Assessing the Seminoles' New Defensive Coaches

Dec 21, 2012 -- 10:32am


By: Alex Turko     @aturko_23

Jeremy Pruitt and Sal Sunseri are the most recent additions to the Florida State coaching staff.   The leading target to replace Mark Stoops was thought to be Ellis Johnson, but he took the defensive coordinator job at Auburn instead of FSU, prolonging Fisher’s search. 

Pruitt is a 38-year-old coach who specializes in coaching in the secondary, as he coached this position at Alabama under secondary guru Nick Saban.  The production of Pruitt’s secondary in his three-year stint at Alabama is overwhelmingly impressive, and Florida State can only hope that Pruitt can bring a more aggressive style of play and increase the amount of turnovers forced by this defense.  This season the Seminoles defense has forced only 19 turnovers as a by-product to the passive play calling of former defensive coordinator Mark Stoops.

While Jeremy Pruitt was coaching high school football four years ago, and does not have any play calling experience at the college level, I will be quick to remind you that every good coach has to start somewhere.  Many great coaches are given opportunities without any prior play calling experience.  For example, Alabama’s current defensive coordinator Kirby Smart was promoted from his position as secondary coach (sound familiar to Pruitt?), to calling plays for one of the best defenses in the country.  Will Muschamp had no prior D1 experience before being named D-coordinator at LSU, and Bud Foster went through the same elevation process. 

These are just a few big names in the profession that have succeeded as defensive coordinators without prior experience.  I find it absurd that Fisher is being criticized by some for this hire as it has been proven in most cases that coaches elevated from a lower position have a great chance of succeeding.  I think any coach working at Alabama under Nick Saban is well qualified and has extensive knowledge of the game.

I think the real storyline is how well Sal Sunseri and Pruitt will gel.  Sunseri has only one year of defensive coordinator experience and worked with Pruitt at Alabama.  Most people think that a 53-year-old will not want to take orders from a much younger coach in Pruitt, but hopefully their prior relationship prevents any problems.  Regardless, I think Fisher did a great job filling the vacancies with good coaches and recruiters.    

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