Thompson says he's back on track
When Kirby Smart says every week is a competition for playing time, he’s not kidding.
There are no exceptions.
Take sophomore defensive lineman Trenton Thompson, for example.
A former five-star competitor, Thompson started the first four contests of the year for the Bulldogs, a fact that won’t strike anyone as unusual considering he was one of the team’s top returning defenders this fall.
But if you don’t practice like you should, there are consequences to paid, lessons Thompson said he now fully understands after not starting for six straight games before returning to the opening lineup last week against Louisiana-Lafayette.
“I had to work harder,” Thompson conceded after Saturday’s game. “I had to do a better job.”
Smart won’t disagree there.
“He had a spell in the middle of the season there where we thought Julian (Rochester) was practicing better and playing a little better than him, so Julian was playing a little more,” Smart said. “But Trenton has gone back to work and out-worked him (Rochester), out-competed him.”
Consider it a lesson learned.
“Oh yeah, I’m out there just competing now,” he said. “I’m being the best I can every day.”
Fellow defensive lineman John Atkins claims the lessons learned by Thompson have been applicable to the rest of the team.
If Thompson can be benched for not producing in practice, then anybody can.
“It just showed that no one’s job is safe,”Atkins said. "Julian really pushed Trent, showed him that no one can take a day off.”
Thompson - fourth on the team with 45 tackles - appears to be back on track.
After making five tackles in a backup role against Auburn, Thompson was rewarded with last week’s start and responded by being in on six tackles, and was a huge reason Georgia was able to stifle the Tigers’ running game.
“I think Trenton has worked really hard. We thought he played and practiced well the Auburn week. We actually started him in the second half of Auburn. He played well in that game, and then he practiced well last week, and got to start last week,” Smart said. “Just so you know, every week in our group, in our units, there's competition at certain positions and they know they have got to go out and earn that. I think Trenton has really responded well to the adversity he's had and he's had some games that he's really played well. And he's got to continue to develop his technique, I would say, but he is an explosive, athletic defensive tackle, which is hard to find.”
Thompson promised there won’t be any more slip-ups as far as he is concerned.
“I’m just going to keep going forward and doing what Coach (Tracy) Rocker wants me to do,” he said. “I’m not looking back.”