UGA Football

Georgia-Charleston Southern Press Conference Transcript

Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia head football coach Mark Richt and a delegation of players addressed the media on Tuesday ahead of this Saturday’s non-conference showdown with Charleston Southern in Athens. They offered the following comments:

Head Coach Mark Richt

Opening statement…
“Coach Chadwell has done an awesome job, year two. I think last year was the first year in the history of the school that they were ranked in the top 25 in the FCS. Now they’re 8-3 this year. They’ve really got a lot of momentum right now. They’ve won the last three games and had a big victory against Liberty, who I believe was undefeated in league play, and had 576 yards of offense that day. (It is) a program that’s really being taken to new heights.”

“Another thing about their team is that they’ve got 10 starters that are from Georgia, so I’m sure this game will be meaningful to them for that reason, as well, for those young men. So anyway, obviously they’re not afraid to go into an SEC setting and beat someone’s tail. They had Vanderbilt on the ropes already this season and we know that they’re an outstanding football team. I’ve said this before and I mean it, it’s hard to beat teams that are used to winning. And this team has got the fever when it comes to winning.”

On the Charleston Southern offense…
“On offense, they’ve got nine returning starters. Their run game is outstanding. They rush the ball extremely well. They are averaging 230 yards a game rushing and 186 yards a game passing, so their offensive line is very versatile. What they do as far as receivers go, again, they’re doing an awesome job offensively.”

On the Charleston Southern defense…
“On defense, nine out of 11 of their players are either juniors or seniors and most of them are redshirt juniors or seniors, so a very veteran club. They’ve got a couple sophomores to round out their starting units, so there are no freshman on that unit. Again, a very veteran group of players. They’ve only given up 19 points a game. They’ve only given up 300 yards a game. And they’ve only give up 30 percent of third-down conversions, so they’re playing really great defense right now. So that kind of rounds out who we’re dealing with this week.”

Closing remarks of the opening statement…
“We’re playing at noon. We want to call the Dawgs again for everybody to get up early and get ready for that Dawg Walk. The students, we need you back early again. And we need the fans to be in their seats by the time we come out by our statue and come through that Georgia flag. We’re looking forward to another great opportunity between the hedges and to play in front of our fan base. So that’s kind of where we’re at right now.”

On whether or not he will rest tailback Nick Chubb…
“You can’t. That’s why people get beat. They start thinking something different other than get your tail ready for a war. That’s how we’re thinking, that’s how we’re preparing. The players, they’re going to feed off of us as coaches. I promise you we are working our tails off to get the best plan possible and implement it and be ready to execute it. Like I said before, regardless of who we’ve played all year long, we’ve always had a goal of getting better on a daily basis. I know it sounds boring but it’s so true. You are probably going to get better or worse on a daily basis so we try very hard to focus on the process of getting better rather than who we’re playing and what time we’re playing. Now last week, we obviously were excited about coming home and playing between the hedges. There’s a mental process of learning the plays, learning the scheme, perfecting everything, trying to improve fundamentally, all those kinds of things, the habits that you create in practice that are so important. But then there is an emotional part of the game, too. Usually later in the week we focus a little bit more on the emotional part of it. You don’t want to be at an emotional peak on Monday or Tuesday, you want to be at an emotional peak when the ball gets kicked off. Most of our thinking right now and our focus is to just trying to get a great plan together, rep it and execute it.”

On whether the team will wear black jerseys this season or next…
“No. Maybe next year. My goal would be to have one game next year where we could to do that. Maybe even have a planned event before the season starts and not have a big secret about it. But just know that that’s part of our uniform combination and do it at a time where we’re not wearing black jerseys on a sweltering hot day. But we are the red and black. Georgia’s the red and black. So to have a black jersey to me is not being that far off. It’s not a radical thing at all. It’s part of who we are. We are Georgia. We are the red and black. It would be pretty natural for us. If your colors don’t include black and you do a black-out then maybe it’s a little more radical. But for us to be in black one game a year would make sense.”

His thoughts on the red pants that were worn in the early 80’s…
“I’ve seen some video of it and I wasn’t that thrilled about it, quite frankly. I think that when we have worn the silver britches, black jersey, and red hat, that’s a pretty look.”

