Richt, Bulldogs Preview The LSU Game
Michael Bennett

Sept. 24, 2013

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

Head Coach Mark Richt
Opening Statement…
“It’s without question a huge game for us and a huge game for LSU. We have an awful lot of respect for LSU, even more respect after watching them on TV last Saturday night. They look as good as ever.

“Offensively you start with Zach Mettenberger. I’m sure there will be a few questions about Zach. I am very happy for Zach and his success. I’ve always liked him since he was a little boy. I’m really happy that he’s doing well. I don’t want him to have great success on Saturday, obviously, but other than that I’m really happy for him and his family. They are good people. He’s doing well. He’s thrown one pick all year long, and he’s thrown more touchdown passes in the first four games than anybody in the history of their school.”

“Coach (Les) Miles has done a wonderful job with LSU’s football team. It’s going to be fun.”

On special teams…
“First of all, we have to find out where we went wrong and correct it. The good news on all of it is that everything is very correctable. Our kickoff coverage team was having a tremendous season up until that play (against North Texas), and you don’t want to define your whole season on one play, but it was significant. That’s the thing about special teams – it’s a one-play series. One mistake can cost seven points, and seven points can obviously cost a game. We were fortunate to have the issues on special teams that didn’t cost us the game. If we can make decent corrections through us communicating better as coaches and also by making sure we have the right guys in the right spots, I think we can clean it up.”

On Nathan Theus and Trent Frix at long snapper…
“They’re both working right now. We’ll figure that out at the end.”

On the quarterback competition between Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger when they were both freshmen at Georgia…
“We thought both of them were very, very talented. Even when they both committed to come to Georgia and signed at Georgia, we knew we were very blessed to have two guys that we thought were going to be really good. As they began to compete, I thought it was very close. I think Murray was a little bit more polished, in that he was in a high school system that was maybe closer to what we’re doing. I think every year of Zach’s life, he was with a different coordinator in a different system, at least from high school to college, and even this year. I don’t know if he’s gone two years in a row with the same offensive coordinator. Zach had some catching up to do in some of those finer points, but his talent was obviously very evident. So both of those guys we felt like we could win with at Georgia, and as it turns out, they’re both getting their opportunity to lead teams in this league and playing a game like this at the same time.”

On the difficulties of Mettenberger’s dismissal from Georgia…
“It was very difficult. It’s difficult any time a situation gets to the point where you have to dismiss a guy from the team. To do it to Zach, knowing Zach for as long as we’ve known him and his mom and dad – they’re family to us. They’re still family to the Georgia program, so it was very difficult. I think he understood. It wasn’t easy for me, and it wasn’t easy for him. I’m proud of how he responded to it. He went to junior college and did extremely well, and he got an opportunity to come back and go to a place like LSU, which is a tribute to him and how he’s put himself in tremendous position for his future. That’s what you hope for and you dream for these guys when they have an issue. Like I was saying before, sometimes when guys have issues, we can clean it up and he can have a great story here at Georgia. But sometimes when they have to leave, I just hope they can move forward and have great success. Nick Marshall (at Auburn) is the same situation. Some things like that happen, and they have success and it makes you feel good.”

On LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron…
“I’ve known Cam a long time, and I know that he’s a great teacher and a great quarterbacks teacher. When a quarterback has a guy that really knows what he’s doing and knows how to handle it and knows how much to give him and not to give him…Sometimes a guy has a coach that may have a tremendous scheme but doesn’t really have a feel for how to handle your quarterback. You better handle him properly. Cam’s been doing that forever, and he’s been doing it at all levels of ball. I’m just very impressed with what he’s doing. I really am happy for Zach to get that type of coaching, and it’s been really good for him.”

On the talented running backs for both teams…
“I mentioned theirs, and we have ours, and it will be interesting to see who can run the ball and who can run it well. Both teams are very capable of it, but on any given Saturday, you don’t know what’s going to happen. We like ours and I’m sure they like theirs, and I like theirs and they probably like ours. They’re just great players, and it’s going to be fun to watch.”

