That was news to Georgia safety Shawn Williams on Monday, whose own blunt words about the defense lit a fire under his teammates.
“Oh really,” Williams said after practice Monday. “Maybe I can get a plaque. Just kidding. Just kidding.”
If Georgia wins a national title, Williams’ critique of the defense certainly will be long remembered.
Before Georgia’s 17-9 win against Florida, the senior now famously called out Georgia’s defense as “soft” and said the Bulldogs were playing without emotion.
Georgia has given up an average of 8.3 points and 263.8 total yards in the four games since then against the Gators, Ole Miss, Auburn and Georgia Southern.
“I think Shawn’s comments certainly had a great effect on our football team,” coach Marl Richt said on his radio show Monday night. “It jolted everybody a little bit. It got some guys mad, it got some guys hurt, their feelings got hurt a little bit. I think everybody understood Shawn’s motivation was to get everybody to play they are supposed to play.”
Williams doesn’t think he should be credited for saving the season, but he said he’s seeing his teammates now giving it their all and playing “really good” now.
“I wouldn’t call it saving the season,” Williams said in his first public comments since his rant. “I just always knew we could do it. We just had to go out and do it.”
Williams—and his teammates for that matter—seemed to be careful in choosing their words on Monday. That followed the lead of Richt a day earlier who said he was focused on Georgia Tech and wouldn’t comment on the Bulldogs’ position in the BCS title race.
“I don’t know if it got everybody stirred up or what not,” Williams said of his comments last month. “We’re looking past that now. We’ve got Georgia Tech.”
Jones, Richt award semifinalists
It’s award season time in college football.
Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones and Richt are making the cut as lists are pared down.
Jones is one of three semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award for the nation’s most outstanding defensive player.
Jones is second nationally in sacks per game (10 ½ total) and leads in tackles for loss per game (18 total). He has six forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o and South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney are the other Bednarik finalists. The winner will be announced on Dec. 6 at the college football awards show on ESPN.
Jones is already a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and the Rotary Lombardi Award and a semifinalist for the Butkus and Lott IMPACT Awards.
It would stun and thrill Georgia fans if the regular season finale against Georgia Tech Saturday wasn’t Jones last game in Sanford Stadium.
The redshirt junior is projected as an early NFL draft pick if he enters the draft, with some pegging him at No. 1.
Jones said Saturday that he’s not thinking about that now.
“Not at all,” Jones said. “I’m just taking the approach week by week. Thinking about leaving here? I haven’t even thought about it yet. For me, it’s just controlling what I can control and that’s playing good football.”
Richt is one of 16 semifinalists for the Maxwell Football Club’s collegiate coach of the year. The others from the SEC: Florida’s Will Muschamp and Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin. Richt is also one of 18 on the watch list for the Paul Bear Bryant Award.
Quarterback Aaron Murray was not a finalist for the Davey O’Brien Award.
Kansas State’s Collin Klein, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Ohio State’s Braxton Miller were the final three.
New twist to rivalry
Georgia and Georgia Tech will play for the first time in their rivalry with both heading to their conference championship games the following week.
Of course, the Atlantic Coast Conference is only in the eighth year of holding its title game.
The Yellow Jackets landed a spot in this year’s game on Monday before most people probably began their shortened work week after Miami announced it was self-imposing a postseason bowl ban for the second straight year.
That sent Georgia Tech from the Coastal Division to the Dec. 1 game in Charlotte against Florida State.
Georgia Tech made the game in 2006 and 2009, but had to vacate its 2009 title due to NCAA sanctions.
Georgia Tech, which started the season 2-4 and fired defensive coordinator Al Groh, is expected to get an NCAA waiver to play in a bowl game should it finish 6-7 with losses to Georgia and Florida State, Football Bowl Executive Director Wright Waters told the Birmingham News. The ACC title game winner goes to the Orange Bowl.
This and that
Starting offensive guard Chris Burnette practiced on Monday and said he will play Saturday after missing the past two games due to injury.“I’m good,” Burnette said. “They’d have to tell me I can’t play in order for me not to play on Saturday.” Burnette missed the past two games with a shoulder injury. He called it a “stinger, but mine was a little more long-term.”
Calling the game for ESPN Saturday will be Dave Pasch, Brian Griese and Jenn Brown.
Saturday’s captains: Williams, Tavarres King, Sanders Commings and Ty Frix.