When Mark Richt hired Todd Grantham, that NFL experience looked pretty good to him.
“I’m excited the search is over, we have our man, and look forward to what Todd will bring to our defense, our team, and our University,” said Richt. “I think it is particularly valuable that he has a wealth of experience on the defensive side of the ball at both the NFL and collegiate levels…”
But he’s singing a different tune these days.
“Coach Pruitt, Coach Rocker, Coach Ekeler and Coach Sherrer, they all coached high school ball and I think it’s good when you have that,” he said. “These guys are used to taking young guys, taking them from ground zero fundamentally and really showing them how to tackle, showing them how to defeat blocks and how to do things fundamentally sound. They’re really good teachers here and they were teachers as well at their earlier schools. And everyone of them was also on a national championship team in college so they all know what it takes to win and because of that I think they have developed a standard of how we’re to operate. This is what we consider maximum effort and we expect that every single play and if you don’t we’ll put somebody else in there…”
Now I don’t think that high school coaches are better as a class at teaching fundamentals than NFL coaches are. But I do think they’re more familiar with teaching fundamentals in a time-constrained setting. There’s less you can do coaching in college than in the pros and that’s a lesson I’m not sure Grantham fully accepted. And that may be what gives me the most hope for an improvement on the defensive side of the ball this season.
“One thing Coach Pruitt said to me in the interview process… that I fell in love with was, ‘If we can’t execute it, I won’t call it in the game.’ So sometimes I think some coaches think the scheme is going to win the game. We’re going to out-scheme everybody. But it’s really the fundamentals that count. You may call the best defense for that situation but if your defense can’t execute it properly, we’ve got issues.
“And so Coach Pruitt is like, ‘Coach, I’m just telling you right now, I’m a pretty simple ball coach and we can do as many things schematically as anybody else in the nation but as we’re installing things and getting the guys used to what we’re doing, if we go into game one and I think there’s something in the game plan that I don’t think we can execute, we just won’t call it. We’ll make sure they know what they’re doing when they’re out there.’ And that will be a big deal for us,” said Richt.
It’s going to be interesting comparing the progression of the Georgia and Louisville defenses this season.