pruitt seems like the real deal. BRING ON CLEMPSON!

    • It will be refreshing to see the players on the field on the D side who have actually earned their spot and not just the ones favored by the coach.

      Absolutely.
      ~~~

  2. W Cobb Dawg

    What about towel guy, brother Bluto? Is he like D-Day – whereabouts unknown?

  3. Russ

    Saving the best Dawg porn for last. Mmmmmmm!

  4. sUGArdaddy

    Guys, this guy can coach. He immediately, and I mean immediately, turned FSU into early-90s form on D. He learned from the best in T-town. He came to Athens to prove a point…that he could take a perennial under-achieving D with talent in the best league in the land and turn it into a monster. We struck gold, I tells ya…gold.

  5. FarmerDawg

    Grantham was a college professor in an auditorium (smart but unable to articulate the subject matter to the students). Pruitt is a high school teacher or TA in a classroom (also smart but able to take the time to explain and review concepts for complete understanding) . In which of these scenarios will more learning occur?

  6. 69Dawg

    Let us pray. I can’t keep getting disappointed every year. I’m one of those dinosaurs that love to see a great defense. Maybe we can stop the bleeding that has sucked the fun out of the game for me the last 5 or so years.

    • Cojones

      Let us prey.

    • I’m one of those dinosaurs that love to see a great defense. Maybe we can stop the bleeding that has sucked the fun out of the game for me the last 5 or so years.

      Been at least 8 years for me, 69. But hold on, because it just might get fun again. Maybe not right out of the gate, but if not, by mid-season anyway.
      ~~~

  7. AthensHomerDawg

    That was a good post Bluto. Good ending.

  8. Hogbody Spradlin

    Blutarsky sez ‘Jeff Schultz has a good piece’?

    Doth mine eyes deceive me?

  9. Hogbody Spradlin

    I didn’t play much football, but something (maybe wishes) tells me installing a defense doesn’t take as long as an offense.

    I keep saying that if we improve merely to mediocre we’ll be considerably better. I’m getting more optimistic. I think we’ll improve to average.

    • We’ll certainly be at least average, but I suspect much better than that. If it keeps clicking the sky is the limit for this unit.

      I didn’t play much football, but something (maybe wishes) tells me installing a defense doesn’t take as long as an offense.

      It won’t this year.
      ~~~

    • Sh3rl0ck

      It depends on the defense. If you separate the fronts from the coverages (which you should) and keep it kind of vanilla, you can install a defense in 4 days.

      There are a couple of ways to make the defense “complex”. When tallking about Willie Two-Thumbs, the complexity came from the number of pre-snap keys and the changes that were to be made based on those reads. Thinking == hesitation == a slow defense that lacks confidence. His defense seemed to add more reads year after year.

      Grantham’s defense looked like it was really hard to communicate. It was as if he signaled the base front, any changes to the front, the base blitz call, changes to the blitz, the base stunt call, any changes to the base, changes to assignments, the base coverage, and any changes to the coverage. I think that is why the secondary was always waving their arms. They were getting the call when the ball was snapped.

      It looks like Pruitt understands that every defense has a weakness, you make your calls based off of their tendencies, and you use speed to make up for when you guess wrongly.

  10. Scorpio Jones, III

    I think I will like this defense better and better as things progress. I hope I will see defenders not twisting their necks trying to look behind the towel but hitting people.

    These kids, especially in the secondary will get beat now and then, cause sometimes the offense wins, but they’ll get beat, they won’t be, I hope, waving their arms and will be, I hope, moving their feet towards the football with alacrity. (Joe Alacrity, 5-10, 192 from Jesup)

    In college football great defense comes as much from wantin it worse than the other guy as it does from schemes and towel-waving. My suspicion is that the kids who get into the games will let the other guy know they are around. And that is better.

  11. Gotta give Schultz credit, that was a good piece.

    “In college football great defense comes as much from wanting it worse than the other guy as it does from schemes … My suspicion is that the kids who get into the games will let the other guy know they are around. And that is better.

    Sure is, Scorpio. Which is why Swann’s comment was so interesting .. “I want to play for this guy.” I’ve been waiting all year to hear that, because it’s the hallmark of every great coach.

    I’m a defense guy, like 69 and some others here. Offense is great, but there’s nothing like good defense, whether watching it or playing it. And the thing that made Erk Russell one of the best coaches who ever lived, wasn’t the X’s and O’s, or his famed Split-60 Defense, or even the talent of his players.

    What separated Erk was his ability to get everything out of his players. Those guys WANTED TO PLAY FOR HIM. They would run through brick walls for him. They loved him.

    It’s early yet, but what we’re seeing out of Pruitt looks really good.
    ~~~

  12. Goat Balls

    Oh my, comparisons to Erk? Really? Dear God in heaven I hope you’re right. Give me a 7-3 game ending anytime. Now my hopes are too high.

    • I don’t expect to see any 7-3 games, Balls. The game has changed.

      And maybe the Erk analogy was premature. It probably is. And I didn’t mean to compare them, and don’t want to (at least yet). Maybe it’s the contrast from Grantham/Martinez that’s doing it. Like I said, it’s early yet, and we must be patient. And I don’t want to be unfair to Pruitt.

      But there’s been enough, in terms of Erk-like characteristics, for me to have picked up on it. So yeah, I’m both hopeful, and very excited.
      ~~~

      • Scorpio Jones, III

        Look man, we have played shitty defense for so long anybody with big ears looks good to me.

        We’ll know a helluva lot more about the middle of the second quarter of the Clemson game.

        Right now we KNOW nothing. But, you are right about what made Erk Russell a great coach.

        Pruitt does make some Erk-like noises, and right now, that beats the shit out of anything I have seen in the last 20 years.

        I don’t know how Erk Russell would do against the offenses of today, but I can tell you one thing. Erk would not be waving a fucking towel at anybody.

        And his players would most assuredly be letting the other folks know they were around.

        So cross your fingers and toes and pick your hats wisely.

        And hope Pruitt likes Churchill cigars. :)

  13. Chadwick

    Music to my ears. I am looking forward to seeing a defense with all eleven on the same page like BVG’s units were. They should be much improved. Greatly improved if Pruitt and his charges can find a consistent pass rush to give the db’s some breathing room to jell.

  14. sicemdawgs141

    Last time someone stepped up and demanded something from our Defensive great things happened, man i sure miss this guy: