Jeremy Pruitt is 4-0 against Auburn.
Well, that’s at least part of the story. For clarity’s sake, Pruitt, who played at Alabama and later was a position coach under Nick Saban, is 4-0 against Auburn as a defensive coordinator. That includes a win over the Tigers in the 2014 BCS National Championship Game when he was with Florida State, victories in 2014 and 2015 when he was at Georgia and in 2016 at Alabama.
In those four victories, he’s allowed an average of 15.75 points and 299.5 yards per game to Auburn. In his last three games against the Tigers the totals are even stingier, allowing 10.7 points per game and 249.7 yards.
Pruitt likes making the game simple for his players. He also believes in applying pressure.
Despite losing nearly all of his pass rush from a season ago, including Jonathan Allen, Dalvin Tomlinson, Tim Williams, Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster, Pruitt’s defense has registered 30 sacks this season, ranking tied for 19th nationally. And that total comes after losing the team’s best outside pass rushers (Christian Miller and Terrell Lewis) in the first game of the season. To combat those losses, Pruitt has dialed up the pressure.
At least 15 players have recorded at least half a sack, and defensive backs and inside linebackers account for 16 of the 30 sacks. Some of that is due to Pruitt’s aggressiveness, but a lot of it stems from necessity after Miller and Lewis were lost for the season. Without the guarantee of getting to the quarterback with a four-man rush, Pruitt got creative in how he created pressure.
“I mean, coach (Pruitt) believes in pressuring the quarterback,” outside linebacker Anfernee Jennings said. “I mean, coach calls the play. We just try to execute. He keeps the same approach every week.”
There is nothing that suggests that the game plan against Auburn won’t be much of the same of what the Crimson Tide defense show showed this season. There exists the possibility that help is on the way with the possible return of linebackers in the near future, including Miller, Lewis and inside linebacker Mack Wilson.
One attribute players love about Pruitt is his ability to teach Alabama’s defensive concepts — which have been described by numerous former Alabama players as more complicated than some NFL defenses — in a way the players can understand. In other words, he makes it player friendly.
“I like how makes the game simple,” senior cornerback Anthony Averett said. “Our defense can be very hard, but he makes it simple for us.”
Pruitt wasn’t nominated by Alabama for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation’s best assistant coach, because the school is only allowed to nominate one coach. The school nominated Pruitt last season and first-year offensive coordinator Brian Daboll this season.
Nevertheless, Pruitt is viewed as a bright up-and-coming assistant coach and various reports have linked him to job possibilities this offseason should he choose to jump at a head coaching opportunity.
His recruiting prowess and his ability to relate to players make him an attractive candidate combined with his football acumen.
“He’s always calm,” Jennings said. “He’s always on play the next play. He’s a great coach.”
Reach Aaron Suttles at email@example.com or at 205-722-0229.