Georgia Tech Football: How Does Ted Roof Compare to New uga DC Jeremy Pruitt?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Our in-state rivals made news earlier this week when they hired a new DC, fresh off of a national championship. All things considered though, who has the better coordinator now?

You may have heard that earlier this week, uga lost its Defensive Coordinator Todd Grantham to my Louisville Cardinals (that's a whole other issue entirely). Then, only about two days later, Pruitt was hired out of Tallahassee, only about a week after he led a defensive unit that won a national championship. (Side note: There was a major lack of clarity as to why he left, given FSU would have paid him equally to coach a unit bringing back a lot of guys who had just won a title. Tomahawk Nation offers a little insight, and you're going to want to hear this.)

The hire was generally considered a home run hire, as Pruitt's team performed very highly this season in all respects. However, it would seem to have helped that he was using absolute top-notch talent against a pretty considerably weak schedule through the ACC Atlantic and their out-of-conference games. That said, I was interested to do some research on whether Pruitt is really that good of a pure DC, or whether he looked really good because he was playing on "Varsity" difficulty.

As a disclaimer before getting into it, you should know that this article was written as it was researched, and I had no idea what the results would be when I started writing. For all I know, Jeremy Pruitt makes Willie Martinez look like a genius, or makes Nick Saban look like an idiot.

Statistics

From a pure statistical standpoint, Florida State's defense was downright dominant. Take a look at what they did and how it compares to Georgia Tech's numbers.

Scoring Defense (Rk) Passing Defense (Rk) Rushing Defense (Rk) Turnovers Forced (Rk)
Florida State 2013 12.1 ppg (1st) 156.6 ypg (1st) 124.8 ypg (18th) 35 (2nd)
Georgia Tech 2013 22.8 ppg (29th) 244.5 ypg (85th) 115.8 ypg (11th) 20 (71st)

Based on this comparison, it's pretty clear where Georgia Tech was weak -- the secondary was depleted, meaning inflated passing stats from opponents. (Also, Roof traditionally is more focused on stopping the run, and isn't afraid to leave the secondary to fend for themselves at times. It's all a big risk-reward game.) From a pure statistics standpoint, Pruitt would appear to be the better DC. However, I want to dive in deeper and examine how much of it was his doing.

History

Both of these guys were in their first year on the job in 2013, giving a pretty fair comparison on who developed their players more. Below you'll see the statistical comparison from before they took over, in 2012.

Scoring Defense (Rk) Passing Defense (Rk) Rushing Defense (Rk) Turnovers Forced (Rk)
Florida State 2012 14.7 ppg (6th) 161.9 ypg (1st) 91.9 ypg (3rd) 22 (58th)
Georgia Tech 2012 28.3 ppg (65th) 229.8 ypg (58th) 144.2 ypg (44th) 25 (37th)

So what you can see here is that Pruitt inherited a unit that already performed extremely well. To be fair, Florida State lost 7 defensive players to the NFL Draft, but it should also be noted that only 4-5 of them were starters. (The preseason depth chart includes 4, while the ACC Championship Game Depth Chart figures 5 when injuries are taken into account.) Also, note that Georgia tech's rushing defense improved considerably, as did its scoring defense, while its passing defense degraded, in line with my theories on Roof's strategies combined with injuries.

In any case though, Pruitt was coming into a situation where his team was already dominant. They were stacked with talented veterans and already performing extremely well. The only noticeable difference was the 13 extra turnovers created, and the extra 30 rushing yards per game being allowed. (I would contest that the former is far more important to note than the latter.) But with a lot of graduating players, Pruitt would have to do some rebuilding, right?

Talent Levels

Again, with 2013 being each coach's first year on the job, they had a very limited ability to recruit any players that they would be coaching, meaning their abilities in that realm are off the table here. But, let's look at the players that they inherited. As for just the starters on each team, here are the ratings per Rivals.

5-Star Players 4-Star Players 3-Star Players
Florida State 2013 Defense 6 4 2
Georgia Tech 2013 Defense 0 2 9

First observation: perhaps part of the reason Florida State was so good this year is that they list 12 starters. I'm sure we'd be a lot better too if we had an extra guy on the field...

