Richt, Bulldogs Preview Missouri
Christian Robinson

Sept. 4, 2012

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

Head Coach Mark Richt
Opening Statement...
"It's an exciting week because it's the first SEC game of the year. I know everybody is excited about that. We are definitely looking forward to getting conference play under way. We're taking a road trip to a new place, and that's something to look forward to as well." 

"We have a lot of respect for what is going on at Missouri. Coach (Gary) Pinkel has done a tremendous job with that program. When you turn the film on, you see excellence. That's what I saw when I looked at the TV copy and the coaches copy, guys playing extremely hard and fast, very well coached and very well coordinated. Their defense created points and turnovers and a lot of opportunities for their offense and their special teams were outstanding. I saw an excellent team."

"It all starts with (quarterback James) Franklin. He's an outstanding player. He's a big, physical runner and he throws the ball extremely well. He's a threat to run and throw. When quarterbacks do that, it's tough to defend. We have our work cut out for us in that regard." 

"What stands out about their receivers is how big they are. They are big, tall and physical. It will be an interesting matchup for our guys to play physical with those guys. Not only can they go downfield and make plays, but they do a lot of receiver screens, so our guys will have to make tackles in space. Their receivers are also very good blockers."

"Defensively, I was impressed with how hard they play, how athletic they look. They really are a talented bunch."

"Missouri is an outstanding team. They are solid and they are capable of beating anyone in our league in my opinion. We are looking forward to competing with them."

On Georgia's secondary vs. Missouri's receivers...
"That's a matchup concern for us. We don't know for sure about (cornerback) Malcolm Mitchell and his availability. We're just a little bit depleted there. Our young guys have got to step up and play well. It's going to be interesting to see how that comes out. It's one of those things where guys have got to rise up and play well."

On receiver Chris Conley, who blocked a punt against Buffalo...
"Chris helped us on a couple of special teams. To see that (block) was awesome. We didn't have any blocked kicks last year, so it was nice to get another one under our belts. Chris also played well at wide receiver.  He's a guy who reminds me of David Pollack in terms of his work ethic. Every play, every rep, he goes so hard. Even in conditioning drills, he's going as hard as he can go. He's in good enough condition to play on a hot, steamy day like we had Saturday." 

On the importance of this week's game...
"We don't want to start out behind. You never want to start out behind the eight ball and getting into a chase mode right off the bat. I don't think anyone wants to be sitting there at the first game in league play relying on people to help us get to the SEC Championship game. It's huge. All SEC games do count so much, and the first one especially is big. If you win it, it hopefully creates momentum for you and gives you a chance to continue to control your own destiny in the race to Atlanta. I'm sure everybody is thinking the same way." 

On the play of the offensive and defensive lines against Buffalo...
"Their offensive line did average over 300 pounds, so they were a pretty good-sized bunch. Was I thrilled about them gaining over 100 yards rushing? Not really. A lot of the yards were QB yards that were off of pass plays, so it was a little bit of a warped number, but their running back gained 100 yards. It took him 30 carries to get there, but he did it, and we're not real interested in that happening very often either. We can't just sit there and say we were really satisfied with how we stopped the run. Offensive line wise, there were some moments where you got mad at what you saw, but for the most part they got after it pretty good and created the time and the space you need to have our backs and quarterbacks functioning well." 

On not opening SEC play against South Carolina for the first time in 20 years...
"To open the SEC season and not start with South Carolina is a little different, but we are going to Columbia, so I guess that's kind of the same vein. We knew when we added teams (to the SEC) that change was coming, so here's the change. I like away games. I enjoy the travel with the team, and I enjoy the single purpose of the mission. There really aren't a lot of distractions on the road - at least when it comes to travel, and the night before, and the time before the game. Now when the game kicks off, there is distraction with the crowd noise, but other than that I enjoy away games."

On the expansion of the SEC...
"In life, change is good sometimes. You start doing the same thing over and over again, and sometimes that can be tiresome. I think starting out with our new opponent and our new Eastern Division foe is a good thing." 

On his memories of past Missouri programs...
"For me, I was born in Nebraska, and I moved to Colorado. It was Nebraska and Oklahoma a lot, but the next team was Missouri, and it seemed like Missouri was going to pop in there and throw a monkey wrench into Oklahoma and Nebraska's plans. I did interview for the job a bunch of years ago, so ever since then I've kept an eye on them and I've been very impressed." 

On being Missouri's first SEC opponent...
"Well, you have to play them sooner or later, and you have to play someone first. No matter who you play first, you're going to be really concerned about them. It's a game that means so much, and it's a game that you know you're going to be playing an outstanding opponent. It's on the schedule, let's play it." 

On freshman running back Todd Gurley...
"Everything I've seen from him so far has been outstanding. I don't think he would mind anyone knowing that he got a couple A's this summer in the classes he took. He's been showing up to everything that we ask him to, and he does it on time and prepared. He's had a good attitude, and he doesn't seem to have any type of entitlement issues. But if a guy starts having a lot of success early, it can maybe change him or make him feel too comfortable too soon. I haven't sat down with him and talked, but we will keep an eye on him." 

On his coaching interview with Missouri 12 years ago...
"Katharyn (Richt) and I heard that it was a great town for family, and everything we heard about it was positive. Missouri was one that we thought might be a special place to be. I'm trying to remember exactly how it happened, but everything did happen quickly. It wasn't like they said they didn't want me in the interview (at Missouri), but they were continuing to interview. I enjoyed the conversation, and I had the other interviews going on, too." 