On the talent level of Alabama, LSU and Georgia…
“LSU and Alabama are similar in their style of play in that they do enjoy running the ball and trying to physically pound people on both sides of the ball. There’s just a really strong, physical nature to how they go about their business. They still have tremendous skill on offense, and they have tremendous skill on their defense, as well. We like to run the ball with some physicality, and we play physical, as well. We’re not a spread team, although we do have some elements of that. We have ways to use formations in some sets to take advantage of something without having to go fast, so we think we’re pretty diverse in that way. We do try to play with a physical brand of football. If you can’t match up physically, you’re going to get beat down. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”

On the defense…
“All we can do is what we can do, and that’s to give them the plan, line them up and play hard and fast. Hopefully we can continue to get better at tackling and communicating and all that. You talk about the teams that we’ve played, and we’ve played some pretty good offensive football teams. I’m not trying to make an excuse, but when a defense plays against a team that can really move it and score and has some veteran quarterbacks, you’re going to take some dings. You have to make some big stops like we did in that South Carolina game. That goal line stop was really the game changer, and sometimes that’s what has to happen. You look at Alabama and the Texas A&M game (this season). I think most people would say Alabama’s defense is pretty special and has been over time, but (Texas A&M put) 42 points on the board. 49-42, I don’t know who would have predicted that kind of score with those types of teams. You keep fighting like mad to not give up big plays. You fight like mad to get turnovers. You fight like mad to find ways to get a big stop and a momentum-changing stop somewhere along the way, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

On reviewing the defensive game plans…
“I think the plans have been fine. People have a hard time giving other people credit sometimes. Nebraska is a pretty good offensive football team. Alabama was a pretty good offensive football team, obviously. We played Alabama, we played Nebraska, we played Clemson, and they’re a pretty good offensive football team. South Carolina has a lot of maturity and they’ve done some very good things offensively as well. Last week we gave up seven points on defense, as the other 14 were given up on special teams. We held them to seven yards rushing and only about 200 yards total. There are just some good teams out there, so you have to fight like mad and do what you need to do to win the game as a group.”

On the play of the offensive line…
“We didn’t get as much movement as we’d like to sometimes in some of the run game last game. We didn’t have many issues with penalties or pass protection. We actually pass protected pretty well, but there were some times where we didn’t get as much movement as we’d like in the run game. Coach (Mike) Bobo made a good point last night, saying that when you run the ball the way we try to run the ball, there’s going to be some ugly, tough two or three-yard gains here and there. Every once in a while when you hit the crease, you have to have the perimeter block, and you have to have the guy make the other guy miss. You have to hopefully be able to take it to the house or get a big gain here and there because if a team is averaging six yards per carry, there’s probably a couple of 80-yarders in there and a bunch of one, two, and three-yard runs along the way. You just want to make sure you reduce the yards the best you can and get your third down as manageable as possible to hopefully make those.”

On Jordan Jenkins…
“He’s playing the run pretty good. He’s coming off the edge and forcing quarterbacks to get up in the pocket. That’s part of his job – containing the quarterback and getting him to move up in the pocket. Hopefully we’re pushing the pocket up front to the point where we’re disrupting the guy’s timing and things of that nature. He’s gotten a few knock downs, and he’s playing hard. That’s what we’re asking him to do, and the sacks will come in time.”

On Leonard Floyd…
“Leonard plays really hard, and he has some good pass rush ability. He has overcome a lot from when high school ended to getting here. There was a different road that he had to take, but I’m really proud of the job that he did in getting in position to come back. There was never a question in his mind that he wanted to come back to Georgia. We didn’t really have to re-recruit him, which I appreciated about him. There’s something about a guy that knows that he wants to be a Bulldog and how hard he will practice and play and be dedicated to the cause. He’s just a great Bulldog right now, and we’re happy we got him.”