Georgia Tech was able to produce, except with ponies in place of horses.

(Yes, I realize that they're covering for both of when their base is a 4-3 or nickel package. No, it doesn't make that much of a difference in the scope of my point.)

The big story here is that Florida State is LOADED with talent. Six 5-star players on one side of the ball? That's the kind of thing that makes your fans expect national championships. (They've also signed 94 players the last 4 years, with a "maximum" of 25 per year and 85 on scholarship at any given time.) Basically, Georgia Tech was able to produce, relatively, a pretty good output, except with ponies in place of horses. Oh, and the one thing that can make that talent shine the most?

Opposition

So we'll start with the pure Sagarin rankings, which ranks teams by Strength of Schedule. Florida State finished the season ranked #1 per Jeff Sagarin. However, he found their strength of schedule to rank 62nd nationally -- right at middle of the pack. In the same set of calculations, Georgia Tech's schedule actually ranked 46th nationally -- a full 16 spots higher. So, with more talent, Florida State feasted on a weaker schedule.

Florida State's FBS OOC opponents won a combined 9 games, for a 9-26 combined record. None of them went to a bowl game.

Looking closer at the actual opponents, Florida State's OOC opponents were Nevada, Bethune-Cookman (FCS), Idaho, and Florida. Those FBS teams won a combined 9 games, for a 9-26 combined record. None of them went to bowl games. On their ACC run, they played the other 6 teams in the Atlantic, plus cross-division rival Miami and rotating cross-division opponent Pittsburgh. Of those, the toughest by far was Clemson, who finished 11-2 and Orange Bowl Champions against Ohio State. Their 8 ACC opponents combined to win 55 games (an average of 6.875 wins per team) and were a combined 55-47 (a .539 winning percentage). 6 of the 8 teams would play in Bowl games. Add their OOC opponents as well as Duke and Auburn to the mix, and FSU's FBS opponents were a combined 86-79 (a .521 win percentage). For what it's worth, only adding Auburn (to keep things equal at 13 games) leaves opponents at 76-75, a .503 winning percentage.

Long story short, Georgia Tech played a noticeably more difficult regular season.

On the Georgia Tech side, OOC opponents were Elon (FCS), Alabama A&M (FCS), BYU, and uga. The FBS teams there combined for 16 wins and a 16-10 combined record. Both went to bowl games, though they each lost to Washington and Nebraska, respectively. Their ACC schedule included games against the other 6 teams in the Coastal, cross-division rival Clemson, and rotating cross-division opponent Syracuse. Of those, the toughest was also Clemson. Those teams combined to win 61 games and were a combined 61-43 (a .587 winning percentage). Of their 8 conference opponents, 7 would play in Bowl games, for a total of 9 bowl-bound regular season opponents. Including Bowl opponent Ole Miss, Tech opponents finished 85-58 (a .594 winning percentage).

Long story short, Georgia Tech played a noticeably more difficult regular season, while Florida State obviously played two very tough opponents in the ACC Championship Game and National Championship Game.

Conclusion

There's nothing overly scientific here. We're not comparing apples to apples.

Truth be told, there's nothing overly scientific here. We're not comparing apples to apples. Florida State performed better against different opponents using different players, which is hardly enough to pass judgment on the performances of two first-year DCs. However, it should be fairly obvious here that Pruitt had an advantage from the start, particularly with the talent he had to work with and the foundation that was already present. Combine that with a very weak regular season, and I start to wonder if Pruitt's success is actually because he's a really good coach. Don't get me wrong, he really might be one of the best pure defensive minds out there for all I know.

...but then again, we don't really know, do we? Pruitt doesn't have a truly extensive track record at the college level. And that might be the most interesting part of this hire and whether it works out.

First off, congratulations if you made it this far. Secondly, what are your thoughts on all this? Was Pruitt's success inflated by some of these factors? Is he that much better of a DC than Roof? Let's hear your thoughts on the hire and the comparisons between the two.

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