March 12, 2012
ATHENS-----Georgia head football coach Mark Richt said Monday that the Bulldogs will use the upcoming spring practices to focus on fundamental work in preparation for the 2012 season.
The Bulldogs are scheduled to begin spring practice on Tuesday, March 20. The team will hold 15 practices over a four-week period that culminates with the G-Day Game on April 14.
"We are really looking forward to kicking off spring ball," Richt said. "With spring ball, you have to start out making sure you are teaching the fundamentals of the game well. Guys like to talk about schemes offensively and defensively and special teams, but if you get everybody where they are supposed to be and they can't make the tackle when they get there or they can't wrap up the football when they are tackled to the ground, then you aren't going to be good enough. Fundamentally we have to make sure we are doing those things."
Richt said Monday that one of the changes made during the offseason was a reinstatement of the mat drills. The Bulldogs did not participate in mat drills last year, instead focusing more on building the team's strength and muscle mass.
"Last year for the first time we didn't do our mat drills because we wanted to get bigger and we wanted to get stronger, and we accomplished that," Richt said. "This year, we reinstated our mat drills once a week. We got what we wanted as far as the intensity, change of direction and football position, discipline and accountability. It was a little bit of a shock for a few of those guys who had never had a taste of it."
It was also announced Monday that Richt will receive a three-year contract extension. The extension, added to his existing contract, gives Richt a total of five years, which will take him through the 2016 season.
"I'm excited about the contract," Richt said. "I've never really changed my stance on how I feel about Georgia from the first day I had the opportunity to be here. My goal and my wife Katharyn's goal was to build our life in Athens, Ga., raise our children here and finish my coaching career here. That thought has never changed for me. I'm thankful that Greg McGarity and the University of Georgia are excited about me continuing on as the head coach."
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham also agreed to a two-year extension to the existing year left on his original contract. The new three-year deal will take him through the 2014 season.
Richt also addressed the recent arrest of Bulldog cornerback Branden Smith.
"Unfortunately, Branden got himself into trouble," Richt said. "I did get a phone call this morning. I don't know all the details yet, but we are working on that."
The Bulldogs' annual G-Day Game will be held April 14 at 3 p.m. at Sanford Stadium.