UGA Football

Georgia-Kentucky Press Conference Transcript

Mark Richt

Georgia head football coach Mark Richt and a delegation of players met with the media on Tuesday ahead of this Saturday’s SEC East showdown with Kentucky in Lexington. They offered the following comments:

Head Coach Mark Richt

Opening statement…
“Kentucky. Coach Stoops has really got them going over there. They’ve been playing some really good ball. They’ve been playing especially well at home. They have senior night coming up for their last home game of the year, so I’m sure emotions will be high for them, but they’re doing a really good job.”

On the Kentucky offense…
“Offensively, I want to talk a little bit about their team. They’re averaging 29.2 points per game on offense. Their total yards per game are 407. [They’re averaging] about 153 rushing and 250-something passing, which to me is a lot of balance. Some people might think balance is 200 and 200, but when you’ve got that much running game to go along with your passing game, that’s a balanced attack to me. So they’re doing a really good job.”

“They’ve got four guys with over 250 yards rushing this year which gives a lot of balance in that area. It gives them a lot of healthy bodies playing ball. They’re very impressive runners, especially collectively.”

“They’re a very explosive offense. They’ve had 16 plays of 40 yards plus. That’s ninth in the nation. They have an awful lot of big plays—run and pass.”

“Up front, they’re returning four-out-of-five starters. A very talented bunch. When you get a bunch of linemen that have been playing together for a while, they tend to protect well and provide space for the runners. They’re doing a good job there.”

On the Kentucky defense…
“On defense, they’ve got six returning starters coming back. They’re second in the league in pass defense. They’re holding opponents to 371 yards per game, so they’re doing a good job there.”

Closing remarks of the opening statement…
“That’s kind of what we’re looking at here with Kentucky. We know it’s going to be quite a battle. We’ve got to really work hard today, our full pads day, to make sure we take care of business and get in position to execute the way we need to. Not the greatest performance last week, we all know that. We want to do a good job this week and that starts with practice. Yesterday, I thought they at least had a good focus and their mindset was right. We’ve got to do that today and do it even better. So that’s where we’re at.”

On what broke down in the defense against Florida…
“There were two things that got us the most. I mentioned this on my call-in show. At times when we were supposed to set the edge, and when I say ‘set the edge’ I’m talking somebody’s responsible for keeping a play from bouncing out the back. Sometimes it’s an outside linebacker, sometimes it’s a corner, and sometimes it’s a safety. It’s more than just one guy at any given time. There were times where we just got too far inside and we just allowed it to bounce. A couple of times we were trying to make a tackle and the tackle would have been a lot easier if we would have kept greater width on the play and if we would have stayed wider, then we would have had better position to turn the ball inside to the rest of the team. A couple of times, not as many times, but a couple of times we had issues with guys not staying in the right gap. It was a little disappointing because we’ve been pretty disciplined against the run. We started out that way but as the game went on, I think some of the guys began trying to make a play instead of doing their job. I will say this, we saw nothing that came close to anybody moping or giving out or giving up. There was none of that at all so that was very encouraging. We looked at the film and it was more of an execution issue than anything else.”

On how important the Kentucky game is for reestablishing Georgia’s toughness on defense…
“First of all, I don’t know what Kentucky’s game plan is going to be. I doubt that they throw it six times and try to run it every other down, but they might. They might watch the film and get excited about the thought of that, I don’t know. But the bottom line is that we’ve got to defend what we think we’re going to see. When you talk about their numbers, around 250 a game passing and around 150 a game rushing, it is a balanced attack. We always start out with the premise of taking care of the run first. It’s just like this last game [against Florida] that was a perfect example. I doubt they said, ‘Hey, we’re not going to throw the ball all day, we’re going to just run it,’ but when things were going the way they were going they were like, ‘Hey, why risk anything at this point?’ So, we have to do a good job of winning first down and usually that means playing well against the run.”

On setting the edge against opposing teams’ offenses…
“It wasn’t what they did, it was really what we didn’t do well as far as playing contain. I’m not saying they didn’t earn everything they got, don’t misunderstand that, but it wasn’t like they did anything to us to keep us from turning the play back inside. We just didn’t have enough width, basically. We got squeezed too far inside at times. You might have a guy that’s a five-technique on an open end tackle and if you play too heavy inside the guy, even though you’re on the outside of him you’re still right in the middle of him so-to-speak. And the ball looks like it’s going downhill, it’s designed to go downhill, but there’s nothing there, and when that thing bounces you’ve got to be in position to keep it from bouncing. We didn’t do a good job with that. That’s probably the number one thing that got us.”

On how big the fake field goal was for Florida’s momentum…
“I don’t think anybody’s trying to rationalize it. They had a great play and it definitely got their confidence going and certainly they gained momentum by it, but we didn’t do anything to stop that momentum. We ended up putting some points on the board at the end, but by then the margin was so big. I’m not trying to rationalize it. There’s no rationalization of it other than they did gain momentum with that play and as the game went on they just played better than us.”

