ATHENS — Tennessee has the trash can. Georgia has the spikes.
When Georgia players were celebrating their 20-19 win over Notre Dame on Saturday night, outside linebacker Davin Bellamy was seen parading around with golden spikes on his shoulders. What was the deal with that? Now the story can be told: They’re a reward for forcing turnovers.
Bellamy had the sack that forced the fumble on Notre Dame to seal the victory.
“It’s a little thing we have for turnovers. When you get the ball off somebody, you get the spikes,” said fellow outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter, who recovered that fumble. “We have the UGA spike squad that’s at the games. [Defensive coordinator Mel] Tucker came up with it, try to get us little incentives for getting the ball off people.”
Carter got to wear the spikes earlier in the second half, when he sack-stripped Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush and recovered the fumble. While Bellamy got to wear the spikes after the game since it was over, Carter only got to wear them on the sidelines until the next defensive series.
“Once you go back on the field, the spikes come off and it’s time to go,” Carter said.
So essentially it’s the same idea as the Tennessee trash can, where the Volunteers put footballs after a turnover. That gimmick was much derided on social media, what with Vols coach Butch Jones and the “champions of life” stuff.
Georgia had the spikes last week, but didn’t get to use it, as it forced no turnovers against Appalachian State. Alabama had the wrestling belt tradition to reward turnovers, which Kirby Smart was involved with creating while he was there, but he gave credit to Tucker for this one.
“It’s cool because of our fan base and the Spike Squad that we have. It honors them. Our players take a lot of pride in that,” Smart said. “I’m just glad we got to finally bring it out. That first game we never got to show it. Coach Tucker was killing the defense after the first game because everybody in the country is talking about their deal and we don’t get to show ours. It was nice to get some turnovers.”
As good as Carter’s sack-forced fumble recovery was, it could have been better: He was trying to pick up the ball and return it.
Carter, showing good awareness, can be seen on replay getting his knees off the ground before reaching down to grab the football so he wouldn’t be ruled down when he grabbed it. But Wimbush also was reaching for it.
“Everything happened so fast. Once I finally realized the ball was right there I was trying to get the ball and go,” Carter said. “But yeah, I gotta get on the ball. Once I realized I was down I said, ‘All right lemme get this ball, make sure what’s important.'”