ATHENS, Ga. -- After a couple of early opponents generated summertime headlines with trash talk regarding their upcoming matchups against Georgia, Bulldogs players have had their opportunity to return fire.
The comments by Clemson’s Sammy Watkins and South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney elicited a couple of mild responses from Georgia players on social media, but the Bulldogs’ public tone has mostly mirrored the sentiment from a tweet by tailback Keith Marshall shortly after Clowney dissed Georgia -- and quarterback Aaron Murray, in particular -- at last week’s SEC media days.
“Everyone taking shots at the media days while we’re just working hard in silence,” Marshall tweeted.
The comments certainly did not escape the Bulldogs’ attention, but most of them seem to believe that it’s unnecessary to involve themselves in a war of words through the media. At least that’s how senior defensive end Garrison Smith explained his attitude on such behavior.
“I don’t let talk get to me at all,” Smith said. “I don’t even read the media and I don’t even pay attention to the stuff people say. I worry about the games and I worry about the task at hand. I can’t worry about nobody through a computer. They can’t do nothing to me.”
If anyone had reason to develop a chip on his shoulder and respond in kind, it would have been Murray. South Carolina defensive end Clowney told reporters last week that Murray is afraid of him -- which in the football world is akin to talking about someone’s mother.
And yet Murray handled the subject with a deft touch when he arrived at SEC media days two days after Clowney’s comments, saying he has a healthy respect for the Gamecocks star, but is hardly fearful of Clowney.
Murray does not have a trash-talking personality, anyway, but he said he learned a karmic lesson the one and only time he engaged in smack talk during a game. It was in high school, and his Tampa (Fla.) Plant team had just scored a touchdown against longtime rival Hillsborough. Murray caught a two-point conversion off a halfback pass when a defender hit him late.
“I got up and started talking trash to him. Two plays later, I broke my leg,” Murray recalled. “So I decided from then on, I’m just not meant to talk trash because bad things happen. That was the first time I ever talked trash in my life and that’s pretty much the last time I’ll ever talk trash. Bad karma, I call it, so I just don’t do it anymore.”
Likewise, the Georgia players’ reaction seemed to be fairly subdued when a Clemson receiver told an interviewer that the Tigers would get the season off to a proper start if they “beat the mess out of ‘em like we should” when they open against the Bulldogs on Aug. 31.
Much like Marshall’s reaction to Clowney’s words, Georgia linebacker Amarlo Herrera effectively blew off Watkins’ late-June comments by tweeting, “Why do [people] keep tweeting me and telling me what [Watkins] said? We play in August, not this week.”
In both instances, the future opponents’ comments exploded on Twitter, on message boards and within the blogosphere, but it appears that the Bulldogs’ objective has been to maintain a low profile this offseason.
Sure, Watkins and Clowney might have irritated some of the Bulldogs with their comments -- obviously in a 120-man locker room, reactions can vary -- but elder statesmen like Smith see acknowledging or responding to trash talk as a waste of time.
“Some people it might get them fired up. Some people it might make angry. Everybody’s got different reactions to different things,” Smith said. “I think it’s better to not say anything at all.”