UGA Football

Richt Previews Spring Practice

Mark Richt
Photo: Sean Taylor/UGA

With the start of spring football fast approaching, Georgia head coach Mark Richt touched on a number of topics and issues that the team will face as the Bulldogs begin to prepare for the 2015 season.

“We’re looking forward to our spring football and getting ready to start [back up],” Richt said. “It’s a great time of year. There are a lot of new faces and a lot of great opportunities for the guys to compete for starting positions, compete for playing time and compete against each other, offense versus defense and all that good stuff. We’re just finishing up about an eight-week offseason program to get these guys in good position to be in for spring ball both physically and mentally. I’m really pleased with how that went as well.”

Richt touched on the effect that the new strength and conditioning staff has had on the team’s offseason workouts and preparing the squad for spring practice: “As far as results are concerned, I can see our guys’ bodies changing and see they’re muscling up good and getting lean. There’s probably more long-area running incorporated in this offseason program. We had some short-area quickness drills and things of that nature as well as some longer running that we had, but I would say that we’re running probably a little bit more. A lot of the drills that we’re doing are probably a little bit more position specific and I think that’s a little more different too. I like how it’s going.”

One of the biggest topics entering spring practice will be the new look of the offense with the addition of new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and the departure of senior quarterback Hutson Mason.

“We’re trying to give all of those guys a number of reps,” Richt said of the quarterback position. “We’re trying to make it as equal as possible. I’m sure we’ll be rotating who is number one on any given day, as far as who works with that unit. I’m sure every quarterback will get reps with the one’s and the two’s. Obviously we brought in a new quarterbacks coach. I think it’s going to be a lot like it was last year on defense. Everybody had an opportunity to prove what they can do. There were so many guys getting opportunities and competing to get reps with the one unit.”

“It’s been a little bit of a melting pot in terms of what we’ve done and what he’s done in the past,” Richt said of the new look offense with Schottenheimer as coordinator. “I’m not going to say it’s 100 percent the same verbiage that we had a year ago, but as far as the things that we’re doing they married up very well.”

With the restructuring of the offensive staff, Richt added, “there’s a little bit of a learning curve for everybody. There are some new things but it’s healthy. I’m enjoying the things that we’ve been doing. Schottenheimer really likes it. We’re just kind of melting everybody’s ideas together and making it make sense for everybody.”

In addition to the aforementioned comments, Richt also spoke on the following topics:

On the Brian McClendon moving to wide receivers coach and the addition of Thomas Brown…

“Brian is an outstanding coach, an outstanding recruiter and an outstanding Bulldog. He’s just a great guy. He’s very capable of coaching running backs and very capable of coaching wide receivers. He was excited about taking the opportunity to make the move and we were very happy about that. Then bringing in Thomas, another great Bulldog and a guy who is a very capable coach and recruiter in his own right, we feel like we’re in really good shape in both areas.”

On bringing Jonas Jennings back to Georgia on staff…

“He’s a guy that has been through all the things that our players have been through and he’s done all of the things that they hope to do. He’s a very good role model for them and he’s a guy that just has a heart for young people. He has a heart for the Bulldog program specifically. We really think he’s going to do a good job helping our guys navigate the life of a college football player at Georgia.”

On preparing the team for the upcoming 2015 season…

“I just think you have to focus on the little things on a daily basis. Just take care of business academically, take care of business in the offseason, take advantage of the meetings you have with your coaches and do more than what is asked of you. There are limitations in terms of how much time you can have with these guys and I think that if you want to be great you have to be willing to put in some extra time. We’ve had a lot of guys that are like that over the years that have had tremendous success at Georgia and down the road, whether it’s pro football or their business life or whatever it may be. I think guys need to put a little bit extra in too.”

On the focus of spring football…

“We will scrimmage. We’ll have three scrimmage opportunities and I don’t know if we’ll tackle to the ground on those other days, maybe a little bit here and there. We think that you can teach blocking and tackling without going to the ground all the time or cutting your teammates below the waist on certain blocks. We want to be wise but we do want to be physical and see who can be physical and who can play the game. That’s why you have those scrimmage opportunities, to make it as close to a game as possible and see how those guys respond to that.”

On what he expects from the true freshmen that were able to contribute in 2014…

“You want to continue to perfect what you do. You want to continue to get better at what you do. You want to continue to get stronger and in better condition. Usually guys will put on some pounds as they go but without losing that speed and agility. There are a lot of really positive qualities that these guys have to be able to contribute as true freshmen and you want them to grow in that way and begin to assume a little bit more leadership. Once you play and prove that you are responsible and talent enough to get a bunch of snaps then it’s time to help the other guys reach that level as well.”

John Theus and Jordan Jenkins also spoke on the upcoming spring practices:

Senior OL John Theus

On the offseason conditioning program…

“It’s been awesome. Everybody does things a little bit differently, but this offseason has definitely been a positive change. Guys really come in ready to work hard every day. We’re doing a lot of new things – no mat drills this year and doing some on the field drills. I feel like we’re in better shape, better conditioning than we’ve been in a long time. We’ve cut down on some body fat and gained some muscle. The winter program has definitely been a help so far, and hopefully it translates to on the field, as well.”

On the changes under new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer…

“We’ve been able to get some notes down. But anytime a new coach comes in, things are going to change. Calls are going to change. I’m going to have to learn. Being a senior, learning (plays) is a lot different than as a freshman. I’ll be able to relate it to some of our older stuff. But overall, I’m pretty sure we’re going to run the same concept and keep it as similar as possible so it’s as easy as possible for us to pick up. I think it’s going to be good for us, and the spring will be a good time for us to learn a lot.”

On the quarterback competition…

“Those three guys (Faton Bauta, Jacob Park and Brice Ramsey) have busted their butts, and they’ll compete in the spring just like every other position will. In the spring, Coach Richt is big on nobody has a job. So you have to come in and compete. That’s the way it will be at every position, and obviously the quarterback position will be the same way. We lost a good player in Hudson (Mason), but I feel confident in all three of these guys. They all have things that they’re good at. No matter who comes out of that on top, I think we’re going to be alright.”

On the changes on the offensive side of the ball…

“It’s going to be an adjustment – the coaching styles, not having players, not having the former leaders. Guys are going to have to step up, step into those roles and make plays. All of those things, put them together, and it will make for an interesting spring.”

Senior LB Jordan Jenkins

On sophomore LB Lorenzo Carter…

“Lorenzo Carter is going to be one of the greatest defensive players to come through this university. He’s a young man who is gifted athletically, gifted mentally. He just has all the tools you want in a kid. If he stays focused, commits to the offseason and commits to getting better, the sky is the limit for that guy.”

On the high expectations for the linebacker group…

“It’s definitely really exciting because it just shows that all our hard work as a unit is somewhat paying off. If you see one of us making plays, it’s not just one person. Everybody makes plays in a unit. It’s just because when we go to practice, when we go to our individual periods, we attack it and we just try to be the best that we can.”

On the biggest area of improvement for spring practice…

“As a unit, possibly using our hands better, staying lower and locked out on the bigger tackles that we go against. We’re really working on getting to where setting the edge is muscle memory, nothing we have to think about.”

On his focus going into spring practice…

“Getting better and going 100 percent, 100 percent of the time. My main focus is really getting better and giving my all.”

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