Wednesday, August 20, 2014 8:43 AM
Herbstreit doesn't like Stoudt's or Clemson's chances at Georgia
by David Hood
Senior Writer

ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit thinks that Georgia’s environment and a defense helmed by former FSU defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt will be too much for Clemson quarterback Cole Stoudt when Clemson and Georgia meet in the season opener in Sanford Stadium on August 30th.

During a conference call with the media on Tuesday, Herbstreit said that he thinks all of those factors will be more than Stoudt – who will be making his first career start in the game – can handle.

"That's a tough game for a quarterback without a whole lot of experience," Herbstreit said, “to step into without looking out there and seeing Sammy Watkins and some of the other skill that they had."

The game marks the debut of Pruitt as the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator. He was the secondary coach for the Alabama from 2010 to 2012 and won two national championships. Pruitt left Alabama and became Florida State's defensive coordinator in 2013, where he won a third national championship with the Seminoles.

In his only season as defensive coordinator in Tallahassee, Pruitt’s defense led the nation in scoring defense (10.7 ppg), was third nationally in total defense (248.2 ypg), second in the nation in passing defense, and first in the nation in interceptions (26).

At Clemson last October, Pruitt’s defense held Clemson to just 326 total yards – 203 yards through the air and just 123 on the ground in 41 attempts – in the Seminoles’ 51-14 victory. The Seminoles continued their run and eventually won the title with a win over Auburn in January.

"Instead of a victory lap, he got on a plane and went to Athens," Herbstreit said. “That was amazing for me to see.”

Herbstreit said that Pruitt has a way of keeping things simple for his players while confusing opposing offenses.

"Basically a coach that brings a lot of Nick Saban and Kirby Smart's mannerisms and scheme, kind of a hybrid 4-3 with 3-4 tendencies," Herbstreit said. "He loves to confuse offensive linemen. He loves to confuse quarterbacks. He has a way of relating to players and getting them to play hard. But it’s hard on offenses at the same time. He inherited a veteran group at Georgia, so between him and the skill they have coming back on offense, that is the reason why I like Georgia to win the SEC East.”

As a result, Herbstreit doesn’t like Clemson’s chances between the hedges.

"That's one of those games where, if it were in Death Valley, you'd maybe say Clemson has a better chance obviously," Herbstreit said. "But going on the road with a young quarterback and some young skill against a very complicated, multiple defense, I think it's a tough matchup for Clemson personally.”

David Hood can be reached at davidhood@tigernet.com