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Who Wants To Be A (Or The) Star?

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Coach Pruitt's apparent personnel preferences at the "Star" defensive back position says a little about how his defense will vary from Todd Grantham's.

Sam Greenwood

Benjamin Wolk with the Macon Telegraph had a nice overview yesterday of the various players working at the "Star" position for Georgia, the fifth defensive back slot known for so long as the "nickel back."

You may recall that Todd Grantham also utilized a "star" in the defensive backfield. But the nomenclature is about where the similarities end. While Pruitt and Grantham both spring from the Nick Saban defensive coaching tree, they have a slightly different methodology, at least from what we've seen from Pruitt's short stint at FSU. Grantham populated the star rotation with hybrid linebacker/safety types, Josh Harvey-Clemons when he had the option, and sometimes Damian Swann and even Leonard Floyd. In Grantham's big bag o' blitzes, the star would even rush the passer on occasion, sometimes fairly successfully.

Pruitt on the other hands expects the star to play more of a traditional nickel back role, covering receivers in obvious passing situations but also coming up to play tough against the run when necessary. These priorities inform him personnel decisions, as Wolk notes that two guys getting lots of action at the spot in camp have been J.J. Green and freshman Malkom Parrish.

I was struck by this because I remember the same thing about Parrish and Green coming out of high school. Both were smaller guys who were nevertheless very physical against the run, as noted by Mr. Sanchez regarding Green and in the comments to DaveTheDawg's profile of Parrish.

What I suspect you'll see more of from the Jeremy Pruitt-coached defense than you did the Todd Grantham-led unit is an attack geared toward getting pressure with 4-5 front end rushers rather than relying on unique blitz schemes, which sometimes worked very well (2013 LSU) and other times, well, you know (2012 South Carolina). That goes hand in hand with the renewed emphasis on quickness on the defensive line. Those 340 pound nose tackles we've been trotting out are less than useful at getting to a QB looking to throw out of the shotgun on 3rd and 8.

Is either approach better or worse? No. As is usually the case in football the best scheme is the one you can execute better than your opponent. But seeing guys like Parrish, Green, and perhaps Quincy Mauger streaking down the seam next to slot receivers just makes a lot more sense to me than watching five defensive backs stand around wondering who was supposed to have that route. Call me an optimist, at least for the morning. By this afternoon I'll be back in my bomb shelter. Until later . . .

Go 'Dawgs!!!