ATHENS — Jonathan Ledbetter wasn’t mincing any words on Monday.
His Bulldogs are set to take on top-ranked and defending national champion Alabama in the SEC championship game on Saturday in Atlanta.
Yes, the senior leader saw this coming.
“It is not anything to freak out over,” Ledbetter said. “It is the inevitable. Everyone knew that this was going to come up. We are ready for it. We have been waiting for it the whole year.”
He was asked about the big picture for Saturday’s game but just wanted to be 100 percent honest.
It was kept real. For sure.
“I didn’t come back this year to not be here,” he said. “This was expected of me. I worked for this. I think everybody on the team worked for this. I think anybody that came back and didn’t go on to the next level that didn’t have to [go on to the next level] really expected this to be another season. We have unfinished business and we intend to go ahead and handle that.”
Jonathan Ledbetter on that point spread
The Bulldogs are clear underdogs on Saturday against Alabama. The spread has moved from 10 to 14 points. Does he relish the underdog role here?
“That’s cool with me, man,” he said. “I will let the people think what they want. I think everyone is entitled to their own opinion but they are not out there playing the football that we do. They are not out there sweating for their brother and doing it for them. So they don’t really understand.”
“That’s fine with me. But we are going to give it everything we got and I’m confident in my guys and my team. I’ve been here for a while. We’ve put in just as much work as them and to have that… it is what it is.”
The Class of 2015 signee says his team will not be intimated this week.
“You can hype up whoever you want before a fight,” Ledbetter said. “Whether we get hyped up or they get hyped up. But whoever comes out there the first punch that is thrown whoever gets hit in the mouth first it is a dogfight from there. It will be that. We’re ready for that. We expect that. We want it.”
Getting to Tua Tagovailoa on Saturday
Can the Bulldogs affect Alabama Heisman Trophy contender Tua Tangovailoa? Does that require something extra with blitz packages? Can they Bulldogs affect him with just four down lineman and get home with four rushers?
Ledbetter said he has faith in whatever the staff dials up against Alabama on Saturday.
“They have got a good game plan for us this week,” Ledbetter said. “Whether that is three guys down or four guys rushing or if we surprise them and do something exotic. I think the guys whoever is in the game is out there rushing they are going to play and they are going to affect the quarterback. That’s what we do.”
He downplayed the effect of sacks in a game last week. The Bulldogs have faced a series of opponents that either did not throw the ball or ran the quick game with the passing attack.
Those elements have limited those sack chances for the Bulldogs.
“We have been working on our rushing and trying to get back to affect the quarterback,” Ledbetter said. “Whether that is batted balls or just QB hurries or just doing other things rather than just getting sacks. Sacks don’t always win games. It is about doing your job and affecting the quarterback.”