A not so defensive defense

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.


Filed under Georgia Football

12 responses to “A not so defensive defense

  1. Merk

    I think Pruitt is pushing them and if this D success continues into next year, will we have to say the hiring Pruitt was Richt’s best coaching move of his career?


  2. AlphaDawg

    I love how this defense is coming together. I hope GM opens the bank for Pruitt because there’s gonna be some good headcoaching jobs opening up after the seasons and Pruitt is gonna be on the short list candidates for most all of them.


    • Beer Money

      This will be the case every year. It’s kind of like the deal with having elite players leave early for the draft. Would you rather have mediocre talent/coaching that stays as long as they can or elite talent/coaching that is a hot commodity but only sticks around a short while. I’ll take my chances with the latter and let Georgia Tech fiddle fart around with the former.


      • W Cobb Dawg

        If CJP leaves for a top head coaching job there’s not much we can do. When CMR assistants have left, the vast majority have taken lateral moves. We need to open the wallet to make sure CJP & these other good assistants stick around for a while. This is a good staff. We shouldn’t be outbid for good assistants.


  3. CannonDawg

    While it was tempting at the start of the season to hope for an immediate Big Bang transformation with the defense, one could argue that at seven games in, something akin to a Big Bang has indeed actually occurred, albeit more steadily than suddenly. If we see the same rate of improvement in the last half of the season that we’ve seen in the first, we will indeed be witnessing an elite defense that can keep us in any game.

    The teaching of fundamentals was what we expected (hoped) of Pruitt and Co., and the results are impressive. Turnovers, points allowed, 3rd down efficiency, and field position have all shifted to positive values. This team has shown an unselfishness and resiliency about it that is both refreshing and encouraging.

    I’ve got my fingers crossed also, Senator, but not nearly as tightly as before this road march began. I think we just might be okay with this Pruitt guy.


    • Will (The Other One)

      The really exciting thing is thinking about potential in year 2 and (hopefully) 3 with Pruitt. We’re getting great improvement with almost zero quality depth in the secondary, and while there is depth in the front seven, no real experience. Next year and 2016? Those issues will be gone, and Pruitt’s recruiting plus coaching could have us in “Top 5 D” territory.


    • +1.

      I think we just might be okay with this Pruitt guy.

      Yeah, I’ve thought so since February. But we had to see it in games, and it’s satisfying when that actually happens.

      Even during the first 4-5 games, when things looked bad and the results were more Grantham-like, there were hard signs that everything was different, as we talked about at the time. You could see it coming. We were actually improving.

      Not that we’ve arrived. I’m somewhat concerned that the defense is feeling a little too good about itself (they’re kinda talking that way). This is uncharted territory for all our players.

      But that’s where coaching comes in. There’s a fine line you can’t cross, and Pruitt knows where that line is. I trust him to handle all that. He hasn’t let us down yet.


  4. Scorpio Jones, III

    I really appreciate Cory Brinson’s efforts to help us understand things. He stays up late working on it, too. HT Cory!!!!

    Florida’s freshman QB presents a different set of problems for Pruitt to deal with…I guess Mauk would be closer than Allen…gonna be interesting.

    I HOPE interesting is the right word. Is it really just Tuesday?


  5. Macallanlover

    The remarkable turnaround in TO margin is very impressive, and while the offense is a factor in this too, the big change is on the defensive side. To add another proof source, look at the dramatic change in FSU’s numbers from last year to now. I heard a stat this past week that FSU was first or second in TO margin last year, and bottom 25% this season.

    Still think we have to improve more on pass defense to make it to Atlanta and compete there but the improvement from the first few games to the last two is very noticeable.


  6. McTyre

    Indeed a great turnaround on D. Educated fans also recognize that good offense (getting leads, limited 3-and-outs, limited turnovers) and ST.


  7. Bad M

    While I’m greatly encouraged I’m going to be that guy and try to slow the roll a little. Missouri has a terrible offense and Arky hasn’t won an SEC game in a while so the sample size is pretty small. They are still young, still a little green, and not very deep.

    But what he’s done with so many pieces gone at the beginning of the year (the best thing Grantham was supposed to have left us with was lots of youth with experience) I am in shock at how they play. The take-aways. The run stopping. The pressure. I don’t even mind the pass interference calls because that means they aren’t giving them the “receiver’s protective halo” we all know and love. GATA!


  8. sniffer

    When I hear Munson in my head, I am reminded that UF is starting a true freshman quarterback against us. What’d the over\ under on key mistakes that change the game in our favor? 2?

    Their defense will be tough till the depth runs out but I can’t see that offense doing much to hurt us, for 60 minutes…