Practice fights normal in spring ball

ATHENS, Ga. -- Chris Burnette adheres to a simple philosophy when teammates begin to scuffle in practice: Step aside and catch your breath.

“Honestly I love it when they get in a fight,” the Georgia offensive lineman said. “Since high school, when people start fighting, I just back up and get a rest. ‘Y’all go ahead and do that and get tired. I’m just going to get this quick little rest in.’ It just comes with the territory.”

Fights are a regular occurrence during out-of-season practices like the ones the Bulldogs are conducting this spring. A visiting high school prospect recently brought attention to the subject when he tweeted about linebacker Alec Ogletree and tailback Isaiah Crowell fighting between plays during a recent spring practice.

Linebacker Christian Robinson said such tussles are typically a product of the players’ competitiveness.

“You’re not taking it out every week on opponents, so you get to talking and running your mouth with each other,” Robinson said. “That becomes, I know the first day in pads we had a bunch of word fights and ended up with a little after-the-play stuff.

"We’re just competitive. That’s the main thing I’d say about the spring is everybody’s competing for time, everybody wants to play and this is the time to do it, so it’s going to get intense.”

Robinson said spring practices are generally rowdier than those during the season or preseason, while Burnette believes they are all about the same.

“I think they’re pretty much on par as far as the craziness goes. But I feel like it’s probably a little harder during the spring because the numbers are short and it’s not very many young guys coming in. You’re getting run into the ground a lot of times and dudes are doing first and second team or second and third team. I’d say they’re pretty much even.”

The element that often sparks the brawls, Burnette said, is warm weather.

“I feel like we have those fights anytime it’s hot outside,” he said with a laugh. “We’ve had fights in the middle of the season. We’re getting ready to play like Florida or something or during the off week, we have like three fights a day then. So it really just depends. If it’s hot and if guys are mad at each other, there’s going to be a fight.”

Both players agreed that fighting is simply part of playing such a physical sport -- and maybe even a necessary element in building a team that is properly ornery.

“Some days [there are] more than others, but I’d rather see that -- a little fire -- than have a dull practice,” Robinson said. “I think the coaches feel the same, but at the same time you want to have discipline and you can’t have that in a game.”