ATHENS — Those wanting to know how Alabama football built a dynasty need look no further than what Kirby Smart has unfolding at Georgia.
That was Jeremy Pruitt’s take on the Ingles On The Beat Show on Monday, when asked how Nick Saban has continued to put one championship contender on the field after another.
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“I think you can look at what’s going on at Georgia,” Pruitt said, asked how Nick Saban built and maintains an elite program.
Pruitt has first-hand knowledge, as he was on the original Alabama staff Saban’s first six years in Tuscaloosa, returning to win a national title in 2017 as the defensive coordinator after a national championship stint at Florida State and two seasons at Georgia.
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“Georgia and Alabama have the best players in college football, you can look on draft day,” Pruitt said. “Not to take anything away from anybody’s coaching, but they have really good players, both places have put together really good staffs.”
Saban and Smart are the first to trumpet the importance of recruiting, but they — along with Pruitt — are also considered among the top defensive minds in college football.
“In Tuscaloosa, just like Athens, Georgia, they will play really good defense,” Pruitt said. “The thing about both teams now is they can score 50 points in a game.
“Winning those old dog fights 12-9, 13-10, they are a thing of the past,” he said.
“I feel like to beat Alabama or Georgia, you’re going have to have to score 30 points, and when you look over the years of coaching against Nick and coaching against Kirby, how many times do their defenses give up 30 points?”
Pruitt said looking at the schedules of Alabama and Georgia this season, there’s only one team that stands out as a threat to score those amount of points.
“I think Tennessee might be the only team east of the Mississippi River that can score with Alabama and Georgia,” Pruitt said.
“You look at their offensive front, and especially their quarterback position, running backs and skill positions, (and) Tennessee may have as good of wide receivers as anybody out there,” he said. “The obvious thing is how fast they play .... that puts pressure on the defense to get lined up and it possibly could shrink a defensive coordinator’s call sheet, just from being able to communicate it across the formation, as they spread you out with their alignment with their receivers.”
Of course, Pruitt acknowledged, the Vols have their challenges on defense.
“The question for their team is, will they be able to win a game 24-21?’ " Pruitt said. “Is the defense going to be able to hold up? They need to be opportunistic on defense and stay healthy on both sides.”
Georgia, meanwhile, opened eyes and impressed many in what many felt would be a rebuilding year after the Bulldogs lost 15 players in the 2022 NFL Draft.
“Georgia is a team that can beat you three ways: they are gonna play good defense, Kirby Smart is the head coach, but now they have one of the more explosive offenses in college football, and they are going to be good on special teams,” Pruitt said.
“They can win a game 10-9, or they can win a shootout now, so that makes them very dangerous.”
Pruitt correctly predicted before the season that Smart would have Georgia ready to play from the onset.
“People don’t realize the advantage Georgia has by having Kirby,” Pruitt said in June. “After you win a national championship it’s so hard, (because) everybody has relief syndrome.
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“It’s a new year, so the guys that made All-SEC or All-American the past year, nobody cares, it’s time to do it all over again and Kirby has been through that a couple of times as an assistant coach,” Pruitt said. “He has seen what has happened and knows the pitfalls and the mistakes that can happen the following year, and I think that’s going be key for Georgia this year.
“The fact they have a coach that’s been there and done that, so I look for Georgia to avoid some of those pitfalls this year because of Kirby’s experience.”
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Indeed, one of Georgia’s offseason slogans was “Nobody Cares,” as it captured that very sentiment.
One thing for sure is that Smart has built a program that everybody in Georgia seems to care about that is acknowledged across the nation.
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