UPDATED: Georgia players and coaches react to Shawn Williams ’soft defense’ comments

Georgia safety Shawn Williams believes Amarlo Herrera (52) should be playing the Mike linebacker more than Christian Robinson. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Georgia safety Shawn Williams believes Amarlo Herrera (52) should be playing the Mike linebacker more than Christian Robinson. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

ATHENS – Reaction to the incendiary comments from Georgia safety Shawn Williams about the Bulldogs “soft” defense and what players should be playing and how much fell mostly into two categories for teammates and coaches on Tuesday: One, there was a level of truth in what he said and, two, it was no big deal.

Overall Williams’ comments were considered as a motivational ploy by an impassioned player.

“I think Shawn is just a real passionate guy,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “He loves Georgia and loves his team and wants us to play the best we can possibly play. . . . I think it was more public than you’d like. But, I mean, I really don’t think he meant any harm by it. I really don’t. I think his teammates know that and so it’s really not an issue.”

Williams told reporters after Monday night’s practice he thought Georgia is “playing too soft as a defense. That goes for the D-line, linebackers, corners, safeties, everybody. We’re just not playing with the same attitude we were last year. . . . I’m trying to see if I have to take somebody’s helmet off and slap them and say, ‘what’s going on’? We’re not playing with any emotion right now. Period.”

Richt said he met with Williams on Tuesday morning.

“It was more him coming to me,” Richt said. “I think he read the comments and didn’t like the way – not necessarily how it was reported – but when he read it himself, he was like, ‘that’s not the tone or at least not what I was trying to communicate from my heart.’

“He’s an emotional guy and he wants to have success and he wants to try to help motivate not only himself but his teammates to play better,” Richt continued. “That’s not necessarily a bad thing. You’d just as soon not have it as public as it was, but I really don’t think it’s a big issue.

Of course, Williams’ comments were received a little differently by linebackers Mike Gilliard and Christian Robinson, who were in an indirectly criticized by Williams’ remarks that Alec Ogletree and Amarlo Herrera should never come out of games.

“No one wants to hear they’re soft,” Robinson said. “I really had to sit down and look at myself last night. I go to church and a verse it made me think about was, ‘everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.’ I think we have a great team. One thing I learned in my four years is you really have to stick together. I really think if we do what we’re supposed to do we’ll be successful.”

Gilliard was not among the players available for interviews at Tuesday’s media session, but shared his thought via Twitter.com.

Around lunchtime Tuesday, a tweet from Gilliard’s account, @GZ_TAUGHTME, read: “Laughing at what someone just told me to go read about yesterdays post practice comments.”

Moments later came another tweet: “Don’t mention my name until you go back and look at the results these past two seasons.”

Herrera started the first four games at “Mo” inside linebacker and the last to at the “Mike” position, which he shares with Gilliard and Robinson. Williams and Herrera are the Bulldogs’ top two tacklers at 51 and 50 stops, respectively.

Herrera insists Williams’ statement won’t cause problems within Georgia’s locker room. “It didn’t put me in an awkward situation,” he said. “I talked to Christian a minute ago downstairs. We didn’t even talk about this.”

But Herrera, who said he played less against Kentucky than he had all season, didn’t necessarily disagree with Williams’ premise.

“He’s just saying what he thinks,” Herrera said. :That’s his opinion. It needed to be said sometime soon. Somebody needed to say something. He took it upon himself and said it.We’re not playing to the level we need to be playing.”

Richt was asked if he agreed with Williams’ assessment.”Well, that’s how he felt about it so he has a right to say that,” he said. “Do we want to get better at stopping the run? Yeah. You better believe it.”

Richt reserved judgment as to whether it will serve Williams’ comments will serve the purpose of motivating the team.

“It might,” he said. “We’ll see.

Senior safety Sanders Commings thinks Williams’ words were received in the right spirit.

“I think everyone will be professional. We’re grown men out here. We can all take criticism. I think it will just motivate everyone to play hard, practice hard and get ready for Florida.”

