Shanks: Williams’ rant saves Georgia’s season

sports@macon.comOctober 27, 2012 

Shawn Williams’ rant last week will perhaps go down in Georgia Bulldogs’ lore. Loran Smith might write a book about it one day, and it’s a shame Larry Munson isn’t around to do the voiceover for one of those videos people love so much.

Maybe Georgia would have still beaten Florida without it, but it’s doubtful. Something Williams said certainly seemed to click with his teammates.

The “soft” Georgia defense came ready to punish Florida on Saturday. Everyone wondered if the Georgia defense would show up. The Georgia defense did. The defense dominated. The defense tackled. The defense had rib-rocking hits. The defense convinced everyone the unit still had a pulse.

There was absolutely nothing soft about what we saw from Georgia. Sure, this wasn’t a high-powered Florida offense with Steve Spurrier or Urban Meyer calling the plays. But it didn’t matter. Georgia’s defense was just that much better than what Florida had on the field.

All season long, Georgia fans wondered where in the world the defense went. Last year’s defense disappeared, with the exception of the win over Vanderbilt last month. But Williams made sure his underachieving teammates would be ready to take on the undefeated Gators.

He challenged them, and they could not have done better in answering that cry for a better performance.

Williams made the great play in the first quarter, when he stopped Florida on 4th-and-inches with a massive tackle on Solomon Patton. Bacarri Rambo saved Georgia with the interception to end the first half.

And Jarvis Jones? Well, he showed everyone why analysts believe he could be the top overall pick in next April’s NFL draft. He was unbelievable. Jones had a career-high 13 tackles, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and three sacks.

The dominant performance by the defense almost makes you forget how bad the Georgia offense was in Jacksonville. Let’s be honest. Quarterback Aaron Murray was awful, but he can be forgiven for his sins with the one drive late in the game that sealed the victory for Georgia.

Murray had a nightmare game. It’s the type of game that will make a player question whether they picked the right sport to play. But somehow, some way, Murray made a pass in the fourth quarter to Malcolm Mitchell, who took off for a 45-yard touchdown.

And the Florida defense, which was rated much higher than Georgia’s coming in, couldn’t catch him.

We all believed the weather might have an impact in this game, but it didn’t. Looking at the stats, however, you would have thought these two teams played in a mudslide. There were nine turnovers and 24 penalties.

The Gators had four turnovers in seven games coming in, but they had six on Saturday. All week, Georgia fans tried to come up with a script of how the Bulldogs could beat Florida, but they would have never in a million years thought Florida would hand Georgia a victory.

It’s what South Carolina did last week when the Gamecocks turned the ball over four times. It led to 21 points for Florida. Just like the Gamecocks were kicking themselves, Florida has to have the same feeling after this one.

But Georgia’s aggressiveness on defense (again, thanks to Williams’ rant) was the difference. The defense caused the turnovers. The defense made Florida look awful on offense. And the defense gave the Georgia offense time to come up with at least one big play.

And yes, head coach Mark Richt deserves credit. His team was ready to play, unlike the past two games when the team was strangely absent.

But when you see the victory next to Richt’s name in the media guide next year, there should be an asterisk. And at the bottom of the page it should read, “The 2012 Florida win happened because safety Shawn Williams awoke a sleeping giant.”

And after three weeks of Georgia fans questioning everything about the program, they can delight in the most gratifying statement of all.

This defense kept this Georgia team alive, and at the same time it ruined Florida’s undefeated season.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com. Follow Bill on Twitter@yahoo.com.

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