ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia football players and coaches spent Tuesday answering questions about this week's game against No. 3 Florida and about some candid comments Bulldogs safety Shawn Williams made following Monday's practice.
"I think Shawn is just a real passionate guy and loves Georgia and loves his team," coach Mark Richt said. "It's more public than you would like, but I don't think he meant any harm by it. I think his teammates know that, so it's really not an issue."
Williams, who leads the team with 51 tackles, said Monday night that the Bulldogs are playing "soft up front" and without any emotion. Asked whether he cared if teammates learned of his comments, the 6-foot-1, 217-pound senior from Damascus, Ga., said, "Hopefully this will get back to them and piss them off."
The Bulldogs returned players with multiple starts at every position defensively this season, yet they rank just 10th in the SEC in run defense, ninth in total defense and eighth in scoring defense. Several players Tuesday had no problem with what Williams said.
"Shawn wants a physical defense and is trying to motivate everybody," cornerback Sanders Commings said. "If you watch last year's tape compared to this one, we definitely were more physical. We had eight tacklers around the ball, and this year we'll have three or four guys around the ball. People didn't expect much from us last year, and I think it made us hungrier."
Said inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera: "Somebody needed to say something, so he took it upon himself to say it."
Herrera said he played his fewest snaps this season during last Saturday's 29-24 win at Kentucky, and Williams was adamant Monday that Herrera and Alec Ogletree should be playing more at inside linebacker. That was another way of saying Christian Robinson and Michael Gilliard should be getting less time on the field.
"It's definitely not the best thing to hear after you've got a win," Robinson said. "We didn't have a great game or play like we knew we could, but I think we're just going to have to stick together. It wasn't what I wanted to hear, but we all make mistakes."
Richt said he met Tuesday morning with Williams.
After getting harassed by Jadeveon Clowney and the rest of South Carolina's defensive front during a 35-7 loss in Columbia on Oct. 6, Georgia's offensive line gets to face another stout defense Saturday. The Gators start ends Dominique Easley and Lerentee McCray and tackles Omar Hunter and Sharrif Floyd, and they are rotating in freshman ends Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler.
Georgia left tackle Kenarious Gates said he is looking forward to somewhat of a second chance this week and that he learned from Clowney.
"He's the best I've ever faced," Gates said. "He gave me a good challenge, and it was a learning experience. It was my first time going against a great D-end, and I'm glad I did because it showed me how I need to get better."
Bulldogs junior outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (ankle) practiced Tuesday in a regular jersey. ... Georgia noseguard John Jenkins on the absence this week of defensive end Abry Jones (ankle): "He's one of the heart and souls of the defense. You can't replace him, so we've got to find a way to work without him." ... Georgia leads the series 48-40-2 according to its records and 47-40-2 according to Florida records. ... When Florida defeated LSU and South Carolina, it was the first time the Gators had beaten top-10 teams in consecutive home games.
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-7576524.