Head Coach Mark Richt
Feb. 23, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. – As the beginning of spring football practice nears, one aspect that head coach Mark Richt is committed to is having the best players on the field at all times. He believes that the 2012 Bulldogs have a deep talent pool to draw from, especially on defense.
“Our defense is very versatile,” Richt said. “A guy that is standing up at linebacker on one play might have his hand on the ground rushing the passer on the next play. We have got to make sure that we take up the entire talent base of our football team and get the best players out there in whatever situation that we might need them in. If it means a player playing two ways or having all of our starters on special teams, we are going to put the best players out on the field.”
The same goes for players on the special teams.
“Most every great player has, at one point or another played on special teams,” Richt continued. “We have to make sure that it’s all hands on deck. We need to make sure that everyone knows how important their role is. They need to know that the special teams down is as important as the first down on offense.”
Though Georgia is returning many of its starters on a defense that finished last season ranked among the nation’s best, Richt knows this team can’t rest on those accomplishments alone.
“One thing that everyone wants to get better at is finishing,” Richt said. “Our defense knows that in the moment of truth, when we have to get a stop, we have to get a stop. Defensive statistics are good, but at the bottom line, we all know whether its offense, defense or special teams, that in the course of a game, someone has to rise up and make a play. I think everyone on this team feels that need to rise to the occasion and make a play.”
Richt notes that having to replace three starters on along the offensive line is tough for any team, but is encouraged by what he has seen this offseason.
“Anytime you are replacing three starters, you always have question marks,” added Richt. “The question is do you have the talent on the team to get the job done? If you get a group of lineman who are tough, willing to fight and willing to learn, you have a chance to move the ball, create space for the running game and give the quarterback time to throw it. I think we have that here.”
With the development of high school football coupled with the fact that players are reporting to campus early, Richt has seen a difference in the level of readiness among younger players.
“A lot of high school coaches are doing more things that are being done in college,” Richt said. “I think the coaches are doing a great job of teaching young players not only techniques and schemes, but also are focusing on offseason training. Younger guys coming in are a little more physically ready now than they have been in the past. Now that guys come in the summer, players are getting a lot more physically and mentally ready, because they have gotten the chance to learn the system from some of the veterans.”
After all is said and do,ne though, Richt knows that his players must be ready to battle in the rigors of the Southeastern Conference.
“I know that our league is a very difficult league. I think that playing eight games is plenty to prove that you are a good football team. Eight games, along with Georgia Tech, is going to take everything we’ve got. I know that, our coaches know that and our team knows that.”