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.
Thats 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. Thats what we prepare for. Thats what weve been waiting for. Thats what weve been dreaming of. So weve just got to go out there and handle business. I know weve got what it takes, but weve got to have the mindset that we cant leave that field with a L. Weve got to come out of there with a W. I know all these guys have my back, and Ive got their back. Were 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. Theyre going there to win.
Rambo wasnt trying to give the Crimson Tide any bulletin board material. He just believes in his team. Hes 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 Rambos Bulldogs.
I feel like we have better players than anybody in the country at each position, Rambo said. So weve just got to go out there and show everybody.
Maybe Rambo was channeling Shawn Williams, his teammate in the secondary who arguably saved Georgias season with his rant before the Florida game. But it didnt 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.
Shawns comment, Rambo answered. He called us out the week of Florida, and we went out there, and we accepted the challenge. I know he didnt point any fingers or wasnt 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. Its simply all coming together for Georgias 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 didnt finish. This year were finishing, Rambo said. So I think were 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 thats better than last year. I think were 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 www.foxsports1670.com. Follow Bill on Twitter@yahoo.com.