Georgia Football: 4 Players Who Will Benefit Most from Jeremy Pruitt's System
UGA defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt made an impact at Florida State last season.
His scheme was the reason the Seminoles won the ACC and the BCS title. Like Todd Grantham, Pruitt runs a 3-4, but he can mix things up and run a 4-3 if needed.
The bottom line is that he has a complex system, and it may take the Bulldogs some time to get used to the play-calling and the principles of the scheme.
That may not be what Bulldogs fans want to hear because there’s a chance the defense could take a step back, despite 10 of 11 starters returning. However, some starters could be very comfortable with Pruitt’s scheme because it’s an attacking-style defense.
Here’s a look at four players who will benefit from Pruitt’s system.
Ramik Wilson was the best defensive player for the Bulldogs last season. He led the SEC in tackles with 128 and also notched four sacks.
Under Pruitt’s system, the defense will blitz constantly and put pressure on the quarterback. That will only help Wilson put up better numbers because he plays an aggressive style and is always around the football. However, because Pruitt likes to blitz, Wilson could see a spike in his sacks totals.
If that happens, expect him to be a candidate for SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
In 2012, Jordan Jenkins had a breakout year, tallying 31 tackles and five sacks in six starts. In 2013, he started all 13 games and recorded 45 tackles and five sacks.
He has had a strong start to his college career, but this is the year for him to take the next step. Pruitt’s system should help him because the coach will need a linebacker who can come off the edge and cause havoc in the backfield.
Leonard Floyd is capable of doing that because he led the team in sacks last year with 6.5. But Jenkins had 12 tackles for loss last year, so he has a better knack for getting in the backfield.
To say that Damian Swan struggled last season would be an understatement. He was beaten constantly one-on-one, and opposing quarterbacks tested him each game because of it.
Pruitt could move Swann back to nickelback, where he thrived in 2012, picking off four passes. Also, moving to nickelback would bolster his draft status because he did talk about entering the NFL draft, according to Chase Goodbread of NFL.com.
Swann is a solid player who had a bad 2013 season. With Pruitt knowing the secondary as well as he does, Swann should have a much-improved 2014 campaign.
Tray Matthews had a great preseason in 2013 but struggled during the regular season in putting everything together.
Pruitt’s attacking scheme should play to Matthews’ strengths because he likes to make big plays via tackling defenders. But if Pruitt can light a fire under Matthews, that would be beneficial for the player and the rest of the defense.
The most important thing is for Matthews to push himself further than what he did last year because the Bulldogs did not get the most out of him due to numerous injuries. There is no reason Pruitt can’t set him going in the right direction.
In reality, all the starters and reserves on defense can benefit from Pruitt’s system. The Bulldogs don’t have the same talent as Florida State, but they're an athletic group that showed glimpses of what they are capable of last year.
The one area that needs much improvement is the secondary. Pruitt should and will work with the unit closely because he was a defensive back at Alabama and also the defensive backs coach for the Crimson Tide before being Florida State's defensive coordinator.
If the group can buy into his scheme and understand the terminology, then it will be a top-tier unit in 2014, which will give the Bulldogs a chance to win the SEC.