UGA Football

Richt, Bulldogs Preview Season Opener

Mark Richt
(Photo via UGA Athletics)

Georgia head football coach Mark Richt, along with several players, addressed the media on Tuesday ahead of Saturday’s season opener against ULM. They offered the following comments:

Head Coach Mark Richt

Opening statement … 

“I’m looking forward to the Dawg Walk, looking forward to our students getting there bright and early for our pregame warmup and I am especially excited about seeing our fan base there for the opening kickoff of this 2015 season. Also, I love the job that our cheerleaders and our Redcoat Marching Band do. There are so many people who get involved in these games. We are just very thankful for all the support staff that makes this thing go. Our campus police and I’m sure Athens-Clarke County police get called in — it’s just a lot of people doing their jobs that make Georgia football great. I just want to thank everybody on the front end for that.

“We are playing Louisiana Monroe — the Warhawks. Head coach Todd Berry is a good friend of mine. We are both on the American Football Coaches Association Board of Trustees. We spend a lot of time together doing that, but I also got to know him years prior. We are very good friends and I have a lot of respect for things he has done as a coach. Last year, they were 4-8 but when you look at the games, they lost a game by four, a game by five. That game in particular was Texas A&M. It was 21-16. They lost a game by two, a game by seven and another game by six. So, they lost five games by seven points or less. They could have easily been a nine-win team a year ago. They were a very disciplined team last year. They were No. 6 in the country in fewest penalties.”

On ULM’s offense … 

“On offense, they return six starters. A year ago they averaged 349 yards per game. They averaged just about 70 yards rushing per game. They were not rushing the ball much but they were throwing the ball a lot. They ran a lot of no-back sets, but they were averaging close to 300 yards per game passing and averaging over 20 points a game a year ago.”

On ULM’s defense …

“On defense, a year ago they were 10th in the nation in tackles for loss. They were 13th in the nation in sacks. They do like to bring pressure, mostly out of a three-down scheme. Sometimes they will line up in a four-down scheme, but mostly in a three-down scheme. They have mostly one or two blitzers every single snap, and that is how they create a lot of pressure for people to try to block and defend, so to speak. They do have nine returning starters and 10 of their 11 starters are either juniors or seniors, so they are a very veteran group.”

On preparing for ULM … 

“They are a team that has played a lot of Southeastern Conference teams. I think they are maybe the only team in America that has four or five home games and eight away games. They go on the road. They are not worried about going into anybody’s house. They have been to a bunch of SEC venues and they have done very well. As a matter of fact, every year for the last three years they have knocked off a Power 5 team that they have had on their schedule the last three years in a row, so I am sure they will not be intimidated by walking into our place. Our goal is to focus on everything we have been working on. Just taking caring of business in every facet of the game, and we are looking forward to getting out there and playing some. We have had almost 45 practices without playing a game. When you consider spring ball and camp, that is a lot of work with not playing someone else, so we are just looking forward to that game.”

On junior quarterback Greyson Lambert’s running ability … 

“He moves well for a guy his size. I don’t think we will be designing a lot of quarterback runs for him, but he moves well in the pocket. If everybody decides to get in coverage and have nobody there to contain the quarterback, I’m sure he could run good enough to get us a first down when we need that type thing. I would say for the size that he is, the height that he is, he is an athletic guy.”

On concerns of bringing a quarterback in as a transfer … 

“The reality is that we bring in new guys every year. I mean, we recruit. When we have needs we recruit and we sign guys when we have a need. This is a little bit different because it is a transfer and the timing of it is a little bit different, but the bottom line is that we have 85 scholarships to give out and we are going to stay within that framework. Quite frankly, our quarterback position — we target four. I don’t know that are many people in the country that only have three on scholarship at that position, and that is what we had. That’s part of the reason why we went ahead and pursued Greyson, because we did not want to be sitting at three. Now, we are at three again, but if we did not get him and Jacob (Park) would have gone we would be sitting here with two on scholarship, which is very dangerous. I think the bottom line is that everybody understands we are going to go recruit guys and try to do what is in the best interest of the team. I’m not concerned about the chemistry issue. I think Greyson is a guy who is a team guy and a guy that worked his tail off. I think he gained the respect of the team, just as the other quarterbacks have over time.”

