Leonard Floyd: 'I was just injured, and just fell'

semerson@macon.comSeptember 2, 2013 

uga_clemson

BEAU CABELL/ THE TELEGRAPH Clemson, SC, 08/31/2013: Georgia linebacker Leonard Floyd (84) puts the final bruising hurt on Tajh Boyd after Jordan Jenkins (59) blasted through the Clemson line to pressure the Clemson quarterback.

BEAU CABELL — bcabell@macon.com

Note: I'd love to bring you something a little different tonight, perhaps an uplifting story on walk-on kicker Patrick Beless, or Josh Harvey-Clemons talking about his return from suspension, or updates from freshmen defensive backs Tray Matthews and Brendan Langley, fullback Quayvon Hicks or offensive tackle John Theus. But attempts to interview all of those players were denied by Georgia.

Instead, because Leonard Floyd was one of just four players available after Monday's practice, here's yet another story centering on Leonard Floyd and whether or not he flopped.

ATHENS - Under most circumstances, Leonard Floyd would be getting more notice for starting Georgia's opener as a freshman, and for playing the star position, a critical spot in the Bulldog defense.

Instead, the video of Floyd falling intentionally to the ground in the first quarter has gotten more attention. At first it was seen by many fans and media as evidence that Georgia was having players flop in order to slow down Clemson's offense. But Georgia head coach Mark Richt asserted that Floyd was in fact hurt when a Clemson player inadvertently kicked him in the groin.

Floyd got his chance to give his side of the story on Monday, echoing what Richt said and explaining why he waited to go down.

"The running back tried to cut me, and I guess his leg whipped around and hit me in the privacy areas," Floyd said.

Floyd said he got up, and pointed towards the sideline, asking for a sub. A couple teammates told him to drop to the ground, as Richt has said his players are instructed to do now when they get hurt.

"I couldn't bear the pain no more. So I just fell," he said. "It wasn't nothing to slow the game down, I was just injured, and just fell."

So why didn't he stay down after he was leg-whipped? Floyd said it was because he was trying to grin and bear it for awhile.

"As a player you always want to fight through it. But I couldn't bear it much longer," he said.

Floyd said he was never told by coaches to slow the game down by faking an injury. Junior defensive lineman Mike Thornton echoed that.

"No, not at all," Thornton said, with a laugh. "This week we played that Clemson game, it was kind of fast-paced and a couple guys did cramp up. Even I had cramped up a couple times. It was a fast game."

Thornton said he hadn't heard the talk about his defense allegedly flopping.

"I just know what I heard about (Floyd) getting hit in his sack. He should've had his cup on," Thornton said. "It gets dirty in this league sometimes and they ain't really gonna call a flag on that."

As for how Floyd performed on the field, he was credited with four tackles, as well as two quarterback hurries. But he said he spent most of the game in pass coverage.

Floyd said he only started working at the star late in preseason practice. He did work at the traditional outside linebacker spot in some snaps. (Floyd appeared to want more chances at blitzing in the Clemson game.) At Dodge County High School he started most of the time with his hand on the ground, but at prep school last year he did more pass coverage as an outside linebacker.

"I ended up playing well," Floyd said. "I don't think I can tell you what my grade was, but I think I played well."



Defensive line subbing

Georgia's defensive coaches lived up to their vow to substitute more along the line, with at least six players getting a liberal amount of playing time.

"It was the most we've ever rotated since I've been here," said Thornton, a fourth-year junior.

Thornton estimated he had between 25-40 snaps in the Clemson game, and others had a similar amount. Senior Garrison Smith had the most, given his experience.

Players also rotated a lot between the ends and inside spots, mudding the difference between the line spots. Thornton, for instance, is listed as a nose tackle, but that's now a bit of a misnomer.

"I would call it defensive tackle, to be honest," Thornton said. "Because we can play left and right, flip guys, there's a lot of stuff we can do. Everybody's prepared to play."

Follow Seth Emerson at @sethemerson.

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