Well, when Grantham and Company died, so did my last blog series. No need to recap the Season of Suck if those guys won’t be around to fix it. So instead, I look to the future, dawgfans. I look to the future with excitement, anticipation, whiskey and a full-half-chub because of the Jeremy Pruitt hire.
That’s not to say I was ever sold against Grantham. I’m always more of a “let’s see what happens” guy when it comes to coaches. I know a good bit about football, but I don’t know as much as Mark Richt and Todd Grantham and Mike Bobo (and apparently all of the commenters at Get The Picture who know more about football than those guys) - so, if the Head Man believes in a coach, I trust him. Doing so has enabled me to enjoy many years of Georgia Football without stressing about each detail.
That being said, it makes me happy that we’ll have a new attitude on Georgia’s defense. I don’t buy into the “they don’t want it” or “they’re not hungry” - but I do buy into “They’re confused as hell.” So, if Pruitt can make the concepts simpler, they’ll be more effective, and we’ll see better performance.
Here’s what I’ve learned in a quick study on Pruitt -
He ran Alabama’s defensive backs in 2010-2013. What I noticed about this time period:
In 2010, 18 out of AL’s 22 INTs were by DBs.
In 2011, 9 out of AL’s 13 INTs were by DBs.
In 2012, 15 out of AL’s 18 INTs were by DBs.
So, in two of those three seasons, the DBs had double-digit turnovers. 2011 seemed to be a lower-than-norm performance. The driving factor behind that was that Robert Lester had an outrageous campaign in 2010 with 8 picks, and then regressed to the mean in 2011 with 2.
In Pruitt’s 3 years at Bama, a Sophomore DB lead the team in Picks every season. That’s an interesting note.
Also in those 3 years, team Sacks (while not a DB issues) increased every season…from 27 to 30 to 35. That kind of pressure often results in shaky QB play and turnovers - if the DB Coach can teach the kids how to capitalize on bad passes. Our DBs didn’t seem able to do that this season (Despite 33 sacks). In those seasons, DBs had a small # of sacks (5.5, 2.5, 5) and moderate TFL #s in 2010/11 (16 each) which increased to 23 in 2012.
Overall, the 2011 defense at Alabama seemed to take a minor step back … and won a National Title. All the while, they built up a ton of experience and then were VERY solid in 2012.
Then, Pruitt left and went down to FSU…
Here’s what I learned about Pruitt’s one year as DC at FSU:
The FSU Defensive squads of 2012 and 2013 don’t appear to be massively different.
2012 Points Against - 14.7/game
2013 Points Against - 12.1/game
2012 Rushing TDs Against - 10
2013 Rushing TDs Against - 7
2012 Passing TDs Against - 13
2013 Passing TDs Against - 14
But, the Defensive Backs did show some marked improvements.
The 2012 squad had 36 team sacks, but 24 of them came from two players - upperclass DL.
The 2013 FSU team had 35 team sacks, and they were spread among a number of players. The team’s sack leader was Lamarcus Joyner, a DB, with 5.5.
In fact, when it comes to being active behind the line of scrimmage, Pruitt seems to have really brought that with him to FSU. In 2012, the DBs had 7 total TFL. In 2013, DBs had 24.5 TFL, and the leading DB had 8 on his own.
The whole team was better behind the line of scrimmage, actually. Every player who recorded a sack either maintained or increased their production from 2012. The top three QB Hunters made fairly nice increases with Joyner going from 0 in 2012 to 5 in 2013, Timmy Jernigan stepping up from 1.5 to 4.5 and Mario Edwards, Jr going from 1.5 to 3.5.
With Pruitt, it appears to be about Aggression, Aggression, Aggression. This resulted in higher sack numbers, and higher turnover numbers.
2012 - 11 DB Interceptions (11 team)
2013 - 17 DB Interceptions (26 team)
2012 - 4 Fumbles caused by DBs (9 Team)
2013 - 9 Fumbles caused by DBs (12 Team)
All in all, the turnovers increased from 22 to 35.
The one area where Dawgfans won’t be excited is that the 2013 FSU defense regressed from 2012’s in the area of 3rd Down Conversions.
2012 - 27.15%
2013 - 31.92%
But…the Georgia Bulldogs have beaten that 31.92% 3rd down percentage in only one of the past seven seasons. No surprise…it was in 2011, when UGA had a staunch 28.93% 3rd down conversation rate. In 2012, we fell to 36.54% and in 2013 all the way to 39.49%.
Finally, if we look at the way UGA13 compares to FSU 12, we get this…
UGA13 Team Sacks - 33
FSU12 Team Sacks - 36
UGA13 Team INT (DB) - 7 (6)
FSU12 Team INT (DB) - 11 (11)
UGA13 Team TFL (DB) - 81 (16.5)
FSU12 Team TFL (DB) - 86 (7)
UGA13 Team Turnovers - 15
FSU12 Team Turnovers - 22
On the surface, the Georgia Defense that Pruitt Inherits isn’t incredibly dissimilar from the FSU one he walked into a year ago. If he can make similar improvements to our Defense as he did to FSU’s, then we may see some drastically different results in 2014. I don’t know that I expect higher sack numbers, but I definitely expect DBs who play with more certainty and more confidence. That will make all the difference in the world.
One of the main tenets of Grantham’s style was that his attacking pass rush would rush the QB, and his complicated DB schemes would confuse him - resulting in more turnovers. In 2013, however, the pass rush wasn’t as dominant as we’d want it to be (though the numbers were high, we often weren’t effective in key moments) and the people most confused by our coverages, were our DBs. That’s a doomed-to-fail scenario if ever there was one.
I think Pruitt’s plan will be to simplify the scheme, and amplify the attack. And I think that’s a great plan.