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January 6, 2018
Q. What's it like seeing a lot of your former players out there?
COACH PRUITT: First of all, let me say this: The two years that I spent at Georgia, I built some tremendous friendships there, recruited a lot of really good players. Guys that are on the staff now are a lot of good friends there, had a great time there.
It's exciting to me to see these guys have success, because I know that when a lot of the guys, when we set in their living rooms, we actually talk to them about having an opportunity to do this one day. And it's good to see that these guys are having a chance to do that. They have a great football team, very well coached, tremendous running backs. Jake Fromm has done a fantastic job leading the offense.
He makes a ton of plays. He gets them in really good run situations. He's checking almost every snap. They have four or five tight ends. They're really good on the outside at wide receiver. So we're going to have a tremendous challenge to try to slow these guys down.
Q. Jeremy, how unique is it to know so much of the personnel? You can say the same thing about Kirby on the other side -- you guys are so familiar with both of these rosters. How kind of unique is that to know so much about all these?
COACH PRUITT: It's definitely -- it's interesting for sure, especially when you throw in the fact that Kevin Sherrer is on that staff. We talked last night for a little bit. I gave him a hard time. We were working a little bit late. I told him I was going to call Kirby and tell him we were out-working you all tonight.
Q. (Indiscernible) what will it be like going against Kevin? And what do you admire about what he does (indiscernible)?
COACH PRUITT: All the guys on their staff, I know most of them. And some of them I've had the privilege of working with before. And we're all very competitive. But at the end of the day we're all really good friends. And it's going to be fun and exciting. And we're going to try to get our teams ready to play.
Q. Were you and Kevin pretty good friends when you played together at Alabama? And how has your relationship kind of developed?
COACH PRUITT: We wasn't as close when we were on the same team. We were only there for a year together. I guess as we got into the coaching profession, he was a graduate assistant at Alabama and we were around each other some then. And obviously worked together at Hoover High School for two years and then at Alabama for three. Then at Georgia for two. So we've known each other for 20-odd years and we're pretty close now.
Q. (Inaudible) how are these teams the same?
COACH PRUITT: You know, these guys are very talented. As talented as Sony and Nick are, they're even better people. They're great competitors. When you say this is what I want a football player to be, these guys are that way, not only on the football field but in the classroom, how they represent themselves.
And I know these guys are -- they're going to get after it and we're going to have to gang tackle them because one guy don't tackle them.
Q. The slate of guys and the technique, how much have you seen the maturation (indiscernible)?
COACH PRUITT: Most of the guys that I coached are on the defensive side. I haven't been watching any other defensive tape; I've been watching the guys on the other side of the ball. And trust me there were some long days trying to tackle Nick and Sony back then. They're just older now.
Q. Bryant (indiscernible) tendencies?
COACH PRUITT: No, I got my hands full on the other side.
Q. What's it mean to see guys like Lorenzo and Dominick in this position, especially given that they're guys that you helped put in this position?
COACH PRUITT: Well, I wouldn't say I helped put in this position. I think I was involved in the recruiting process. But it's been two years since I've been there and those guys have done a really good job and they've developed as players. They were good leaders then as young kids. They worked hard and they're good people.
Q. Was it tough that you had to say goodbye to those guys two years ago?
COACH PRUITT: The big thing in this business, it's a tough deal. Just sometimes if you do it long enough you're probably going to get fired one day. And if you do a good job you get an opportunity like I've got now. So either way it's tough to leave the kids because you've got the relationships. Some of the guys still hit me up from Georgia. So it will be good to see them Monday night.
Q. (Indiscernible) Davin and that night when Coach (inaudible) there was a Pruitt movement yelling at the cameras. Did you know about that at that time did you talk to them, their emotions are pretty high, too, when --
COACH PRUITT: Those guys, they've recovered pretty well. So a lot of times, the older you get, the wiser you get and I think they're probably just emotional that night.
Q. Almost at the finish line of juggling these two roles. The fact that everything is kind of like you thought it would be (inaudible)?
COACH PRUITT: I got to watch Kirby do it two years ago. So I came over and watched him try to do the deal at Georgia and get ready for Michigan State and Clemson.
So it's probably helped me watching him for those three weeks, I guess. So it's not an easy deal. But it's been enjoyable.
COACH PRUITT: I think Georgia is -- the big thing is it's hard to recruit against guys that worked the way they worked, the guys on their staff. And it starts with Kirby. He's always been that way. He's relentless in everything he does.
He's competitive about it. When I kind of retired my game from playing in those noontime basketball games with him and Coach Saban, I kind of like to go watch them, though, especially if they're on the opposite teams.
Q. When you were at Georgia, what was your response about how close or how far the program was (inaudible)?
COACH PRUITT: I think it's been really close. 2012, when I was at Alabama, we played Georgia, they were three yards away from playing in the national championship game that year. So it's always been right there close.