The timing, Commings said, was right. “This is the most important game on our schedule right now. It’s pretty much the ball for it all. The winner of this game controls their own destiny for the last four games. So I’m glad Shawn made those statements before the Florida game because it’d been too late if he had waited until afterward.”

Robinson acknowledged that Williams’ comments have motivated him.

“I think today is going to be a great practice because I know no one is going to want to be soft, and if that was his goal, he achieved it,” Robinson said with a smile.

FOLLOWING IS MY TRANSCRIPTION OF WILLIAMS’ EXCHANGE WITH REPORTERS MONDAY NIGHT:

First he was asked what they had to do to stop Florida’s rushing attack . . .

“I don’t care who they have running the ball, we’ve just got to stop playing soft. We’re playing too soft as a defense. That goes for the D-line, linebackers, corners, safeties, everybody. We’re just not playing with the same attitude we were last year. I don’t know what it is.”

On whether he’d brought up with team . . .

“I told them in the Kentucky game. After the first series, I told everybody we played too soft. They got the ball at the 20 and went 80 yards right up the middle. I came to the sideline and said ‘y’all are playing soft.’ It gets frustrating because I’m sitting here and I’m giving all I got and I feel like I’ve got some guys that (are) not. I feel we’ve got some guys that are in a whole different place.”

Who?

“Everybody. Our side of the ball is mostly juniors and seniors, so that’s everybody.”

What he thinks the cause is . . .

“I don’t know what it is. We’ve just got to quit playing soft and worrying about every other thing besides football and just go out and play football and let everything else take care of it self.”

Asked if players were worried about the NFL . . .

“I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s the NFL or worried about messing up or worried about a game down the road. We’ve just got to do what we do and play physical football. And we’re not. That’s what you’ve got to do to win.”

On whether draw plays took away aggression . . .

“No matter what you see, you’ve got to react and play football. Right now I don’t feel like we’re doing that. We’re not reacting and just playing football. Right now, Florida’ play very physical and they’re going to come out and try to just manhandle you. So I’m really looking forward to seeing what we do. Somebody’s gonna get punched in the mouth. It’s going to be us or them. Whoever gets punched in the mouth is going to have to decide what do we do now. You’re either going to give in or you’re going to fight back. Point blank that’s what we’ve got to do.”

How this team reacts to getting ‘punched in mouth’ so far . . .

“We’re not doing anything about it.”

What can you do about it . . .

“I don’t know. I’m trying to see if I have to take somebody’s helmet off and slap them and say, what’s going on? Wew’re not playing with any emotion right now. Period.”

Does softness extend to offense . . .

“I can only account for the defense. I don’t know what the defense is doing. I can only control my side of the ball.”

On playing better in second halves . . .

“It seems like they want to play hard when they want to, but we can’t just turn it on and off. It just takes them a while to realize we’ve got to get our stuff together and play.”

On what’d he do to fix things . . .

“Personally, if I was the coaches, I can’t tell them what to do, but I’d have Amarlo Herrera in the game more. I wouldn’t bring him out. I’d leave him and Ogletree in the game. That’s what I want to see, as a player. I want to see Amarlo and Ogletree in the game at linebacker. I don’t want to see anybody else at linebacker. I feel like they’re two guys that are going to go out and give you all they got, no matter if they mess up or do right. I feel like they’re going to get to the ball and tackle. That’s what we need.”

What is it about Herrera over Christian Robinson and Mike Gilliard . . .

“I just feel like he’s better. I don’t know what he’s doing that’s better than them, getting off blocks, getting around blocks; he gets to the football, and that’s what we need. Somebody who gets to the football and tackles.”

How long has it been this way?

“The whole season. I don’t know what it is. It seems like we’re waiting to get started. We haven’t even started yet.”

What are hyou doing personally to rectify . . .

“I do all I can. That’s what I’m saying. What do I have to do. Do I have to slap somebody to get them started or what? What do they respond to? I’m still trying to figure that out.”

