Defensive linemen Garrison Smith and Mike Thornton read Williams’ comments on a computer screen that night calling the Bulldogs underachieving defense “soft.”
“I was like `Oh, OK. That’s definitely like shots fired,” Smith said. “Now you’ve got to defend are you a soft player or not?”
Inside linebackers Mike Gilliard and Christian Robinson faced questions Tuesday about Williams saying he prefers Amarlo Herrera and Alec Ogletree staying in the game because “those are two guys who will go out and give everything they’ve got, even if they mess up.”
An impassioned Gilliard said: “I was just upset today at practice.”
He tried to take it out on ballcarriers he went up against.
“I felt like I was disrespected,” Gilliard said. “It just gave me motivation.”
Robinson likewise wasn’t pleased.
“It’s definitely not the best thing to hear after you got a win,” Robinson said. “I think we’re going to just have to stick together. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but we all make mistakes.”
Gilliard, who has 99 tackles and 16 starts since the start of 2011, said that he talked to Williams Tuesday.
“He told me that it was nothing personal,” Gilliard said, “but then again when he said names he said my name without saying names. I took that personal.”
Coach Mark Richt met with Williams on Tuesday morning.
“I think Shawn’s just a real passionate guy,” Richt said. “I think he loves Georgia and loves his team and wants us to play the best we could possibly play. I think it was more public than you would like.”
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham let Williams speak to the players in a meeting before practice.
Players had different takes on the “soft” comment.
“It needed to be said sometime soon,” linebacker Amarlo Herrera said. “Somebody needed to say something. He took it upon himself and said it. …Y’all look at the film. We’ve been playing soft around here. We haven’t been showing the old D that we were playing last year.”
Richt was asked about the “soft” comment.
“That’s how he felt about it,” Richt said. “He has a right to say that. Do we want to get better at stopping the run? Yeah, you better believe it.”
Cornerback Sanders Commings said Georgia isn’t a soft defense.
“I think last week we played lazy,” Commings said of a 29-24 Georgia win in which it gave up 206 rushing yards.
Gillard said the defense will be ready Saturday after a great day of practice Tuesday.
“I felt like that woke a lot of guys up,” outside linebacker Jarvis Jones said of Williams’ comments. “Guys were turned up on both sides of the ball.”
Could it be a spark for the team?
“It might,” Richt said smiling. “We’ll see.”
Jones ready for return
Jarvis Jones offered an apology for being the last player up for interviews Tuesday night.
“I just came from treatment,” the junior said. “That’s what took me so long so I’m sorry.”
Jones is expected to play Saturday against No. 3 Florida after missing the Kentucky game with a sprained right ankle.
“Yeah, I’m fine man,” said Jones, who said he did nearly everything in practice. “I’m finally getting back out there moving around a little bit, enjoying it. …I feel good right now.”
The SEC’s sack leader from last season hasn’t played enough this year (75 percent of games) to show up on the league’s official statistics this week.
Jones’ 5 ½ sacks would rank third, but he also sat out the Florida Atlantic game with a strained groin.
He said he hasn’t felt close to healthy since he reinjured the groin early in the Sept. 8 game against Missouri.
“It’s been tough, man,” Jones said. “It’s been frustrating, but just got to go out there and keep my head level and stay focused and just keep pushing myself. With me being a leader of this team and this defense, the guys look up to me. I’ve just got to take care of my body better than I have been and just stay focused and when I do get a chance to play, just give everything I’ve got.”
Jones said he injured the ankle on a “freak play” when a lineman pushed Alec Ogletree. The linebacker fell on the ankle. Jones returned to the game, trying to tough it out.
Offensive line options
Kenarious Gates shifted from left tackle to guard for most of the second half Saturday.
Richt said the move came after starting left guard Dallas Lee tweaked an ankle.
Mark Beard played left tackle when Lee was out, but Lee was in a regular jersey in Tuesday’s practice.
“This week we’ve got a little rotation going,” Gates said. “I’m practicing at left tackle and left guard as well. You never know what the situation might be so we’re planning a little rotation.”
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo sounded like he was still sorting through options.
“This week will be a competition,” Bobo said. “Dallas has got to get healthy, but I think it’s good that Mark got a lot of experience last week.”
This and that
Georgia Tech returned approximately 1,900 tickets from its allotment of 8,000 for the Nov. 24 game in Athens. Georgia Bulldog Club members had first dibs at the tickets—going for $75 each. Remaining tickets will be on sale today to the general public. They are located in the 600 level.
Richt’s voice was already hoarse a day into Florida gameweek and remained so on Tuesday. He said it came after getting on players after an unsportsmanlike penalty on T.J. Stripling after a punt Saturday.