That sent shock waves through the Bulldogs’ defense and was eventually chalked up as a motivational tool heading into Georgia’s 17-9 win over Florida.
Richt joked Tuesday that he would try to get Williams, now with the Cincinnati Bengals, to speak to his team for motivation this week before facing Florida on Saturday.
“Yeah, I ought to call Shawn and see if I can have him,” Richt joked. “Get him on a conference call or Skype him in here on the big screen. I might do that.”
Georgia’s defense has been giving 390.1 yards a game and allowing opponents to convert on 42 percent of third down attempts, good for 88th among FBS teams. Williams’s rant came up to players during interviews Tuesday and linebacker Amarlo Herrera said he has no problem confronting his teammates, but wouldn’t do it in the media.
“I’m going to tell everybody to their face how I feel,” said Herrera, who has is fifth in the Southeastern Conference with 65 tackles. “If you ain’t working hard, I’m going to say something. It’s not personal though.”
Defense lineman Garrison Smith said he has to let his teammates know when they’re doing something he considers unacceptable.
“Just know that behind the scenes, it’s a lot of things that’s going on that are handled different ways to make sure that guys know we got to do better if we want to win,” said Smith, who has 35 tackles and 1. 5 sacks.
Georgia’s defense has been heavily scrutinized for its inability to stop opponents on third down. Linebacker Jordan Jenkins said he thought the defense’s performance against Vanderbilt was one of the best of the season despite the loss. Georgia allowed 119 rushing yards and 218 passing yards, less than season averages of 136.7 and 253.4, respectively.
“They were only 5 out of 15 on third down,” Jenkins said. “That’s the best we’ve played third down the whole time. I thought we played stout against the run.”
Bulldogs get ‘juice’ from Mizzou loss
South Carolina clawed back from a 17-0 deficit against Missouri on Saturday and pulled off a 27-24 victory in double overtime.
The Gamecocks’ win opened the slightly cracked door a little bit more for the Bulldogs to get back to the SEC title game.
“I’m sure everyone in this state was watching that game hoping that South Carolina would pull it off and they did,” quarterback Aaron Murray said. “It was a great feeling to know that we’re still alive. Obviously we need them to lose a couple more, but the most important thing is we got to take care of business.”
Missouri (7-1, 3-1 SEC), which hosts Tennessee (4-4, 1-3) at 7 p.m. Saturday, would have to lose one more time to open up the race for the East.
“I think everybody got a good little bit of juice from that,” Richt said. “... This game (against Florida) is obviously important, no matter what the situation is, but we still feel like we’re in the race for the East, so it makes it a little bit more meaningful to everybody. I think it makes it a little bit easier to practice and get after it.”
Added receiver Rhett McGowan: “My eyes were glued to the TV this weekend and that was an exciting feeling. I felt like we had just one a game. It gives us hope.”
WR Bennett looking ‘really good’ in practice
Richt was asked Tuesday about which wide receivers will be available against Florida. He had to look down at the depth chart to double check.
“I think these [backups] are good players, but really I had to sit here and think who’s out there,” Richt said. “Normally I can just kind of rattle that off and I know who’s there and who’s in the top six or seven, and I had to read it just to be sure.”
Receiver Michael Bennett, who has missed the last two games with a knee injury and was in a non-contact jersey Tuesday, is expected to be in the lineup for Georgia on Saturday.
The return of Bennett, who has 176 receiving yards and two scores on 14 catches, will bolster the receiving corps that is without numerous first-teamers and the recently injured Chris Conley, who hurt his ankle on the last play against Vanderbilt.
“It’s huge to have Michael back because he can play multiple receiver positions and it gives us a little bit more experience, especially losing Chris,” McGowan said. “We definitely need him back. It’s good to have him back.”
Richt said Bennett did scout team work on Monday and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said Bennett was a bit sore after practice.
“He’s looked good the first two days … this week,” Bobo said. “Still a little bit limited. Got a little bit sore yesterday but pushed through [Tuesday]. Really pleased with where he’s at.”
Harvey-Clemons almost back
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said safety Josh Harvey-Clemons made it through Tuesday’s practice without any setbacks on a foot injury he suffered against Vanderbilt. He said Harvey-Clemons, who was in a non-contact jersey Tuesday, will go full speed today depending on how he feels before practice begins.
“I think the key will be how he feels [today] relative to how much work he got [Tuesday] because he did pretty much everything we would ask him to do in a practice,” Grantham said. “... But right now it’s on target for him to be able to help us and contribute.”
When Harvey-Clemons went down against Vanderbilt, defensive back Damian Swann moved into the nickel and Sheldon Dawson came in at cornerback. Grantham said if Harvey-Clemons is healthy for Saturday’s game, Swann will move back to cornerback.
“I think Damian plays the nickel well,” Grantham said. “... If Josh is back, we’ll continue to let Josh play that role and play cinco outside. But there’s nothing to say that moving forward we couldn’t switch that.”
Tailback Todd Gurley, who’s been sidelined with an ankle sprain for nearly a month, took first team reps during practice on Tuesday and walked without a limp during the portion open to the media. Richt said Tuesday he is “convinced” Gurley will play against Florida.
Richt said it would be a “bonus” if safety Tray Matthews was inserted into the lineup against Florida after being sidelined with a hamstring injury. “The more he shows that we can do it, the better shot that he’ll have at playing in the game,” Richt said. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said Matthews looked “fine” in Tuesday’s practice and will press forward this week if he doesn’t have any setbacks.
Richt said linebacker Reggie Carter had surgery on his knee Tuesday but was unsure how long it could keep him out, saying it could be a couple weeks or more long term. “We have Tim Kimbrough and Johnny O’Neal,” Richt said of the linebackers behind Carter on the depth chart. “Those are the next guys in line. They’re tough thumpers.”
Bobo said receiver Jonathan Rumph (hamstring) could see the field against Florida. “Rumph has shown some signs the first two days and practiced with some good energy, so there’s a good chance you might see him,” Bobo said.
Michael Erdman (shoulder sprain), Merritt Hall (concussion) and Rantavious Wooten (hip contusion) were in non-contact jerseys Tuesday.