On whether he things because of last year’s success some felt they didn’t have to prove themselves . .

“I think so. I think so.”

244 comments Add your comment

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NorthGaDawg

October 23rd, 2012
2:50 pm

Someone needs to light a fire under them. They are soft!! If the Dawgs are serious about being successful, the best players need to be out there. Otherwise, get ready for more disappointment and another ho-hum bowl.

Beach Dawg

October 23rd, 2012
2:52 pm

Dawgs defense is not together as a team and has not been all season — every team has gotten over 300 yards offense except Tennessee who got over 400.

Jefferson Davis Hogg

October 23rd, 2012
2:52 pm

Good for coach Shawn Williams. Since the people in position to do so wouldn’t call anyone out and light a fire under their a$$, I’m glad at least a player had the &@lls to do it! I find it quite refreshing. Something tells me this will be an inspired pack of Dawgs this wknd….Go Dawgs!

Nate the Great

October 23rd, 2012
2:55 pm

What about our d line? They’ve as bad or worse than anyone on defense and they seem to get a pass? This is a team game and not gilliard nor robinsons fault…solely. They’re all guilty

Oakdale Dawg

October 23rd, 2012
2:56 pm

The comments will prove to be a non issue within the team, and will hopefully motivate the defense (and the entire) team to man up and take the fight to Florida. I don’t care what has transpired so far, the season begins this Saturday. Win in Jacksonville and this season can still be pretty special. If not, we can worry about that Sunday.

Wait and see approach

October 23rd, 2012
2:56 pm

I think this quote by Gillard- “Don’t mention my name until you go back and look at the results these past two seasons.” is the real problem. It’s not the name on the back of the jersey that matters, but all these kids care about are their stats and “getting respect”. Play like a team and no one gets called out Mike. Man up DAWGS

Sammy

October 23rd, 2012
2:58 pm

CRob and Gilliard needed to be called out. If Richt won’t do it, the leaders will. They gave up a lot of runs up the middle on crucial 3rd and long downs.

Hererra is a beast and comes hard.

Ogletree leaves a mark.

But Florida will be htting the edges, so it really won’t matter who’s playing inside linebacker.

It’s really who is playing DE and OLB.

nate from detroit

October 23rd, 2012
2:59 pm

I think part of the difficulty with playing defense is you have to play with an amped up, physical, rip off someone’s head attitude but you also have to stay disciplined and play assignment football. I think we have been playing soft but just going for a kill shot on a crossing route is not going to fix our issues. Williams is a hard hitter but he needs to play his role on Sat. i.e. not come up to quick on a play action fake and let a receiver run right by him into open space. The whole D needs to play with a controlled intensity.

James

October 23rd, 2012
3:00 pm

What’s the fuss here? Our defense IS soft! Let’s get it together before Florida. Well put, Shawn.

Dawg2373

October 23rd, 2012
3:04 pm

I agree with Shawn , we have been very soft up front ! Getting blown off of the ball by lesser talent & it seems we are often out of position pre-snap , i would like us to use 4 down lineman from time to time to slow down the run !! Our D ends simply have not got it done so far this year . Also double digit missed tackles every game. This unit can play if they get on the same page & just play hard fundamental football !! GO DAWGS !

Calistoga Dawg

October 23rd, 2012
3:07 pm

I’d be surprised if this turmoil helps the team at all this weekend. In fact, I would venture to guess they will fold like a chair if things go the wrong way early. Best that we take the ball if we win the coin toss and hope we can stem the tide early. I greatly fear what this team will do if Florida gets the ball and marches it right down the field and scores.

Hope I am wrong, but our record against ranked teams tell me otherwise.

JB

October 23rd, 2012
3:08 pm

Or…………..Richt could of said ” Other than Vandy, we have played flat and uninspired football all year, and I guess Shawn got tired of waiting on me or someone on the staff to light a fire under this team and to call it like it is, so for that, I’m happy. What’s for lunch”……..