On whether tailback Todd Gurley’s injury will cause running backs to leave for the NFL sooner…
“No, I don’t. I think football is a physical game and guys do get hurt sometimes. I think that guys care about their teams and their teammates. Football is not a selfish sport. It’s a very unselfish sport. It’s a team sport. Everybody knows it’s a physical sport and injuries are part of the game. So no, I don’t believe that.”

On how his offense will cope and has coped with Gurley’s absence…
“Again, we basically know who’s healthy or not healthy, or who’s eligible to play or who’s not eligible to play, and we get those guys ready to play. We keep marching on.”

On whether or not he’d be in favor of the NFL and NCAA relaxing their policy on player eligibility…
“I haven’t even thought about that. I’m trying to win games. We’re in the heat of the season and I don’t want to get into this conversation or debate right now.”

On what NFL scouts need to know about quarterback Hutson Mason…
“He [Hutson] is a very sharp guy. He can process any kind of information that you might need him to process within your system. Our system is one where the quarterback has a lot of responsibility and he’s very good at that. He has a great sense of anticipation and is a very accurate passer. He’s tough enough to handle the responsibility of the job. He’s been a guy that teammates have gravitated to as a leader—a guy they trust and a guy they enjoy playing with and for.”

On whether or not this is one of his deepest-ever freshman classes…
“A lot of people are talking about them but I guess I haven’t really sat there and thought, ‘Our freshmen are doing these things.’ We try and play who we think is the best player in that situation and hopefully they’re all productive. There have been some young guys who are being highly productive, which is great, but I haven’t really thought about trying to compare them to other years. I know y’all have got time to think about all that stuff, but I’m thinking about the Buccaneers right now and trying to get the team ready.”

On the contributions of offensive lineman Kolton Houston this season…
“This season he had an offseason so to speak. Last year he didn’t know if he was going to play or not play, and kind of in the final hour found out he was going to be able to play. He was even keeping his weight at a level where if he couldn’t play he was going to be cutting weight, and if he could play he could try and gain a couple more pounds to get read. I don’t care what anybody says, it’s hard to be wholehearted in your efforts and your offseason conditioning if you don’t even know if you’ll ever play the game again. But this offseason he knew he was going to play. This spring, starting in January, he knew he was going to play and he could get himself mentally and physically ready to go. It’s paid off for him and he’s played very well. That whole line has played well. We’ve been very blessed to be able to keep that unit together and keep that continuity all throughout the year. That’s been a big part of it.”

On the job the offensive line has done this season…
“It’s been very outstanding. We’ve given up very few sacks and have obviously rushed the ball very well. We’ve had moments like in the last game—I don’t know what the clock was on that last scoring drive when we started on the two or three or whatever it was—where there was still a good bit of time left on the clock, plenty of time for a team to come back and beat us, but we marched it down the field and finished the game. [Against] Clemson we were able to march it down the field in the third and fourth quarter and kind of control the game and control the clock and finish games and win them. It truly is a coordinated effort between linemen, fullbacks, tight ends, receivers, the quarterback getting in the right play, backs who can do it, and coaches that can scheme it, so everybody is part of our ability to run the ball and to score a lot of points. We’ve thrown the ball very efficiently, we’re one of the most efficient passing teams around, too, but without the line it’s tough to make those things go.”

On the nature of the offensive line…
“The linemen know they aren’t going to get a lot of accolades. They all know that they usually get noticed if they jump offside or hold. But their teammates know. The coaches know. That’s kind of all they need. They are, in my opinion, the most unselfish group on a football team. They’re the only group that doesn’t have stats. If you’re on defense you can get tackles, sacks, pass breakups—I mean, you can have all these stats. Offensively, runners and passers and catchers get all of these stats, but there are no stats for linemen. The only stat is, did you jump offsides or did you hold somebody. But they don’t do it because of that [the stats], they do it because they love the game and they love the camaraderie. I’ve coached QBs for years and just really have loved coaching QBs. I never really dreamed that I’d want to be a line coach, but after a few years of observing lines and the unity of that group, I would think they’d probably be the most fun bunch of guys to coach. If you started over and said, ‘What position would you want to coach?’ it’d probably be o-line because of the kind of guys that it takes to get it done.”