And it's kind of crazy. In college football you've got to get a lot of breaks; you gotta stay healthy. There's been a couple of years that we've actually won the championship and it took down the stretch in November for three or four teams to get beat to give us an opportunity to get back in the mix. So same thing happened this year.
Q. Is there a little bit of a sentimental feeling given the fact that most of the coaches on these two teams grew up around each other in this profession?
COACH PRUITT: Well, the good thing is somebody on -- one team's going to win. So that's a good thing. So we'll be either happy in Knoxville, or Kirby will be happy in Athens. And Coach will be happy in Tuscaloosa.
Q. You talked about learning from Kirby. What's the hardest emotional thing being about a head coach and still being a coordinator?
COACH PRUITT: Well, probably you know there's only 24 hours in a day. And to me it's a little bit of feeling of guilt. You almost feel like I'm sitting here working on this game, should I be doing something about the place I'm about to go, or the fact that I'm trying to recruit for Tennessee or set up or hire somebody and should I be spending this 45 minutes getting ready to figure out a way to stop Sony and Nick.
So there's really not a good answer to that. But I've tried to manage it the best I could.
Q. Did you have to sit down with Nick and have a meeting and say here are the parameters, right up until the season ends (indiscernible).
COACH PRUITT: No, we've worked with each other for eight years. So usually we can kind of finish each other's sentences. And I know his expectations and I know my expectations. So that's really not an issue.
Q. You mentioned those noon basketball games between Kirby and Nick. How competitive were they, and is that a precursor how Monday night, how competitive that will be too?
COACH PRUITT: They finally got on the same team back in, like, 2008. Once they got on the same team, that's when I pretty much gave it up, because you wasn't going to win if you weren't on their team because Coach Saban was picking the team. You had him and Kirby.
He picked the best athletes that was left in the entire organization and put the rest of us on the other team and then he called all the fouls. So you didn't have much of a chance. Then Kirby started trying to call the fouls, too. It was hard to win.
Q. How much Tennessee stuff have you been doing?
COACH PRUITT: You know, each week you've still got to recruit. You've got to recruit every day. So when we have an opportunity to recruit, the guys at Alabama, they start recruiting. So I do the same thing. I just do it for Tennessee.
Q. (Inaudible) beginning of the day, end of the day, how do you find it working in here in your daily schedule?
COACH PRUITT: Whenever I have a free moment.
COACH PRUITT: I told him he needed to be working on Tennessee this whole week. So, no, but we're professionals. We're going to do it the way it needs to be done. And we're going to do the best we can for the next 48 hours til -- I'll do the best I can to help us win the game; he'll do the best he can to help him win the game.
When the game is over with, we'll go to Knoxville and go to work.
COACH PRUITT: I have no idea. I'll be in the hotel.
COACH PRUITT: I really don't think that's a fair question because I've been gone for two years and lots of things change. So, I mean, I know this: Just working for Coach Saban and working with Kirby, me and him believe in a lot of the same things because we learned from the same people. But I would say I had no impact on the culture that's there now.
Q. What can you take from going into (inaudible)?
COACH PRUITT: They're really running the football well. He does a lot of things, gives you a lot of different looks. And so it's created a lot of late nights for us. But it's really -- sometimes when you have too much history, you can go all the way back. Because when I was at Georgia, we played them at Arkansas. Of course they're playing in Alabama. He was at Tennessee at a point in time. So sometimes you've got too much and you start chasing ghosts. There's only so many plays in the game. But obviously there's probably some benefit for both of us.
Q. On game day, do you have a routine that you like to go through to prepare? When you get to the stadium, is there something you do every time, stand by yourself (inaudible) is there any sort of routine that you do before every game?
COACH PRUITT: I like to get dressed as fast as I can, get out there on the field and sit down and relax, because you have about an hour and a half before the game starts and once that starts there's not a whole lot of relaxing involved.
Q. You talked about obviously how competitive Nick and Kirby are. And we know about their similarities. How are they different from coaches (inaudible)?
COACH PRUITT: You know, Coach, obviously he's older. And the older you get, to me I think you get wiser. And I would say probably me and Kirby are probably closer to being alike more than him and Nick.
I mean, we're closer to the same age and kind of have the same -- but one thing they both like to do, they like to play golf. I can say that. And it would be interesting to see who won the last time they played.
I tried to check the score, they played, when you had Coach Saban, he blamed it on his partner. I don't know who his partner was. And Kirby had a partner in some kind of SEC coaches deal, but they both like to play golf. They're both very good coaches. They're good with people.
They're very organized. And working for Kirby and for Coach, they both inspire others. So there's a lot of similarities there.
COACH PRUITT: No, and Levi reminds me of Aaron Davis. The same deal. Aaron was a walk-on when I got to Georgia. And Levi was a walk on here. And that's the thing, in recruiting, people make mistakes, and somebody should have offered both those guys scholarships. They played a lot of football and are very good football players and playmakers.
