September 6, 2011

Players feeling the heat

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Senior tight end Aron White is known as one of the prolific Twitter users on the Georgia football team.

During preseason, his "Camplife" series became a popular item for Georgia fans, as he attempted to give outsiders a humorous look at what goes on "behind the scenes" during fall camp.

Unfortunately, nobody's laughing now.

After Saturday's 35-21 loss to Boise State, White's Twitter account started being blown up by angry Bulldog fans, which White said has forced him to make a significant change.

"I'm not taking myself off Twitter. I just feel like there's a lot of world issues that I need to address," said White, his tongue planted firmly in cheek. "My voice needs to be heard and people need to hear what Aron White has to say on a lot of special areas, like favorite TV shows, what I heard on the radio, what my professors' are talking about, what this crazy girl is wearing in front of me in class, you know, things that need to be addressed."

White admitted it appears the negativity outside the walls of the Butts-Mehre Building appears to be at an all-time high.

It's not just on Twitter. On Internet message boards like the Dawgvent, fans are screaming for change, and for players like White, that message is being heard loud and clear.

"There's a lot of negativity going around right now with the first game, opening up with a loss, something that everybody's disappointed in. I don't want to start any ruckus between any fans. I think our fans are great, I think our team loves all our fans and we're just trying to stay positive," White said. "So right now I just decided it's probably best not to talk about football on Twitter. I'll do it, have fun with it, but at the same time stay positive, so that's what I'm going to try to do."

White made it clear that he doesn't blame fans one bit for being upset.

"I think if we would have had a better year and opened up with this loss, then things would have been a little bit different," he said. "I don't think as many fans would have jumped to criticize and speak negatively, but coming off a losing season, the first losing season here in 14 years, then open up with a loss, people are going to have something to say."

That doesn't mean it's easy to hear, not only in regards to the program itself, but as that relates to the future of head coach Mark Richt.

Talk of a "hot seat" for the Bulldog coach has been bandied about quite often since Georgia's 6-7 campaign of 2010, a seat that in the eyes of many is now a tad warmer following the loss to Boise State.

During Tuesday's weekly press conference, Richt was asked if Saturday's contest against South Carolina was a pivotal game as it related to his future as the Bulldog head coach.

"I view it as a very important game," Richt said, smiling, declining to address the notion further.
Later, another reporter went more to the point, asking Richt if Saturday was a "must win" type of situation.

Richt kept his cool, but it was obvious he was not pleased with hearing the question again.

"I believe I just answered that - it's a very important game," Richt said. "Want to ask me again? I'll tell you the same thing."

Quarterback Aaron Murray sidestepped the same question when it was posed to him during his session with reporters.

"We're not trying to worry about that. We're just taking it one game at a time and we know it's a big game just because of ourselves. To get back on a roll, get back in the right direction, we need a win under our belt and a big one against a great SEC opponent." "It's a huge game," he said. "You don't want to start out 0-2 and you don't want to start out 0-1 in SEC play, especially against a team like South Carolina who is predicted by most to win the East."

Tight end Orson Charles said he feels a win over the Gamecocks would cure a lot of ills.

"You want to win; you win and you feel good," he said. "Right now, I'm kind of pissed off, but I really do think if we can come away with a win, everyone will have a big smile on their face."

As far as playing for Richt, Charles said he's playing for a higher authority.

"I'm playing for God. God is the No. 1 person I'm playing for. I'm playing for the seniors, my teammates and of course the coaches," Charles said. "I really hate hearing about that (Richt), but we've just got to go out there and win."

White said the team wouldn't be doing itself any favors if "playing for Coach's job" suddenly became the program's rallying cry.

"If you start worrying, 'Oh, is Coach going to lose his job, this, that and the other, what's everybody going to say after the game and is this going to start a slide," he said. "If you worry about stuff like that, you're going to lose your focus and we need to be completely focused, because we have a great team coming in to play us."

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at dash@ugasports.com.