On junior QB Greyson Lambert’s maturity level … 

“To be able to learn a new system in the time frame that he had to learn it shows some maturity. We talked about this last night after practice, some of the things that we talked about is maturity. What we might have seen on film at Virginia from the Virginia tape, that was certainly part of the reason we brought him in, but whatever we saw on the Virginia tape had nothing to do with him winning the job. Everything is based on what has happened at Georgia since day one of practice in the fall — that ’s how the decision was made. He covered a lot of ground in a pretty short time as far as figuring things out, so you have to give him credit for that.”

On his message to quarterbacks Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta … 

“That’s it — stay ready. There’s a Winston Churchill quote that I will botch. I’m not even going to try to get it right. But, we had a staff devotion this morning. We try to do things that inspire each other, and one of our GA’s talked about a quote that he had about being ready for the moment and he talked a little bit about what a shame it would be that if your moment comes and you did not prepare. It was about preparation and preparing for your moment. You never know when your moment is going to come. It’s true of all positions, but of a backup quarterback that is even more true. It’s hard to stay prepared and stay in a state of readiness because you are not sure if and when it is going to happen. What a shame it would be if your moment did come and you were not ready because you did not prepare. That is the kind of the message that I would have for those guys.”

On his plan to get Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta snaps at quarterback… 

“We are not going to make any promises on that, but we would like to get some of that done. We are not going to get into any details on that though.”

On the youth at the wide receiver spot… 

“The bottom line is we need help. If we are going to play a lot of three-receiver sets, which we do, and if we are going to try and play with some type of up-tempo, we need to have at least six and, I would say, seven, eight, nine guys that are very capable of being plugged in and ready to play. It just so happened that we are young at that receiver position, other than the top three. We have Kenneth Towns with some experience. He would be the fourth guy. After that, those guys have not played much at all. We are going to have inexperienced guys, whether they are true freshmen or not, who will have to play for us.”

On his expectations for junior linebacker Leonard Floyd… 

“I smile when I think about him because the guy loves football. He practices that way, he plays that way. If it was up to him, he would just play ball and that would be it. That is how much he loves the game. I think he is going to have a tremendous impact on our season and I hope he has as productive of a year as he deserves.”

On junior quarterback Greyson Lambert’s last week of camp… 

“I think all three of those guys are mature. I think Brice is mature. I think Faton is mature. All three of those guys approached this competition in a very honorable way. They put their time in, they studied, they were focused every day. Coach (Brian Schottenheimer) Schotty was in there feeding information and they were gobbling it up. I was in just about every single one of those quarterback meetings. I think they are all mature. I think are all very good players. Coach Schottenheimer and I watched every single scrimmage snap when it was all done over the weekend and we came out of there saying, ‘you know what, we have three pretty good players.’ Still, after going through all that stuff, it is still very difficult to decide what we need to do here. So, it was an extremely tight race. The competitors were all outstanding and they are all very capable. It’s just hard to say one guy. If we would have said, ‘ok, every guy gets a series every third series,’ I think our team would have been fine because that is what happened all camp anyway. I don’t think they were even worried about looking back to see who was there because each guy had so many reps with the No. 1 unit.”

On the freshmen defensive backs… 

“They are just great competitors. They are who we thought they were as far as athletes and guys that have the skill set. There is nothing like experienced talent, so they are gaining experience on a daily basis. They are about to experience something new as far as getting out there between the hedges for the first time. They are going to grow as they go, but we do feel like we have the right guys here.”

On how many freshmen he would like to see play on Saturday… 

“There will be a bunch. Between the scrimmage snaps and the special team snaps, there will be a  bunch. I don’t want to sit here and count them, but there will definitely be a bunch.”

