Commentary

Rambo too busy to think NFL

Notebook: INT-happy safety teeters on record-blasting season

Updated: November 15, 2011, 10:25 AM ET
By David Ching | DawgNation

ATHENS, Ga. -- Bacarri Rambo is not prepared to discuss his NFL prospects, but the Georgia junior safety is assembling an impressive highlight reel.

Rambo told reporters after Monday's practice that he will wait until after the season before concerning himself with a possible early departure for the NFL -- and he could make some Bulldogs history before the season ends.

His interception return for a touchdown Saturday against Auburn was Rambo's seventh interception of the season, tying former Bulldogs linebacker Tony Taylor (2006) for the most by a Bulldog in one season since Ben Smith in 1989.

[+] EnlargeBacarri Rambo
Greg McWilliams/Icon SMIGeorgia safety Bacarri Rambo is just five INTs shy of the SEC single-season record.
"It felt real good just catching the interception, but it felt really good just scoring," Rambo said. "I've been waiting on that for, like, the past six interceptions and I finally got in the end zone, so it felt really good."

With seven interceptions -- tied for second in the nation -- Rambo is in a tie for sixth place for interceptions in one season by a Bulldog, and he trails Terry Hoage's 1982 SEC record by five. His 12 career interceptions are eighth all-time at Georgia and his 240 career interception return yards rank third.

Yet Rambo doesn't like discussing his position in the record books.

"It's a great individual goal, but the more they throw the ball our way, the more I'm going to try to intercept it," Rambo said. "But it's about winning to me. If I had two interceptions, I'd still be feeling happy as I am right now because we're winning."

He has played a direct role in the turnaround with more than just interceptions. His 14 passes defended rank fourth nationally and he is sixth on the team with 39 tackles.

"He studies, he prepares, he's one of our leaders on defense," Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. "He does a good job of handling the adjustments that we've got to have in the back. I'm really proud of where he's come. If you look at him as a player from last year to now, the guy's really become a very good player for us. He's consistent and he makes plays and really helps us be in the right defense."

Dirtiest rivalry?
A year after the Georgia-Auburn game devolved into an ugly display with 10 personal fouls -- five on each side -- Georgia coach Mark Richt was pleased that the teams exhibited no such malicious play in the rematch.

"I appreciate your comments about everybody's ability to just play football and do it very physically," Richt told a caller to his Monday night radio show who complimented the Bulldogs' cleaner play. "You can play with a lot of intensity and not have some type of personal foul."

A recent Wall Street Journal story included a survey of 40 college football rivalries in the last five years and determined that Georgia-Auburn was the nation's dirtiest rivalry, with 5.4 bad-behavior penalties per game.

There was less venom Saturday, however, save for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Bulldogs after Rambo's interception return for a touchdown -- and Richt said that was more of a mistake than an intentional infraction.

The officials warned Richt after a helmetless redshirting freshman ran near the end zone to congratulate Bruce Figgins for his touchdown, reminding the coach that rules prohibit players from running onto the field without a helmet.

Richt said the coaching staff was trying to disseminate that reminder on the sideline when Rambo returned an interception for a touchdown only three plays after Figgins' touchdown. The Bulldogs drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct when several excited helmetless players joined in the celebration without having received Richt's warning yet.

"As we're trying to warn everybody one by one, which is hard to do, not long after that Rambo gets the pick and goes to the end zone and half the team runs to the end zone. I knew we were going to get a flag," Richt said with a chuckle. "I wish I had a megaphone when I tried to warn everybody, but it was too late."

UGA-Tech kickoff set
Georgia's regular-season finale at rival Georgia Tech will kick off at noon ET. The SEC on Monday released its TV schedule for the Nov. 25-26 Thanksgiving weekend and the Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets' Nov. 26 matchup was selected to be televised by either ABC or ESPN.

Extra points
Georgia junior Orson Charles was named Monday as one of eight semifinalists for the John Mackey Award, which goes to the nation's top tight end. Charles has 32 catches for 395 yards and five touchdowns this year. He is tied with Leonard Pope for Georgia's tight end career touchdown record with 10. & Georgia center Ben Jones was named the SEC's Offensive Lineman of the Week for the second consecutive week after grading out at a team-high 85 percent and totaling 10 intimidation blocks against Auburn. & Running back Isaiah Crowell won SEC Freshman of the Week honors for the fourth time this season after rushing for 132 yards and a touchdown against Auburn.

David Ching covers University of Georgia sports for DawgNation. He can be reached at davidchingespn@gmail.com.