UGA Football

Richt, Bulldogs Preview Vanderbilt Game

Mark Richt
(Photo: John Kelley/UGA)

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

Head Coach Mark Richt

Opening statement … 

“Okay. Going to Vanderbilt obviously. Coach (Derek) Mason is in his second year and he’s actually decided he’s going to start calling defensive front plays now, so we’ve had to study that a little bit. But let’s start with the offense. They have got a new offensive coordinator who was at Wisconsin a year ago, Andy Ludwig, and you can already see some of the continuation that he’s trying to get accomplished just by watching the first game. (They are) Serious about a good balance of pass and run. Their No. 1 rusher is (Ralph) Webb. This last ballgame, he had 70 yards. He had 97 all-purpose yards and did a great job. Johnny McCrary is their quarterback, a kid from Georgia, a guy we have a lot of respect for. He threw it for 217 (yards) last week, ran for 66 yards and is a very, very dangerous run, passing threat.

“Matter of fact, talking about guys from Georgia, they actually have more players on their roster from the State of Georgia than they do the State of Tennessee. It’s the No. 1 state for their roster, so there will be a lot of guys excited about playing us, I’m sure, as we’ll be excited about playing them.

“Just backing up a little bit on the offensive side of the ball, they do have seven returning starters, three of which are on the offensive line. (Spencer) Pulley, (Jake) Bernstein and (Will) Holden, guys that are center and left side of the line. And then at wide receiver, their No. 1 receiver is No. 10, (Trent) Sherfield. He had four catches for 63 yards, and so again, they are very serious about having a good balance, run and pass.  Got a chance to watch them, actually, that Thursday night and have been looking at the film ever since.

“Defensively, I know it’s early in league play, but they are No. 1 in the league in rush defense, No. 3 in first downs allowed and No. 4 in the league in total defense. And as I said, Coach (Derek) Mason is going to be calling the shots. There’s nine return starters on defense and they actually held Western Kentucky to the lowest number of first downs, I think which was 11, and the lowest amount of yards in the Jeff Brohm era. Western Kentucky is a very good offensive football team. Matter of fact, we had their staff come and see us this last off-season and spend time with them, just talking ball and trying to learn from them some of the things we do. So we know they are outstanding at what they do, and Vanderbilt just had a great performance against them defensively… So like I said, going on the road for the first time, playing SEC, Eastern Division opponent for the first time, is something that we all work towards and are looking forward to. With that, I’ll just open it up for any questions y’all might have.”

On playing Vanderbilt on the road… 

“I don’t know. That’s something we’ve got to work on, we’ve got to solve. We’ve got to play better at Vanderbilt than we have been playing, and that’s one of our big challenges. But you’re right, there’s been — three out of the last four, three were extremely close and we lost one of them. I think the other one, there was a little bit of a margin there. Just haven’t played extremely well there.”

On if Georgia will wear red on Saturday… 

“I don’t remember if we made some kind of agreement for this game. But usually if a home team wants to wear light or light color, we’re more than happy to accommodate. And I’ll be honest with you, I don’t remember if we made an agreement on this one or not. But if they asked us to do it, I’ve never not accommodated that for a home team.”

On junior quarterback Greyson Lambert’s performance vs. ULM… 

“He played very soul solid. Both quarterbacks played very solid. There was not a pass that was thrown that shouldn’t have been thrown. We did have two balls batted down, which that’s part of football. And then we had two scramble situations where Greyson threw the ball where only we could get it. So again, I like it when every ball is thrown, there’s a purpose and it’s a good purpose. It’s not one that could have got picked or put us in harm’s way, and then of course, Brice’s two completions were pretty impressive, both third down conversions. He did a nice job. But Greyson, you know, for a first start, I can’t sit here and say, he should have done this a lot better, that a lot better. There weren’t that many reps that we threw the ball and usually that’s where the quarterback has to process the most information and has to make plays, so to speak. But he handled the run game well. He made good checks at the line of scrimmage. His ball handling was good. It was solid. I thought he was pretty good, you know, hiding his hands — we use the term “hide your hands” on certain ball fakes when you’re trying to get somebody to believe you still have the ball in your hand. And he affected a few people a couple of times where linebackers started to come back the hill and turned and ran into coverage thinking maybe he still had the ball, setting up for a pass.  So he did a good job of the little things.”