On sophomore tailback Sony Michel…

“I would say Sony is a very solid No. 2. Nick (Chubb) obviously being the starter, but we will see a good bit of Sony in there, no doubt. I would not be shocked to see Keith (Marshall) and Brendan (Douglas) in there as well. We have actually been training Quayvon Hicks to take some snaps back there if needed. We have learned every year, but we learned a year ago that depth charts can change in a hurry, so you just have to keep getting as many guys prepared as possible. You know, A.J. Turman, before the year is over, is going to get his shot at it too.”

On freshman cornerback Rico McGraw … 

“Rico has done very well on special teams. Rico has taken the majority of his snaps at corner and he is a talented guy, no doubt. He has good size, good speed and athleticism. You have to have  a certain level of maturity to compete that young and he takes that very seriously and works very hard at it.”

On tempering a team’s excitement going into the first game of the season  …

“We don’t want to temper enthusiasm much. If they get too excited that they don’t function well, certainly you want a guy to settle down a little bit. I would much rather have a guy with energy and a lot of enthusiasm and make a mistake here and there because he is just going 100 miles per hour — we can deal with that. If a guy does not have any juice, it is hard to create it, so you like to have guys with enthusiasm and guys with energy, but you don’t want to get them so amped up that they can’t function. I think they all are going to go through that surreal moment. It is a surreal feeling. I have been there before, when you get in there, look around and it feels like you are in a dream for a minute. Until you play enough snaps to get over it and start relying on the habits you create in practice — that is the goal to crate enough habits and good habits to where when you are amped up, when you are a little tired, when you maybe had a bad play the snap before you want your habits to take over in those situations and that is what we have been trying to engrain during the practice time.”

Senior DE Josh Dawson

On playing for defensive line coach Tracy Rocker…

“It’s a great experience. A guy like that who has plenty of knowledge and techniques that you’d never thinK of, it’s great to have a guy like that as a teacher and a coach. He’s a guy who comes to work everyday, consistent, with passion, and he’s a guy that gets the job done every day. I’m glad to have him as a coach.”

On the mindset of the senior class along the defensive line…

“Just leave it on the field each and every day. It all starts in practice, so we’ve been practicing pretty well. It’ll lead in to Saturday. So as far as our only goal, it’s to leave it on the field each and every Saturday.”

On helping to prepare the younger players…

“Just show them the ropes. Show them that they can play in this league. Show them how to prepare for each and every game. They’ve done a great job of listening and following suit, so it’s been easy with the young guys.”

Junior C Brandon Kublanow

On the improvement of Nick Chubb over the last year…

“Nick always gets better, he’s an incredible kid. He’s very humble, works very hard. He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve seen. I think he can only get better.”

On enjoying playing with Nick Chubb…

“I really didn’t realize how great he was doing until after a couple of games (last season). I started to hear about stats, and he was having over 150 yards per game and I didn’t even know. I was like ‘this guy’s going to be good.’ Then we had that Auburn game, and that was probably one of the best games I’ve ever seen by a running back.”

On difference in preparation with having an announced starting quarterback in Greyson Lambert…

“It’s definitely good. Having the same guy back there definitely helps, not as much snapping-wise but more the verbal communications and being able to make calls and stuff. You have to be on the same page.”

Senior DT Sterling Bailey

On possible reasons for the freshman class adjusting quickly to college ball…

“I think it’s because of the leadership that we have. A lot of upperclassmen have taken the underclassmen under their wings, showing them the ropes. We’re getting it instilled in them now so that when it’s their senior year they won’t be looking back like we did and be like ‘Hey, man, I wish I would’ve done this, I wish I would’ve done that.’ Now when they get to their senior year they won’t have to wish.”

On expectations for the defense this season…

“I think we’ve made some great strides as a defense as a whole. Being under Coach (Jeremy) Pruitt’s defense for a year, knowing what he wants, I think it’s going to be a good year for us.”

