Williams’ strong words may have marked turning point for Georgia defense

Florida stuck a plaque outside the school’s football facility after its 2008 national championship season engraved with Tim Tebow’s words promising to push hard after a loss.

That was news to Georgia safety Shawn Williams on Monday, whose own blunt words about the defense lit a fire under his teammates.

“Oh, really?” Williams said after practice Monday. “Maybe I can get a plaque. Just kidding. Just kidding.”

If Georgia wins a national title, Williams’ critique of the defense certainly will be long remembered.

Before Georgia’s 17-9 win against Florida, the senior now famously called out Georgia’s defense as “soft” and said the Bulldogs were playing without emotion.

Georgia has given up an average of 8.3 points and 263.8 total yards in the four games since then against the Gators, Ole Miss, Auburn and Georgia Southern.

“I think Shawn’s comments certainly had a great effect on our football team,” coach Mark Richt said on his radio show Monday night. “It jolted everybody a little bit. It got some guys mad, it got some guys hurt, their feelings got hurt a little bit. I think everybody understood Shawn’s motivation was to get everybody to play how they are supposed to play.”

Williams doesn’t think he should be credited for saving the season, but he said he’s seeing his teammates now giving it their all and playing “really good.”

“I wouldn’t call it saving the season,” Williams said in his first public comments since his rant. “I just always knew we could do it. We just had to go out and do it.”

Williams — and his teammates, for that matter — seemed to be careful in choosing their words on Monday. That followed the lead of Richt, who a day earlier said he was focused on Georgia Tech and wouldn’t comment on the Bulldogs’ position in the BCS title race.

“I don’t know if it got everybody stirred up or what not,” Williams said of his comments last month. “We’re looking past that now. We’ve got Georgia Tech.”

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Why did some UGA coaches push for Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb to practice no contact today? ‘Because they want to win’ http://t.co/SGSe0nEMn6

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