COACH PRUITT: Well, for one, he's a smart player and that helps because he makes the guys around him better. He recognizes things before they happen. He's tough. He's physical. And I see him every day. He comes up there. He's always in the office up there watching extra tape. So he's kind of a pro. He goes about it the right way and gets himself ready to play.
Q. Is it fair to say, when you got to Tennessee, there was some healing that had to be done (inaudible) the process there?
COACH PRUITT: I've only been up there for nine days and in those nine days I was actually only there three. So I don't know exactly what needs to be done yet. I think the question, your answer -- I know the direction we're going to go. And when we get there on Tuesday we're going to go there and we're going to do it wide open. So I'm not really worried about what's happened in the past. We're just kind of looking to the future.
Q. What's the direction (inaudible)?
COACH PRUITT: We want to be sitting here as soon as possible.
COACH PRUITT: Well, they're going to try to block us and we're going to try to tackle them. And every play is either going to end with a tackle or a touchdown. And I hope it ends with a tackle.
Q. Are you a little blown away with the familiarity -- talking about familiarity on all sides of this. Kevin is over there. You recruited half of his players. Already knew some of the guys over here. Kirby. How does that figure into a national championship competition when there's such familiarity?
COACH PRUITT: You know, it's interesting, because sometimes you might could overthink it because you say, okay, if we do this, Kirby's going to know we're going to do this. So they're going to try to do it this way.
And I'm sure he's probably sitting there doing the same thing. So it's kind of, probably be hit and miss in the game. But big thing, it won't be about any of us; it will be about the players that play the game.
I've never seen a call -- the players make the calls. And the players, they'll be the ones making the plays in this game. So none of us will really have an impact on that.
Q. (Inaudible) taking advantage of turnovers and points on defense?
COACH PRUITT: You know, I don't know how we can kind of set up turnovers. We'll do the best we can. If we get an opportunity to knock the ball loose, or if they make a mistake, we can finish on interception.
Q. Is that something you work on, knocking the ball loose?
COACH PRUITT: Every day. Every day, that's Coach's deal. We start the practice off. And I'm sure they do at Georgia is some form of turnover circuit.
Q. Obviously it worked out pretty good. When you think back, the team (inaudible), coming over there, Georgia, were you at any point disappointed that you didn't get to stay there? Obviously you landed at Alabama. Now head coaching job at Tennessee. God just had a different plan for you and the process of all what went down there.
COACH PRUITT: Yeah, obviously you're disappointed. I really enjoyed my time there. And we enjoyed Athens and really had a close bond with the players there and was wanting to try to finish what we started. But things happen. And it's worked out for both sides.
Q. Putting the team together, each linebacker has gotten (inaudible)?
COACH PRUITT: Well, the good thing is in recruiting, you know, when you look to sign a linebacker, we're a 3-4 team. You have outside backers, got inside backers, and to me guys that have value are the ones that can play both.
And we're very fortunate that we have signed some guys over the years that can play both. And sometimes we kind of double teach. So in the spring we might practice a kid half the time at outside backer, half the time at inside backer.
So hopefully if one of these situations show up that they do have some experience, but it's not an easy -- it's not really -- it's not easy on the kids either. And I know at times this year it's probably been frustrating for the players and not only the guys that's gotten hurt but the guys that's been forced to change positions. But these guys have bought in and really have done a fantastic job considering the circumstances.
Q. What's it say about (inaudible) got guys playing banged up, got guys out, and the defense is (inaudible)?
COACH PRUITT: Well, I think it's kind of a testament to the leaders on the defense. These guys have kind of been relentless in their preparation and how they go about their business. And they've set a really good example for the younger kids. And it kind of goes back to all the years before.
It's kind of the standard. It's the expectations. And these guys have kind of bought in and they're talented guys and have played well.
COACH PRUITT: I don't know but one that's got five national titles. So I don't know how many else are doing it.
Q. Even that echelon, seems like he's very involved as close as he can get?
COACH PRUITT: You probably -- if you went back over time, you can do it a bunch of different ways. You know, there's some guys that are not involved on either side of the ball. There's some guys that are involved maybe position-specific and there might be some head coaches that are coordinators. And there's people that's had success doing it a bunch of different ways.
So I don't think there's a right way or wrong way. But I think Coach Saban's passion is to be the corners coach. That's what he likes to do.
If you told him he couldn't be the corners coach, he'd just probably quit. So he'll probably let him be the corners coach for a while.
Q. You hear a lot about Nick Saban very different (inaudible) now Kirby Smart (inaudible) schematic, Nick Saban defense, a Smart defense?
COACH PRUITT: I think you've got to be good up the middle. You've got to have big guys up front. You need to have good inside linebackers. You need to have good safety play, and you kind of work yourself from inside out. The first thing we're going to talk about is being able to stop the run. If you can stop the run, you've got a chance to have success.