On the impact of having a year already in Coach Pruitt’s system…

“Just having that year under your belt, knowing the defense, now you don’t have to think so much about what should I do. Now you get the play, you line up, and you know I do this. Now you can just play, have fun.

Senior WR Malcolm Mitchell

On reaction to Greyson Lambert being named starting QB…

“My reaction was ‘let’s go, let’s play football’.  Now we know who is going to lead the team. It’s his job to make it happen. I don’t think I would have been surprised regardless of who he picked. Like I said, they did such a good job of rotating them, you could have picked any of the three and I feel like everything would have been in sync.”

Thoughts on the decision being made a week before the first game…

“For me, it wouldn’t have made a difference. I have to catch the ball the same way, regardless of who throws it. I think that for the coaches it was more relevant than for anyone else. They know who to focus on more than others. That would be my guess, but we still have to do our job.”

Senior OLB Jordan Jenkins

On OLB Leonard Floyd’s leadership…

“He just locks in once he’s in this facility. Outside of the facility he’s not a shy guy, but he doesn’t really talk to people he doesn’t really know. If you know Leonard, you know that he’s not a shy guy. He just likes hanging out with people he knows really well.”

On Leonard Floyd’s mental state heading into the season…

“Every time I look at him he looks focused and ready for the season. He’s ready for these next couple of days to go by. He’s always locked in and it looks like he’s been aching to get back out there on the field.”

On how Floyd has looked at inside linebacker…

“I don’t know. I know what I have to do at outside linebacker and that’s a whole different world. Anything behind me I don’t really pay a lot of attention to. Knowing him as a person and an athlete I know he is probably excelling at that position.”

Sophomore TB Nick Chubb

Thoughts on the quarterback race…

“Myself personally, I like things settled down knowing who you’re going to play with so you can plan on that. So, I’m happy that we have a quarterback going into the first game. I think that also depending on how he plays we still have two other quarterbacks that are very good who are right behind him. I don’t think the competition is over, I think we just needed a starter before the season.”

On what Lambert did to earn the starting spot…

“He has a lot of experience, I know that much. Coming from Virginia he came in pretty much knowing everything. He came in knowing our system, so he came in ahead of the game.”

Sophomore TE Jeb Blazevich 

On the offense…

“As a unit, I feel like we’re getting better every day. We’re just out there trying to work and put it all together before this Saturday. There’s a lot of different variety. I feel like there’s nothing this offense can’t do, in terms of any number of personnel. I feel like we can get into a lot of different sets and that’s just going to open it up.”

On what he expects from QB Greyson Lambert…

“I expect from him what I expect from any quarterback in this position. I expect him to do his job to the best of his ability. Not worry about everybody else, but trust us the same way we trust him. It’s that relationship (you get) working with him. He’s the man for the job the coaches say so we’re behind him 100 percent.”

On freshman TE Jackson Harris…

“I think he’s doing a great job. He’s coming along great. He’s really trying to become a student of the game. He’s really putting in the work, too. I’m excited to see what he does in the future.”

On the tight end unit…

“If we do our job, that’s (getting the ball more) definitely the plan. Game-to-game everything varies, but just in terms of us doing our job…if we do our job well and we get open, we should be getting the ball.”

Sophomore SS Dominick Sanders

On a young secondary…

“We all pretty much on the same path, having that hard work ethic, ready to come out and perform. For the young guys to have the opportunity to show coach what they can do on the field. They’re performing at practices so that when their time comes, the coaches can rely on them.”

On the team as a whole…

“We’re more comfortable. I feel like everyone is more relaxed. As a team, we’ve come together a lot more than we were last year. I feel like it’s going to be a good year for us.”

On the coaching staff trusting him…

“It means a lot. It was a really big jump for me from last year to this year. I’m more comfortable. I feel like this will be a good year for me, because the mistakes I made last year, I learned from them.”

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