Richt, Bulldogs Preview The Clemson Game
Coach Mark Richt

Aug 27, 2013

ATHENS-----Georgia head football coach Mark Richt and a delegation of players met with the media Tuesday during the Bulldogs' weekly press luncheon. They offered the following comments: 

Head Coach Mark Richt
Opening Statement...
"This is actually the sixty-third time Georgia and Clemson are playing each other. A lot of the younger Georgia fans wouldn't realize what a rival game this is, but it certainly has a lot of rich history to it. We're looking forward to adding to it." 

"They have really highly-skilled guys and very dynamic players that we have to find some answers for."

On the success of quarterbacks Aaron Murray and Tajh Boyd...
"If you like quarterback play, I imagine a lot of people will really enjoy this game. You've got two guys that are very accomplished and have played a bunch of games. They've won big games, and they've lost some big games, too. They have complete control of their offensive systems and have complete respect for their coaching staff, their team and their fan bases. It should be interesting, and if you're looking for a subplot, that's a pretty good one."

On the defense...
"I'm probably more curious than concerned. It's just going to be interesting to see how quickly these guys can get their feet under them and start playing with some confidence. I'm not saying they won't start out that way, but young people tend to be more apt to react to what happens early in the game. If things are going great, they feel great. If things aren't going well, they start feeling bad. That's one of the biggest things that they really have to understand. No matter what happens, you have to play the next down, and Coach (Todd) Grantham talks about it all the time. He talks about doing your job and playing the next snap, so whether it's a good one or a bad one, you have to get back focused on what you're supposed to do. It's going to be awhile before we really see how good these guys can be, but they'll definitely get tested on Saturday."



On other teams that have an offense similar to Clemson...
"I can't really think of any teams off the top of my head that are quite like Clemson. Tennessee was somewhat similar in that they had these prolific receivers on the edge and a quarterback that could really get it to them, in Tyler (Bray). I think that would be the first team that would come to mind."

On ways in which the offense can exploit Clemson's defense...
"We've got to be balanced in what we do. We have confidence that we can run the ball as well as we can throw it and vice versa. When I say balance, I use it in terms of not necessarily 50-50 passes to runs, but balance to me is the ability to take advantage of a team that is trying to double-cover receivers and run the ball well enough to get them out of that or vice versa. If people are trying to pack the box and stop the run, can we throw well enough or are we balanced enough to take advantage of throwing the ball? I think we are that type of an offensive team. If we do a good job of mixing the plays like (offensive coordinator) Mike (Bobo) does and keeping them off balance, hopefully that will be a big key. If they can somehow get in the habit of getting us into certain passing downs or certain run downs, they'll have a better chance of defending us."

On the challenges of preparing for Clemson's defense...
"You can gauge most of what you decide on (as an offense) based upon what they were doing towards the end of last season. There is new personnel obviously, and that's going to be a little bit tougher for us to know what we're going up against. Of course, they probably have a bigger problem with that. They have a better idea, scheme-wise, of what we're going to do, but they probably have less of an idea of what our starters are going to look like. I don't think they're going to reinvent the wheel. I just think a great majority of what we're seeing on film right now is what we'll see in the game."

On the youth of the defense this year...
"I'm curious to see how they're going to do, but I'm not concerned so much. I am concerned about the injuries we've had, and the lack of practice time that some of these guys have had. I think even a week from this game, we're going to be in better shape from a safety standpoint, as far as health and guys that are available to play. Do we have all hands on deck right now? We don't, but the guys that are in there have to step up and play and do well."

On the availability of Jonathon Rumph and Corey Moore...
"I don't think we'll have either one of those."

On the depth at safety if Corey Moore cannot play on Saturday...
"You've got guys that are going to end up playing safety for us, like Connor (Norman) and Tray (Matthews), if he has no more setbacks. You have (Quincy) Mauger that will be able to play, and Shaquille Fluker has been practicing again, so I think those guys will be available. We'll figure out where we'll set them up when they snap the ball."

On Connor Norman...
"Connor really understands the system well. He understands what's going on in the back end, and he understands the checks that we make against certain looks. He has the ability to communicate it to guys that don't know it as well, and that's huge. Christian Robinson was that kind of guy for us at linebacker during his career. He added a lot of value to our defense just from a knowledge standpoint, and that's where Connor is right now.

"He's done a very good job for us. Guys are always trying to gain the confidence of their coaching staff, and our coaches have a very good comfort level with him in the game and his ability to know where to be. Half the battle for safeties, especially when you're trying to tackle people, is being where you're supposed to be when you're supposed to be there. If you're late getting down into the box, the farther you are away from the back, which creates space. Space is the enemy of anyone trying to make a tackle. If you get where you're supposed to be, the guy doesn't have as much room to maneuver on you and that helps you make the tackle or make the play. Connor is just one of those guys that has that advantage, and he really has it based upon all of the knowledge that he has."

On the use of substitutions during the Clemson game...
"We've got to substitute. There's no doubt. I don't really care how many plays they get, just as long as we win, but it's going to be interesting to see. Both offenses have the ability to go at a pretty good clip. If both teams are snapping that ball (early in the clock), there's going to be a lot of plays run, and that's just the way it's going to be. The goal is just to make sure that we get them off the field and force some kicks instead of extra points and field goals."

On the offensive strategy against Clemson...
"We have the ability to play at whatever tempo we want, and I think the fact that we have a lot of confidence in our running game helps because that's the part of the game that can chew up a lot of the clock. If you can run the ball well and use all of your 40-second play clock, you're going to chew up time. If you wait until zero to snap it, you'll take double the time than if you go fast, so I think the fact that we have the ability to go either way is an advantage for us. We'll just decide what's in our best interest as we play the game."

