Tag Archives: Jeremy Pruitt

Another reason to love Jeremy Pruitt

Sporting News ranks the top ten recruiters in the SEC nation and has this to say about Pruitt, its number two guy:

Why he’s here: Pruitt won 247Sports’ recruiter of the year award in 2012 and 2013 with Alabama and then Florida State, and now he’s piling up the commitments at Georgia. Some of his biggest recruits over the years include Derrick Henry, Jalen Ramsey, T.J. Yeldon and C.J. Mosley. Pruitt’s current list of pledges for 2015 isn’t up to his usual standard, but it still boasts a handful of four-star players.

Shit, if this is an off-year for Pruitt, I can’t wait to see what he accomplishes when he really gets rolling.

By the way, I don’t remember seeing Grantham’s name gracing too many of these kinds of lists.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

The couple that recruits together…

Interesting note in this post at The Lady Sportswriter about Donte Jackson’s official visit to Athens:

“I liked everything and it was really just a good visit,” Jackson said. “I liked the coaches and being around them all together and the players made it feel real comfortable.”

A couple of people who took that comfort level to another step was defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and his wife.

“He was fun and I got to spend a lot of quality time with him and his wife,” explained Jackson. “They really showed a lot of love and talked about how much they liked it there.” (Sonny Shipp, 247Sports)

Sounds like she’s all in.  Of course, FSU folks would probably claim it’s just another way for her to keep an eye on her man, right?

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

The Pruitt effect

Georgia’s latest verbal commitment was impressed with the crowd at the Georgia Tech game, but he was even more impressed by something else:

The atmosphere was a factor, but Briscoe said the most impressive part of Georgia’s pitch was Coach Mark Richt’s commitment to building a championship-caliber staff.

Defensive Coordinator Jeremy Pruitt won three national championships as a coordinator at Florida State in 2013 and a defensive backfield coach at Alabama in 2011 and 2012. Pruitt’s position group produced two first-round picks in the 2011 NFL Draft in safety Mark Barron and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. Georgia also tapped Alabama for Mark Hocke, whom the school announced as Director of Strength and Conditioning on Dec. 21.

“I want to be coached to my best ability,” Briscoe said. “Going after guys like that, that have won national championships, it’s pretty special.”

Briscoe said Pruitt stressed the opportunities available for a deep class of defensive backs to contribute as true freshmen.

There is something about the intensity of this year’s approach to recruiting that is different from what we’ve seen before.  And it’s having an effect.

Georgia retakes the No. 1 spot from Alabama, which had taken the national lead from the Bulldogs. Mark Richt’s program has never been a highly ranked in recruiting rankings as they are currently. In fact, in the past five years Richt’s program has averaged a 5th-place finish in recruiting rankings in the SEC.

Yeah, yeah, I know all the usual caveats apply about getting the horses in the barn first.  But this isn’t a post about prematurely counting chickens.  It’s about what Pruitt has brought to this program in less than one year.

  • Coaching.  Nationally, Georgia is currently 16th in defensive scoring, 5th in passing defense, 20th in total defense and 16th in takeaways.  All of those are significant improvements over the 2013 results.  When you consider all the departures on that side of the ball and what Pruitt had to work with this season, that’s little short of miraculous.
  • Recruiting.  See above.  There’s little question how much more aggressive Georgia appears on the recruiting trail than in years past.  And it’s not as if the pre-Pruitt staff had a bunch of slackers on it.  These guys are challenging and they’re doing it everywhere.  They’ve locked down most of the top prospects in state even as a significant part of this upcoming class will come from outside Georgia.
  • Attitude.  You don’t have to scream on the sidelines to have an edge.  He’s not the most diplomatic of people – bitching about how the lack of an IPF is affecting recruiting while you’re bringing in what looks to be Georgia’s deepest class ever is certainly nervy – but he’s got a clear vision of what he wants and isn’t afraid to make that known.  That approach seems to be rubbing off on Mark Richt, too.

We were excited when the announcement came about Pruitt joining the staff because of his track record on the field at FSU and Alabama.  But I don’t think anyone expected the total package he’s brought.  I just wonder about how this holds together.  I’m not one to say he’s always right, but it’s clear Pruitt’s motivated by a desire to get what he thinks is best for the program’s success, damn the consequences.  Let’s just say that while that may be an attitude appreciated in many places, it’s a big time culture clash in Athens.  Something’s bound to give, no?

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Filed under Georgia Football

Why I’m excited about the defense. No, really.

This started out as a bullet point in my last “Observations” post for the season (it’s coming, it’s coming!), but I wound up fleshing it out so much it deserves to stand as a post on its own.

The Belk Bowl offered a contrast in defensive coordinators that we all watched closely.  But the lessons to take away from the game shouldn’t be the element of revenge or Todd Grantham’s personality (not that those weren’t entertaining as hell), but what we saw happen on the field.  And what I saw makes me think things are getting better for Georgia’s defense.

Both Grantham and Pruitt run similar base formations.  And both change those base formations when they’re faced with passing attacks that spread the field of play.  But their underlying philosophies are different.  Grantham told us from the day he walked in the door that his primary goal was to disrupt the line of scrimmage and pressure the quarterback.  That’s been no secret.  And if you watch his defenses play, that’s what he does.  It’s what he did in the bowl game.

It’s a high-risk, high-reward strategy.  When it works – think about times like the first half of the 2011 SECCG or the mad comeback in the fourth quarter of the 2013 Auburn game – it can be devastating on an offense. But when it doesn’t, things can turn spectacularly ugly.  It also puts a tremendous amount of pressure on whoever’s playing behind the front to cover for those times when the line of scrimmage isn’t disrupted.