You want to eliminate explosive plays, make the other team earn it. You've got to find a way to create turnovers. You've got to be good on third down. And when people get in the red area, you've got to find a way to force them to kick field goals.
I think that's the key to any defense, but I would say probably that's the things that I know we talk about here and I'm pretty sure they probably talk about over there, but you better play with toughness. You better play with effort, and you just gotta have a physical team.
Q. Studying the defense, (inaudible) are they still pretty similar?
COACH PRUITT: You know, we actually followed them. They played Tennessee and Mississippi State. So we actually followed the defense. And we all still talk now. We talk during the. Heck, I talk to Auburn, talk to Kevin Steele. Talked to Kirby a few times. We still share ideas.
It's something about defense; you want to have success. But, yeah, there's a lot of similarities.
Q. You know a lot about Georgia's personnel. I think of you, I think of Dominick Sanders, how (inaudible) had to come in here and (inaudible). You were at church with his mom. The news came down that Coach Richt had been let go and all the guys on the offense (inaudible). Talk about those two?
COACH PRUITT: You know, Dom Sanders, he was a kid that played at Tucker High School here in Atlanta and has tremendous ball skills. He's a ball hawk. I think he might be the all-time interception leader at Georgia now. But he was a guy that played for us as a true freshman.
He could play a lot of spots. And just a good kid. He's really tough, instinctive and comes from a good family. Mecole, he was going to go to Georgia the whole time. He acted like he wasn't, but he was going to Georgia.
But good people. And I enjoyed recruiting Mecole and his family.
Q. (Inaudible) how important was it to have a Minkah Fitzpatrick back there?
COACH PRUITT: Well, fortunately those guys have managed -- a lot of people don't realize a lot of those guys have actually been banged up all year, especially Minkah. Minkah's had a lot of things going on early in the year, and he struggled a little bit with a hamstring. But the guy's got great toughness. He does everything you ask him to do. And really, except for losing Hootie for now, those guys have kind of same core guys have played all year and they've played through injuries.
But the defensive backs really put the limitations on your defense. And we're fortunate enough that those guys have played really well this year and allowed us to do some things up front to probably cover up the fact that we lost some guys early in the year.
Q. You said earlier you think (indiscernible) plays more like Kirby than Nick. In what ways?
COACH PRUITT: When Kirby is here, me and Kirby hang out probably more than him and Nick did.
Q. Kirby said that what he did two years ago and what you're doing now, he didn't have that signing period tucked in there, so yours is harder. How tired are you?
COACH PRUITT: I'm not tired, really. Not tired at all. I probably won't get tired until maybe February. So I'm excited. I'm excited about the opportunity. I'm excited for the chance to finish this thing off. And then when I go to Tennessee, I'll be ready to get going there.
Q. Did you talk to anyone for advice how to compartmentalize and juggle the two roles? Did you have any discussion and get any advice on that?
COACH PRUITT: I didn't have time to ask. Just jumped in and started.
COACH PRUITT: Who said that?
Q. The beat writers. Remember your rant that night after practice and you didn't have anywhere to practice really because of the situation. The interesting thing is you were bussing back to practice. And some would say it was an advantage in this. Do you think that you see that as an advantage, the process of them bussing back, being in their own facilities, recovery, treatment, weights, all that kind of stuff?
COACH PRUITT: I don't know. I really don't know if it's an advantage or not. It's still the same sized field that we'll be practicing in today. I don't know the answer to that.
Q. (Inaudible) given you any pointers this week?
COACH PRUITT: You know, he's not called me this week. So I wouldn't have answered the phone anyhow.
Q. Talk to your dad?
COACH PRUITT: My dad? All the time. My dad's one of the best coaches I've ever been around.
Q. (Inaudible) Alabama, representing the area.
COACH PRUITT: You know, I coached for my dad also and sometimes it gets pretty heated on Sunday afternoons when things don't go well on Friday night. So it's probably a blessing and a curse to coach for your dad.
Q. (Inaudible) Saturday morning (inaudible)?
COACH PRUITT: Yeah, I think I told the story about when I was probably six or seven years old and we were struggling through a season, which he didn't struggle through many. But he had just taken a job at his alma mater. And I don't know how bad we got beat that night. I was in about the second or third grade. And I'm sitting there listening to the coaches talk about what they should or could have done.
And I'm sitting there listening. I told him I said if you had run such and such play one more time, which we had no success running that play, I was being sarcastic, I think we would have won. He jerked his belt out and wore me out right there in the fieldhouse. I learned to keep my mouth shut after that.
COACH PRUITT: Yeah, you know, my dad being the head football coach there, kind of had privileges as a young kid that loved sports.
I kind of idolized the guys that played at the high school there. So I got to be around them every day and I thought I was cool because I got to hang around the football team. But having the opportunity to play for my dad and actually work for him, it's a pretty good experience, something that I'll cherish forever, really.