On what his team’s expectations are on the field every year…
“We want to win the East every year and play for the SEC Championship. I feel like if you win that [the SEC Championship] you’ve got a pretty good chance of being in the playoff. That’s what I think, but who knows, we’ll have to see. But I don’t think that [our expectations] will change.”

On the year that Jordan Jenkins has had…
“Jordan has played very good football for us. Jordan is a guy who is very sharp, he’s very coachable and teachable, and he’s going to try and do exactly what coach says to do, which is great, but sometimes on top of that you’ve got to just kind of turn it loose and play—just react. I think he’s doing a lot more of that now. I think he’s playing harder, he’s making more plays—he’s still handling his responsibilities like he should, but I just see him playing with a more aggressive nature than a year ago. I’m pretty pleased with the season he’s had.”

On whether or not he reminded his players that winning the East is still in play…
“We didn’t talk much about that this time around. We’re really just trying to win a game this week because, first of all, we know mathematically that that’s still a possibility, but if we don’t win it doesn’t matter. I guess that’s the best way to say it. So let’s just try to win this week. We’ll worry about the rest later.”

On if he has any concerns for the Georgia offense and the field position battle…
“I think there is always a challenge to score every drive no matter where you are [on the field]. Obviously if you have less distance to travel you normally get more touchdowns, probably, and you probably get less punts and all that kind of thing, but if you’re already at midfield you’re almost in position to score points so obviously that helps a team. I know our first touchdown I think a punt rolled 20 yards down to about the 15 [yard line] and we went about 85 yards. We did have three drives over 80 yards in this last game so we definitely had to earn everything we got. Field position is awesome but I don’t think it discourages the guys. But I do think good position gets them thinking like, ‘Hey let’s score.’ We had great field position on the turnover early in the game where we missed the field goal. You know, here was a chance to get points on the board with a short field and we’ve got to take advantage of that with at least three. Obviously you’d like to have a touchdown every time you get the ball, but when you get a turnover at midfield like that it could have been 14 to nothing, at worst could have been 10 to nothing, but it was still 7 [to nothing]. Going back to that fake, if it’s 10 to 7 instead of 7 to 7, I don’t know if that would have made any difference or not, but we still would have had the lead if we’d got something out of that short field position.”

On whether or not he has any concerns for the team’s fitness on the road…
“I guess it’s the sixth SEC game in a row and the fourth on the road in a row—we did have a little bit of a break with an open date—but we’ve got to just try and manage it the best we can. It’s also going to be an early game as we know. It’s going to be a fast trip as we get there, have dinner, meetings, go to bed, wake up, and then it’s just about time to get on the bus and go to the stadium to play. It’s going to happen pretty fast.”

On how Todd Gurley responded to the additional two-game suspension…
“I don’t think Todd was sitting there expecting to be reinstated right away. I think he had a wait-and-see kind of attitude. I’m sure it hurt when he heard that news because I’m sure there was some hope in there. I don’t think he was getting his hopes too high, but just like yesterday he’s practicing really hard with the reps that he’s getting.”

On whether or not he’s had any exchange with Todd about finishing out the season strong…
“I don’t know why we keep bringing that up. He’s there and he’s practicing. He can’t wait to play.”

On what adjustments need to be made on defense at the line of scrimmage…
“For us, we think we just need to get back to the fundamentals of doing your job. There’s two things when I’m talking about that. One is just your pad level and how you use your hands, where you put your hat, which gap you’re responsible for, communicating and getting everybody where they’re supposed to be. Because just like an offensive team comes to the line of scrimmage and may change a play according to what they see, the defense, if they get a formation shift or a motion of some kind going on, has got to communicate and be in sync and trust their teammates to do their job by playing their gaps and not trying to do more than they should do. Guys, when they’re behind, they maybe want to do something big and go make a play. But if making a play means coming out of your gap responsibility you may hurt the team rather than help the team. And it wasn’t just wild in that regard but there was enough of it to where it wasn’t the execution that we’d gotten used to seeing week by week. So the disappointing thing was the execution level, but the thing that was a positive was that the effort level was still good to the end. That was a good thing.”

On whether or not the bye weeks have had negative effects on Georgia’s subsequent games…
“In hind sight, yes, what can you say. Do you revisit what we do in open dates? We’ve been doing this a certain way for quite some time now and haven’t necessarily had those [negative] results, but this year we did. The first game we had one victory [before the bye week], so I don’t know about all that momentum, but certainly [in this second one] we were on a pretty good roll and didn’t have a good performance after an open date. So is it because of that or because Florida did a better job than us? I think it’s because Florida did a better job than us.”

On Georgia’s competition at the punter position…
“This week we’re competing and deciding who should be the guy to start and who should be the guy in any given situation. Last week was a tough week to gauge punters as the wind was going, but we just haven’t been getting much field position change from that position. We’re just not getting it out there as far as we’d like. The good news is that there’s not been a lot of return yards. There’s almost zero return yards per punt, and that part is good. We had the one last week where they got it going a little bit, but other than that there’s really not been much return yardage. But still, you’ve got to flip the field more than 32 yards or whatever it’s been lately.”

On whether or not Georgia is recruiting a punter…
“We’re always looking. Just like when we had the last two guys, Walsh and Butler, right around this time we started looking at guys two years down the road like Collin [Barber] and Marshall [Morgan], so we were targeting that year. And that’s kind of what we’ve been doing all year long. I don’t think we’re looking to change gears and get a guy in this year’s class. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen but we haven’t been going crazy over it right this minute.”

On whether or not it is too late in the game to potentially recruit a punter…
“Not necessarily. A lot of punters and kickers end up walking on and winning jobs, and still, there’s probably more guys getting scholarships coming out of high school than in the past, but there’s still an awful lot of guys winning jobs through the walk-on system and we watch real hard for that I can promise you. Some of our best punters and kickers have been walk-ons.”

On the status of tight end Jay Rome…
“He didn’t get in. We just felt like the other guys were more prepared to play. He’ll be okay. He is banged up and a lot of guys are sore right now, but we plan on him being in the game [against Kentucky].”

On Hutson Mason’s passing performance against Florida…
“I think he let it rip maybe a little bit better once we were down. Of course, we kind of went into a one-minute drill and you’ve got to let it rip when you’re calling pass plays almost every down. But once we got into that mode I thought he played pretty good.”

On what the team’s lower receiving numbers this season can be attributed to…
“I think early on our receiving corps was still kind of banged up, and then we felt like the strength of our team when the season began was the running back position. And even how the Clemson game ended where we were able to physically run the ball like we did and with the use of those backs sharing the load, it became a pretty good formula for us to have success. I think a lot of it had to do with how well our line was blocking and how well our backs were running, and when you do run the ball well you control the ball, you control the clock, you keep the ball away from the other team’s offense, and you help your defense out. So that became more of our identity this year, and I’m not saying that’s going to remain our identity in the future, but that’s kind of how it’s gone.”

On Sony Michel’s progress in recovering from injury…
“He’s getting there. He’s practicing. The odds are better this week than last week, I’ll say that. We’ll know more in a couple of days, and again, we’re hopeful he can play.”

On Keith Marshall’s injury status and the possibility of him getting a medical redshirt…
“I’m not even going to talk about that right now. We’re just trying to win games.”

Junior DE Sterling Bailey

On the loss to Florida…
“Anything can happen on any given Saturday. They just came out there and wanted it more and we didn’t respond well. They had something to prove and came out there and gave us their best shot.”

On preparing for Kentucky…
“Right now we are just focused on Kentucky and focusing on executing the gameplan and executing our defensive scheme better than we did. The great thing about this league is that there are not cupcake teams in this league. Everybody is a tough opponent every Saturday. We have to bring our ‘A’ game and prepare throughout the week for it.”

Senior DT Toby Johnson

On Monday’s practice…
“I feel like practice was more tuned in and everybody was a little bit more focused. You didn’t see any laughing, none of that. Everybody was more ready to put that game behind us and just ready to work.”

On moving on to Kentucky…
“We’ve moved on from last week. Right now, it’s just about one game at a time, taking it one game at a time. We’re trying to get back to what we worked so hard for this summer. We feel like we still have a chance to do what we set out to do. Every week in the SEC, someone’s got to lose. Someone has to play each other. We feel like if we just take it one game at a time, everything else will take care of itself.”

Sophomore RB Brendan Douglas

On moving forward after the loss…
“Kentucky is a good team. They’re a lot better this year. We have to forget about Florida. That game is over now and the coaches do a good job. We watch the film and that’s it. We don’t talk about it anymore. We don’t do anything with Florida anymore. It’s on to Kentucky now. All we can do is control what we can control right now, and that’s winning out. So that’s what we’re going to try to do.”

On not having control of the SEC East race…
“It’s a little frustrating now that we lost that, but you never know what can happen. It’s the SEC. I think we definitely still have a chance of competing for the championship. Like I said, you never know who is going to win or lose in the SEC. We’ll see what happens.”

Sophomore OL Greg Pyke

On Georgia’s postseason hopes…
“We still have a chance. I think that’s why we have to definitely prepare this week and try to beat up on Kentucky on the road. I think that we’re going to have a good chance if the offensive line keeps working, has a good week in practice, keeps Hudson upright, and those backs running downfield. I think we’re going to have a really good chance. We were watching film the other day and it looks like a lot of the runs that we like to run are going to be there.”

On Kentucky…
“Coach Richt touched on that we’ve always had trouble going to Kentucky and really playing well against them. I think that’s one of the things we’re going to emphasize this week—just trying to stay focused and go out there and play our game.”

On Nick Chubb…
“Nick has been carrying the load and doing a great job. He’s a freshman and he’s out there playing like he’s a senior. Like I said before, we don’t really care who we have back there, we’re going to block the same way for all of them.”

Courtesy of UGA Sports Communications

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. lemondrop87

    Nov 7, 2014 at 1:03 am

    Just play your game, Dawgs; Beat Kentucky up goodddd!! GO DAWGS; FINISH THAT DRILL!!

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