Jeremy Pruitt is the new defensive coordinator for the Georgia Bulldogs and will fix their defense from the ground up—by teaching. The coach brings a slightly different scheme rooted in a little different philosophy with its own terminology, but his biggest impact will be in the film room.
More specifically, it will be in getting comprehension in the film room and having that understanding transfer to the practice fields before ultimately showing itself on game day.
That process is something that this Georgia defense has struggled with in recent seasons. The defense suffered from big-picture, conceptual issues and individual player miscues—a recipe for inconsistent defense. Pruitt's big change will be to make Georgia into an efficient and consistent unit.
Seth Emerson of the Macon Telegraph points out that, prior to his collegiate coaching career that took him from Alabama to Florida State and now Georgia, Pruitt was an elementary school teacher and a high school coach.
That experience is something Pruitt draws from both on and off the field. The 39-year-old defensive coordinator fosters a nurturing environment.
I wish coach Pruitt the best of luck at Georgia. He believed in me when other coaches didn't.— Nathan Andrews (@NateAndrews1) January 15, 2014
A nurturing environment helps foster success. When kids at the college level know that a coach believes in them, and that coach gives them the tools to succeed, positives happen.
Pruitt recruit and current Florida State player Nate Andrews is evidence of this. Andrews worked into the extra safety position for the Seminoles and was just one of the true freshmen who started games for the national champions.
Another true freshman, Jalen Ramsey, is a testament to Pruitt's ability to convey concepts as a teacher of defense and not just a coordinator. Ramsey was a starting cornerback for Florida State who, due to an injury to safety Tyler Hunter, was forced to change positions during the season.
In Pruitt's secondary, the move was executed flawlessly, as the freshman went on to start the rest of the season.
Christian Jones, another player changing positions, saw good success in Pruitt's defense as a senior. It was not just Pruitt doing the teaching, it was the staff that the coach assembled—everyone worked on the same page. Charles Kelly and Sal Sunseri, the linebackers and defensive ends coaches, respectively, both worked to transition Jones, a former 4-3 linebacker, to the hybrid linebacker position.
Jones flourished with his hand on the ground and standing up on the edge for the Seminoles, not simply because of his athleticism, but due to the good teaching he received from Pruitt's staff.
That is what Georgia is getting with Pruitt. Not just a great X's and O's guy. Not just a solid game-planner. Not just a high-level recruiter. No, the Dawgs are getting a teacher first and all of the rest comes in the Pruitt package.
As he pushes to assemble a staff, expect the coaches he brings on to be the same—just like Jimbo Fisher and Nick Saban require out of their hires.
Pruitt is going to fix the Bulldogs defense, and it is not going to be because of buzzwords like attacking, being multiple, getting aggressive and bringing pressure. Rather, it is going to be about building a foundation rooted in teaching defensive football that the players can understand.
Good defense is mistake-free, responsible football, and that starts with teaching tape and learning in the film room and at practice.