Four weeks later, Bulldogs’ Williams at loss for words

semerson@macon.comNovember 19, 2012 

ATHENS -- Shawn Williams does not want credit for saving Georgia’s season. He doesn’t look at it that way.

Actually, the outspoken senior safety doesn’t know how to look at it, even though so much has changed since Williams took the verbal shots heard around the Georgia football program.

Monday night was four weeks to the day that Williams lashed into his own defense, saying it was playing soft and afraid. Since then, Williams had yet to speak to the media -- even though his sharp comments appeared to work.

Georgia’s defense was struggling, ranked 47th nationally, when Williams went off Oct. 22. Then the Bulldogs beat then-No. 3 Florida behind a strong defensive effort. The team went on to clinch another SEC East title, are now ranked 23rd nationally in defense, and are two wins away from a spot in the national title game.

But Williams isn’t doing any victory laps.

“I wouldn’t call it saving the season. I’d just call it, I don’t know, just …” Williams said, searching for the right words. “I don’t think it was saving the season. I just knew we could do it, so I just had to go out and do it.”

Still, if there ends up being moment in Georgia’s season when it all turned around, Williams’ comments might be it. Head coach Mark Richt is among those pointing to Williams’ rant as a turning point.

“I think Shawn’s comments certainly had a great effect on our football team,” Richt said on his radio show Monday night. “It jolted guys a little bit. It got some guys mad, it got some guys hurt. But I think everybody understood Shawn’s motivation, which was to play the way they were supposed to play.”

Richt added that numerous Georgia defensive players passed on the NFL and returned to school -- Williams was among them -- thinking they would have a great defense. But until the Florida game, their play was substandard.

” He was just sick and tired of seeing it,” Richt said of Williams. “He helped a lot. So that certainly was a catalyst to get guys going.”

Williams won’t quite go that far.

“I don’t know if my words had something to do with it, or jobs being in jeopardy, or what,” Williams said. “I don’t know what it was.”

Clearly Williams didn’t want to cause a similar stir this time. His Monday comments tended to quickly turn back to the Georgia Tech game. He didn’t call out his teammates or issue any memorable statements.

The day after his October rant, Richt said that Williams, after seeing his comments in print, had some regrets. Since Williams didn’t speak to the media for awhile after that, Monday was the first chance to ask him which part he regretted.

“I can’t really remember now, because there were just a whole lot of things spinning back and forth,” Williams said. “So I’m not really trying to look back into the past and say I regret this or that.”

Williams’ own play on the field has played a part in that. The safety leads the team with 73 tackles, continuing to be one of the key members of the defense. Linebacker Jarvis Jones is the unquestioned star, and deservedly so, but Williams has been a consistent leader and teammates have called him the heart of the defense.

So ultimately, with his college career nearing an end, Williams doesn’t want his rant to be how he’s remembered.

“I don’t want to be known for that right there,” Williams said. “If it is, it is. But I don’t want to look back on it and say that this happened or this happened. Just knowing that we went out winning. That’s all I want to do is win.”

It was then pointed out to Williams that back in 2008 Tim Tebow, after a loss to Mississippi, issued a memorable soliloquy that ended up being put on a plaque after the Gators won a national title.

“Maybe I can get a plaque,” Williams said, laughing.

But then he thought a moment.

“Just kidding,” he said.

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