JvilleDawg

October 23rd, 2012
3:12 pm

Sounds like Gilliard may be a bit chippy about it, but sounds like most received it well. Shawn is simply doing what the coaches should do and that’s call it like he sees it. If nothing else, I think it will motivate the players to not have fans and media point to them as “oh THAT must be one of the ones Williams was talking about”. Sometimes a little public embarrassment can be just the thing a team needs. I think it will trickle over to the O-line as well.

Jim

October 23rd, 2012
3:13 pm

This whole thing says alot about what the problem has been for all their “team” talk and were in this together- in reality, its only about “I”. This will prove to fuel the downfall in Jax Saturday- now players at each other……same crap just a different year. 38-16 Gators…

Pete

October 23rd, 2012
3:15 pm

There will be no “we came close” on Saturday to make everyone feel like were making progress. . This team and coaches have to win this game. I hope the AD has made that perfectly clear behind closed doors- or else he needs to go. When the money stops he will be forced to do something

JB

October 23rd, 2012
3:16 pm

If we have our usual 2-4 turnovers, Gators win 45-17….. If not, they win 28-17

Dennis

October 23rd, 2012
3:16 pm

UGA looks fat and slow this year. Jenkins and Geathers especially.

Max Sizemore

October 23rd, 2012
3:21 pm

UGA had better be ready for the fact that Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease, who came from Boise State, knows all about overly aggressive defenses and how to take advantage. You can play hard and man up all you want to, but beware the reverse, the screen, the double-pass, and the like.

Preston Thompson

October 23rd, 2012
3:21 pm

Amen, amen, and amen. Finally somebody showing emotion and honesty. I love it. Plus Shawn is dead on.

Now take the frustration out on Fla and play like last year.

ville dog

October 23rd, 2012
3:22 pm

Good for Shawn, since the coaches seem to be in a we need to get better mode, rather than showing that they are in a state of urgency.

BamaDawg

October 23rd, 2012
3:23 pm

Again, the only issue I have is why aren’t the coaches or THE HC coming out and saying this? Why are they putting this in the back of a 21 year old kid to point out ONE OF THE MANY ISSUES with this team?

After SC got throttled by FL last weekend, Spurrier came out and said that there were going to be changes made on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball! You could tell he was ticked off when he came to the microphone! Spurrier stated that they were going to find some people who wanted to play football and these mistakes would not happen again!

Yet, our coaching staff allows 18-22 year old kids to speak to the media about an issue that the entire nation sees. But CMR tells us everything is rosey and the team is fine…that he is not worried! Enough BS…let’s get some real coaches that will address the problems head-on and quit sweeping everything under the rug!!!

DAWG with two bags over head

October 23rd, 2012
3:23 pm

I guess that was CMR’s way of agreeing with Williams. CMR should have said it himself several games back. I prefer a lot more fire and accountability from someone that makes more in one season than most of us will make in a lifetime. One way or another I think we’ll know where we’re headed after Saturday. The die should be cast with another embarassing beatdown.

B'dawg

October 23rd, 2012
3:24 pm

Georgia has had about 3 weeks to prepare for this game. After hearing that Fla. beat down SC, the pressure was there. They did just enough to win. That was hard to watch. My son kept asking me whats wrong with Georgia dad? I just told him they never play good under pressure. And they never do. At least under Richt. Not since 2002 anyway. I really think we come out ready to play. I think Fla is emotionaly drained and beat up right now. Shawn Williams became the vocal leader for this weekend. He asked for it and now hes stuck with it. You have the balls to bark, now he has to bite. Look for Georgia to put together a complete game this weekend. Dawgs hold off a late Fla drive and put the lights out say……… 24 to 20

Bigguns

October 23rd, 2012
3:25 pm

@ Dennis
Those guys weigh over 350 lbs each. They are going to look fat, but rarely has anyone of that size moved as well as those guys do. Their job is to take up space so the guys behind them can fill gaps and make tackles

Joey

October 23rd, 2012
3:25 pm

“I think it will just motivate everyone to play hard, practice hard and get ready for Florida.”
*****************************************
Whoo boy.

