ATHENS -- Back in May, when the Georgia-Vanderbilt game was still months away, Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt had no problem talking up the importance of last years brouhaha.
It was an interesting exchange, Ill say that, Richt said of the postgame shouting match between his defensive coordinator, Todd Grantham, and Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin. I dont think well have much trouble getting jacked up to play the Vanderbilt Commodores this year, Ill tell you that.
But now that the game is actually upon the Bulldogs, Richt and Grantham are taking a different approach.
Well, I think the big thing is making sure we concentrate on playing football and not all the extracurricular. Because those things turn into penalties, Richt said. I dont want anything to take focus off executing. Thats what were gonna focus on.
Grantham wasnt biting either when asked about Vanderbilt and Franklin after Saturdays win over Florida Atlantic.
The most important things the game and preparing for an SEC game, he said.
But one of Granthams players did bite.
Senior defensive back Sanders Commings was asked if he thought last years dust-up would motivate Grantham.
Its not just Coach Grantham. Its the whole team, offense and defense, everyone, Commings said. Any time something goes down like that after a game, we kind of put that in the back of our minds, and we bring it back up when we play that team again. So thats definitely gonna be on our minds throughout this week and definitely on Saturday in the game.
The Grantham-Franklin story line adds some intrigue to a game that otherwise would have little. Georgia (3-0), which jumped to No. 5 in The Associated Press poll on Sunday, is a 16-point favorite over the Commodores (1-2).
Franklin, only in his second year, has infused some energy into a program accustomed to losing. That has manifested itself mostly on the recruiting front. But he also hasnt been afraid to ruffle feathers, such as after last years five-point loss to Georgia, when he started after Bulldogs safety Shawn Williams, whose antics Franklin did not appreciate. Williams was suspended for the first half of Georgias next game by the SEC for an illegal hit.
Grantham stepped in to defend Williams, and the result was a confrontation that got plenty heated. A policeman had to separate the coaches.
Grantham hasnt said much about the incident. Franklin, a few months ago at SEC meetings, said he had respect for Grantham.
Im a very emotional, passionate guy. This is personal to me. But on the same hand Im a guy who once things happen, I move on, Franklin said. I have tremendous respect for Coach Richt and that program. I have respect for Coach Grantham, as well, and what hes trying to do. I think Coach Grantham was trying to do everything he could to support his players and show them that he had his back. And I was doing the same. And those things happen from time to time.
Franklin guided the Commodores to a bowl game last year and an improvement of four wins over the previous season.
I think that theyre the most talented Vanderbilt teams, these last couple of years, than weve played in a while, Richt said. Coach Franklins really gotten them revved up, ready to go. Theres a lot of belief. Theyre playing to win, and theyre doing a good job of it, I think.
Georgia star linebacker Jarvis Jones missed Saturdays win over Florida Atlantic with a strained groin. But Jones was in uniform and is likely to play this weekend.
Jarvis, I would be hopeful that he would play, Richt said. Sometimes a pulled muscle, you can be set back. And you just never know how long something takes to heal. Well just have to see. We definitely would like for him to play, thats for sure.
Richt hadnt heard anything yet on guard Dallas Lee, who sprained his ankle in the first half Saturday. But Richt felt Mark Beard played well when inserted at left tackle, with Kenarious Gates shifting to left guard to replace Lee.
I thought the line in general played well. There were a few missed assignments but not a lot, Richt said. And I thought everybody played extremely hard. But I thought Mark did a pretty good job out there at the left tackle, and for the most part pass protected well. There might have been one pass pressure on him that I can remember. I thought it worked out pretty good eventually.