On the effectiveness of younger players during preseason...
"When you start evaluating players once you get them on your campus, you can do something just as simple as one-on-one drills where you have defensive backs against receivers. You run those drills every single day. You watch them compete, you see if they can do a good job of sticking with the guy and you see if they can make a play as well as the receiver can. Those guys have those skills, and so it's big. It builds confidence in a young player if he can get that turnover. The other thing is that in a game like this, if one or both of the offenses is having their way, the best way to stop it is to get a turnover here and there. That stops drives, and that stops possessions. Field position is big in the kicking game, but turnovers are even bigger."

On the defensive mentality heading into the season...
"I just don't know yet. I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know how well our front seven will play. When it comes to a passing game, the best way to try to affect a receiver is to affect the quarterback. You want to get him to make a mistake or pressure him, or if you can just get him off his rhythm of standing in the pocket and throwing strikes. I'm just not sure what we're going to get out of our front. I think we've got some potential there, but you just never know how a guy is going to play once he gets in there. We've seen all of our guys make plays in practice. These guys have the ability, but will they do it in a game? We'll just have to find out."

On the pressure on Aaron Murray entering the season...
"I don't think he cares about records. I think he's broken enough records, as far as he's concerned. He wants to win, and I don't see it as pressure. He's comfortable with his teammates. He has faith in them. He has a great comfort level with our system and he has faith in our coaches. I think he's in a good place."

On his son, Jon, beginning his college career at Clemson...
"It was a good experience for Jon. He got a chance to see what BCS football was about, and Clemson is a really fine program. As it turned out, he decided to make a change. It gave him an opportunity to be a four-year starter and a leader, and he had a great experience at Mars Hill College."

On continuing the Georgia-Clemson series in the future...
"A lot of our scheduling has already been done for years down the road, but we'll just have to wait and see. I think it will have to do with what we do as a league. If we go to nine conference games, it will be a lot less likely (to continue playing Clemson). If we stay at eight games, it will be a lot more likely."

SE Malcolm Mitchell
On his perspective of the Georgia secondary and whether or not it crossed his mind that he might have to help out on defense...
It didn't come up in my mind because we got a lot of recruits in and a lot of them are young. But as the numbers kept dropping the thought popped up, but they'll be alright. A lot of guys did drop out during camp but a majority of them are back now.

On Brandon Langley earning a starting position at cornerback...
"You could see it coming. You could see it forming. Early on in camp you were like "man he's going through some things," but as we scrimmaged more and more you could see he was getting more and more comfortable. So I'm not surprised it happened.

LB Amarlo Herrera
On playing with several new faces on defense this year...
"It's just a different feeling. We just have to know that the older people have to step up and take charge and lead. I'm not really that curious about how everyone will play this year. I know everyone is prepared and that we've been working hard and are ready to play."

On his biggest question about the defense going into Clemson ...
"How we're going to react. How it's going to feel out there for everyone that has never played in a college football game before. You never know what to expect. [Clemson] has a lot of athletic, good players and a lot of returners that are ready to play so we just have to step up and be ready for the challenge. We really want to slow down their pace because they're fast paced, so if we slow them down we'll be good."

LB Jordan Jenkins
On what he thinks this defense is capable of Saturday night...
"I feel like the country is going to have a lot of questions about whether we can play or not. Mentally, for me, I guess some of the stuff that we're telling the younger guys is `don't worry about what other people are saying, just show up and listen to what the coaches say and do what you're taught, do what you're told, and that's how we're going to win the game.'"

On the differences between this year's defense and last year's...
"I guess the biggest difference is the size of the defense, and we're a lot smaller on the line this year but we have a lot more guys that can rotate in than last year. Last year we had the 11 guys and one or two subs, this year we've got two or three subs per position just about. I just feel like with all that depth that we have greater competition. I know I've been saying that a lot but that's just a big factor in what we're going to do this year."

On being able to substitute players against Clemson's fast-paced offense...
"That's another thing that we actually thought about for the past week or two. Monday and Saturday's practice we were just doing stuff having to sub-in and sub-out and if you didn't run off the field in time then that's an extra sprint that you have to do after practice. At first we started off with like six sprints and now we might have had one yesterday. It's down to the lower counts. I think we can be ready for that."

TE Arthur Lynch
On being a captain and getting his guys ready for the game...
"I think I just have to keep the guys focused and keep everyone's mind on the task at hand. Let's not blow this out of proportion, let's just realize it's a football game. We're on the road in a hostile, SEC-type environment against an SEC caliber team, we just need to make sure we have our priorities straight and not worry about the little things out there."

On how hard it is to put the hype aside going into game day...
"I think it just depends who you are. As for me, I don't get too emotionally invested in getting hyped up for games. I'm a pretty quiet guy when it comes to before the game. Some guys may approach it differently but we need to understand that College Gameday or not, it's just another football game."

QB Aaron Murray
Is this more offensive weapons than you've ever had before?
"Oh yeah. The most dynamic our offense has ever been. A lot of receivers, tight ends, and running backs, but it all starts with the offensive line. Those guys have really gelled throughout last season and all spring and summer and camp, and have really been a great unit for us. I think it all starts with them and I think they are going to give me plenty of time to throw the ball and open up some great lanes for our running backs."

On the Clemson defense...
"I think they are very talented defensively; very athletic, big guys, guys that can make plays, especially if you are not on top of your game. So we've got to be ready to go and execute our game plan."

On whether or not he had enough on the Clemson defense...
"We had plenty, with a whole season to watch. They're definitely going to throw some things at us that we haven't seen on film but you just have to adjust during the game."

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