I had hoped we WERE motivated, AND practicing hard.

Damn, what do our coaches do?

Sam

October 23rd, 2012
3:25 pm

Good for you, Shawn Williams. Nice to read someone actually coming out with real comments instead of the usual generic talk.

Jim Mora, Sr

October 23rd, 2012
3:27 pm

Leave it to coach Richt to not fully endorse Williams comments. Richts lack of intensity and passion are reflected in our soft defense. Will he ask the boys to “just be calm, like I am, and not hit the Gator players too hard?”

DAWG with two bags over head

October 23rd, 2012
3:27 pm

Joey,

The answer to your question is “Steal a pay check”.

Every parent needs to read this

October 23rd, 2012
3:29 pm

When the AJC and Cox Media Group-Atlanta upgraded the look and feel of the AJC.com website, they decided to postpone the really crucial part: changing the blogging interface so that real log-ins would be required. That was not done because of “priorities” and “reallocation of funds.” Oh, the ad revenue will probably increase because of the pretty new look, but you, the end user are apparently less important than the window dressing.

By deferring the upgrade to the blogging environment they made the choice that certain features are going to continue as before. This means that somebody with Cox Media Group-Atlanta will have to manually remove offending posts when requested by users.

That means that

- racist
- misogonistic
- obscene
- homophobic
- threatening
- name calling

posts, as well as trolling creeps posing as other users, particularly on the sports blogs,
will be allowed to continue.

This is business-as-usual for Cox Media Group-Atlanta
and the AJC.com, I guess. That promise of enhanced customer experience falls real short for end users, doesn’t it?

In order to protect your children from this trash content, I suggest that you set up individual user accounts in your operating system. For example, in Windows you keep the Admin account for yourself only, with a secret login name and password. Then, set up login accounts for the kids. As Admin, you can then enable PARENTAL CONTROLS to block offensive sites on the web. For your kids, I think that http://www.ajc.com web site should be blocked, because the content is certainly offensive. You don’t want your children to be engaged in posting with these creeps, do you?

If you are concerned about the Cox Media Group-Atlanta’s wrong-headed priorities, let them know via e-mail or phone call. You are the customer, and their senior management claim to want to be sensitive to your customer experience.

mike addington

October 23rd, 2012
3:29 pm

J. Jones #1 draft pick, O Tree #! draft pick, J Jenkins #1 draft, S Williams #1 draft pick, Rambo #? draft pick, C washington #? draft pick. and we can’t stop ANY team from running it straight up the middle. Disgusting. Thanks S Williams 4 speaking out. Boy do I miss the days when I couldn’t wait 4 Dawgs to take the field. I thought at the beginning of the year that we might have one of the best teams of the 20 years, with our D and Gurshall running like they were. Then came the Tenn game. Ruh Roh

Terry

October 23rd, 2012
3:29 pm

The whole defense has been stinking up the place we better do something and faster where is the intensity.

JB

October 23rd, 2012
3:30 pm

They will use the SC formula. Stack the box, stuff the run, blitz Murray often and hard, jam our receivers at the line to throw off their rhythm= very little offense.

P_The_Ricker

October 23rd, 2012
3:30 pm

I’d feel better about this game if the UF coaches were coaching the UGA players and vice versa.

bigeasydawg

October 23rd, 2012
3:31 pm

Win or lose, do not want to hear “we just did not execute” After 7 games, they should know how to execute the plays now. If not, there is a big problem with the coaching.

Terry

October 23rd, 2012
3:31 pm

I’m about to come out of retirement and start caoching them dawgs myself if they don’t get it together.

slydog

October 23rd, 2012
3:31 pm

Note to CMR: STHU. Just agree with what the player said, stick up for your guy, and move on. Instead, as usual, he tries to soften the blow and ended up criticizing his own player in the process. “he meant no harm”. These guys have no edge and they know it. I bet they have it now. I’m glad Shawn Williams called out those soft players on his team. he was just saying what someone in his own family, a fan like you and me, has observed. Look at Robinson’s soft, pacifist response, and tell me do YOU want that attitude as captain of your defense? Hell No!!!

