ATHENS - Mike Gilliard took it personally. He took it as a sign of disrespect. And Shawn Williams never even said his name.
Earlier in the day Christian Robinson responded to Williams' comments from Monday night that Alec Ogletree and Amarlo Herrera should be the only guys playing inside linebacker.
"They should never leave the field," Williams said of Ogletree and Herrera.
On Tuesday night, it was Gilliard's chance to respond. And he didn't hold back.
"No disrespect to Amarlo Herrera and Alec Ogletree, those are great players. But when I read that, I felt disrespected, and I'm definitely taking it personally," said Gilliard, a senior who is fifth on the team in tackles, and was third last year. "But there's no issue between me and Shawn Williams. The only thing it is is fuel for the fire. And basically, it's just giving me motivation, when I go out there to go 100 percent.
"And that started today. Matter of fact, you can ask any of my teammates. Today, I was just upset today at practice. So today, anytime the ball carrier came my way I tried to knock the s--- out of him. But yeah, like Christian said he was hurting - I wasn't hurting. I just felt like I was disrespected. He said my name without saying my name. Basically, he just gave me motivation. He called us out, so us like linebackers, us as a defense as a whole, we've just gotta deliver."
Gilliard and Williams spoke in the training room before practice, and Gilliard indicated he received some form of an apology.
"He told me it was nothing personal," Gilliard said. "But then again, when he said names, he said my name without saying my name. Like I said, I took that personal. I feel like that whenever another man calls me soft, it's disrespecting my manhood. The only thing I'm gonna do is go out there and deliver."
Gilliard added later on his conversation with Williams: "He apologized and everything like that. But you said, I feel like you mean it. And so especially if you tell the media, obviously it's on your mind, it's on your heart, so you meant it. If he feels that way, I'm just gonna go and prove him wrong."
Gilliard also said this won't be an issue that divides the team. The defense met earlier in the day, and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham allowed Williams to have the floor.
"Me personally, the type of guy I am, I never would have told the media something like that. I definitely would've kept that in house, and talked to the defense. We all sat down and talked as a defense and tried to resolve that issue right there. So no, there's definitely not gonna be any issues."
Still, Gilliard felt the need to defend himself.
"Shoot, when another man calls me soft, I'm gonna go and show him that there ain't nothing sweet around here," Gilliard said. "The only thing I can do is deliver, and starting today that's what I tried to do."
Actually, by the sounds of it Williams accomplished his goal, judging by the fire in Gilliard's comments. And Gilliard agreed with that.
"He's passionate about the game," Gilliard said. "Shoot, that's what he wanted. Hey, when you call another man soft, I'm gonna deliver."