Name game: Bulldogs adjust to Pruitt’s defensive terminology

A couple of weeks after Georgia’s defense closed the book on a downbeat 2013 season, the players spirits were lifted when they met Jeremy Pruitt, who had a record of success they hoped would translate over to the Bulldogs.

Name game: Bulldogs adjust to Pruitt's defensive terminology
Marc Weiszer

“We knew what he’s done in the past, we knew where he came from,” senior cornerback Damian Swann said. “He’s been at Alabama, he’s been at Florida State, he’s won national titles. He knows what it takes and he’s been a part of it. That made a lot of guys excited and a lot of guys were ready to get right back into football.”

That time will finally come late Tuesday afternoon when Georgia holds its first spring practice with Pruitt as defensive coordinator.

Swann called Pruitt “the perfect guy” to replace Todd Grantham, who left after four seasons for a similar job at Louisville.

Pruitt spent three years coaching the secondary in Nick Saban’s 3-4 defense at Alabama and one year as defensive coordinator at Florida State during its national title run last season.

“There are a lot of similarities,” Pruitt said. “Coach Grantham coached for Coach Saban and we’re all kind of from the same tree, so from a schematic standpoint there’s going to be some similarities, which is a good thing.”

Swann has watched cutups of Florida State film and came to the conclusion that there won’t be a drastic overhaul on defense this season.

There has been, however, quite the changeover on the defensive staff, with a complete overhaul on that side of the ball for the first time since 1964. Other new faces: defensive line/Will linebacker coach Tracy Rocker, inside linebackers coach Mike Ekeler and Sam linebacker/Star coach Kevin Sherrer.

“The big thing is we’re not concerned about how much someone can learn right now,” Pruitt said. “We want to see who can get off blockers, who can tackle in space and then whoever can do that will do as much as they can do in the fall.”

Added head coach Mark Richt: “You could have a great scheme and poor tactics, and you’re going to have no success. I’d rather have less of a scheme and more tactics and more fundamentals because I think we’ll have a better chance of winning. That’s what is happening right now.”

Inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera didn’t watch much of what Pruitt did with the Seminoles, but figured “they won the national championship, so he was doing something right.”

Herrera said he’s trying to figure out the plays and the “new scheme.”

“Too much of the system won’t be new to me,” Swann said. “It’s pretty much the same. A lot of terminology might be different, but I’ve played before.”

Georgia is now calling the outside linebacker spots the Jack and the other still the Sam. The inside linebackers in the base package are the Mike and Will instead of the Mike and Mo. In the nickel package, the inside linebackers will be called the Money and the Mack and the Sam will go out and be replaced by the “Star” nickel back.

Swann said he can’t be sure how much change he’s in for until practices begin.

“I’m excited to kind of see a new defense every day,” center David Andrews said. “It should be interesting.”

Pruitt said he remembered a Georgia defense that nearly helped the Bulldogs win the SEC championship two years ago when he was at Alabama.

“When you have a team like was here in 2012, there’s going to be some growing pains the next year,” Pruitt said. “There were some.”

Now this Georgia defense is ready to grow up with nine starters back from last year’s 8-5 season.

“Right now, I feel like everybody’s bought into the new program, a new fresh start, new faces,” outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. “Everybody is just trying to see the future. We all have the same mindset. We all want to make it to the championship, make it to the first playoffs in (FBS) history.”

“There’s an expectation,” Richt said, “of things getting better.”

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RT @chris_starrs: UGA’s Christian Payne saw his first playing time last week against Arkansas. http://t.co/eFBPVIEFWV

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