That’s not what Pruitt’s about.  Oh sure, there’s certainly an element of pressure to what he does and he’s as creative with his blitz packages as Grantham, but that’s not where his focus starts.  Pruitt’s main goal is not giving up the big play.  That may leave a defense of his susceptible to giving up steady bites of yardage, but it’s rarely going to get creamed.  Maybe the explanation is as simple as one guy being a front-oriented coach and the other being a back-oriented coach.  But the difference is there.  And it played out that way in the bowl game.

Against Georgia, Louisville’s longest play from scrimmage went for 29 yards.  It came during a non-scoring drive.  Georgia had five plays longer than that – plays of 30, 31, 32, 44 and 82 yards.  All led to scores.

It was funny to see the insistence by folks on Louisville message boards and blog comment threads about the number of short running plays Georgia had and how that was evidence Grantham’s defense worked.  (Even Richt said something about all the short gains in the running game.)  But read Lilly’s comment in the Quote of the Day – Georgia knew exactly what it was doing by being patient against Grantham and the Louisville defense.  It paid off.

Pruitt’s base alignment may be different from, say, Brian VanGorder’s, but his philosophy comes straight out of the same Bend, But Don’t Break 101 course.  And I would argue it’s better aligned with the traditional strength of the Georgia program, which is focused on bringing in upper-tier high school talent in its recruiting.  There is a value to having someone who can scheme around green talent in the secondary when you’re likely to have that kind of talent routinely flowing through.  I know Georgia’s had to pull in a few JUCO kids (along with a UAB refugee) in Pruitt’s two recruiting class, but that’s to address some short-term roster deficiencies.  I expect over the next few years that Georgia will chase fewer and fewer JUCO players.  I expect Louisville will do the opposite – and that’s not meant as criticism.  Grantham’s approach puts a premium on defensive players who can walk in and play college ball without too much polishing.  (It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that’s another reason he switched schools.)

If you want a poster boy to illustrate my point here, look no further than Quincy Mauger.  I know Swann’s gotten most of the attention for how much his game improved with the coaching change, and it’s deserved.  But what Pruitt’s done to make Mauger not just functional, but a true contributor on defense, after a horrific 2013 season in which Mauger looked lost even for a true freshman, is remarkable.  It was Quincy Mauger in last season’s bowl game who didn’t maintain position as the deep safety and then failed to wrap up a tackle on that obscenity of a 99-yard TD completion.  The other night, it was Louisville’s safety who was out of position on a 44-yard TD pass to Chris Conley.  Mauger, in the meantime, was the kid making tackles and performing well in pass coverage.

They’ve got potential.

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Filed under Georgia Football

“He’s one of the smartest coaches I’ve ever seen.”

Tell the truth, everyone.  After that offseason, did you expect Georgia to finish the 2014 regular season ranked second nationally in pass yards allowed per game?

Sure, Pruitt’s got a ways to go to get that defense to a place we’d prefer, but you’ve got to admit he’s flashed the potential to get it there.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Defense is getting buttah and buttah.

Giving the devil his due, it’s fair to say that Todd Grantham is having a helluva year as Louisville’s defensive coordinator.  Just because I’m surprised doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve credit.  (In fact, you could make a good case that he’s earned his million dollar paycheck more than his boss has.)

But as a Georgia fan, that’s not very important to me.  What is important is how the job Jeremy Pruitt is doing this year compares to what Grantham turned in on that front last season.  And from that perspective, it’s no contest.  Pruitt is crushing Grantham.

… Below are the major defensive categories with their averages as well as their national ranking. The first number is the 2013 Grantham defense and the second is the 2014 Pruitt Defense. I have placed the better statistic in bold.

  • Points Per Game: 29 (79th) / 20 (19th)

  • Yards Allowed Per Game: 375 (45th) / 320 (16th)

  • Rush Yards Allowed Per Game: 148 (43rd) / 105 (16th)

  • Pass Yards Allowed Per Game: 227 (59th) / 215 (46th)

  • Interceptions: 7 ALL YEAR (109th) / 10 THROUGH 7 GAMES (13th)

  • Fumbles Forced: 10 ALL YEAR (75th) / 6 THOUGH 7 GAMES (52nd)

  • Turnover Margin: -7 (101st) / +13 (1st)

  • Tackles for Loss: 81 ALL YEAR (45th) / 45 THROUGH 7 GAMES (45th)

  • Sacks: 33 ALL YEAR (29th) / 18 THROUGH 7 GAMES (33rd)

  • Passes Broken Up: 55 ALL YEAR (62nd) / 32 THROUGH 7 GAMES (60th) 

  • 3rd Down Conversion %: 39.49% (64th) / 30.61% (18th)

The first item on that list is the most important, of course.  And that nine-point difference is huge.  How huge?  This huge:

Georgia is 9 points better on defense than it was in 2013. If you take 9 points off of all 5 Georgia losses in 2013, Georgia wins against Clemson, Vandy, Auburn, and Nebraska. That is pretty significant when you look at it from that perspective. What that really means is that Georgia is 2 scoring possessions better than 2013 and that is pretty impressive.

Again, to be fair, I don’t think you can chalk all of that up to a change in defensive coordinators.  Shoring up special teams play has also contributed to that swing in defensive scoring.  But in any event, I think it’s okay to be happy with the switch from Grantham to Pruitt now.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Um… maybe this Pruitt guy’s not so bad, after all.

David Hale has a few interesting stats about FSU’s defense worth sharing with you.

Now, the ‘Noles lost a goodly chunk of talent to the NFL, so that’s a factor.  But they also lost a certain defensive coordinator.  I gotta think that’s a factor, too.

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Filed under ACC Football, Stats Geek!