On having a balanced offense… 

“Well, I think we still — you know my definition of balance. If people just overload us in the run game, we’ve got to be able to throw it well and vice versa. People just start playing two-deep and start playing coverage on us and doubling the receivers and things of that nature, we’d better be able to run the ball well. That’s what I consider, the ability to handle those situations is balance for me. My guess is we’ll be pretty balanced across the board throughout the year. I don’t think it will be super-heavy run, although we have a lot of faith in our ability to run the ball. But we know you’ve got to throw and catch if you’re going to win the types of games we’re going to try to win here.”

On bringing in quarterback Brice Ramsey…

“We told him that we would like to get this done, but we are not going to promise that it’s going to happen because circumstances sometimes change. And I mean, it could be anything. Just with the one drive before Brice got in, we ended up, the ball was on like the 3-yard line, and there was a little bit of discussion, is this the time to do it. We ended up deciding no. But if we’d have said, this is the series and it ended up on the three, we might have changed our mind. I don’t know if we would have or not, but you just never know what the circumstance will be. But what we’re going to be looking towards trying to do that in the future, yes.”

On junior linebacker Leonard Floyd’s versatility… 

“He doesn’t go from meeting room to meeting room, but he has a very high football IQ. I know people use that term, not sure what that means, other than comes easy for him. He loves the game and he understands it. And it just comes pretty natural to him. He’s still got to learn, this, that and the other obviously, but it doesn’t mess with his head. He can process all that information at all of those spots — now, can he play all three in one game?  I don’t know if you can game plan it quite that way but he’s got the versatility to do that.”

On the play of freshman defensive back Rico McGraw…

“Well, Rico, he’s another guy that’s really versatile. He could play corner, safety or nickel.  He is a smart kid. He picked things up quickly this summer and throughout fall camp. He’s not afraid to strike you. Just a young guy that — part of the reason why young guys play this time of the year is because they are ready to, and other times it’s because you have a lack of depth at certain positions to they almost have to play and it’s probably a little bit of both for him.  But he’s doing a nice job, and he’s a great kid.”

On last Saturday’s game being shortened…

“We would have loved to have continued to play and allow some of the young guys to play. The game was in a position where we felt comfortable doing that with the margin, the scoring margin and the time left on the clock. We were ready to make some substitutions. It would have been nice for those guys just to play. Gosh, I mean, families may be coming to visit. They would have got to see their boy play. They would have had a little bit more to talk about after the game, just those kind of things for morale, but also for development, as well.”

On special teams… 

“(Isaiah) McKenzie will be ready to go. You can expect to see him back there returning punts and kicks, or at least available to do that. I’m not sure he’ll get all those. More apt to get a punt return than a kick return to start out. But I think Reggie (Davis) did a good job. We really thought Reggie played well as a return man in the kick and the punt return. So Reggie is still in the mix. Collin (Barber) and Marshall (Morgan) are both working on the kickoff. Marshall, I think proved that he’s healthy and he’s fine, and we’ve just got to figure out who is going to kick off. But they will both be available to do that.”

On the atmosphere at Vanderbilt… 

“Well, the big thing is once you get in the game and you’re inside the line, so to speak, that’s really where your focus should be. We do feel like there will be enough crowd noise where we have to use our non-verbal cadence. And that’s the biggest thing when you go into an opponent’s stadium: Do you think it will be loud enough to force you to do that, and I’ve been there long enough to know that you’ve got to have a plan for that. That’s really the biggest thing we talk about is how the noise can affect your cadence and we always go into there thinking we’ve got to have a non-verbal cadence for that.”

