ATHENS — Clearly no memos or warnings were sent from Georgia’s coaches to its players in the wake of Bacarri Rambo’s comments this past weekend.
Rambo caught a lot of flak — from Alabama fans mostly — for espousing this past weekend his belief that the Bulldogs’ defense is even more talented than the Crimson Tide’s. But one of Rambo’s teammates came out and said pretty much the same thing on Monday after Georgia’s practice.
“I think we’re the best defense in the country,” senior cornerback Sanders Commings said. “I thought we were last year and we have 10 out of 11 or 12 players back who are part of the starting rotation. So there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be the top defense. Everybody on this defense thinks we are.”
Never mind that the Crimson Tide can back such a claim statistically. They enter Saturday’s SEC Championship game against Georgia ranked No. 1 in the national in total defense (233.67 yards per game) and No. 1 in points allowed (9.25 ppg).
Georgia is ranked 22nd and 16th, respectively.
But it goes deeper than that, Commings contends. It’s about how a team is playing at the moment, and he feels like no one is playing better than the Bulldogs. They’ve allowed just 8.6 points a game since the Oct. 27 Florida contest and have been forcing turnovers in bunches.
Meanwhile, Commings said he doesn’t think the Bulldogs’ confidence in themselves is providing bulletin board material for Alabama. They’re simply stating their belief.
“It’s good to play with confidence,” he said. “Confidence is just another word for swagger. We step on the field and that swagger is turned all the way up. We feel like we can shut anybody down, shut anybody out. In order to play good, you have to be confident, you have to have swagger”
Bobo a finalist for Broyles Award
Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo was named one of five finalists Monday for the Frank Broyles Award, which goes to college football’s top assistant coach each year.
The Bulldogs’ have scored a 456 points on 62 touchdowns this season — both school records. With an average of 38 points per game, they’re on pace to obliterate the school record of 32.6 for a season of 12 or more games set in 2007. Georgia averaged 37.2 points in 10 games in 1946. With an average of 463.7 yards total offense per game, the Bulldogs are just off the school record pace of 466.82 in 1994, when Bobo was redshirted as a freshman quarterback at UGA.
Two of the other four Broyles finalists are also from the SEC. Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury and Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn join Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason and Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco.
Jenkins recounts flirtation with Crimson Tide
Jordan Jenkins and Geno Smith were teammates as they enjoyed some online video gaming last week.
If not for a change of heart by Jenkins, the pair might have been teammates on the football field, too. Jenkins, Georgia’s true freshman outside linebacker, had always been infatuated with Alaama as a teenager and had them listed as his top school throughout his recruitment. Alabama was also the first school to extend a scholarship offer his way, ringing him up the night before he visited the campus for the school’s “Junior Day” in 2011. But in a shocker, he committed to the Bulldogs in January, citing their need for another pass-rusher as well the relationship he had developed with defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.
However, he formed friendships with many members of Alabama’s 2012 recruiting class, including Smith, a cornerback for the Crimson Tide and a St. Pius X alumnus who was one of the top prospects in the nation at his position. With Jenkins and Smith still talking regularly, conversation has turned to the highly-anticipated clash between their teams Saturday in the SEC Championship game.
“He just said he’d seen that I was getting playing time, and I said, ‘Yeah, I see you out there, too,’” Jenkins said. “We were just congratulating each other, conceivably trying to hide that we’re both wanting to get after each other (butts) at the game.”
Jenkins’ affinity for Alabama began with what he dubbed “the Mark Ingram era,” the Heisman Trophy-winning tailback who helped lead the Crimson Tide to the national championship in 2009.
“That’s pretty much when everybody started being a bandwagon Bama fan, so they’d hop on it,” Jenkins said. “Then the next year they’d hop off.”
Spurning Alabama was “one of the hardest decisions I’ve made in my entire life,” Jenkins said. The toughest call he had to make was to the Crimson” Tide’s defensive coordinator, Kirby Smart.
“He was the coach I liked the most at Bama,” Jenkins said. “He was a cool guy. … I just had a close relationship with him. It was a hard call, because Coach Smart was like that cool guy you’re friends with.”
Jenkins has kept in touch with Smart, but said they haven’t recently. Ironically, their last contact came the week before Alabama played Texas A&M, which marked the Crimson Tide’s only defeat this season. And he can’t wait for the opportunity to give the Crimson Tide their second loss on Saturday.
“Playing Bama is something that really excites me,” Jenkins said. “I’m just ready for this game to start.”
Bulldogs glad to out of options
Commings literally sighed with relief when asked about being done with facing option offenses, which Georgia had to defend the past two weeks with Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech.
“We can go back to doing what we’re most comfortable with,” Commings said. “Playing run and pass defense against a normal offense. That’s the biggest relief about it.”
Robinson wasn’t concerned that the last two weeks defending unconventional schemes was a hindrance.
“We went against our offense every day in practice for at least four periods of just getting back to normal football for us,” the senior linebacker said. “It was intense. We did well.”
One player did strike a melancholy note, though. Jenkins didn’t mind the last two weeks of practice, since he was able to avoid contact, cut-blocking aside.
“I kind of liked practicing that way, because all I had to do was play some guy cutting me the whole time,” he said. “I didn’t have to hit anybody the whole practice.”
Etc. . . .
Georgia nose tackle Mike Thornton, who suffered a leg injury in the fourth quarter of the Tech game, did not practice on Monday. The injury report listed him as “out” with a right ankle sprain. … Rambo, the senior free safety, was named the SEC’s Co-Defensive player of the week along with South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Rambo had eight tackles, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception against the Yellow Jackets.
AJC reporter Ryan Black contributed to this report.