Damian Swann is grateful, y’all.
Senior cornerback Damian Swann is a symbol of that turnaround. He struggled last year, and as the veteran cornerstone of the unit, that was a big reason it struggled. But this year, he has three interceptions and two sacks, and last week, he was named SEC defensive player of the week.
Asked how gratifying it is, Swann answered: “Very.”
Then he credited his own hard work, but also Pruitt, for moving him around so much on defense — blitzing from the star position, or playing deep at safety, covering tight ends as well as receivers.
“I’ve received the coaching to put me in those spots, to help me as a player fundamentally,” Swann said. “And that’s what it was all about, getting back to the fundamentals of the game, being able to go out there and play fast. I give a lot of credit to Coach Pruitt with allowing me to play those different spots and do those different things, not being out there on an island all day trying to cover.”
So is Leonard Floyd.
“It’s way more fun because I can trust them,” Floyd said. “Last year, we’d get to third down, I’d be focused on, ‘I hope the secondary can cover everybody.’ But now I’ve got total confidence in them.”
Trust begets confidence. Confidence begets results.
After just seven games, Georgia has already forced more turnovers than last year. Georgia has recovered seven fumbles this year and intercepted 10 passes. Last year, it was eight fumble recoveries and seven interceptions.
As Cory Brinson puts it,
… The defense has gained more game experience, they’re understanding situational football better, and their coach is gaining confidence in them. Want to know how confident he is in them? Just look at the amount of movement going on pre-snap in the defensive secondary. We are rolling down guys as the QB looks away and changing the picture as often as possible. It is really the mark of a good defense when you’re able to add in all those other elements that make you an elite defense. We’re not at that level, yet… but we’re playing like it.
I remember thinking after that 2011 game against Mississippi State – the one when Cornelius Washington went nuts and totally dominated – that it was the first time in several years when I looked forward to the defense stepping on the field. They sustained that for a while, but eventually lost their mojo. I’m crossing my fingers a little, still, but it seems like they’re on the road to getting it back.