Vols coach explains how UGA, Tennessee ‘steal from each other’

The Tennessee-Georgia game doesn’t kick off until Saturday, but the Vols are already playing from behind in one sense.

Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt said there are plenty of defensive similarities between what he’s trying to do in Knoxville and what Kirby Smart has already gotten done at Georgia.

“They are a lot further ahead of us because this is their third year, and probably when they took over, there was a lot of carry over,” Pruitt said following Tennessee’s Wednesday practice.

“Not all of it is the same, but there is a lot of carry over because it was the (3-4) defense that we run here, so we steal from each other.”

The Vols played a 4-3 defensive alignment under previous defensive coordinator Bob Shoop, who’s now at Mississippi State.

Pruitt has changed Tennessee to a 3-4, and it appears some players have struggled with the concepts, particularly the defensive ends who have converted to outside linebackers.

There will be no secrets, from an Xs and Os standpoint, when the No. 2-ranked Bulldogs (4-0, 2-0 SEC) play host to the Vols (2-2, 0-1) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

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Smart acknowledged earlier this week that the Georgia defensive players transitioned smoothly when he took over in 2016.

“We were fortunate here to come into a system that was very similar to ours defensively,” Smart said. “There was not major-overhaul changes schematically, so a lot of the kids had a ground-level base, I think.

“I know that for us it was a smooth transition. Maybe not offensively or special teams but from a defensive standpoint we had some carry-over.”

Pruitt can turn on the film of the Georgia defense and know exactly what he’s seeing, why he’s seeing it and the philosophy behind it.

“Both of us worked in the same system when you talk about schematically, beliefs and how you go about structuring things,” Pruitt said. “I have not worked with (Smart) in several years, but I know from a baseline that it will probably be very similar.”

Certainly, Pruitt has a lot of familiarity with the Bulldogs staff along with some current players he recruited.

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“We know lots of guys on all the staffs really, but particularly Georgia, working with Kirby [Smart] for six years,” Pruitt said. “When he was the defensive coordinator, one of the things I did was I assisted him, I wasn’t an on the field coach yet, so we spent a lot of hours together.

“You’ve got Glenn Schumann there, who was a grad assistant when we were there. Dan Lanning was at Alabama and I was there for a little bit with him, so there’s lot of guys there.”

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