Jeremy Pruitt’s brilliance as a defensive mind in college football is well-documented.
Whether it be at Alabama, Florida State, Georgia or Tennessee, Pruitt has always gotten the most out of his defenses. It’s why he’s regarded as one of the best defensive minds in all of college football. In fact, one college football analyst believes he’s the best in-game defensive mind in the entire sport.
ESPN analyst Cole Cubelic was on The Swain Event Tuesday morning hosted by former Tennessee wide receiver Jayson Swain and was asked about the matchups that will determine the outcome in Saturday’s game between No. 14 Tennessee and No. 3 Georgia. In the midst of discussing Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett, Cubelic talked about his belief in Pruitt as a defensive mind.
“I don’t feel great about a guy (Bennett) who can’t go out there and just make plays to beat you against, who I consider to be the best in-game mind in college football, in Jeremy Pruitt,” Cubelic said. “And I’m not referencing the entire team, I’m just referencing the defense — I think he’s the best in-game defensive mind in college football.
“I’ve been on the field and watched him, and I’ve seen him on film basically telling guys what’s coming on multiple instances in multiple games. Whether its adjustments, whether its game-plans going in, I think he’s as good as anybody on that side of the ball.”
There have been plenty of instances of Pruitt telling his players what to do on defense moments before the ball is snapped go viral on social media. Most memorable is Pruitt telling defensive back Baylen Buchanan that the ball was coming his way before the ball is snapped against Auburn in 2018. The play came Buchanan’s way.
“Just watch him, just watch what’s happening,” Cubelic said. “To’o To’o was coming on last year, but you had one elite player at every level last year. You had one guy off the edge that was really good, you had one linebacker that was exceptional, and like I said, Henry improved across the course of the year, so you may have had two later, and I felt like you had one safety that was an NFL talent player. This is not Alabama’s defense where eight guys are going to get drafted, nine guys are going to get drafted or even all of the guys are going to get drafted. This is a little bit of a different deal. What he’s done with what he’s had, and what he is essentially telling those guys what is coming next, and who he puts in position to make plays — I think he’s the best in-game defensive mind in college football.
“Now, I don’t think he’s had a long enough tenure as a head coach to be able to say he manages games, or he game-plans everything, or situational football holistically is as good as anybody else because there’s a lot of guys that have a lot more experience and have won more big games, so that’s tough. But if you’re just talking about what he does, what he’s responsible for in-game for the most part, I think he’s as good as anybody.”
Pruitt and Tennessee’s (2-0) defense will face a tough test this weekend against a Georgia (2-0) offense that can run the football successfully. Kickoff with the Bulldogs is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS.