Richt, Bulldogs Hold Preseason Media Day
Coach Mark Richt

Aug. 1, 2013

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ATHENS-----Georgia head coach Mark Richt and a delegation of football players met with the media Thursday during the Bulldogs' annual preseason media day. They offered the following comments:

Head Coach Mark Richt
Opening statement...
"It's the first day of practice and everybody is fired up. We can't wait to get started. Because of our academic schedules our coaches have had little bits and pieces of the guys. This morning we got up at 6 a.m., and did some walkthroughs and meetings, and they're not coming back until 2:30 or 3:00 this afternoon to get started for our first practice. The day before there was a fitness test early in the morning, and we didn't meet until 7:45 or 8:00 at night because guys are still finishing final exams. We have a couple of guys today who won't be around at practice because of finishing up some school. Just about everybody will be out there for practice. Obviously, the first day we have to be in shorts and helmets. We start our five-day acclimation period, which are all one-a-day sessions, and after that we start the two-a-days, and alternating from a two-a-day to a one-a-day until school starts. By the time we get there we might have two two-a-days, maybe three. There aren't many of those anymore, but we will have a chance to get our 29 practice opportunities in before that first game. That's what we're looking forward to doing, just getting started."

On playing LSU this season...
"We're excited about our schedule. We know that we're going to play some great teams and LSU is certainly one of them." 

On what makes this year's team unique...
"It's a new team. It's a completely new year. People still want to talk about last year and last year's SEC Championship Game. The players know and the coaches know that it's a new year and it's a new team. I think they are looking forward to their own identity. They understand they have to have a new identity. We're not really sure what it's going to be. I know most people talk about that we have a bunch of players returning on offense, and now the defense is the side of the ball that was like the offense last year. What are they going to do? What can they accomplish? Are they going to grow up fast enough? I'm sure the defense wants to rise to that challenge, but the reality is in talking to the guys, especially the leadership, is it's a new year and a new team and we want to approach it that way."

On Kolton Houston's reinstatement...
"The fact that we're not wondering anymore is a great thing for him and for us. Right now he'll work at a guard spot. I don't know if Coach (Will) Friend has totally nailed down where everybody is going to be, but starting out he'll be at the left guard position. He's going to cross train, and he'll know the right guard position. He's athletic enough to play tackle as well. We don't want to give him too much, but day one he's sitting at No. 2 left guard right now." 

On the new clock rules and whether there would be enough time to run the field goal unit on with two seconds remaining...
"The rule states that if you try to spike the ball with two seconds or less, the game is over. Even if you literally get the ball to hit the ground before the two seconds go, by rule the game is over if you spike the ball. If you have three seconds and you spike it, you should get a play after. Now the question is you get a long play, you're working yourself inside field goal range where a field goal may win the game, now the clock is stopped because they are moving the chains and the clock is on two seconds. Can you literally get the field goal team on the field and kick the ball fast enough? History shows probably not. That's something that we have to get on the field and simulate and see if we can really do it. If you can't, you have to run your offense down there and try to score a touchdown. I do think that it is a good rule in that at least we know if it's three seconds, we know we can spike it. If it's less than three seconds, we know we can't spike it. You have to decide whether you can get your field goal team in there fast enough. That will be something we'll have to try to simulate and see if we can get it done."

On Aaron Murray and whether he is in "autopilot" mode...
"Aaron is so experienced that you are definitely not starting from scratch with him. I wouldn't say autopilot because he loves to devour the game plan, and he loves to devour coaching. He really thrives on that, and that's what kind of makes him go. He also knows enough to where as you might be installing a game plan, he'll have a good opinion on it. He'll have preferences that he knows have been successful in that past that he feels comfortable with. Over the years when I was the primary guy in the room with the quarterback I wanted to know what he really felt comfortable doing. If he doesn't feel good about it you have a problem. Or he might feel great about a certain play that you didn't even think of and you say, `That makes sense, let's do it.' We're still coaching him and giving him information, but he's to the point now where he could probably put up a pretty good game plan all by himself."

On whether Aaron Murray has devised plays...
"You would have to ask Mike (Bobo) on that. I don't know if he has devised any plays, but I think what happens is over time, you accumulate experience. Let's say you are talking about red zone and you see a certain coverage. Mike and I have been doing this together for 13 years now. When we look at red zone and we see certain coverages and certain schemes, certain plays are going to pop in our heads because of what we've been doing. With Aaron, let's say Coach Bobo gives the red zone plan, and Murray might say, `Why don't we do this one like we did against another team.' Those kinds of things might come up, but I don't think he's trying to devise a play from scratch. He has enough memory of things we've done in the past to say, `What about this one?'

On the rarity of a player like Aaron Murray being that familiar with offensive schemes...
"You'll get guys who get to that point. A guy like (David) Greene and even (D.J.) Shockley, who was five years in the program. Hutson (Mason) would have good opinions quite frankly right now with his experience even though he hasn't played a lot. The more they know, the more they understand the concepts and what you are trying to accomplish and know the system well enough. Most of the guys that we are going to sign and recruit are going to do that."

On being ranked No. 5 in the preseason coaches' poll...
"On my poll I actually ask Claude (Felton) to get everybody's preseason poll and try to get a consensus and that's where I start. That's maybe where a lot of other coaches start too, and I think that's where we are on mine. We're five or six on mine because of what everybody said. I'll start with that, and then I'm move from there."

On potentially playing three teams in the top-10 early in the season...
"We are playing a non-conference game, conference, non-conference and then conference. Any year everything is on the line in the first month. Because of where these teams are ranked in the preseason, that's probably why you are asking the question. Every single year that first SEC game is a monster. Of course we didn't play South Carolina in the first SEC game last year, but if you lose that game you have to run the table basically. No matter who that next SEC game is, that's a monster. Every time you play, the next game you play, if you lost it it's over. They are all really, really big. They really are."

On what unit is the biggest concern right now...
"I'm not concerned, fretting that we don't have an answer at any position across the board. I'm more curious to see how quickly the entire defense can gel and watch them perform. I have a pretty good taste of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall before we play a game. I'm going to get a pretty good taste of what our defense looks like before we play a game. But until you get in a game, you really aren't sure how everybody is going to react under that type of game pressure. That's going to be the big thing - how are we going to react when things get heated up and things don't go our way? That's going to be a big question I think.

On Chris Conley...
"Chris is a very, very conscientious guy. He's a hard working guy. We have a few guys in our program who are workaholics, and I would say he is one of them. His work ethic has been a big part of him being able to develop like he has. Coach (Tony) Ball is a very detail-oriented coach. There are no stones left unturned. He's probably the best fundamental coach we have, at least one of them. The combination of Coach Ball's style of teaching and Chris' work ethic has really made him into a very, very good receiver."

On the receivers...
"I think we have guys who played in the games who have made big plays in the past and who have been through the pressure of it, and I think we have enough guys coming on. Even Justin Scott-Wesley, he got just enough of a taste in a couple of big games where he made some big plays. I think he gained some confidence and it carried over into the spring. (Rantavious) Wooten again, he's been there and done it, but has he done it for an entire season because of injuries? Right now he looks great again. You've got Conley, (Michael) Bennett, Wooten, of course Malcolm (Mitchell). We think Justin is really growing. We have guys who have made plays and done things for us, and I think we are ready to roll in that area." 

On freshmen he expects major contributions from...
"Anybody who plays is going to make a major contribution. Even if a guy ends up on the scout team and gives us a great look, that's a major help. That's important to us. We were in this team meeting a night or two ago and talked about how crucial it is to really understand your role, embrace it and do the very best you can to give us the very best chance of success. If your role happens to be scout team, do a phenomenal job because that is a major contribution to the team."

On Reggie Carter ...
"Reggie is going to get a lot of reps. He's starting out as the No. 2 linebacker, but he'll get plenty of work and plenty of opportunity to prove that he deserves to play. Right now he's still fighting for playing time, and he's fighting for a starting position as well. The big thing for a true freshman if you can't win the starting job - and I'm not saying he can't - but just earn enough of the coaches' faith and confidence that you get in the game. Then when you get in the game, if you play well in the game it's going to extend your playing time."

On his goals as a head coach...
"My goal every year is can we reach our full potential as a team? How can we get the best out of each individual? That's how each position coach has to look at it. I'm counting on each position coach to be the head coach of his segment and look at every single guy and bring out the best in him. If he can do that then collectively we are going to have a heck of a team. It's my job to make sure that the entire team works together, that the coaching staff can work together. We have to be highly competitive, but we have to be respectful in how we compete with each other and understand at the end of the day that we're still Georgia. We have to build a strong enough bond that when the bad stuff does hit the fan that we are able to handle it. The one year we go 0-2 after a 6-7 season, if you don't have some unity, bonding and trust there between coaches and players and coaches and coaches, you're not going to make it through that type of situation. We've always tried to pride ourselves in believing in each other and truly caring about each other and knowing that we're a family. We really do feel like we're a family. It's a business, but it's kind of a family business."

On the amount of contact the team will have in practice during camp...
"We could do more than a year ago. Right now I haven't changed anything from a year ago, but what happens is no matter how much you schedule, you rarely add to it. I think we have plenty of contact that's designed throughout the camp, but we try to make it strategic to where there's enough space between those times where their bodies are recovering. We don't want to beat them down, we want them to be healthy and have a fundamental work where we can tackle in space and get the job done."

On Michael Bennett...
"I think Michael Bennett has earned the respect of his teammates. He earned it before his injury, but I think watching him recover from it and work to get his body right and ready for this entire camp - I think all the players have to be impressed by that. I know I'm impressed. I was going through my hip surgery, recovery and rehab, so I was in there a lot while he was in there. Just to see this guy work is pretty impressive. It means a lot to the team to have him back because of the productivity, his leadership and toughness. He was always a tough football player, but just to see him go through a tough time and come out of it really in tremendous shape was a big deal as well."

On Jadeveon Clowney...
"I think I said he might be the best one on the planet and it became news. I think he's the best college football player in America. There are a couple of other guys you could debate on that. I think I said that if you give him a couple of years of him learning in the NFL, my bet is he'll be one of the best if not the best before his career is over in that league. That might be a better way of saying it. "

On Georgia's first two games against Clemson and South Carolina...
"I always think about our first two opponents more than everybody else because that's who we game planned for in our offseason. Before our coaches go home for summer vacation we like to have those first two games already game planned and ready to go. It's very typical for us to have the first two games scouted all summer and game planned and ready to go, because we have to make our game plans based on last year. By the time game three rolls around, you are going to have enough new information. You might plan all summer for games three and four, but by the time you get there that information might not be worth a darn. It's rare that we'll go into the third or fourth game trying to get a true game plan on them."

On Garrison Smith...
"I met his parents, and he comes from a wonderful family. He has come a long, long way. He still has a wonderful sense of humor, but back then he was just immature almost like all of us were at that age. He has worked and he has some experience. He's earned the right to be a leader on this football team. That's why we took him to Birmingham (to SEC Media Days).

On the players' free time during preseason camp...
"There's just a little bit of down time in between meals. They'll be gathered up in the locker room or in the player lounge, and I'm sure they're having a good time. The bonding time is a good time for those guys."

On what players have emerged as leaders leading into camp...
"I know one guy who really has worked hard all summer and was part of the leadership group that Murray put together that people would be surprised to hear would be Brandon Burrows. He has really has done a good job of trying to help young players learn what to do when they roll into town. Throughout the summer he was encouraging his guys to get there and get the job done during a lot of the player-led stuff that we do in the summer.  He's bought in. I don't know what his role is going to be on the field, but his attitude is whatever I can do to help this team win, I'm here to help."

On whether he is ready to announce Marshall Morgan's status for the Clemson game...
"Not yet."

On whether Austin Long will practice Thursday...
"He may not be at practice. Like I said, we have some guys who are still finishing up academics."

Senior TE Arthur Lynch
On summer workouts...
"The past two summers have been the best summers I've been here and I've been here five so it's pretty good odds in my opinion and I think it's to do with the accountability that this program puts on the individual leaders but also on the players to match that routine. It's a competition thing but also it's healthy and friendly competition that kind of makes it more productive. If you miss everyone knows about it and they report back to the leaders and the coaches, and the coaches know anyway, it's interesting because it doesn't make it mandatory you don't have to come to those summer workouts but with people competing against each other more so during the summer it helps that unmandatory mandatory feel. It's like if I don't go I'm letting down my teammates and it's really worked great.

On how the team looks at the beginning of practice...
"This is probably the best offseason we've had in my time here so I think physically we're just ready to go. We're young in some areas but nothing we can't make up for with practice and hard work."

On how confident the offense is after least season...
"I think we had a lot of confidence last year I just think there's more confidence from the public perspective than anywhere else. We probably have a little more chemistry now that we're been playing together for a couple of years now but I think in terms of personal confidence we have the same as we've had because we knew what we had."

Junior FLK Malcolm Mitchell
On what he thinks he'll do statistically this season...
"I don't know, I don't pay too much attention to that. I just know the balls going to be spread around so whereas other schools may have one or two receivers they go to we won't have that, we'll have about four or five."

On how Michael Bennett looks coming back from injury...
"I think he's fine. I think he's the way he was last year at the beginning of the season, maybe even better. We haven't had a practice or anything so we'll figure that out today and the rest of camp."

On the receiving corps and the young receivers within that group...
"You never now what could happen, people could get hurt, different things could happen where they have to play. If nobody gets hurt that's going to be difficult because they have a lot of experience and not just experience but a lot of talent, that they would have to push through to get on the field. I wouldn't discourage them I'd just tell them to be ready."

Senior QB Aaron Murray
On how big it is opening the season against an opponent like Clemson...
"We've got to be ready to go, it means we have to work extra hard in camp to make sure we have everything down when it comes to plays and the understanding of concepts things like that. It makes the offseason more exciting and like I said it pushes you to make sure you're in midseason form come that first week. We just had to work extra hard over summer which we did and we got to work even harder the next four weeks."

On the structure of practice and first team offense against the first team defense...
"I think it's good for everyone to continue to challenge each other and continue to push each other to get better every day in practice."

On whether the offense is ahead of the defense...
"I don't know they've worked their tails off and had a great spring, got better and better everyday in spring and continued to work hard this summer trying to learn the playbook and I think they look great from what I've seen this summer."

On his diet...
"Everything in the weight room went up which is encouraging as well and I haven't had junk food in about two months, however, I love sour patch watermelons they're my weakness but I haven't had those in forever I don't even remember what they taste like which is a good thing.  I haven't had fast food all semester. We did it to improve my physical status I guess so this is the best I've felt in four years.

On his summer workouts...
"We've added some speed and agility stuff which has really helped, so I'm feeling quicker I'm not going to go out there and run a 4.4 40 but I'm definitely feeling more agile than I was last year and more flexible as well."

On having Michael Bennett back among the receivers...
"It's exciting; he was one of my favorite targets last year. He was leading the team in receptions and touchdowns last year before he got hurt so a big target. Very reliable you knew that Michael is going to run the route as its been taught and I can trust if I throw it he's going to be there."

Sophomore OLB Jordan Jenkins
On being a defensive leader...
"It's something that I'm finally getting used to. I'm usually asking other people because I just learned the system last year. I'd be asking Jarvis (Jones) or Cornelius (Washington) what the plays were, and now I've got everybody asking me about the plays. It's something different."

On offseason motivation levels...
"I just used the fact that we were that close to winning the SEC Championship last year. I actually saw the game a couple of days ago, and I couldn't finish it. I have to think of that game every time the thought of taking an easy route even crosses my mind because that's motivation enough right there. I turned off the last four or five minutes of the game, and that's the first time I've watched even a piece of that game again." 

Junior ILB Amarlo Herrera
On being a leader on defense...
"It's nothing different you've just go to do what you've been doing and don't try to over do yourself, don't try to do something that's not you just be yourself. That's what I'm doing I'm just being myself and working hard."

On who he learned from last year in a leadership sense...
"I learned a lot from Shawn Williams, he wasn't really a guy that said a lot but when he talked he meant it and people listened and he always gave his all and worked hard on the field so I look up to that guy."

Senior DE Garrison Smith
On the start of camp...
"I'm excited. After being in the program for three years, it's easy. We're working really hard, though, and camp is still challenging. It's really helpful, and that's the way I look at it. This camp is necessary for us to have a good season. You have to have that outlook about it, and you have to have perspective of what this camp is going to help us do."

On the preseason No. 5 ranking...
"I feel good about it. I'm thankful that coaches think highly of us like that, but at the same time, rankings don't really mean anything until you actually go out there and play. That's when I'll be happy - when the season goes on and we actually earn our ranking. That's when it's going to matter."

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