Terry

October 23rd, 2012
3:34 pm

Todd Grantham has a responsiblity to, to get those getting that’s hungry to play in the game and light a fir under the a–.

JB

October 23rd, 2012
3:34 pm

Biggest question being ask in the Florida coach’s meeting this week…..Geez, I wonder what plays they will run……..LOL

GATOR CHOMP

October 23rd, 2012
3:34 pm

Alright mutts bend over and grab your ankles its going to be very painful Saturday, so take it like a man you cowards. GATORS or DIE!!!!!!!!

slydog

October 23rd, 2012
3:35 pm

look up at the picture. Look how much more fierce Herrera looks compared to Robinson.. HAHHAHAHAHA Its laughable. All I can say is: College Park raised ILB vs Norcrossed raised, private school ILB (on average, there are exceptions to the rule). You do the math. Case closed. Put the play makers on the field.

DogD

October 23rd, 2012
3:36 pm

After these comments, the Dog D will be on fire against fla! Look for the Dog D to shut down fla’s weak offense and get some turnovers! Dogs roll: 31-13!!!!

P_The_Ricker

October 23rd, 2012
3:38 pm

GATOR CHOMP

October 23rd, 2012
3:34 pm

leave it to the gator fan coming on here to bring homesexual innuendos to the conversation

GATOR CHOMP

October 23rd, 2012
3:38 pm

The MIGHTY GATORS will win this one BIG. “BOOK IT”

DawgFan

October 23rd, 2012
3:38 pm

Funny how you – Chip Towers – can’t keep your opinion out of these articles. I read – and invite everyone to read – a much better accounting of Shawn Williams comments in the Macon paper (macon.com). In your original article, you said “and Williams wasn’t above calling out a few teammates.” Actually he didn’t mention Robinson or Gilliard by name. Now Chip you’re saying it was simply a “motivational ploy.” I’m sorry – where did any Georgia player or coach say what were his heartfelt beliefs being a simple motivational ploy? How about inserting your beliefs a little less – report the facts, and leave the opinion to Jeff and Mark.

JB

October 23rd, 2012
3:38 pm

Gator Chomp say’s bend over…..LOL….. Wasn’t it nice the last 18 months or so with all these Gators submerged in the swamp with nothing to say…….And knocking them off Saturday would be funny as hell.

Leave it to Chip Towers...

October 23rd, 2012
3:39 pm

…to write crap about his alma mater – same old same old “I’m just doing my job”…

Hairy Dawg

October 23rd, 2012
3:39 pm

The ones whos soft is the Gaytors who fans don’t know how to party big and get on opponents like deserving. Dawgs still owe the Gaytors more whoopings. Dawgs will unlease a beatdown like Gaytors have never seen on Sat. I can’t wait to shut up all the trash talker Gaytors whos team is used up from a couple repeating weeks against LSUers and SCAR. No way can Muschump go to well for thrid game in row and have team ready. We got Gaytors right where we wants them with them overconfdencing on Dawgs. Dawgs is motivated cause all they hearing is about all mouth and no bite Gaytors. Gaytors is due for there normal Zook style choking game where they fumbles and interceptions like a block hands and heads stooges. That will cause Dawgs to exploit dumb Gaytors plays.

Go Dawgs! Final Score: Dawgs 37 – Gaytors 13.

Yakker

October 23rd, 2012
3:42 pm

The line in this game is 6 1/2 – - believe it or not. Anyone know a bookie? I’ll put $500 on Florida with those odds.

NC Bulldog

October 23rd, 2012
3:42 pm

Oakdale Dawg – “RIGHT ON”

Kudos to Shawn Williams for doing what the coaches should have.

GO DAWGS – BEAT GATORS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!