The effect of Williams' comments

semerson@macon.comOctober 23, 2012 

ATHENS - Perhaps I will feel differently by tomorrow, after a day of interviewing coaches and players, and just thinking about it a bit more. At the moment, however, I see Shawn Williams' comments to be a net positive for Georgia.

Yes, he may have gone a bit too far in saying which players need to be playing, and by association saying which players shouldn't be. And certainly Williams' could have done without invoking the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, even if he was joking. You probably don't joke about that.

But everything else? My sense is Georgia fans should be happy Williams said it.

This team needed a spark, especially on defense. You would have thought the loss at South Carolina would have propelled the Bulldogs to a "we'll show the world" game at Kentucky, but instead they barely survived. As a result, they enter the Florida game as deserved underdogs.

Williams' comments still have the potential to backfire. It is finger-pointing to a certain extent, and Mike Gilliard and Christian Robinson won't like basically being told they shouldn't be playing. The coaches (and sports information officials) will undoubtedly have a word with Williams about the Saints stuff. That's why it will be interesting to gauge the reaction of Mark Richt, Todd Grantham and players during interviews today.

But for what it's worth, Bacarri Rambo and Jordan Jenkins backed up Williams on Monday night, after being told what Williams said. I'm not sure who on defense could dispute that they're playing soft and without emotion.

It should also be pointed out that Williams didn't go to the media before he said it privately. According to Rambo and Jenkins, he was saying it after the Kentucky game. You could argue it should have stayed private, but Williams evidently felt it needed to be aired publicly.

Since we're in the political season, I compare the situation to a candidate who is floundering in the polls: He needs to shake things up, a potential game-changer. Maybe it backfires, but continuing on the current course wasn't going to work. From what I could tell, Georgia's defense was lacking that something, that emotional spark, and was floundering. Williams agreed, and voiced it. This is his attempt at an emotional game-changer.

Twice this season Georgia has had an off-field spark or motivation: At Missouri, with the "old man football" comments, and against Vanderbilt, with the memory of the previous year's postgame incident. Those happen to have been Georgia's best two games, as well as the defense's best two games.

The difference this week is it's not the other team providing motivation. But unless Florida was going to helpfully provide bulletin-board material, my sense was Georgia needed to do something inward to shake things up.

Williams has now done that. Let's see how it plays out.

Follow Seth Emerson at @sethemerson.

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