And so the inevitable comparisons have begun.
That was apparent in the first practice when Pruitt got his point across that he wanted things done the right way with technique in a little different way than Todd Grantham, Georgia’s defensive coordinator the past four years who left for Louisville.
“I think he might be a little more meaner than Coach Grantham,” Wilson said. “You better learn it.”
For all the denials about the system’s complexity last year, that’s not what they’re saying now.
It’s just two practices into Pruitt’s tenure as defensive coordinator, but it’s already apparent that he’s doing his best to simply (sic) things. For one, Pruitt said he would last month, and with the onset of spring practice this week, his new players have picked up on it.
“It’s a lot more easy,” senior inside linebacker Ramik Wilson said.
“It gives everybody a chance to be a player,” sophomore safety Quincy Mauger said. “Do what we came here for as a D-1 athlete. Make plays. We don’t have to think a lot about ‘Where do we need to be?’ and ‘What is this guy doing?’ ”
Under former defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, Georgia ran a more complicated scheme, which helped with a proven veteran unit. But it can be the undoing of a young unit, leading to communication problems and players being out of position.
Grantham mostly resisted the idea his schemes were too complicated. He also maintained that last year’s young defense had less thrown at it than the veteran units of 2011 and 2012.
But whatever the case, it was obvious that defenders were confused last year.
“I think that was a problem last year, because we had a lot of younger guys playing who couldn’t pick up on the system as quick as others,” senior nose tackle Mike Thornton said. “So this is gonna help to our advantage a lot.”
Even the attention as a position coach gets noticed.
In his first three seasons, Moore played for defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who oversaw the outside linebackers. Pruitt is Georgia’s first defensive coordinator overseeing the secondary since Willie Martinez in 2009.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Coach Grantham, but Coach Pruitt is more hands-on technique wise,” Moore said. “It’s better for the defensive backs, because we have a defensive coordinator back there who basically knows everything. He’s our coach, and we can ask him any questions.
“I know a lot of coaches are like that, but I think having Coach Pruitt back there with us will be a big plus.”
Now as a sports fan, I’ve always recognized the virtues of KISS. And it’s obvious Pruitt believes in what he’s doing; getting his players to buy into that is the first big step in improving the defense. But I also think Grantham was honest in his insistence that he had dumbed things down last year because of the greenness of his troops, and we saw how much that helped as the season progressed. So while I’m glad to hear the happy talk, I’ll believe Mike Thornton’s right when I see it.
Thornton is entering his fifth year in the program, so he’s in as good a position as anybody to assess how Pruitt’s playbook is different than Grantham’s. The two defensive coordinators come from similar backgrounds, each running a 3-4 base defense, so the plays and schemes are going to be similar.
But the terminology is a bit simpler so far under Pruitt, according to Thornton.
“It’s not a lot of trying to think on the fly, or read keys a little bit quicker than you have to,” Thornton said. “It’s basically he calls a play, we get to it, we make an adjustment, and we just go. We go balls (out).”
Was that what this defense needed?
“Yeah,” Thornton said.
I guess I just found my first G-Day item to watch.