October 13, 2009

Players learning to deal with negative reactions

It's gotten so bad for the Bulldogs that Rennie Curran joked Tuesday that even his own mother is giving him a hard time.

"Even my mom asks what our offense is doing, what our defense is doing, and she's only been watching football for two years," Curran chuckled. "She says 'It looks like you guys aren't playing with any heart, why are so many receivers open?' things like that. She's always got a comment. I'm like 'Yeah, mom, you're right, mom, of course.' Everybody has answers when things are going wrong."

Of course, Curran's mother isn't the only one expressing her displeasure with the current status of the 3-3 Bulldogs, who try to break their two-game losing skid Saturday at Vanderbilt (12:21, SEC-TV).

Fans have been expressing their displeasure in a number of ways, posting on message boards, responding to blogs and some even have gone as far as to call the office of Athletic Director Damon Evans to complain.

Head coach Mark Richt said he's spoken with the team about how to handle some of the questions he expects will come their way.

"On Sunday I just talked to them about making sure they stay focused on the important things. There are certain things you can control in life and certain things you can't control. What people say about you or your team or your coaches, you can't control that. All you can control is how you focus, how you prepare and how you keep your mental frame of mind," Richt said. "We have control over that, so those are the things that I talked about and really helped them understand that the only thing we can do that can be the most productive thing for us right now is to really focus on this ballgame. Every day that we come in, whether it's lifting, running or practice, whatever it might be, let's focus on what's important and that's the only way we'll move in the right direction here."

Tight end Aron White said paying attention to what fans and those outside the program are saying is the worst thing the players can do.

Saturday night, Richt drew the ire of some fans when he mentioned how people "outside the arena" don't understand the inner-workings of the program, echoing similar comment made earlier this year by quarterback Joe Cox.

"I have all the respect in the world for our fans. We love our fans, we think the Bulldog Nation is great and they're very supportive but football is more complex than Xs and Ox on a board. There's a lot that goes in. They don't really understand the schedule, the adversity that we face every week preparing for these opponents," White said. "Everybody's guilty of saying 'This needs to be done and that needs to be done.' I do it looking at professional teams, saying 'Oh, we need to let him go, they need to do that on defense or fire him' but we don't know. That man might be the perfect man for the job, you never know unless you're on the middle.

"It's definitely something I try to focus on when I watch professional football or even my old high school. I don't know what's on; I'm not in that circle anymore, so I withhold my judgment on that. I might have my opinion, but the only people whose opinions really matter are Damon Evans, the athletic association, people like that who know what's going on and are the proper people to make those decisions. I don't mean any disrespect, that's just how I feel about outside opinions. We value other people's opinions, but we know the ones that matter the most are from within our own program."

Safety Bryan Evans agreed with White.

The senior from Jacksonville has dealt with negative reactions to this play for what seems like his entire career, but understand why many in the Bulldog Nation would be upset with the current state of the team.

"I'm not going to say anything negative toward but there is a lot more than what you see happen on the field," Evans said. "But that kind of thing happens in football. You can't stop people from saying what they're going to say, you just can't let it bring you down. As a player you've just got to put it out of your mind and not let it affect you."

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!