Georgia Football: Grading Jeremy Pruitt’s First Year as Defensive Coordinator


Jeremy Pruitt came in to Georgia with big expectations and very little to work with, so how did he do in his first year?

Long before Jeremy Pruitt’s first game as the University of Georgia’s new defensive coordinator he had his hands full, but it’s what he molded his first Red and Black defense into that was so impressive.

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Heading into the 2014 season, Pruitt looked to have an “experienced” and talented crew returning, but that changed quickly. Offseasons for Georgia are usually active, and this year was no exception as defensive backfield starters Josh Harvey-Clemons, Shaq Wiggins and Tray Matthews either chose to leave or were dismissed from the team.

Pruitt proceeded to make the most of his charges as the little-used Devin Bowman and Dominick Sanders, as well as walk-on Aaron Davis all started the season opener, joined by senior Damian Swann against 18th ranked Clemson. By season’s end, six freshmen either started or saw significant playing time for the Georgia defense.

According to Georgia’s latest depth chart, the starting defensive backfield for the Belk Bowl looks to include Davis, Sanders, Swann, Malkom Parrish (Fr.) and sophomore Quincy Mauger, the team leader with four interceptions.

Over the last five months, Pruitt improved Georgia’s defense in almost every area, and the numbers speak for themselves.

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In looking at national ranks for those stats, Georgia wen from 79th in nation in scoring defense, to 25th in nation; from 45th in nation in total defense, to 18th in nation; from 71st in nation in passing defense to 2nd in nation; and from 101st in the nation in turnover margin, to 4th in the nation.

In 2013, Todd Grantham’s group gave up 177 points (35.4 per game) in Georgia’s five losses. They registered one game in single digits (45-6 win over Appalachian State) and only three games of 20 points or less (Appalachian State, Florida and Kentucky).

This year, when on the losing end, Georgia did not fair much better. In their three losses to South Carolina, Florida and Georgia Tech, the Dawgs yielded 106 points (35.3 per game) though they posted four games of 10 points or less (Troy, Missouri, Auburn and Charleston Southern) and five of 20 points or less (the four previous and Vanderbilt).

The two areas where Georgia “regressed” were in sacks (2013: 33; 2014: 24) and the well documented struggles with the rush defense where it yielded 176 yards per game this season as opposed to 148 per game in 2013.

Where the Bulldog Nation might have been most pleased with this season was the discipline Pruitt’s unit showed.  Hands were not raised, people did not look lost, and that was most evident in the youthful secondary.

After surrendering big play after big play in 2013, Georgia did not give up a pass of more than 38 yards this year. They are also the only team in America not to yield an areal strike of plus 40 yards.

Most of all, Pruitt showed he can coach, scheme and take whatever cards he is dealt and turn it into a winning hand. All that adds up to a first year of tremendous success for Pruitt, with only better players and better things to come in the future.

That’s moving things in the right direction.

All statistics via

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