Richt: Somebody needed to say something

Georgia senior safety Shawn Williams didn’t hold back this week when he fumed that the Bulldogs were playing soft on defense and without any emotion.

Williams didn’t stop there, either. He went on to say that Alec Ogletree and Amarlo Herrera should be getting most of the snaps at inside linebacker. Christian Robinson and Michael Gilliard have also been rotating in at inside linebacker this season.

Georgia coach Mark Richt wasn’t thrilled with the way Williams went about it, but Richt said the Bulldogs’ defense needed a kick in the pants.

Georgia has allowed 633 rushing yards in its past three games, including 206 last week to Kentucky. Despite a bevy of starters returning, the Bulldogs are ninth in the SEC in total defense and eighth in scoring defense.

Williams had obviously seen enough, especially with Saturday’s critical showdown with Florida looming.

“Sometimes a guy’s got to step up and say something,” Richt said Wednesday. “Now, I don’t think it’s right to necessarily make it as public as it was. A lot of times, there are meetings where players get together and say, ‘You know what? We’ve got to get better. It starts with me.’ I think that’s a good thing for a team. It’s better when it comes from the players and not the coaches.

“Do I think it was a catalyst to help jolt our guys a little? I think so, or at least we’ll see on Saturday.”

Robinson said Williams’ outburst “wasn’t what I wanted to hear,” but added that everybody makes mistakes.

The bottom line is that Georgia simply hasn’t played up to expectations or its talent level on defense.

“I do think the guys (on defense) have an expectation like everybody else, and they know they haven’t met that expectation,” Richt said. “They want to do better. They do care very much, and we do have a good, unified group, even though sometimes even in the family, somebody might say something you don’t like. It might hurt your feelings. But in the end, it was done with the intention of making things better, and I think that’s what everybody is focusing on right now.”

The suspensions earlier in the season and then having to incorporate those players back into the lineup a little bit at a time has clearly stunted Georgia’s development on defense.

“When you’re building the foundation of a defense or offensive line or whatever it may be, you want to start in the spring and take it through the summer, start a certain way in camp and have everybody working together all that time and building those positive reps together,” Richt said. “We were just not able to do that for assorted reasons, and we’re paying a little bit of a price for that.

“We knew the deal going in. We’re not crying about it or making excuses. We just know we’ve got to get better, and that’s what we’re focusing on.”