ATHENS – The first volleys have been fired and the stage has been set.
From this point forward, expect a whole lot of comments from both the Vanderbilt and Georgia sides about “just focusing on the game” and “executing fundamentals” and the like. But give Commodores’ coach James Franklin credit for having a sense of humor about it.
Franklin was asked at his weekly news conference Monday about his relationship with Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham following last year’s heated post-game exchange.
“Yeah, actually our families went on vacation,” Franklin quipped. “Disneyworld. We were floating in the pool together drinking Mai Tais.”
Obviously Franklin was just having a little fun with it. And thank goodness for that because most everybody else is going to tiptoe around the subject this week.
Franklin noted that he’s never played at Georgia’s Sanford Stadium. “I’s sure we’re going to get a really warm welcome,” he said.
Franklin said he and Grantham have crossed paths “on the road recruiting” a couple of times since then.
“The guy does a great job and has done a great job for a long time,” Franklin said. “His defense plays hard and flies around. They’re passionate about what they do; we’re passionate about what we do. It’s nothing more than that. I do have respect for how his defense plays. It’s going to be interesting.”
Here is a link to video of Franklin’s news conference on the Vanderbilt website.
Grantham would say nothing about the confrontation this past Saturday. “It’s an important game because it’s a home game, it’s an SEC game and it’s a division game,” he said of playing Vanderbilt. Other than that he was careful not to enter into a rehash of last year’s events.
Georgia coaches complained of chop blocks, Vanderbilt coaches complained of taunting and both sides accused the other of dirty play following the Bulldogs narrow 33-28 victory last October in Nashville. The “chippiness” of the game resulted in suspensions of players from both teams.
Georgia coach Mark Richt said Georgia is “definitely going to be ready” to play the Commodores Saturday night but added that it’s important to “concentrate on playing football and not on the extra-curricular, because those things turn into penalties.”
Said Vanderbilt linebacker Karl Butler: “We all know what happened last year, but last year was last year and this year is this year. We’re focusing on the next game and that happens to be Georgia, so we’re going to prepare like we’ve never prepared before this week. It’s the most important game on our schedule because it’s the next game. We know what happened last year, but we’re a new team and our goal is to beat them, regardless of what happened last year.”