Q. (Indiscernible) I think, went to high school probably not very from where you did. Did you know him?
COACH PRUITT: No, I didn't.
COACH PRUITT: That smile. He's always smiling. Rashaan's always smiling. He's a pleaser. He comes to work every day and excited about every opportunity that he gets. He wants his teammates to have success. He's a really good teammate. And he's a good leader. And I thought it was great that they voted him a team captain. That says a lot about him. But he's had a tremendous year this year and he played excellent the other night. We need him to have one more game like he had the other night.
COACH PRUITT: I hope he gets everything that he wants.
Q. What about Da'Ron Payne, what does he bring to the defense (inaudible)?
COACH PRUITT: You know, he's a really good run stopper. He's hard to block in there. He's developed his pass rushing game. He's a guy that probably two years ago was playing maybe 15 snaps a game to now it's hard for us to take him off the field because he's so productive. And he goes about his business the right way every day. He prepares. He practices the right way.
We have a signal caller's deal where we assign each -- or not each player, but some of the players on the team something about our opponent each week. And I call on him every week because when he stands up and talks and talks about whatever he's looking at from our opponent, it sounds like a coach.
So he's a very intelligent guy and he's a really good football player.
Q. Compare anybody to his size and athleticism on sideline to sideline?
COACH PRUITT: I hadn't coached many like him.
COACH PRUITT: Yeah, probably after I'm gone. Those guys getting an experience to play. But, no. And there is -- some of these young guys got opportunities to play. And maybe they didn't even get to play but they got to practice with the 1s or 2s. So that will help them down the road.
Q. A lot of the (inaudible) are rolling their eyes at the SEC. What's it say about the conference and you've coached for so long (inaudible)?
COACH PRUITT: You know, everybody takes a lot of pride in where they work and what conference they're affiliated with. And I think that it says a lot about the SEC that there's two teams here.
But the other conferences are really competitive and, heck, I don't even know what the bowl records are in this bowl deal as far as each conference. But top to bottom, usually year in, year out, the SEC is as competitive as any conference out there.
Q. A lot was made about what it is to work with Coach Saban and you see the video on the screen, what's that been like? Is he really difficult to work with?
COACH PRUITT: No, absolutely not. I enjoy working for Coach Saban. He defines your role in the organization. And if you're not doing what he wants you to do, he confronts you. And that's what a leader is supposed to do in an organization.
He's a leader of men. I enjoy working with him. I've worked for him for eight years. If I didn't, I wouldn't have come back. I enjoy working for him. I've learned a lot. And I will always be thankful for the opportunity that he gave me.
Q. From your perspective, when Georgia lost to Alabama --
COACH PRUITT: And I hope he never has to hire me again.
Q. From your perspective, when Georgia lost to Alabama in 2016 (inaudible)?
COACH PRUITT: Well, of course I was on the losing part of that. And I was very thankful to Coach Saban that it wasn't worse because it could have been worse. But I thought I actually thought that a lot of young kids -- there's a lot of kids that played in that game -- I just know about the defense in Georgia -- a lot of those guys that played defensively in that game are still playing.
So it probably gave them kind of a realization of where they were at compared to where Alabama was at the time. And you can see they're here and they're a very good football team. And we'll have to play our very best game to have an opportunity to win.
Q. How difficult is it to game plan for running backs like Georgia has?
COACH PRUITT: You know, it is. They really have more than three running backs. If you watch, everybody talks about Nick and Sony and Swift. But Brian Herrien's a good back and Holyfield is a good back, too. You watch them at the end of the games and these guys are coming in and they're extremely talented.
But you don't find many places in the country if any that have five good runners like they have. And they have done an excellent job of keeping them all happy, keeping them healthy and finding a way to get them all in the game at the same time.
Q. Does having your own talented running backs in practice help in preparing them?
COACH PRUITT: It helps -- if you're going to be a good tackler, you gotta tackle in practice. And the better players you tackle, obviously the better tackler you'll be. And that's what this game will come down to probably is turnovers, explosive plays and who can tackle out in space.
Q. Kirby (inaudible) off-field coaching?
COACH PRUITT: I know this, it doesn't matter how good a football coach you are, if you don't have good players you don't have much of a chance. So I think in college ball, I think the recruiting aspect is -- you've got to be a good recruiter. You've got to be a good evaluator.
There's a lot of good players out there but you need to be a good evaluator. You need to have a system that you kind of have checks and balances to know what you're getting because it doesn't matter how talented they are; if they don't have the right work ethic or kind of the right intangibles they're probably not going to have the success that they possibly could. But once you get them, I do think that you've got to give them an opportunity to have a chance to have success and that comes then with the coaching.
Q. Certain position to have (inaudible) in the game book to (inaudible)?
COACH PRUITT: You know, I think in this business there's some guys that are known as recruiters. There's some guys known as coaches, and there's some guys that can do both. So to me I think you'd be better off to have guys that could do both.
