ATHENS - It was entering the Florida game last year when then-Georgia safety Shawn Williams issued the rant heard around the football program, lighting a fire under an under-performing defense. This year? Well, at least one person wouldn't mind if Williams was still around.
"I oughta call Shawn," head coach Mark Richt said Tuesday. "See if I can get him on a conference call, or Skype him in here. Put him on the big screen (and speak to the team.) I might do that."
Richt was smiling as he said it. Still, it's understandable that the coach wants to see more from his defense.
Williams issued his rant last year because a veteran unit expected to do well had struggled. This year it's a young unit that has been slow to improve.
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Georgia's defense did play better in its most recent game, at Vanderbilt. But the unit remains ranked ninth in the SEC in total defense (as measured by yards allowed), and Georgia ranks dead last in the SEC in scoring defense. (That includes points off the offense and special teams.)
No Georgia defensive player issued a similar rant on Tuesday, but behind the scenes junior linebacker Amarlo Herrera, the unofficial captain of the unit, tried to light a fire. That's according to sophomore linebacker Jordan Jenkins.
"I remember him saying: Coming into practice this week we need to get that nastiness back in us," Jenkins said. "He just said that we really want to get more aggressive."
In fact, Jenkins added, Herrera said he was going to get into it with somebody in Monday's practice.
"Not fist-fight, but hit somebody hard enough they'll get mad and start something," Jenkins said.
And did he?
"He definitely laid somebody out," Jenkins said, smiling. "We had a couple live drills, live tackles, and he definitely showed up defensively."
Herrera's public comments were more restrained. In fact Herrera - one of the few people actually praised during Williams' rant last year - kept his comments on this year's defense positive.
"It's getting better week by week. You can't make a huge jump at one time," Herrera said. "You've gotta build over time. And we've been building pretty good."