Jeremy Pruitt has plenty of experience when it comes to Alabama head coach Nick Saban.
After all, Pruitt was brought on Saban's staff when he took over the program in 2007. Saban initially hired Pruitt to be the director of player development. He climbed the office depth chart to later become defensive backs coach in 2010, and served in that role for three seasons before being lured away by Florida State.
Now, as the defensive coordinator at Georgia, Pruitt will have a chance to coach against his former boss. And he understands just what it takes to defeat Saban, who hasn't accrued too many losses over the years.
"Well, you better play with toughness," Pruitt said. "That’s one of the trademarks. I think they’ve established over the last seven or eight years, since coach (Saban) has been there, you better find a way to create turnovers and not turn the ball over. Alabama’s got a really good tradition of running the football. You need to be able to stop the run and they do a great job stopping the run. Just the same things it takes week in and week out with any opponent."
Having seen the kind of program Saban built at Alabama, Pruitt wanted to embody his defense at Georgia in similar fashion. When he became Georgia's defensive coordinator in 2014, the Bulldogs were coming off a season where they allowed an average of 375.5 yards per game, which ranked 45th in the nation.
In Pruitt's first season, Georgia ended the year 17th at 337.2 yards per game. Through four games this season, Georgia ranks 14th in total defense at 273.3 yards per game.
"I think one that we'd like to do is create the standard and the expectations here, do it over and over and hold everyone accountable that don't do it the way that we want them to do it," Pruitt said. "That's what you have to do in any organization if you want to have success. You have to define the roles for the individuals in the organization, and if they do it right, pat them on the back. If they don't, you have to correct them."
It'll be meaningful for Pruitt to coach against his old boss, as well as some of his former players he helped recruit, this Saturday in Athens.
“When you stay in this business for awhile, you develop friendships," Pruitt said. "I’ve got a lot of friends on the staff there. There’s a lot of relationships I’ve developed in recruiting - some of the guys that are there. So there’s some good friends there and there’s guys there who gave me opportunities that I’m really thankful for, but I’m not going to playing any plays. It’s just another game.”