Q. Every first-time head coach can't wait to get (inaudible). Is there any one specific thing that you can't wait to do that you may not have gotten to do as an assistant?
COACH PRUITT: I'm excited about getting to meet our team. I've addressed them one time. But we've got mid-year guys coming in and kind of the state of the union address -- this is where we're going and look them in the eye and get ready to go.
Q. Is it safe to say (inaudible) going to be a 3-4 team or (inaudible)?
COACH PRUITT: You know, I've not really -- yeah, let's get past Monday night before we get to that.
Q. Anything surprising about the process (inaudible)? Is it as expected?
COACH PRUITT: It's great right now because we ain't played a game yet.
Q. Talking about (indiscernible) going on and making the transition while coaching (inaudible). What's been the most challenging aspect of making this transition?
COACH PRUITT: Just managing time. Time management. Figuring out exactly -- you have a routine when you start preparing for an opponent. So you have the things that you're going to do each week, whether it's Sunday nights, you're going to go through all the runs and explosive plays or motion reel or stacks, bunch of reels, trips, patterns or whatever. But you kind of have that routine that you go through, but at the same time trying to put a staff together and making sure things are going the right way in Knoxville. And luckily I've got Coach Fulmer and all the guys that are there on staff right now are doing a really good job.
Q. (Inaudible) your overall observation?
COACH PRUITT: Ronnie's played a lot of football. I knew him when he was in high school in Tallahassee. He was a high school quarterback, which I like in defensive backs, because they're used to making the calls and tells you that they're pretty smart guys and probably have really good ball skills, which he does. Ronnie is tough. He's a great competitor. He has passion about the game. And he's played really well for us this year.
Q. How soon do you make the transition after Monday night?
COACH PRUITT: I think after the game on Monday night I'm going to go to Knoxville.
Q. The night right after --
COACH PRUITT: Well, I hadn't decided yet. We'll see.
Q. Talking about Kirby (inaudible) what are the differences between (inaudible)?
COACH PRUITT: I hadn't watched a whole lot. We followed them a couple of games at Tennessee. And the Mississippi State game. But those guys, they're playing really well. They were playing really well two years ago, too.
Q. Gives you a lot of pride?
COACH PRUITT: Gives me a lot of pride. I'm excited for the guys that are there. When we were getting ready to play Clemson, I was hoping Georgia won. I want those guys to have success. And they've had a tremendous amount. They've won the SEC Championship. And I think they need to let us win one. This one.
Q. You've been talking about the running game, what about Jake Fromm (inaudible) freshman in this position (inaudible)?
COACH PRUITT: You know, I'll tell you a story about Jake Fromm. I have a son, he's a sophomore at Jacksonville State, he's a quarterback. And he used to go to a football camp down in south Georgia, little quarterback camp down then.
He was in the tenth grade. I sat there for three days and sat and watched. And this one little group of quarterbacks was my son, Jake Fromm, Mecole Hardman and Tyrique McGhee.
I'm sitting there watching them saying who is this guy throwing the ball? Because they're not but 15 years old at the time. So it's hard to tell how big they're going to get.
But you could see then Jake had arm talent. So I'm easing over there, talking to him. And I could tell right away that Tyrique and Mecole wasn't going to be quarterbacks, they were going to be some kind of skilled players. But anyhow, you know, it was -- so I met Jake then.
And just watching him grow over the last couple of years as a player, and he was committed to Alabama. And kind of in the transition of going back and forth, I did have an opportunity to talk to him and his parents a little bit, good people.
But he has played outstanding this year, taking care of the football. You can tell he's going from run to run. He's making all the checks. And a lot of people take things for granted about quarterbacks, is he throws them where they can catch and run with them.
Sometimes guys throw it out there and they may catch it but they can't run with it. He puts the ball on them. Throws the ball on time. Throws them open. But he's had an outstanding season. He's a leader, obviously. But a lot of respect for him.
COACH PRUITT: That's a good question. If I knew, I could sleep tonight. Because they put all those different guys back there at running back and in the wildcat. And they make it difficult on you because they shift out of it. But the big thing is you better keep edges. You better strike blockers. You better be gap-sound. And then you've got to get them on the ground.
COACH PRUITT: You know, somebody asked me that earlier. I would say there's probably some advantages both ways. But at the same time you possibly could have too much information. So you kind of are dating back to all the years we've all coached or played against each other and there's been a lot of times we're on the same team and sharing ideas and you know how each other thinks.
But at the end of the day none of us are going to be playing. It will be the players and we'll all try to put our guys in the best position to have success.
COACH PRUITT: Maybe back when I was coaching high school ball on Sand Mountain.
