ATHENS - The first thing Jeremy Pruitt did on Sunday was go to Georgia's training room, to try to see how his players were reacting to their first loss of the season.
"I wanted to see if we had the loser's limp - and we ain't got it," Pruitt said. "Our guys were out there ready to go practice. And I'm proud to see that."
He later added that the defensive player's reaction to the loss was "one of the most encouraging things that I've seen out of a group in awhile."
Pruitt appeared to react well too, for a man who's not used to losing. It was the first loss he has been associated with since Nov. 10, 2012, when he was the secondary coach at Alabama. And it was only the sixth loss Pruitt has suffered as a full-time college assistant coach, dating back to the start of the 2010 season. (The record of Pruitt's team's at Florida State and Alabama over that span: 49-5.)
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But in Pruitt's first public comments since Saturday, he was calm, self-critical and even a bit loose.
He praised the effort of his players. He criticized himself for not coaching well enough, saying he put the players in a bad position on 10-15 plays. He also credited South Carolina for its protection, passing, running and play-calling.
"A lot of times you learn more in a loss, and I can tell you this, the losses that I've been a part of the last four or five years, there's been a lot of lessons to be learned," Pruitt said. "A lot of times it's the same message, it's just different teams. Hopefully we can respond and do things a different way and learn from it. Sometimes you need to have your nose rubbed in it a little bit to get the picture. Maybe we'll execute at a little higher level. Maybe I'll call a little better game. I'll put the kids in a position where they can execute at a higher level."
Pruitt said he and his staff didn't call the game much different from the opening week. The main problem, as he saw it, was South Carolina having too much success in second-and-long. There were a lot of long completions by the Gamecocks, many on second down, and Pruitt said there was only one "bust in the secondary": The second play of the game.
One major regret Pruitt had was of the lack of subbing in the secondary. The plan was to sub at the same level they did against Clemson, but they got away from doing so.
So expect more guys to play against Troy on Saturday, with sophomore J.J. Green a prime candidate to see the field.
It was a disappointing game for the front seven as well, especially with the lack of a pass rush. The equal share of blame made it a bit easier for everyone to come in on Sunday and Monday.
"We didn't point fingers at anybody, we didn't just show up there slumped over," outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. "We were attentive, and ready to see what we did wrong, some of the key plays, and really see what we could have done to do better."
Pruitt is also now 0-2 against Steve Spurrier as a full-time college coach. He was the secondary coach for Alabama in 2010 when the Tide were upset in Columbia, 35-21.
Pruitt called Spurrier "one of the best in the business."
"He knows when he gets a look what he wants to do with the ball," Pruitt said. "He does a nice job of mixing up the run and pass. The one thing everybody overlooks is how physical his teams always are. And they are extremely physical. But he does a nice job of knowing who his playmakers are, and knowing when and how to get them the ball during the course of a game."
As for his own unit, the performance at South Carolina was a confirmation - an unwanted one - of what Pruitt had said in the aftermath of the sterling performance against Clemson.
"It's like I told you the week before: It's never as good as you think it is and so it's never as bad as you think it is. It's somewhere in between," Pruitt said. "And that's where we are, we're somewhere in between."