Former Florida State defensive coordinator, Jeremy Pruitt, has officially made the transition to coach at Georgia. But, his first experience with the team wasn’t all peaches and cream.
Pruitt recently watched film of the Bulldogs’ first spring practice and according to ESPN, he wasn’t very encouraged by what he saw. Even the players noticed that something was off.
“The first practice, we were like deer in headlights,” outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. “We didn’t know what to expect or what the coaches wanted.”
Even though there is some confusion, Pruitt is optimistic that the team will get up to speed on how he wants things done. By the second spring practice, Georgia’s defensive players were definitely surprised by the pace and structure that was first introduced during the first spring practice under Pruitt, but they adjusted to expectations with a quickness that impressed the coaching staff.
According to ESPN, Pruitt says that they are learning.
“The kids have good attitudes. They’re trying to do what we’re asking them to do. We’re doing things a little different in terms of how we practice and finish. They’re doing a good job.”
In the first two weeks of spring practice, Pruitt has been clear that his new defense will operate differently in how they practice and prepare. UGA fans can only hope that the changes lead to better results this coming season.
According to ESPN, last year, Georgia’s defense ranked tied for 78th in scoring defense (29 points per game), 45th in total defense (375.5 yards), 41st in run defense (148.2 yards) and 84th in pass-efficiency defense (134.7 rating). What’s even worse is that the Bulldogs generated only 15 turnovers for the second-fewest in the SEC.
Pruitt acknowledges that it’s not exactly the players that are to be blamed for last year’s mess.
“They lost a lot of guys from the 2012 defense,” Pruitt said. “Some of the young guys were forced into roles they weren’t ready for. It’s no fault of their own or the coaches. They were the best guys here.”
Pruitt surprised many when he announced his leave for the SEC but he told ESPN that even though he loves his Seminoles, he wanted another challenge.
“To me, I’ve always wanted to coach in the SEC. Once I got to college, that’s where I wanted to be. I think Georgia is a fantastic job and opportunity. I loved Florida State. They’re great people, and it’s a great place. But I just thought this would be a really good challenge.”
The strength of Georgia’s defense this season will be with the linebackers. Senior inside linebacker Ramik Wilson led the SEC with 133 tackles last season and outside linebacker Leonard Floyd combined for 11.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss.
Pruitt hopes that the faster pace in practice will help UGA’s conditioning and strength training.
Georgia fans will have to wait until Aug. 30, when the Bulldogs open the season against Clemson, to find out whether last year’s sloppiness has improved since last season.
Pruitt says they’re still learning.
“They’re trying to finish and trying to do what we ask them to do. We’re going to have to play with a lot of toughness and effort. That’s how we’re going to play this year. That’s our focus — effort, toughness and eliminating mental errors.”
For more on this story visit: Mark Schlabach, ESPN