The Georgia defense was dealt a big blow on Tuesday when the university announced via the team's official website that safety Josh Harvey-Clemons was dismissed from the team for violation of team rules.
Harvey-Clemons, a former 4-star prospect in the class of 2012 from Valdosta, Ga., started 11 games during his two seasons in Athens and finished third on the team in tackles last season with 65.
His departure leaves a gaping hole in a Georgia secondary that was long on talent but short on consistency a year ago.
Luckily for the Bulldogs, new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is now on staff and a perfect coach to help fill that void.
There's never a good time to lose a starter like Harvey-Clemons, who not only helped against the pass but dropped down to play nickel in certain situations and was reliable in run support. But if there is a good time to lose him, it's now.
He was already slated to sit out the first three games of the season, continuing a suspension that cost him an appearance in the Gator Bowl. Pruitt, who brought in an entirely new defensive staff with him, already has to figure out how to navigate through Georgia's first three games, which includes matchups versus Clemson and at South Carolina.
So in reality, nothing has changed for Pruitt. He already had to figure out life without Harvey-Clemons, and now it just becomes life for a full season, not just one-quarter of it.
Corey Moore, Quincy Mauger and the rest of the reserves will still battle for that job this spring and summer, as was the plan to begin with.
Luckily for Georgia, Pruitt is the perfect coach to withstand sudden personnel losses.
He moved from Alabama to Florida State before the 2013 season and not only helped the Seminoles lead the nation in pass defense (156.6 YPG) but tinkered with personnel when he got there. Everything he did turned to gold, including moving rising senior Lamarcus Joyner from safety to cornerback shortly before spring practice.
All Joyner did as a corner was finish second on the team with 69 tackles, pick off two passes and earn first-team All-American honors from the Associated Press.
|Florida State Defenses Without Pruitt (2012) and With Pruitt (2013)|
|Pass Defense||161.9 YPG||156.6 YPG|
|Opp. Passer Rating||95.42||93.77|
|Opp. Pass Plays of 30+ Yards||16||8|
For Pruitt, it's all about forcing turnovers. He helped the Seminoles pick off 26 passes in 2013 after only notching 11 interceptions in 2012 without him at the helm. He'll find a similar situation at Georgia, where the Bulldogs managed just seven interceptions a year ago.
Unlike his predecessor at Georgia, Todd Grantham, Pruitt is a coach and a teacher. On top of that, he has a long track record of working specifically with the secondary, including six years on Nick Saban's staff at Alabama.
With the exception of Saban himself, there aren't many coaches in America who are more capable of dealing with this situation than Pruitt.
His track record coupled with the fact that, by nature of an entirely new defensive staff, all returning players would have had to win their jobs back anyway makes him the perfect coach at the perfect time to deal with Harvey-Clemons' absence.
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