Q. (Question about linebackers at Alabama)?
COACH PRUITT: I didn't recruit any of the same kids. When I left Georgia, I told every one of the guys that I had recruited to Georgia that were committed, to go to Georgia. The ones that I was recruiting here at Alabama that were committed, told them to go to Alabama.
COACH PRUITT: Yeah, absolutely. If they're not committed. It would be crazy not to recruit them, right?
Q. What was it like to go into the living room (inaudible)?
COACH PRUITT: When I recruit, I sell the school and the head coach at the school. So a lot of these schools in the SEC, they all have great academic support. They have all the resources that you need. So it's not that big a deal.
COACH PRUITT: I knew that when I took the job. We'll jump in there and we'll recruit against them. And do the best we can, you know?
Q. How different is it knowing you're going against a ton of guys on the Georgia team that you know so well, personally what's it going to mean?
COACH PRUITT: You know, I'm sure -- I hadn't talked to any of the guys much lately. But I'll be excited to see them. I'm really excited for them, what kind of year they've had. And I know that a lot of the guys that we recruited when I was there, this is kind of the vision that you were hoping that they would get an opportunity to be a part of. And so it's definitely interesting for sure.
Q. If there is an advantage to that kind of knowledge, does it kind of get nullified since both sides have the same --
COACH PRUITT: I wouldn't think there's an advantage either way. I mean, we probably, with the guys, especially on defense, on the defensive side of the ball, everybody's worked together so much. We kind of know what each other wants to do in certain situations. So again it will be about the players going and executing.
Q. Those first two weeks you and Kirby shared an office before he came to Georgia?
COACH PRUITT: No, we didn't share an office.
COACH PRUITT: No, I really didn't have an office. I just hung out.
Q. You got to see up close what he was dealing with in the transition?
COACH PRUITT: Oh, absolutely. I tried to help Kirby as much as I could because I knew if Kirby had success, it would give me an opportunity one day. So I tried to help him any way I could. And he has done the same for me.
COACH PRUITT: Well, he's getting the playmakers the ball. They're not having any negative plays. They're not turning the ball over. They're playing really well up front.
Jake's done a fantastic job getting them in the right place. And they have playmakers. They're good on the outside. They've got four or five really good tight ends. They've got a really good football team. Best offensive team we've played this year.
COACH PRUITT: Roquan, he was a pretty good one in high school. He worked hard. Liked to practice. He's done a really good job. And Coach Schumann has done a nice job developing him as a player. I'm excited to see the success he's having.
Q. (Inaudible) how big of an impact did he have on your Tennessee job?
COACH PRUITT: He had no impact on me taking the Tennessee job. Who ain't going to be -- if Tennessee offered you the head coaching job, wouldn't you take it? Absolutely.
Q. You've been around a while. What kind of separation -- Nick Saban, what separates him?
COACH PRUITT: I've been fortunate to be around a lot of really good head coaches and talk about Mark Richt and Jimbo Fisher and Gene Stallings. And my dad. Rush Propst. I've learned something from all those guys. I've been very fortunate to be around them.
And I've kind of -- I would say if you looked at it, there's a lot of things you could take, but one thing I would take from Coach Saban is his organizational skills, his leadership, his plan, what he calls the process.
COACH PRUITT: I hope he does. I hope he does. Rush is a really good play caller, has a great mind on offense. He has a way with kids, too.
COACH PRUITT: Yeah, that was a curve ball a little bit. But I've told somebody earlier, I got to watch Kirby do it for three weeks. And I was in there watching him. There wasn't an early signing day period then, but I watched him juggle the two jobs.
And he done a really good job with it, probably much better than I'm doing. But I did get to learn a lot from it. And I got to see it anyhow.
Q. Everybody is talking about the similarities between Georgia and Alabama. What's different?
COACH PRUITT: About the way we play?
Q. Yeah, versus Georgia. Is there any difference in terms of what you see with Bama and Georgia? There's so many similarities between the two teams. Do you think there's any difference?
COACH PRUITT: I don't think there's a whole lot. I think both teams are very similar. They're both committed to running the football, playing good on special teams and playing good defense.
Q. Football 101?
COACH PRUITT: I would say so.
Q. Coming off the effort on Monday night, what's been the main focus this week in terms of preparation?
COACH PRUITT: Two totally different offensive football teams. Clemson spreads you out. Georgia is very multiple in formations and personnels. Different -- really different in the run game. More pro-style.
They present a lot of different, I guess, you would say multiples about what they do with all the wildcats and shifts and motions and not a lot of people do what they do offensively. So it makes them a tough preparation for us.
Q. The line of scrimmage?
COACH PRUITT: The team who is probably dominant on the line of scrimmage will have a pretty good opportunity in this game.
Q. I suspect it's been mentioned a few times to you.
COACH PRUITT: Probably in both places.
Q. Folks who are going to be watching this game who don't watch this conference every week, what would you describe for them to expect from an SEC football title game?
