Remember Georgia’s big, bad defense? You know, the one that terrorized Missouri quarterback James Franklin in the Bulldogs’ 41-20 win over the Tigers in week two?
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
Well, the unit isn’t faring so great. Sure, Georgia’s record is just fine — 6-1 entering its big showdown against Florida on Saturday — but the Bulldogs rank ninth in the Southeastern Conference in total defense and have allowed an average of 34.3 points in their last three games, against Tennessee, South Carolina and Kentucky.
That’s surprising, considering the Bulldogs boast nine returning starters and several future NFL’ers on that side of the ball, including mammoth defensive tackle Jon Jenkins (6-feet-3, 358 pounds), safety Bacarri Rambo, and star linebackers Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree.
At least one member of the unit is sick of it. Hard-hitting senior safety Shawn Williams, who leads the team in tackles with 51, unleashed on Monday.
“We’ve gotta stop playing soft. We’re playing too soft defensively,” Williams told The Macon Telegraph. “That goes for D-line, linebackers, corners, safeties. I don’t know, we’re not playing with the same attitude we played with last year. I don’t know what it is.”
Williams proceeded to say that some players aren’t giving all they’ve got, named certain players that should get more playing time, and even suggested — as a joke, presumably — that the Bulldogs find a way to add New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, who got in hot water with the NFL because of the well-publicized bounty scandal.
“It seems like we need the coach from the Saints; it seems like we need him,” Williams told the paper. “It seems like we need a pay-for-play system.”
At his weekly appearance on the SEC coaches teleconference Wednesday, Georgia coach Mark Richt was supportive of Williams, though he added that some of his comments should have stayed in-house.
“I think it’s kind of healthy,” Richt said. “Sometimes a guy has got to step up and say something. I don’t think it’s right to make it as public as it was, but lots of times players have meetings and say, ‘You know what? I’ve got to get better and it starts with me.’
“Do I think it was a catalyst to jolt our guys? I think so. They want to do better, they care very much and we do have a unified group. … In the end it was done with the intention of making things better.”