ATHENS – J.R. Reed’s phone started blowing up around mid-afternoon on Monday. People texted him the same time the Georgia safety saw the tweets: A few Florida players had some interesting things to say.
One knocked Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm. Another said Georgia “isn’t a team that we lose to.” A night later, Reed was asked to respond.
“That’s Florida. That’s what you expect from some teams,” Reed said. “Some teams you don’t expect it. But it doesn’t bother me that much.”
So you do expect that from Florida, Reed was asked?
“No,” Reed said, laughing. “It’s just trash talk. It’s no big deal.”
Georgia senior linebacker Lorenzo Carter also shrugged it off, at least publicly.
“I mean a little bit of it gets back to us. But at the end of the day nothing you say is going to affect the outcome of the game,” Carter said. “So we just try to keep preparing the way we’ve been preparing, and let our football and let our helmets do the talking.”
A quick reprise of the comments emanating from the Gators’ interview session on Monday:
Florida safety Chauncey Gardner pooh-poohed Georgia freshman QB Jake Fromm’s success by saying: “He throws simple passes. I get it. Anybody can throw a slant.” Gardner added: “If he can beat us with his arm, whoopty doo.”
And Florida receiver Josh Hammonds mentioned his team’s current three-game win streak: “That brings a lot of confidence to us, just knowing that Georgia isn’t a team that we lose to. So I think that’s the message in the locker room right now. They might be the No. 3 team in the country, but they can’t beat Florida. That’s our mentality going forward and we’ll come out and be ready to play.”
The Fromm comments probably got the most attention, especially since the Georgia quarterback has done much more than throw slant passes. He leads the SEC in yards per pass attempt (9.6), has 21 completions of 20-plus yards, and has hit on several deep throws for touchdowns.
So Reed didn’t feel the need to rush to his quarterback’s defense.
“We’re just going to let them find out on game day, see what he can really do, and just keep it moving,” Reed said.
Where Georgia doesn’t have a defense is it has lost three in a row to Florida, including the 2014 game when the Bulldogs were heavily favored. The Bulldogs (7-0) are an even heavier favorite this year over the unranked Gators, so UGA coaches have reminded their players that none of them have ever been on the winning side of the rivalry.
That was Monday. Then came the Florida player comments. Could that have a real impact and motivate players even more?
“Yeah, that’s what it does. That’s what bulletin-board material is. It’s just a little extra fire,” Carter said. “But we don’t need that. We have enough fire and intrinsic motivation with the team that anything else outside is noise that we block out.”
Reed referred to it as people “trying to get under your skin.” The key isn’t to pay much attention to it, he said.
“There’s a lot worse things said on the field,” Reed said. “So you’ve just got to have thick skin, and don’t worry about it.”
Georgia has been on the other end of the public smack-talking this season: Prior to the Notre Dame game in September, senior safety Dominick Sanders said several times that the goal was to “punish them from the start,” and said he didn’t care about Notre Dame’s tradition.
Georgia won the game. But Sanders has not been made available to the media since then.
Carter was asked what would happen to him if Smart heard him say something like the Florida players did Monday.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m not trying to find out though.”