September 18, 2012

No apologies necessary

A lot was obviously made about the end of last year's game with Vanderbilt when Todd Grantham and Commodore coach James Franklin went nose-to-nose as the teams prepared to leave the field.

But according to players like linebacker Michael Gilliard, seeing Grantham intense and in someone's face didn't exactly come as a shock.

"Oh yeah, with Coach Grantham we see that almost every day so I really wasn't surprised, "Gilliard said Tuesday.

Neither was senior defensive back Sanders Commings.

"I wasn't surprised at all. Anytime a coach on an opposing team comes at one of our players, our coaches should step in and we were glad to see him step in and have our backs for that," said Commings. "When he got here he told us he was a player's coach. We knew that would happen if that situation ever came up."

Commings said Grantham was coming to the defense of teammate Shawn Williams, although gaining additional street cred with his players never crossed the Bulldog defensive coordinator's mind.

"To be honest, I haven't even thought about it or worried about it," he said. "I know our players work very hard to prepare; I care about our players and I want to make sure they succeed. We're going to work hard to make sure we're prepared every Saturday we go out on the field."

Last fall's altercation certainly took on a life of its own.

Captured on video, the brouhaha was seen by thousands on YouTube, and so far this week has been one of the main topics of conversations in the media and by fans on Internet message boards.

Grantham shrugged off a question of whether he thought he did anything wrong.

"No, I understand what all was happening. I understood the things that happened, and like I've said, we're all competitive, it's heated out there," Grantham said. "It's really not a big deal."

For their part, both Franklin and head coach Mark Richt have attempted to shift the focus for Saturday night's game (7:45 p.m., ESPN2) back to what will actually take place on the field.

"Yeah, actually our families went on vacation together - Disney World. We were floating in the pool together, drinking Mai Tais," Franklin said during his weekly press conference on Monday. "No, we saw each other and most of the assistants on the road recruiting. He does a great job and has done a great job for a long time. His defense plays hard and flies around. They're passionate about what they do and we're passionate about what we do. It's nothing more than that. I do have respect for how his defense plays."

Grantham seemed to return the compliment following practice Tuesday afternoon, although he said he never saw Franklin along the recruiting trail.

"I have not. In recruiting, you just got, it just never happens. You're just on the road recruiting guys for Georgia," Grantham said. "But he's a good coach, he's done a good job, they're working hard to be competitive, they had a big game on Saturday, it's a big game for them, it's a big game for us. We've got to make sure we prepare to win."

Grantham's fire was just what Richt was searching for when he hired him away from Dallas three years ago.

"I wanted that. That was one of the things I wanted in the guy who was going to lead the way for us on defense," Richt said. "Defenses play a lot on emotion. It's about playing hard and getting after it. When the guy in charge of that group is that type of personality, it tends to bleed over into the way his players play."

Apparently, it's not just his defensive players who are getting the message.

"In pregame, everybody on the offense listens when he's taking during pre-game," cornerback Damian Swann said. "He fires up the whole team."

Gilliard said Grantham certainly knows what buttons to push.

"Coach Grantham, before the game, he can definitely get the defense riled up," Gilliard said. "If you're doing badly, he's going to make you feel so bad that you're going to want to go out and hit someone so hard. He definitely brings the emotion and I love playing for him."

According to Commings, that's one of the reasons he says the team won't forget the end of last year's contest.
This time, the senior said the Bulldogs will have their coach's back as well.

"We'll be charged up. We're going to remember last year," Commings said. "Vandy's a good team, but they're not us and we're going to show them."

Grantham just wants his defense focused on winning the game.

"It's us against them. It's an SEC game. Anytime you play at home in the SEC you need to win those games to get where we want to go and do the things we want to do," Grantham said. "That's the focus you need to take, because each week is tough and you've got to be prepared every week. You've got to work hard to prepare and that's what we're going to do."

NOTES: Georgia's post-practice injury report consisted of linebacker Jarvis Jones (right groin strain), offensive guard Dallas Lee (left ankle sprain), linebacker Josh Dawson (right shoulder sprain), offensive lineman Watts Dantzler (left ankle sprain), wide receiver Rantavious Wooten (left knee contusion) and defensive end Cornelius Washington (left hamstring strain). Jones later told reporters after practice that he would definitely play, while Dantzler and Lee were seen doing some light jogging alongside the practice field. Although Washington was listed as injured, he was not wearing a green non-contact jersey during the two periods reporters were allowed to watch. Safety Connor Norman was in green but not listed on the report. … Dawg Walk is scheduled for 6:10 p.m.