Whatever offseason panic might have been induced in Athens by former defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s decision to bolt for the same gig at Louisville has been quickly replaced with fervent excitement after the Bulldog’s hiring of Jeremy Pruitt. Coming off the heels of a national championship season at FSU, Pruitt has established himself as a real player amongst the likes of Kirby Smart et al. in the pantheon of defensive coordinators in college football today.While Famous Jameis, his alleged indiscretions and the high powered FSU offense grabbed most of the headlines this past season, Pruitt quietly assembled a formidable defense–good enough to rank no. 1 in scoring defense and no.3 in total defense in the FBS.
Pruitt will bring a pedigree of toughness and national championship experience to a Georgia defense that has been deficient in both categories for a few years now. While many pundits have made broad sweeping claims about SEC powerhouses’ switch from defensive stalwarts to high flying offenses, Georgia’s decline on D has been more marked and apparent than most. While the personnel has remained talented and hungry, it’s safe to say that youthful inexperience and a lack of an identity have plagued the Dawgs’ defense in recent years.
Now to be clear, this isn’t an indictment of Grantham or his ability to bring a talented group of players together to create a cohesive unit. Much like Andy Reid’s mutually beneficial move from Philadelphia to Kansas City, sometimes it’s simply time for a change. I have to imagine that both Pruitt and Grantham’s new homes will benefit greatly from their years of experience with top notch programs, as seamless transitions should allow for the growth of their teams to continue uninhibited by differences in schemes, teaching methods, and the logos on the brims of their hats.
Going a step further, many analysts have called Georgia’s hiring of Pruitt a steal. I’m hesitant to agree that essentially trading one outstanding defensive coordinator for another should constitute anything more than a great business deal. However, there’s no doubt that FSU’s defensive performance this past year should lend a great deal of confidence to a Georgia team desperately in need of a defensive identity.
If anything, hope should be renewed in the Dawg’s ability to return to the days when the likes of Charles Johnson and Greg Blue roamed that grass between the hedges–when Thomas Davis and Jarvis Jones came flying in for tackles from all over the field. After watching Florida State’s defense this past season, perhaps that return will come sooner than expected.