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Even With Pruitt At Helm, Is UGA A Top Defense?

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Jeremy Pruitt has plenty of young talent to work with, including cornerback Shaq Wiggins. Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images.
Jeremy Pruitt has plenty of young talent to work with, including cornerback Shaq Wiggins. Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images.

The Georgia Bulldogs had a rough 2013 football season on defense. With a young group of players, the Bulldogs struggled to match the offense and it showed in the results.

Exit Todd Grantham and enter Jeremy Pruitt at defensive coordintor, and now Bulldogs fans are excited about the possibilities in 2014.

In the last four years, Pruitt has become one of the best defensive coaches in the country, helping Alabama to two national titles as the defensive backs coach (2011, 2012) and Florida State the national title (2013) as the defensive coordinator.

With Pruitt and his recent run of success at the helm, are the Bulldogs a top defense?

Recent History

In 2010, Pruitt moved from being the director of player development at Alabama to defensive backs coach. During that time, the Crimson Tide ranked among the best in the country against the pass.

Year Passing YPG NCAA Rank TDs INTs
2010 172.7 15th 11 21
2011 116.3 1st 6 13
2012 166.2 6th 7 19

Then, last season, Pruit's defense was the best in the nation, allowing 156.6 passing yards per game and only 14 passing TDs. The Seminoles also led the country with 26 interceptions.

Pruitt didn't recruit the players to Florida State on that defense, but his preparations helped the Seminoles hold No. 3 Clemson and No. 7 Miami to 14 points each.

The history is there. But will it translate into success for the Bulldogs?

What Pruitt Is Working With

Last year, Georgia ranked 60th against the pass, allowing 227.4 yards per game. Statistically, the secondary was the worst of the three units, which was due in part to how young the secondary was.

Now, they're a year older and 10 of the 11 starters are returning, with Josh Harvey-Clemons being the only one gone.

Damian Swann, Shaq Wiggins and Brendan Langley all return at corner with J.J. Green moving over from running back. Tray Matthews will be a starter at safety, with the other safety position wide open. This position group will be a major focus for UGA fans, especially considering that's where Pruitt's expertise is as well.

The rest of the defense will again feature players like Ray Drew, Amarlo Herrera, Ramik Wilson and Leonard Floyd. And let's not forget about Lorenzo Carter, the Bulldogs' prized defensive recruit.

Pruitt has a lot to work with and the Bulldogs should benefit from his expertise.

Georgia's Schedule

The Bulldogs have a favorable schedule in 2014 with the traditionally better teams having to replace important offensive positions. It's something which Pruitt should be able to exploit.

Clemson has to replace Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins, while South Carolina has to replace Connor Shaw and Bruce Ellington. 

Troy, Tennessee and Vanderbilt follow, while a trip to Missouri will be Georgia's sixth game. The Tigers have lost James Franklin, L'Damian Washington and Henry Josey on offense, and the Bulldogs should be able to take advantage.

Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Auburn, Charleston Southern and Georgia Tech are in the second half of the season, giving the Bulldogs a full slate of winnable games.

There's a lot for Pruitt to take advantage of this year, and should the Bulldogs do so, they'll find themselves in the SEC Championship Game.