On offensive linemen wearing “APU” on their wristbands against North Texas…
“I’m still trying to figure out the whole deal. I was probably like a lot of people seeing it on the ticker after the game. I just have to educate myself a little better with what it’s all about. We have the freedom of speech in our country, but the question is what’s the most appropriate way of doing it, so that’s the only thing. Based on what I read about what their concerns were seemed like pretty legitimate concerns. Whatever they are trying to accomplish is being done in a respectful way, so that’s all I really know. I don’t really know much about it, so I’ll just have to learn more as we go.”

On John Taylor…
“John is playing inside, obviously. He’s a nose guard. The biggest thing with John, quite frankly, is to keep his pads down. He tends to want to get up and see what’s going on sometimes, and he plays too high. If you play high at all in that position, you’re going to get moved out of there, no matter how big and strong you are. If he will keep his pad level down and learn to read his blocks from down there rather than trying to look around in the backfield, he can really become a very good football player. As long as he wants to sightsee, he’s going to get moved around a little bit.”

On the running backs…
“Our running back position is overall pretty healthy right now. (Todd) Gurley and (Keith) Marshall and (Brendan) Douglas and J.J. (Green) are all healthy, and they’ve been practicing well. They’ve all had a shot at playing some ball, and I think they’ve done well overall. Our backs are in good shape.”

On the considerations of adding front line players to coverage units…
“We want to get the best guys that can cover, no doubt. We want to be careful about it, but you’ll probably see a little bit more of that.”

On Corey Moore and the rest of the secondary…
“Corey Moore being back from his injury was very helpful. Getting Josh Harvey-Clemmons back was good, so that helped a lot. Tray (Matthews) is growing as we go. Quincy Mauger has put himself in a position where with all of the other injuries to players, he’s gotten a lot more reps than maybe he would have otherwise. He’s taken advantage of them, and we like what he’s doing on special teams. We like what he’s doing in practice and the opportunities he’s had. We’ll probably see a little bit more of him, and we’ll see some of Connor Norman. As far as the corners are concerned, Shaq Wiggins got in the game a little bit and Sheldon Dawson got in the game a little bit more. We’re trying to build more depth in that area. (Brendan) Langley has been playing a bunch, and they’ve all been learning. The more times you go through it, the better off you should be in the future.”

On similarities between Georgia and LSU…
“(Les Miles) does a great job. He recruits well. It’s unique to me, and I’ve not coached there so I don’t know, but if there’s a really good player in the state of Louisiana, it seems like it’s just a done deal that the guy is going to LSU. We have a situation where we just have so many guys. We might have 150 guys that are Division I football players but we just can’t take them all, so you know a certain amount of your really good players are going to end up at another school. There’s just not enough room, and there’s fierce competition for it. He recruits well, he motivates well, and it seems like he’s a guy that the players really respond to well. I think just to be a head coach for 13 years and to be able to last as long as he has at his school and me at my school in this league, you’ve certainly had enough success to keep it going.”

On former Bulldog Justin Houston…
“I saw that he had 4.5 sacks in the game just this last week. That was a big day, and I happened to just catch a glimpse of him coming off the sideline and coaches congratulating him. We’re just really happy for Justin. We have so many guys in the league right now. We get a list where we find out what all the guys are doing on a weekly basis. There’s over 45 guys right now playing pro ball if you add the Canadian (Football League) guys, so it’s fun to see some of the guys realize their dreams. Justin had the body type and the work ethic, so I’m not surprised at all to see him do well. They probably went crazy when they measured his hand size. The guy had 4.5 sacks, so what are you going to say.

On any injuries…
“I think Keith (Marshall) will be fine, and Jay will probably give it a go today. Justin Scott-Wesley bruised his shoulder a little bit, but he’ll be fine. I’m not sure about (James DeLoach). We have to have him go through the concussion testing and all of that, and I don’t think he’ll go today. I would say he’s out for right now.”

On the hype surrounding a game week like LSU…
“Tickets – my wife handles those, but I know it’s tough on games like this. We have a pretty good-sized group on official visits, and then there will be a huge amount of unofficial visits. We also know that when we are one of the main focal points of the day, there’s a little bit more added to it. It’s why you come to Georgia – for games like this.”  

