Don‚Äôt get too bogged down on whether Georgia is running a 3-4 or 4-3 defense under new coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.
‚ÄúThey‚Äôll be times we‚Äôll line up with three down linemen and they‚Äôll be times when we line up with four down linemen,‚Äù Pruitt said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs varied based on what the offense is doing to us and for one, what we think our best personnel is.‚Äù
Kevin Sherrer, who joined Pruitt at Georgia after a year as the defensive coordinator at South Alabama last season, said his defense was more of a 4-3 at the Sun Belt Conference school, matching personnel, and was very similar to what Pruitt ran with the Seminoles.
‚ÄúFor the most part, the basis of it was a carbon copy,‚Äù said Sherrer, who was Pruitt‚Äôs first hire at Georgia and will coach the `Sam‚Äô linebackers and the `Star‚Äô nickel back position. ‚ÄúI know he did some things that we did at Hoover High School (in Alabama). We did a little bit of that at South Alabama, but the terminology, the scheme, the coverages, the pressures, all of those type of things are exactly the same things.‚Äù
Pruitt said at his introductory news conference that ‚Äúwe are and will be a 3-4 defense,‚Äù but told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week that he used a four-man front about ‚Äúabout 80 percent of the time,‚Äù during Pruitt‚Äôs one season at Florida State.
‚ÄúTeams that are 3-4, you‚Äôll see them line up in 4-3 defenses and teams that are 4-3, you‚Äôll see them line up in odd defenses,‚Äù he said when he was hired. ‚ÄúI think you‚Äôve got to be able to do both.‚Äù
South Alabama‚Äôs defense matched personnel just like Pruitt, who takes over a Georgia defense that ran a base 3-4 scheme under Todd Grantham, but often was in a 4-2-5.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs multiple,‚Äù said Sherrer, who was on staff together with Pruitt at Alabama after working together at Hoover and playing together with the Crimson Tide. ‚ÄúYou can get in three downs, you can get in four downs. You‚Äôre going to match personnel with the offense. You‚Äôre going to have five defensive backs on the field, you‚Äôre going to have six defensive backs on the field. You‚Äôre going to get in some packages where you may have two d-lineman and three or four linebackers on third down and things like that where you can create pressure and that‚Äôs why he likes to recruit the guys that can play multiple positions. You can have a guy who can play inside backer, they can play not really a D-end but an outside rush guy on third down, things like that but they can also drop back and cover and run with the wide receivers and things.‚Äù
If you check out Florida State‚Äôs defensive depth chart from last year it listed 12 players (probably for the multiple looks).
It stacked up with a left end and right end, a nose guard and defensive tackle, a Sam, Mike and Will Linebacker and three cornerbacks and two safeties.
Mike Farrell, national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com, thinks Pruitt‚Äôs scheme will be more advantageous for the Bulldogs‚Äô recruiting.
Pruitt came to Georgia with a reputation for being able to recruit and the Bulldogs‚Äô landed 2015 defensive back commitments Rico McGraw and Terry Godwin days after his hire last month.
‚ÄúTheir recruiting is going to take an extra step up with him as a defensive coordinator,‚Äù Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said. ‚ÄúAnd I think they‚Äôll go to a more comfortable scheme when it comes to recruiting. By comfortable, I mean 3-4 is tough.‚Äù
Farrell said it‚Äôs hard to find a ‚Äúzero technique‚Äù that lines up over the center or a ‚Äúfive technique‚Äù that lines up over an offensive tackle.
Here‚Äôs what Warchant.com wrote about Florida State under Pruitt last season: ‚ÄúFSU‚Äôs defense had gotten a makeover in the offseason, shifting from a vanilla 4-3 scheme under former defensive coordinator Mike Stoops to an aggressive, attacking, shifting defense that could move between the 3-4 and 4-3 depending on the play.‚Äù
Georgia‚Äôs makeover is on the way.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôve got to figure out what we are first of all,‚Äù Pruitt said. ‚ÄúIf you‚Äôve got four really good defensive linemen, it doesn‚Äôt make sense to play with just three of them. We‚Äôve got to figure out who we are. At the end of the day when you start putting up a defensive front, it‚Äôs just Xs. You can say that they‚Äôre an outside linebacker, you can say they‚Äôre a defensive end.‚Äù