On what his demeanor is when he watches an important game like Tennessee-Missouri…
“If we have a noon game ever, I look forward to getting home when it’s all done, doing what I’ve got to do, getting in the shower, putting my PJs [pajamas] on, sitting on the lounger, and just watching college football. I am a big college football fan and I enjoy it whether there is something at stake for Georgia or not. That will be my plan.”

On the status of tailback Sony Michel…
“Just like last week, even in pre-game warmup, if he had felt great he would probably have gotten some carries. He practiced yesterday and he should practice today. If he keeps practicing and feels good, then he’ll play.”

On tailback Keith Marshall and whether or not they are considering a medical redshirt…
“I don’t think we need to make that decision. It’s just like when Hutson [Mason] was going to redshirt, that was the year we played for the SEC Championship, and he knew that if something he was going to play. If something would have happened to [Aaron] Murray the last game of the year or whatever, he would have played, no doubt about it. So, I’m not going to sit here and say anything in regards to that right now.”

On whether or not he feels the defense is consistent…
“I think it’s been more up than down as far as how our defense has played. There’s been some moments that weren’t all that good, but there’s been some moments on offense and special teams that weren’t very good either. It’s hard to every week be at your peak, physically and mentally, but I think some of it is our players learning our defensive staff, what their expectations are, and how they want things done. There’s new language, there’s new techniques, there’s new things they’ve got to learn and I think some of it has been our defensive coaches learning about our personnel. You know, what are these guys capable of, what can each guy do, what’s the best fit? And then sometimes, depending on who you play, might determine should this safety play or should that safety play. If it’s a heavy run team we need this guy in there, and if it’s a heavy pass team we need this guy in there. That’s part of the reason there’s been some changes in the lineup but the other reason is that I’ve never seen a staff more determined to play guys based on how they practice on a weekly basis. Sometimes a guy kind of gets his job and he had a bad day today; he’ll be fine on Saturday. But with this defensive staff you’ve really got to earn it in practice every week, especially with not being sure who is the best player in some cases.”

On whether or not he will be wearing his pajamas while watching the late games on Saturday…
“On Christmas Eve we always open one present getting ready for Christmas day. So far it’s always been a set of PJs. Everyone in the family gets PJs because in the morning momma wants everybody to have nice looking PJs for when we take pictures opening gifts. So I’ve got a lot of PJs at my house and I appreciate those. Every year the kids are like, ‘It’s going to be PJs’ and we try and convince them it’s not going to be PJs, but that’s what we get. I’m not sure which ones I’ll wear.”

On whether or not he has any orange pajamas…
“I do not have any orange PJs. I don’t know if I ever wore orange when Jon was a Clemson Tiger for a year. I might have one day wore something orange but it was in private. The last time I wore orange was at the U of M [Miami] back in ’82.”

On whether or not he has injury updates for Brandon Kublanow, Ryne Rankin, or Michael Erdman…
“I don’t know why, but life has been going kind of fast in the office and I haven’t really gotten with Ron [Courson]. There will be something coming out on all those guys here, but I want to get with Ron before I say anything.”

On Leonard Floyd playing the STAR position…
“I like Leonard out there for a lot of reasons. One of them is for when people like to throw bubbles, like the first three plays of the [Auburn] game. And they did get a first down on the first three plays, but those types of plays if you have a physical guy like Leonard, a long guy that can just get people off of him and throw them and make a tackle instead of a smaller DB out there, it’s just a better matchup for those things. But if you want to play a lot of two-deep man under and Leonard is matched up on an inside slot receiver that’s not the best necessarily. Although he holds up pretty good and probably does better than you would think, but I like him there. If you have him there and you want to have him pressure or blitz from there, most people treat that nickel guy as a SAM linebacker. And a lot of times you’ve got a back assigned to that position. Now, you either go with your rules and put a back on Leonard or you say, ‘Leonard is out there so we’ve got to slide the line that way,’ so it’s just more things that people have got to process. Obviously he is very versatile and could play either spot but he does well there.”