Junior C Brandon Kublanow

On Georgia’s 2013 trip to Vanderbilt…

“A lot of things didn’t go our way. They’re a good football team. We lost and that was that. It was our fault and we didn’t go there and handle our business like we should have.”

On Vanderbilt’s defense…

“I think they do a few different things, but it’s the same concepts. I know he wanted to get back into calling his own defense so it is what it is and we’ll see how it goes.”

On scouting Vanderbilt…

“They’re definitely a good team. They lost that game against Western Kentucky when they should’ve beaten them. They’re always a good team, they’re in the SEC and they always have good players, so we need to get out there and not take them lightly.”

Senior WR Malcolm Mitchell

On quarterback Greyson Lambert’s performance vs. ULM…

“I think he does a great job of taking control of the huddle. That’s the number one priority of a quarterback. They have to make sure that everybody else has confidence in him. I think he did a very good job of that on Saturday.”

On the idea of Georgia being a run-first team…

“I’m ok with that, as long as we win doing it. This being my senior year, there’s a lot of things that could distract me from the end goal — statistics being one of them. But for me it’s more of winning. Because if we win, we move forward. If we move forward I could care less about everything else.”

Senior ILB Jake Ganus

On his first game at UGA…

“I felt like I did pretty well. There were definitely a lot of little things to improve on, a lot of little, minor, technique things that I really need to focus on this week. I thought overall I did pretty good.”

On starting in his debut…

“I had been running with the ‘ones’ a lot through camp. We rotate a bunch. We’ve got a very good linebacking corps and any one of us could start. I got the nod for the first game, so it was good.”

On difference in playing at an SEC stadium for the home team rather than visitor…

“It was a lot different. Usually the volume is opposite, so when I’m on defense it’s pretty quiet because they’re trying to let their offense call their plays but when I’m on the sideline it’s really loud. It was the opposite this weekend. It will be like that for all the home games this season, and it was awesome. I love playing in front of all the home fans.”

On playing alongside Lorenzo Carter…

“Lorenzo is such a playmaker. He makes tons of plays. We’re both around the ball a lot, so when we make a good play and we’re right there you’ve got to high five each other and chest bump each other.”

RS Sophomore OLB Davin Bellamy

On the play of Jake Ganus in his first game…

“He’s a very smart football player. He knows the playbook like the back of his hand and that just shows his preparation. I think the coaches take notice of that, too. He’s also a great football player, very instinctive. It’s good to have him on the team. He’s a great addition.”

On his relationship with Vanderbilt QB Johnny McCrary…

“We played AAU (basketball) together from 12 (years old) to 16. He’s definitely one of my childhood friends who I stay in contact with to this day. I haven’t talked to him this week, but I’m pretty sure I’ll get in touch with him. As far as his father and all that, I was very close with all of them. We used to ride in ‘A-Vans’ and take naps on each other’s shoulders.”

On what challenges McCrary poses for the defense…

“Johnny is a competitor. He’s a big, agile guy. He can make the throws. So when we play him we really have to mind our ‘P’s and Q’s.’ We have to be on our ‘P’s and Q’s.’ We’ve got to try to keep him in the pocket, but with the type of player he is, he can make plays from the pocket. I’m just excited to go out there and play him.”

Sophomore TE Jeb Blazevich

On a difference in comfort level between his sophomore and freshman years…

“The first game is over, the first hit, all the jitters and everything. Now I’m excited to get the first road game underway and we’re all excited to play Vandy, our first SEC opponent. I feel like it’s going to be a great game in Nashville.”

On the tight end involvement in the offense…

“I think it’ll be week to week, game plan to game plan, what we need on the field and what we can do. I really don’t know what it’s going to be like in the future but I’m excited. I know we’re all ready to get in there a little more.”

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

To Top