Not long after Davin Bellamy strip-sacked Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush to seal Georgia’s win over the Fighting Irish, Georgia’s outside linebacker donned golden shoulder pads studded with silver spikes.
The shoulder pads — inspired by the UGA Spike Squad’s shoulder pads — were introduced this season by defensive coordinator Mel Tucker as an incentive for recording turnovers.
“It’s a very competitive thing,” linebacker Reggie Carter said. “Everybody wants to wear the spikes.”
Similar gimmicks have been seen around college football. Tennessee holds up a trash can on its sideline. Georgia’s defensive line has a 50-pound chain to symbolize unity. Miami’s players receive a large golden chain with a jeweled “U” logo on the bottom.
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“Everybody's getting their own toy,” head coach Kirby Smart said.
Last year, Tucker used a lacrosse stick for a similar purpose. This year, the Bulldogs have golden shoulder pads. On the front, the phrases “Attack the Day” and “Attack the Ball” run vertically. The word “savage” is written in capital letters across the back.
Outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter said he got the spikes when he forced and recovered a fumble on a sack late in the third quarter. It was the Georgia defense’s first turnover of the season. But Carter didn’t get to wear the pads long enough for people to notice. The player who forces a turnover can only wear the spikes until the defense returns to the field.
When the game ended after his forced fumble, Bellamy sauntered down the sideline toward Georgia’s fans while wearing the shoulder pads. There, as Bellamy snarled and Carter crossed his arms, the spiked golden pads became a recognizable item.
“He came out and made a huge play. You can’t blame a man for being emotional,” Carter said. “That’s what he is, an emotional player. I love him for that. He keeps our team pretty pumped. That’s his job, he’s going to come out and do it.”
Georgia wasn't able to break out the spiked pads for the season opener against Appalachian State. Smart was happy to see the Bulldogs able to do so in their second game.
“I'm just glad we finally got to bring it out,” Smart said. “We had it the first game and never got to show it. Coach Tucker was killing the defense after the first game. I think everybody in the country is talking about their deal, and we don't get to show our's. It was nice to get some turnovers.”