On his decision to come to Georgia as a head coach...
"Five years prior to taking the job at Georgia, I got interviewed at Pittsburgh, and through that interview process, I realized that I wasn't ready to be a head coach at that time. I felt like the Lord was telling me to get ready because it was coming. From that moment on, I began to pay a little more attention to what Coach (Bobby) Bowden was doing, and I began thinking in terms of what I might be doing if I was the head coach. I didn't ever want to leave unless it was the right place. If we did ever leave, we wanted to move once. I enjoyed the stability of being in one place for a long time for my family. I just liked it, period. It was good, so I was hoping that if I did ever become a head coach, I wanted to be able to provide a stable atmosphere for other coaches and players. There's something to that that is very attractive to me. There were other jobs in between those times that people had asked me about, but by the time the Georgia time came, I felt like that Katharyn and I just knew it was the one. Even though I about chickened out the night before, I knew that when Coach Dooley offered me the job, I knew in my heart that this was the one." 

On other states recruiting talent in Georgia...
"I don't think it's hard for them because there are just so many players. They are going to be able to come in and find some really good players and land a few. Hopefully, they won't get the ones that we want." 

On the importance of Devin Bowman this weekend...
"Devin will have a great challenge this weekend for sure. All of our corners and defensive backs will. Missouri has these outstanding receivers that are really good at what they do. Our corners have to play up and get after it, and that's where they have to use their quickness and their toughness and ball skills to take care of business." 

On the success early on this season for Michael Bennett...
"Michael is just a tough, hard-nosed football player. Blocking is part of it, and he's playing some special teams as well. When you have guys like Chris Conley and Michael Bennett that just give effort every single play, every down, that's what attracts the special teams coaches to want to have them on their team. It's a honor to be on special teams, and Michael gets after it. He likes to play, and he likes to compete. If his job description is to block, he's going to do it the best that he can. He had a tremendous off-season in the weight room, and even though he was a pretty strong kid a year ago, he's stronger now and he's got more endurance. I expect to see more of that from him." 

On the rotations at running back...
"We usually don't decide until Thursday how we're going to decide who starts. We'll have a guestimate by about Thursday after practice, but I would think you'll see more of the same as far as the guys who got carries. You'll probably see the same guys getting carries, but it's just a matter of how many. I think a lot of people wonder why (Todd) Gurley didn't get more carries. Part of it was that we were splitting time, and part was that after his touchdown run, he was out of commission for awhile." 

WR Michael Bennett
On playing a Missouri team looking to make mark in SEC debut...
"They've got a lot to prove and they're going to want to beat us. Their fans will be ready too. We need to go in there, keep our composure, and play the best we can." 

On the SEC expansion...
"I am excited. I am glad the league's expanding and I know a lot of others are too. I think it'll continue to grow in the future and hopefully continue to get better with more teams." 

On the atmosphere expected on Saturday...
"It's going to be exciting. I'd say they're probably going to be a little more amped up than for a regular SEC game because it's an historic game for them and they're going to want to take care of business." 

WR Tavarres King
On not opening the SEC schedule with South Carolina...
"It's kinda weird. I think it'll be fun. I know a bunch of our fans will be there and it'll be a good experience." 

On Missouri's defense...
"They're a very fundamental bunch. They're not going to beat themselves. They'll do everything by the book and be consistent in what they do. If you have the ball, there will be 11 Tigers chasing you. It's something I will talk to my teammates about - if we as an offense do our job and execute, we'll be okay." 

On a new road trip destination...
"I love going new places. I always snap a few pictures on new trips and save them for memories in the future.  I'm looking forward to it." 

DB Damian Swann
On his thoughts of the Buffalo game...
"Defensively we didn't play as well as we had hoped to play. We made some mistakes and that's just what we practice for. We've been working on correcting those mistakes for this week and I really think that this week will be a good outing for us." 

On playing on the road against Missouri...
"We're going into a very hostile environment, and we're going to have to bring our A game. That's what we're preparing for, just being able to go into there and play our game. We're going to do what we're coached to do and that's really all we're trying to do." 

On playing in the "big" game of the weekend...
"Every athlete wants to be able to play in the `big' game and that's how you make a name for yourself and for the program. We're going to practice hard this week and look at a lot of film and prepare for Missouri, then we'll go in there and try and play our game and do what we're coached to do then hope for the best." 

NG John Jenkins
On the way the defense played against Buffalo...
"We got the win that's all that matters, if the fans want to be concerned about the way we played then they can be concerned. For us though, coming from inside the ball club, I just feel like we were dusting off some of the cobb-webs. It was our first game of the season, and we had a lot of freshman that were playing their first snap, so if the fans are worried then I just want to tell them to look at the next game." 

On how athletic James Franklin and Missouri's offense is...
"If we do everything the right way, and we're in the right place at the right time, then we shouldn't have to tire ourselves out running around the field. As long as we stick to our assignments and play our positions well then we'll be able to keep up with their athletes." 

On this week being a statement game for Missouri...
"This is a big statement game for them, it's their first SEC game. It's also our first in conference game of the season so it's a big game for the both of us, not just them. We're looking forward to going there. We've gotten a lot of criticism for the way we played this past week, but I consider ourselves a good defense and we've been working hard and we're going to play to our full potential this week."




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