Mark Zerof-US PRESSWIRE
The Georgia coach downplayed his safety's comments about the defense playing soft, but he does hope the remarks provide an emotional spark to his team.
Georgia safety Shawn Williams dropped the mother of all fire crackers on Monday, when he told the media that the defense's struggles were due to the Bulldogs "playing soft."
On Tuesday, Mark Richt was in full damage control, telling reporters that Williams' comments were not really an issue (courtesy of the Macon Telegraph):
"I did talk to him this morning about it, but it was more him coming to me. I think he read the comments and didn't like the way - not necessarily how it was reported, but how he read it himself. He was like, 'That's not really the tone or at least what I'm trying to communicate in my heart.' But he's an emotional guy, and he wants to have success, and he wants to have to try to motivate not only himself, but his teammates to play better. That's not necessarily a bad thing. But you'd just as soon not have it as public as it was."
Asked about whether he thought Williams' comments would light a fire under his teammates, Richt was cagey, saying that "they would see."
The Bulldogs' defense has been decent this season, giving up 24.1 points a game, 50th best in the country. However, expectations were much higher with nine starters, including several players projected to go early in the NFL Draft, returning for the 2012 season.
They'll have a chance to put their early season struggles behind them on Saturday when they face No. 2 Florida, as a victory over the Gators in Jacksonville would put the Bulldogs in the driver's seat in terms of who will win the SEC East and play in Atlanta for the SEC Championship.