WR Michael Bennett
On playing in front of the home fans…
“It’s great to play in front of our home fans. I love it, and in the South Carolina game they were real loud. I love playing in front of our fans and I think the whole team does.”

ILB Amarlo Herrera
On preventing big plays on special teams…
“Everybody just has to run down the field and do what we need to do. We just need to not try and do anything special or out of character and just try and make the play.”

On the team’s mentality heading into this game…
“This is just an SEC game. That’s how everybody looks at it. I don’t think we look at it the way that everyone else looks at it. We’re just playing football and just trying to get the next win. It’s a good thing right now but by the time the game gets here everyone will probably be hyped and juiced up.”

On Georgia’s win streak at Sanford and the impact of the crowd…
“I really didn’t even notice that. We don’t really pay attention to stuff like that so I don’t think we really even know a lot about that. It’s a good thing though. It was definitely loud for [South Carolina]. Surprisingly, North Texas was pretty loud too. There’s no doubt that this week it will be rocking.”

OLB Jordan Jenkins
On his lack of sacks through the first three games of the season…
“It’s definitely something that’s been eating at me a little bit. I just sat down and watched film and talked with Coach Grantham a little bit. It’s just something where I have to stop trying so hard to get a sack and just let it happen naturally. There are also some things that I can fix. I noticed that I’m not really rushing at a good angle to allow myself to get a sack. That’s another aspect that I have to think about and what I’ve really been focusing on this week.”

On the advice his father gave him in improving his game…
“He gave me a lot of advice. We watched the game Sunday morning and he keeps sending me extra stuff to help improve each week. He’s said that I really need to start using my hands more. Saturday I felt like I wasn’t really rushing that well. I talk about improving my technique a lot but in the game I got caught up in the heat of the moment and went back to some of the stuff that I thought would work. I just need to get back to the basics and do what I need to do to get back to getting some sacks.”

On Coach Mark Richt’s ability to keep the players motivated…
“Coach Richt can get pretty fired up. People don’t think he shows emotion, but he can get pretty amped up and pretty hyped up. This past week we really thought that he gave one of the best speeches he’s given in the past year or two. I really got pumped up after that. I know it wasn’t a top-10 team, but they were still a good team and it really got me pumped up to play that game after that speech.”

QB Aaron Murray
On LSU QB Zach Mettenberger’s homecoming…
“I’m sure he’s tired of talking about it. It’s just probably a distraction to him and their team, but as soon as everyone hits the field Saturday all that talk is going to be gone. It’s just going to be line up, play football, and have some fun.”

On Mettenberger and the LSU offense…
“Zach has gotten better and better every year. I think he feels very comfortable with their offense, their new scheme, their new coordinator. They look great as a whole offense. They’re really able to stay balanced. They’re very similar to us offensively in that they’re able to pound, pound, pound, get up there, throw the ball, move it through the air with some great receivers as well, so it’s going to be a huge challenge for us defensively. Zach is a big kid and can make all the throws, sideline to sideline, with a very big arm. He looked good when I was watching him the other day.”

On playing three top-10 teams in the first part of the season…
“It’s got to be some type of record to start off with three top ten teams in the first four games, but it’s been fun to play this type of game, in these atmospheres, against these teams. Everyone’s like ‘that must stink,’ but I think it’s fun. I think everyone on this team thinks it’s fun. It’s fun preparing for these big types of games, it’s fun playing in them, and it adds a lot more excitement to the week. I definitely think as a whole team we have grown over these past three weeks.”

WR Justin Scott-Wesley
On teammate Reggie Davis’ record-setting touchdown catch…
“I am happy for Reggie. His first catch was a 98-yard bomb, school record, so that’s a heck of a first catch.”

On LSU’s defensive backs…
“They like to go press-man a lot so that’s going to be a challenge. They’re basically going to line up in our face and dare us to beat them. We’ve just got to be up for that challenge, and I feel like we have a group of guys who are going to step up to the plate.”



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