This year will be different for Georgia in SEC title game

sports@macon.comNovember 27, 2012 

Word spread quickly through the Georgia locker room Saturday. Safety Bacarri Rambo was handing out gifts to the media. He was giving good quotes.

So I had to hear it for myself. I walked over, and Rambo was talking with only one reporter. And before I could barely hit the record button, Rambo started speaking his mind. He wants to play for a national title.

“That’s why we signed on the dotted line for -- to come here and win a national championship,” Rambo said. “And just to have the opportunity to just go play this game next week and have a chance to make it to Miami for the national championship is such a great honor. That’s what we prepare for. That’s what we’ve been waiting for. That’s what we’ve been dreaming of. So we’ve just got to go out there and handle business. I know we’ve got what it takes, but we’ve got to have the mindset that we can’t leave that field with a ‘L.’ We’ve got to come out of there with a ‘W.’ I know all these guys have my back, and I’ve got their back. We’re just going to go out there and play good ball.”

Whew. He barely took a breath. Rambo had just said 135 powerful words to let the world know the Georgia Bulldogs are just not showing up in Atlanta on Saturday to play Alabama. They’re going there to win.

Rambo wasn’t trying to give the Crimson Tide any bulletin board material. He just believes in his team. He’s a senior who thinks his team is ready to do something special. This is what seniors should do for a team. Sure, Alabama is a great team. The Crimson Tide have a great defense. But so do Rambo’s Bulldogs.

“I feel like we have better players than anybody in the country at each position,” Rambo said. “So we’ve just got to go out there and show everybody.”

Maybe Rambo was channeling Shawn Williams, his teammate in the secondary who arguably saved Georgia’s season with his rant before the Florida game. But it didn’t take Rambo long to talk about the impact Williams had on this season.

I wondered which event was bigger -- the embarrassing loss to South Carolina on Oct. 6 in Columbia or Williams calling his teammates out a few weeks later -- that got Georgia on track.

“Shawn’s comment,” Rambo answered. “He called us out the week of Florida, and we went out there, and we accepted the challenge. I know he didn’t point any fingers or wasn’t trying to throw no blows or anything. He was just being a brother. He just wanted us to play to the best of our ability. We needed that. He woke a lot of people up.”

There is no doubt the Georgia defense seemed asleep at times early in the season. While watching teams like Buffalo and Florida Atlantic have an easier-than-expected time moving the football, many wondered what had happened to the defense from 2011 that was rated high in almost every team defensive statistic.

But since the Florida game, since Williams’ comments, the Georgia defense that was lost has been found. After allowing an average of 24.1 points through the first seven games, Georgia has allowed only 8.6 points per game in the past five games. Also in the past five games, Georgia has held each opponent to its lowest point total of the season.

Rambo and Alec Ogletree, who both missed the first four games of the season, are playing great defense. Jarvis Jones seems healthy now after battling an ankle issue earlier this year. It’s simply all coming together for Georgia’s defense at just the right time.

So is this Georgia defense now playing as well as it did last year?

Again, give Rambo the microphone to find the answer.

“Last year we didn’t finish. This year we’re finishing,” Rambo said. “So I think we’re better than last year. I think our leaders and the guys brought everybody together and made us a stronger defense. We just have that chemistry now that’s better than last year. I think we’re a total different defense.”

It seemed last December that Georgia was just happy to show up for the SEC title game against LSU. The Bulldogs were able to play well for a while, but the solid play lasted only one half. This year will be different. This team can compete with Alabama. And the defense could be the reason Georgia could beat the mighty Crimson Tide.

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

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