COACH PRUITT: I think you'll see two teams that compete really hard that are prepared that are going to play with toughness and going to play together. So knowing a lot of guys on both teams, knowing all these guys here and most of the guys on the team very high character individuals that are going to do it the right way.
Q. Over the years the teams on the other side, same conference?
COACH PRUITT: Yeah, I think so. I think it's very unique.
Q. Stop the run, five, six guys block. Do you expect the game plan to change dramatically because of your ability?
COACH PRUITT: We're going to try to play with 13 if they'll let us. These guys run the football really well, but also they throw the ball to probably set up the run and they run the ball to set up the pass. So we've just gotta do a good job on first down and second down and try and get them into some third and longs and get off the field on third down and create some turnovers.
COACH PRUITT: We've got guys from all over, all over the state of Alabama and guys from all over the country. So once you kind of join the team, it really don't matter where you're from. But it's good to see some of the guys from north Alabama on our team.
Q. Last year, when we talked to you, you said (inaudible) national championship. Is it the same this week? (Inaudible)?
COACH PRUITT: No, I've not talked to him this week. So we hadn't watched any tapes.
COACH PRUITT: I'm excited for the guys that I recruited and the guys that were on the team. There's a lot of guys that I didn't recruit but were on the team while I was there that I'm excited to see them have success, a lot of really good kids on that team. And it doesn't surprise me at all the success that they've had.
Q. Feel like (inaudible) when you were there?
COACH PRUITT: We were young. We were younger then. But it's really hard to compare. But these guys have had a great year. And I'm sure they're going to do everything they can to finish it off and just like our guys will try to do the same.
COACH PRUITT: Well, I guess you could say if you're going to lose, at least you lose to one of your friends. But I don't want to lose. I know Kirby don't want to lose either. And Kevin don't want to lose. And Glenn don't want to lose. And those players don't want to lose. But when you're at this point, you want to finish it. And hopefully we'll have an opportunity to do that.
COACH PRUITT: I think Ronnie has matured as a player. He's matured on the field, off the field. And I've seen a lot of growth in him just in this year. But he does. He has a lot of passion about the game. He has a lot of passion for his teammates. And when he gets going, he kind of gets going.
COACH PRUITT: Golden hands? I really didn't know he could catch a football and I sure didn't know he could catch it and get his feet inbounds, but he caught two in one game. He must have better hands that I gave him credit for.
Q. What's in store for him?
COACH PRUITT: I don't know what Coach Daboll is going to do over there. But I would love for him to get another interception on defense, for sure.
COACH PRUITT: Off the field, as good a player Minkah Fitzpatrick is on the field, he's a better person off the field. That tells you what kind of person he is.
Q. (Inaudible) Talk about his development.
COACH PRUITT: You know, he's worked really hard in the offseason. He's really changed his body. When he got here, a year ago, he was 360 pounds. I think he's like 305, 308 now.
The guy comes to work every day. He loves ball. He's still learning how to play the position. But he's got a bright future ahead of him.
Q. (Inaudible) to overcome and be an impact player, what does it say about him (inaudible) to become the player that people thought he was going to be immediately when he got here?
COACH PRUITT: I think it's happened to a lot of guys that's come to Alabama, and even other schools. People put on unrealistic expectations on recruits. It takes time. It takes time, especially a guy like Rashaan. He played defensive end in high school. Now he's playing inside linebacker, a team that expects to play in the national championship. So you've got to learn how to play and learn how to play the position.
To me, he's done a fantastic job. He's grown as a player and the guy really prepares himself each week. He works hard in the offseason and is a good leader on our team, good leader for our kids. It don't surprise me the success he's had.
COACH PRUITT: Doing things the right way. Even when somebody else ain't looking.
COACH PRUITT: No, I mean, there's really all different forms of discipline. And so I think if you don't have it, it's going to be hard to have success in anything you do.
COACH PRUITT: No. I come from a good family. That's something that I learned at home.
COACH PRUITT: You know, I hadn't really thought about it that way. I'm just really doing my job. And yesterday we practiced in Tuscaloosa in the indoor, and I heard some kids say: Coach, this is our last time in here. I really didn't think about it that way. But we built some really good relationships with these guys.
And I guess when probably the moment comes, I gotta step away, I'll probably be emotional. But it is what it is. So they'll be fine and I'll be fine and we'll stay in contact and that's kind of what happens in life.
Q. To get that Gatorade bath, what's that mean to you? Was it a surprise?
COACH PRUITT: It really surprised me. I didn't know exactly if somebody was jumping me or what. I got underneath most of it. I just got a little bit. But I owe Mac and Razor for that one.
Q. He said that's what makes you you; you're the guy who focuses on the moment, that's all you're worried about. Is that what makes you the coach you are?
COACH PRUITT: I don't know about that. I just -- I know that there's nothing you can do about the last play and there's no reason to worry about three plays from now, just focus on the play at hand.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports