UGA Football

Richt, Bulldogs Preview the Belk Bowl

Mark Richt

Georgia head coach Mark Richt and a delegation of players met with the media Wednesday during the Bulldogs’ Bowl Media Day. They offered the following comments:

Head Coach Mark Richt

Opening Statement…
“We’re looking forward to the great challenge of playing the Louisville Cardinals. Coach (Bobby) Petrino is obviously doing a great job. They’re 9‑2 just like we are. Let’s start out talking about them a little bit as a team. From what I’m reading, they are 2‑0 versus SEC opponents in bowls. They’ve won five straight against SEC opponents, and Coach Petrino is 5‑1 at Louisville versus SEC teams. So there will be a great challenge for us to try to change that trend.”

“Without question it’s going to be a great match‑up in a great city, and we’re looking forward to playing this ballgame.”

On Mike Bobo interviewing at Colorado State…
“A couple of days ago I found out that Mike had that opportunity. It’s obviously a very good job, very good opportunity for a guy to become head coach. Mike is taking advantage of the opportunity to go visit, and right this minute he’s our offensive coordinator and we’re planning on him being here at practices. We’ll see where everything goes. Obviously if there’s an opportunity for a staff member to do big things, you want to give him that opportunity.”

On being at Georgia for 14 seasons…
“I’ve always said that you stay a long time for a couple reasons. I think one is you win enough to stay, obviously. Someone has got to decide that you’re allowed to stay. And then the other thing is by choice. Rarely does someone stay somewhere that long and not have opportunities to go to different places, and so it’s a choice of whether or not you want to be there or not. I’ve always wanted to be at Georgia as far as being happy. I don’t know if anybody is ever happy unless you win every game and win a championship. You might could lose a game if you still win a championship. But I think it’s a matter of doing the things that you believe are right, doing the things that you believe are in the best interest of the program, doing the things you believe are in the best interest of your players, and just choosing ‑‑ that’s another choice, too, as far as how you feel about things. If we always let our circumstances dictate our mood or dictate our ‑‑ using the word happiness, then it can go up and down pretty good. I think you’ve got to choose ‑‑ it’s like I tell our players, there’s two things you can be in charge of: One is your attitude, and one is your effort. And I think the same thing is true in coaching.”

On the practice plan between the end of the regular season and now…
“Well, we chose to condition. We had our guys come in every single day that there weren’t exams, and either get a lift or a run or both, so that one week after Georgia Tech, that whole entire week we did that. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday of last week we did that, and then once final exams hit, we were kind of at the mercy of not only exams, but studying for exams, preparing for exams. It’s such a crucial time, we didn’t want to disrupt that, and because of that, it was more of when guys had time to get in, get something in more sporadic. It wasn’t like everybody is in the room at the same time and here’s what we’re going to do like it was on those other days. But we know we’ve got to maximize the time that we have right now, and that’s part of the reason why I was late, just we normally have an 11:00 staff, and it just ran a little bit long, just making sure that when we hit the ground running we’re highly organized and we have one purpose.”

On the short time span between the start of bowl practice and the game…
“Today is going to go a long way getting everybody back acclimated to practicing and playing football. It’ll be a heavy fundamental day. Today we’ll do a little bit ‑‑ just a little bit of Louisville. Tomorrow we’ll do a little bit more. The next day we’ll do a little bit more. But overall the heavy emphasis would be on remembering how to block and tackle and change direction and throw and catch and do the fundamental things, secure a ball, strip a ball. Those are the things that sometimes get you in a bowl game is your fundamentals tend to slip. So we want to have a heavy emphasis on that this week with a pretty good sprinkle of game plan but not so much that when you give them a few days off for Christmas that they come back and have to start from ground zero. And then when we get to the bowl site, our first practice, which is Christmas Day, will be like a Monday, and then the 26th will be like a Tuesday, 27th like a Wednesday, 28th like a Thursday, 29th will be like a normal Friday where we won’t practice that day, which is typical for us. We’ll just do walk‑throughs and film study and get them kind of rested, and then the game day, 30th, will be obviously like a Saturday for us.”

On the team reporting to Charlotte on Christmas Eve…
“You hate to not be home for Christmas. You hate your players not to be home for Christmas. But the date of the bowl, I don’t think we had a choice. I don’t think we could have ‑‑ I don’t think we could have gone there, reported Christmas night and started practicing the next day and truly been as prepared as we need to be. We also know that it’s very important to be prepared, and considering the date, we felt like and I felt like this was the only time ‑‑ the only way we could do it and truly be prepared for this ballgame.”

On Leonard Floyd…
“Leonard will not be available for this game. Leonard actually had some surgery yesterday to clean up his shoulder. We want to give him the maximum amount of time to be prepared for his senior year, so we’ve made that determination to do that.”

On a timetable for Leonard Floyd’s return…
“It’s not set.”

On Mike Bobo…
“Mike is a great coach. He understands the game extremely well. He’s an old‑school ball coach as far as getting after it. Got a good edge about him as far as being demanding, things of that nature. He’s got great knowledge, he’s a very demanding coach, and he’s got ‑‑ but he sees the big picture, too. He’s got all the ingredients, and I’m not shocked that this is happening. He’s had other opportunities that he knew in his heart ‑‑ well, I won’t speak for him, but he’s had other opportunities, as well.”

On Georgia’s offensive line…
“First of all, I don’t think we had any injuries as far as a guy missing an entire game. I think we had some moments where we missed some time. Yeah, I think the line ‑‑ they had their act together, and they stayed healthy. Great tribute to Coach (Will) Friend and his ability to coach and teach and motivate, but also I think what we do with our guys from a scheme point of view, I mean, some guys can really run block good and some guys can really pass block good. Sometimes they’re not really good at both, but I think the balance we’ve had offensively over the years, to be able to run and throw the ball like we do and protect the quarterback like we do, it’s ‑‑ they’ve really done a great job.

On preparing for the bowl game following the loss to Georgia Tech…
“There’s always that, but that’s where we’ve got to coach. That’s where our players got to decide to compete. It’s important. We’ve got a chance to win 10 games for I don’t know how many times, but a chance to get 10 wins, a chance to finish in the top 10. We’re 13th now and there’s a very realistic shot to end up in the top 10 in the country when this whole thing is said and done. You know, our seniors, there’s been a class that won 44 games in a four‑year period. There’s been a class that’s won 43 games in a four‑year period, and these guys have a chance to have the next highest total ever, four‑year total of 40 victories. That would be a great accomplishment for those guys and for everybody. For everybody.”

On whether Brice Ramsey will get snaps in the bowl game…
“I don’t know. We haven’t got that far yet. As soon as that Georgia Tech game was over, we hit the ground running really hard in recruiting. There were an awful lot of kids we had to see in a short amount of time, and we spent an awful lot of time doing that, and just the last few days we’ve been starting to get the game plan put together. Those are kind of decisions you make closer to the game.”

On preparing for the bowl game…
“We’re going to have a team meeting here. I haven’t had a chance to really sit down with the whole team for a while now. There have been ‑‑ I did at least once or twice after that game was over and talked about what we’re going to do in the meantime and all that kind of thing. But we’re practicing in earnest for a victory starting today. The other parts we were preparing as far as trying to stay in shape and trying to get a little bit stronger and get healthy and all those types of things for the guys that had the minor bruises and nicks and all that kind of thing, but now it’s time to get out there on the field and prepare. I’ll let you know if I see you tomorrow or the next day how we’re doing.”

On Malcolm Mitchell returning next year…
“We are young. It was big. Malcolm is an outstanding player and person, and having him back is big because I think he’s got some leadership skills, too. Like you say, I think it’ll be good for the younger guys to be around him.

On Jordan Jenkins and John Theus returning…
“Obviously things can always change, but I think where they’re at right now, I wouldn’t have made that statement unless I had their permission to make that statement. Yeah, they’re excited about coming back.”

On whether their return provides a nucleus for next season…
Absolutely. There’s other guys that are coming back, obviously, that are going to be in the senior leadership role, but those guys that are highly productive and have worked hard and guys that the younger guys look up to, I mean, you’re absolutely going to put them in a leadership role.”

On how Leonard Floyd missing the bowl games affects the defense…
“Well, those other outside linebackers are going to get to play more. They’ve got to be more productive.”

On getting players reps in the bowl game in preparation for next year…
“We’re not thinking about next year. We’re thinking about playing Louisville. They have our respect as far as the type of team they have and the season that they’ve had, and that’s our full focus is trying to win a ballgame.”

On Watts Dantzler…
“Watts has been a good Bulldog. He’s been a good Dog. He’s worked hard. Early on, like a lot of guys, a little immature, but grew up as he went and got serious about everything on and off the field and got to the point where, like you say, he was right on the verge of cracking the starting lineup, but some other guys had got the nod. You know, he’s not done anything but try to do his best and do it for Georgia, and I’m proud of him.”

On the secondary…
“There’s no doubt Jeremy is responsible for how well those guys played and their growth and the speed at which they learned. But those guys have obviously a lot to do with it, too, just how hard they worked and how well they listened to coaching, and we made a lot of improvement back there.”

On tackling during practice…
“A lot less people tackling during practice, a lot less people tackling to the ground. But there are a lot of fundamental drills that are actually even harder to do than tackle. Sometimes you can lay out and grab a guy and clip his heels and tackle him, but if you thud him like we teach to thud him, then you’ve got to get good body position, sink your hips, strike with your eyes up, wrap, and then let the guy go, and that takes more effort, more energy. But I think you tackle better when you play hard. I think you tackle better when everybody takes care of their gaps. For example, if the down linemen maintain their gap integrity and this linebacker has this gap, then there’s nowhere to go but that space, that guy is going to be in great position to make a tremendous tackle. If a guy gets gapped out or does something he’s not supposed to do, now this linebacker is trying to cover two gaps and trying to tackle in more space, we always say space is the enemy in tackling. The more space a guy has, the harder it is to tackle somebody. And so if guys don’t do their job, it’s harder to tackle well, whether you’re a good tackler or not because you’ve got to cover more distance and cover more ground as far as this guy having a ‑‑ we call it a two‑way go. If he could go right or left, it’s tough to get him. If he only has one way to go and that’s outside towards the sideline then you can take an angle and get him out of bounds or get him on the ground. And if everybody is hustling, then again, that ‑‑ the faster you run, the closer you get to the runner, right, and again, you close his space. You give him less options. If you give average to good backs or good to great backs space, they’re going to hurt you by making you miss or gathering up enough speed or enough steam to either run through a tackle or knock you back.”

“I think the more discipline you play and the faster you play, the better you tackle because tackling is a team thing. Even though one guy gets the tackle, everybody on the team has got to do their job to make it to where there’s not a big amount of space for that guy to look foolish out there.”

Amarlo Herrera, ILB

On playing the Belk Bowl in Charlotte…
“It’s going to be fun. I’ve never been to Charlotte so I am looking forward to being there. We are playing against a great Louisville team that has a good defense and a good offense. It’s been a long break, but it’s been good. I’ve had the chance to sit down and really focus on school and finishing the semester strong. It’s also given me the chance to get my body back right and resting.

On Louisville…
“They run the ball. I mean, it’s a team that we don’t face often. I’ve never played them and I am excited to get to play them. Louisville is good at a lot of different things and is a fun team to watch. I’m excited to play them.”

Hutson Mason, QB

On facing former Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham…
“I think we both know what each other likes to do. We both have a ton of film in that library to watch. There’s no shortage of film for him or us. I think everyone is focusing so much on the fact that Coach Grantham was here last year, but at the end of the day it just comes down to execution; can we hit the open guy, can we hit the block, can we hit the block and stuff like that. We’re really focusing in.”

On motivation for the bowl game…
“I think everyone has moved on from the Georgia Tech game. There’s a lot to play for in this Louisville game, like a 10 win season. Not a lot of Georgia teams in history have done that. 10 wins is something to be proud of, although it’s not what we wanted to accomplish. I’m a black and white guy and we didn’t get the job done this year with what we wanted to do in winning the SEC Championship. This is where we’re at so let’s go 10-3 and not 9-4 and let’s finish the season off right.”

On this season…
“It was one heck of a season for our offense. These are things that, looking back, no one can ever take away from you that you were part of the best offense in Georgia history, or that you were the starting quarterback at the University of Georgia. That’s something that I’m going to cherish for the rest of my life.”

Chris Conley, WR

On getting back to practice after breaking for final exams…
“I didn’t have any finals so I’ve been on football this whole time. It’s good for some of the guys to have a little bit of a break but today we’re getting back in the zone and getting back into the swing of football. I think it will be good for the guys to put the pads back on and get it popping. We’ll look a little bit at the game plan today but it’s mostly going to be getting back acclimated to the speed of the game and get that muscle memory back.”

On Louisville’s defense…
“It will be a fun game. Obviously emotions will be high. There will be some similarities to some things that we’ve seen his defenses do in the past but there will be some new things too. Louisville has a ton of talent on defense and they cause a lot of turnovers. It will be an interesting game with the high power offenses going at it with some fresh faces and defenses.”

Mike Thornton, N

On getting back to the game after a long break…
“The break definitely helped. We can focus on our academics and getting healthy. It’s definitely a plus for us because we can get some guys healthy and ready to play.

On playing Louisville…
“I see it as another opportunity for me. This might be the last game that I ever play and I am looking at it another chance to play football. I’m not focusing as much on who we are playing or who is on the other side of the ball. It’s all about getting between the lines and getting to it.”

Courtesy of UGA Sports Communications

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

To Top