On Monday, Georgia Bulldogs safety Shawn Williams got out of practice and couldn’t take it any longer. He’d been mulling over the inconsistencies of the team’s defense for some time. When he went and met with Seth Emerson of The Macon Telegraph, it all came out, for whatever reason.
“We’ve gotta stop playing soft. We’re playing too soft defensively. That goes for D-line, linebackers, corners, safeties. I don’t know, we’re not playing with the same attitude we played with last year. I don’t know what it is.”
Williams attacked every single position specifically before letting loose about certain players. But one of the more controversial things he said was about linebackers Alec Ogletree and Amarlo Herrera.
“I want to see Amarlo in the game, Amarlo and Ogletree in the game at linebacker. I don’t want to see anybody else in the game at linebacker.”
That’s wonderfully motivating in a sense, but aren’t there guys–teammates of yours–who are on the depth chart behind these two? There are, and they aren’t happy about Williams’ comments.
Mike Gilliard, a linebacker that Williams indirectly insinuated shouldn’t be playing said:
“He said my name without saying my name. I took that personal. I feel like when another man calls me soft, it’s disrespecting my manhood. The only thing I’m going to do is go out there and deliver. He gave me the motivation.”
The other linebacker behind the pair of Ogletree and Herrera is Christian Robinson. Robinson fired back saying, “No football player wants to hear they’re soft. That’s not the way I would go about it. It wasn’t what I want to hear, but we all make mistakes.”
Although it’s unknown whether he was told to do so or decided to out of his own free will, Williams apologized for the comments to the team. But to Gilliard, the damage has already been done.
“When you said it, I feel like you mean it,” Gilliard said of the comments. ”Especially when you tell the media. Obviously it was on your mind and in your heart, so you meant it.”
Defensive end Garrison Smith played the observer role in his take, saying, “My roommate pulled it up on the computer, and I was like, ‘Whoa, okay.’ It’s definitely shots fired.”
A couple of star players who were not called out directly came out in support of Williams. Cornerback Sanders Commings said, “It was definitely needed.” Linebacker Jarvis Jones added, “I felt that woke a lot of guys up.”
In response, head coach Mark Richt had his team practice in full pads during mid-week, something rare for his team at this point in the season.
Ultimately, the value of Williams’ words will be in the response by his teammates on the field. Lose a game or two with the defense looking bad, and he may get some of the blame for causing instability, but start shutting teams down, Williams could be heralded as a hero who put his neck on the line to fire the troops up.