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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Georgia's Leaders Emerge

I have a story in today's Telegraph and Ledger-Enquirer on the change in attitude among several Bulldogs since the loss to Alabama.

I posted a link a few weeks ago with some quotes by Rennie Curran regarding the lack of vocal leadership among Georgia's players this season, and Curran has been a catalyst in changing that.

One of the big problems in identifying leaders this season has been the lack of seniors. Only Mo Massaquoi and CJ Byrd, among the seniors, have started every game. My story today explores some of the other players to step up into the role, but I couldn't use all the quotes I had. Here are the rest of the comments from the players I spoke to for the story.

Knowshon Moreno on what practices have been like since Alabama: "I think guys are making sure everyone does the right things when they need to. I'm still the same, I'm not that vocal. But Stafford's the leader, and he's been doing that since Day 1. Everyone is gelling together."

Brannan Southerland on Rennie Curran's leadership: "He even spoke up last year before he was even starting. He's a great football player, a great leader, a great person. I think people listen to him because everyone knows he plays as hard as he can and leaves everything on the field."

Darryl Gamble on Rennie Curran: "He's like the shortest guy out there but he still talks a good amount. He's making a lot of plays, and guys really follow him just because of the things he does. He's a great leader."

Gamble on establishing vocal leaders on the team: "The older guys, they were trying, I knew they were trying. (Last year) we had other guys like Fernando (Velasco), Thomas Brown, and they didn't really have to say too much because those guys took the leadership rolls. Coming into this year, I guess they never established vocally their roles. They were making plays on the field, but just not vocally. Rennie, he was always a talkative guy, so he just took that on himself."

Corvey Irvin on becoming a leader on the team: "I did put my time in around here, and I feel like I'm that guy. Jeff's gone, and nobody really wanted to talk, we've got Mohamed and CJ Byrd, and I feel like I'm the next guy in line to be that leader. I've played some, made some plays, I'm the captain for the third time this week, so I'm going to have to step up and take control of the defensive line – interior and the ends – just to get the guys motivated and get them pumped. I feel like it's my responsibility to do that and have us rolling."

Irvin on why he stepped into the role: "I really didn't see it from nobody else. Geno, he's a quiet guy, Kade's a quiet guy, DeAngelo is a freshman. I'm a senior, I played a lot last year, and I looked up to Jeff and saw the things he did, so I just took after him and tried to do the same thing."

Irvin on what the seniors bring to the team: "I did say that, and it all starts with your seniors. Your young guys are going to look at the seniors and do what they do. So I wanted to be a good role model, be a vocal leader, so I wanted to do things right so the young guys will say, ‘Look at Irvin, he's doing it right, and I want to do it that way, too.'"

Vance Cuff on players stepping into more vocal roles: "It's very obvious to see that our leadership is stepping up. It's sad to see that a loss made us step up like that, but that put a light under our tails. The leadership is just growing from day to day now. You can hear it in the weight room, the film room, older guys, younger guys, just the time between classes. The leadership is just stepping up."

Cuff on what having vocal players around him has done for him: "It's obvious the leaders, their confidence about the game plan, they know it. And you feel good when you're hearing them relay stuff. If you go to them and ask them, you know they know what they're doing because they declared themselves as a leader at practice, putting in extra time on game film. Any question that pops into my head, I know I'm going to Asher Allen because that guy knows his game plan down to the T."

Mark Richt on finding non-senior leadership:
"I think we do honor our seniors here and we do try to put the brunt of the leadership on them, but if a guy wants to lead prior to that, we're not against that at all, and we'll encourage that, too. But I do think there's a little bit of hesitation or reluctance to step up if you're a sophomore or a freshman or even a junior sometimes. Sometimes that's good. Sometimes that's a sign of respect. Fernando Velasco, he was a tremendous leader and everyone knew it, and no one tried to knock him out of the box. Like with Matthew Stafford in my opinion, him respecting the fact that Fernando was a great leader for us, I thought was a pretty good thing. But now, this season, even though he's not a senior, he knows it's his time."

Curran on players stepping up: "Every time we come here to practice, we're out here probably about seven hours a day, and if we're out here, we want to have the results. We're putting all this work in, and our reward is game day. So coming in every day and working hard, knowing how many guys are busting their tails to make good plays and how much extra effort we're putting in in the film room and the weight room, we definitely want to have the results. I feel like we stay on each other for that purpose. We're definitely getting to be more of a player-driven team, and it's making a difference."

Curran on why players weren't more vocal early in the season:
"I feel like everybody was so busy trying to get everything down, focus on their job, what they had to do that some of the guys might not have felt like it was their job to get on everybody. But at the end of the day, we have to realize that we're going to be the ones representing each other. The coaches aren't going to be on the field with us on Saturday. We're all we have and fans and everybody don't know what it takes like we do, so we have to want to see the best in each other."

Jeremy Lomax on why players waited to become more vocal with their teammates:
"I just think people were really trying to take care of themselves. It's hard to try to coach somebody when you're still amongst the ranks trying to learn yourself. That was really the key – making sure you're good yourself before you're trying to push on others."

Lomax on why it took him a while to speak out:
"My first start was this season, so who am I to talk? But leadership amongst the ranks is what we needed, and that's what we're trying to do. If you're talking all this talk and you're not producing, it's just talk."

Mohamed Massaquoi on why it was so important to have leaders emerge: "Talent alone doesn't win games. Everybody's talented in this league. In the SEC, everybody has good players and good coaches. What separates a lot of teams is their leadership and how hard guys are doing their work, so I told the guys, we don't get too many more opportunities to play on the collegiate level, so we know we have to go out there and lead by example and be more vocal and hopefully the guys will follow."

1 comment:

Travis Eckhart said...

I like what I am hearing. For such a young team to be playing the way they were without the type of vocal leadership most senior led teams have. I can't wait to see what happens when we finally establish that.