We wondered yesterday how the fire-and-brimstone speech from Georgia safety Shawn Williams would go over with his teammates. We have our answer — not altogether well.
Williams’ rant included shots at fellow players, an overall statement that his fellow defenders were playing “soft,” and the statement that UGA needs Sean Payton as coach to start handing out bounties.
Defensive end Garrison Smith said: “My roommate pulled it up on the computer. And I was like: Whoa… OK. It’s definitely shots fired.”
Linebacker Mike Gilliard — who plays an inside linebacker spot Williams said should be manned full-time by someone else — said: “He said my name without saying my name. I took that personal. I feel like when another man calls me soft, it’s disrespecting my manhood. The only thing I’m going to do is go out there and deliver. He gave me the motivation.”
Christian Robinson — another ILB who Williams suggested by default shouldn’t be playing — had this to say: “No football player wants to hear they’re soft. That’s not the way I would go about it.” He also said, “It wasn’t what I want to hear, but we all make mistakes.”
The safety apologized for his comments and Mark Richt has said he felt bad about them, but none of that meant much to Gilliard:
”When you said it, I feel like you mean it, especially when you tell the media,” Gilliard said. ”Obviously it was on your mind and in your heart, so you meant it. If he feels that way, I’m just going to prove him wrong. That’s what I did today (in practice). I tried to prove to this team that there’s nothing sweet over here…
You best believe on Saturday, I’m going to be ready. The defense as a whole, we’re going to be ready. We had a great day of practice. We flew around the ball and tried to hit hard. Anything that moved, I tried to hit it. That’s what I’m going to continue to do the rest of this week.”
Well if that’s the case, then Williams speech was a net positive for Georgia’s struggling defense even if his words were divisive. A few other Dawgs did choose to back Williams.
Cornerback Sanders Commings said: “It was definitely needed.” Linebacker Jarvis Jones said: “I felt that woke a lot of guys up. Guys understand where he came from.”
Finally, inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera — one of the players Williams said should get more snaps — said: “It needed to be said sometime soon. Somebody need to say something. So he took it upon himself to say it.”
While Williams’ words might have stirred things up in the defensive meeting rooms, injuries to key players might play a bigger role in the outcome of Saturday’s massively important game with Florida. The aforementioned Jones is still questionable with an ankle injury after missing last week’s win at Kentucky. And Defensive end Abry Jones had surgery on his own ankle injury yesterday and if his teammates’ tweets are to be believed he’s probably lost for the season.