His evaluation on what defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has done with the defense…
“I think the whole staff has done a very good job. Again, I think that we are getting better. I think we’re learning what everybody can do. Guys are believing and striving to perfect the things that the coaches are trying to give them. That’s the sign of good coaching and good teaching if you can get a bunch of guys motivated to do it the way you say to do it and trust that if they do it that way they can have success. And when you have success like this last game or the second half of Clemson—whatever games you want to say were the good performances—they’re like, ‘Hey if we do what they say maybe we can be pretty good around here,’ so I think they’ve done a great job.”

On how many tough, grinding games his team can play in a season…
“I might have a different opinion than other people but I’m on the Board of Trustees for the American Football Coaches Association, so not only are there FBS coaches that represent but there are also FCS coaches that represent on the board for different levels of ball. The American Football Coaches Association is about football in America, basically. College football, and high school, in America, just the health of the game and all that kind of thing. So you sit in the room and you hear some of the FCS coaches say that if no one would play them from the FBS—the types of paydays they get—then they would really worry about whether or not they could sustain their programs. I think it would be horrible to have some of these programs not be able to play football because none of the FBS schools would play them. This is what I would do. Have the committee say we’re going to take your best 11, or whatever you want to say, take 11 games as your strength of schedule and allow everyone to play an FCS school for the health of the game in America. That’s what I would do.”

On the physicality of the upcoming game…
“I promise you this week will be physical. I promise you. There’s no reason to think that this game won’t be a physical game. These guys are really good. The more I watch them, the more I see why they’re winning. The more I see why they’ve got a lot of great momentum going on. They’re physical. They’re well coached. They have great special teams. You can see on film when a team is believing and these guys are believing. They’re going to be a great opponent for us this weekend.”

Senior SE Michael Bennett

On this week’s game…
“We just have to keep riding that momentum we created on Saturday night and take it into this Saturday and then finish off the season. Hopefully Missouri gets a loss and we end up in Atlanta. We will just keep working.”

On taking the intensity of SEC games into a non-conference game…
“It is a little bit difficult, but it’s just another time to compete. I think that’s what it comes down to. We’re competitors and it doesn’t matter who we’re playing. Charleston Southern has a good team. They’re 8-and-3 and they’re a hard, physical team. So we’re just going to have to play really well.”

Senior ILB Amarlo Herrera

On Georgia’s defensive effort against Auburn…
“It was pretty good. We went out there and did what other teams were not able to do and what we haven’t done all year against the run. It was great. Everybody did their job and everybody was in the right spot and didn’t try to do other people’s jobs. Then you put games together like that.”

On executing well on defense and “doing your job”…
“It’s trust. Sometimes people just want to make plays. It’s playing football, sometimes. You just see something and then you get influenced to do the wrong thing. You have to teach yourself to be disciplined.”

Junior DE Sterling Bailey

On the Tennessee-Missouri game Saturday…
“I’ll probably just turn on the TV and be singing good ol’ Rocky Top. I don’t know all the words but hopefully before then I’ll learn them. We don’t like depending on someone else, as far as destiny, but sometimes that’s just the way things go. In the past couple years, we’ve been in this same situation. It’s tough, but it is what it is.”

On the defense’s performance this season…
“It’s hard to explain. This defense is just something different. The coaching staff that we brought in, they believe in us. It’s starting to show. We’re starting to take on that same attitude. We’re starting to believe in ourselves. After these last couple games we’ve had where we have been able to stop opponents, it’s mind-blowing what we’re capable of doing. Coach Pruitt told us in the beginning that he will put us in the defense that gives us the best chance to win. That’s what he’s done all season.”

Junior OL Greg Pyke

On his development…
“Going back to the spring, being able to get a chance to work with the starters on the first line. Working between guys like David Andrews and Kolton [Houston] really helped me develop. The older guys, they know the offense front and back. I think just working with those guys, you learn the offense better and you get the calls down. It doesn’t hurt to have those guys if you are in the heat of the moment and you have to think about what to do.”

On David Andrews…
“I would say he’s definitely the heart and soul of the offense as a whole. Without David I don’t think we’d be as good as we are. He’s a great player and a great guy. I think he was the first person I met when I came down here on my visit. He’s a great player and an even better guy off the field.”

Courtesy of UGA Sports Communications

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