Sept. 28, 2010
ATHENS --- Georgia head coach Mark Richt and a collection 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 a beautiful day out there and a great day to get better. That's what we are going to try to do in practice today. Let's talk a little bit about Colorado. Dan Hawkins is a good friend of mine actually. We got to know each other through the Nike Head Coaching Trips that Katharyn (Richt) and I used to go on. We haven't gone on one for a while, but we got to know Dan and his wife. He's just a great guy and an outstanding coach. He has his team going. They are 2-1 and ready to have a big game with us. From what I understand, they're having their big blackout there. They are having the 20-year reunion of their 1990 National Championship team. I saw a list of all the players who look like they are going to come, so it looks like they are going to be revved up. Plus they had an open date to get all fired up about it too, so we'll have a tremendous challenge as we go into the lion's den, so to speak, or the buffalo's den."
"They are a very solid team. They are 2-1, and I'm sure they will be very fresh after an open date and very well-prepared by virtue of the fact that they've had time. I know Coach Hawkins does a great job. It will be a really good challenge for us. So it's time for us to, starting today, have a really good day of preparing for this ballgame and this team and the challenges of the distance that we'll have to travel. It ought to be a good one."
On Georgia's recent out-of-conference scheduling... "It sounds like a good idea and it's kind of romantic I guess. It seems like everybody would enjoy doing that. I'm sure a lot of fans enjoy taking some of those trips, but it is tough on your team, your players and coaches. For example, we are scheduled to get in about 6 a.m. after the game. So that's tough. It's tough to really get some sleep that night between a plane, a bus and different time zones. We are rolling into the next game, a very important Southeastern Conference game with that kind of night, which is tough. We are going to have to adjust Sunday. We are already talking about what we'll do differently Sunday at least as a staff to try to get some sleep for our sanity and try to give respect to the game you just played but also know you have to move forward. We are going to have to reduce what we do as far as reviewing the film of the game. Something has to give, because we don't have time to do everything that we would normally do. Playing that kind of game does draw attention. It does get you on the other side of the country, but do we really recruit over there? We really don't. All the fans who are taking this trip, I hope they enjoy it. It is a beautiful place. I'm sure our fans will enjoy it. Our players will at least get to see the Rocky Mountains and they'll say they were there when some other guys probably wouldn't have gotten the chance to do that. But I have no problem not taking these kind of trips."
On whether he was opposed to Georgia's non-conference scheduling all along... "No, I agreed to it. It was a decision made by our administration and myself and I'm sure the president had his say in it also. When we went to the 12th game, as you all remember, we were like, 'What are we going to do?' Everybody was trying to figure out what they were going to do with that 12th game. The thought came up to play a non-conference team out of our region because we hadn't done that much in the history of Georgia football. It was something that I think a lot of fans would enjoy and we thought that it would be a good thing from a media point of view. After that first trip, I guess it was Arizona State, it was very similar to the travel time coming back. Just to see what it did to everybody, it wore them out. It's one more game that will drain you mentally and physically because a Colorado, an Arizona State or Oklahoma State, you have to get ready. You have to get ready and you have to travel and you have to live through it. As soon as we took that first trip, which I think was Arizona State, I didn't know if this was a good idea or not, win or lose."
On whether scheduling seven home games and one BCS opponent is the best formula to reach the SEC Championship game... "The one BCS opponent being Georgia Tech, I think so. I think the city of Athens would probably enjoy another home game. I know there is revenue that is brought into this city every time we have a home game. There is revenue brought into the program when you have another home game, so I think it's more of a hindsight comment I am making than I think it's probably better to do it that way. I did not try to put my foot down and say this is a bad thing or anything like that. I mutually agreed to do it when we did it."
On whether there would be any personnel changes for Saturday's game... "There will be nothing drastic. I guess the most drastic personnel change would be A.J. getting in the game. We hope (Kris) Durham will be ready to play. He's still suffering a little bit from a stinger, but I don't see a major overhaul. There might be one kid starting over another here or there, but I don't think were going to just not play a certain guy. If a starter ends up being second team, we still plan on playing that guy. We just have to get better."
On Georgia's offensive identity... "We do want to run the ball still and have play action passing. I think people certainly respect our run game. We may not have the numbers but they know that they need to stop that. I think people feel like if they stop the run and try to pressure the freshman they still probably think that's they best way to go. Although I do think our freshman is growing up pretty quick and has played pretty darn good considering what he's had to deal with. But we are still very much interested in running the football and throwing the play action passes. We do have ways to get the ball to our receivers quickly on quick screens. We have screens to our backs. We have ways of throwing quick game if we feel like they have outnumbered the run and we want to get some one-on-one situations. We are still very multiple in what we do. We want to be physical in nature, no doubt. We especially want to run the ball because the more physical you run it, the better chance you have of creating space for those receivers and play action passes."
On whether lessons were learned from A.J. Green's suspension... "Hopefully I'm sure he learned something from it. I would think everybody saw what happened to A.J. and hopefully, if they were in that position, would not give in to whoever is trying to convince you that this is a good thing to do or that it's OK to do. So hopefully the guys learned from that."
On whether the return of A.J. Green has provided a boost to his teammates... "I don't know. I can't help but think that the guys know. They see him everyday. They see him practice. They know he's a very talented guy. They know that we have a better chance with him than without him. I don't know if everybody is just kind of jumping up and down, saying A.J. is back."
On whether teams play Georgia differently with A.J. Green than without... "I think they would. I'll say this, based on a year ago, you might see a team have a certain percentage of a coverage versus pro-I . You are watching the scouting report and you see versus base I, what we call I-formation and base personnel, we might see that they have a certain amount of percentage of this coverage or that coverage or whatever it might be. Then when we play them in the very same coverage, they play a little differently than they have all season long, so I think if they looked at the film and said if this receiver is just as good as that receiver there is no reason to roll coverage that way, then we'll just kind of do what we've been doing. But if they see somebody that they feel like could hurt them if they just played the way they normally play then they have to do something different. So we've seen a lot of different looks towards wherever A.J. lines up. Do I think people would have played us differently the first four ballgames? Probably would be my guess."
On whether Georgia players talked about what would happen if A.J. Green had played in the first four games... "We never did that. We couldn't do that. There is no point in doing that. We all, whether we said it or not, I'm sure there were times we were thinking about it. Durham has played very well. Durham has played that position very well. Kris really has been open deep maybe four or five times, and if we hit him on the run he is going to score. He got behind the perimeter a lot in these last few games. Of course A.J. has been able to do that too throughout his career. (Aaron) Murray is still getting that feel of how to hit a guy deep on the run. If you remember the spring game, everything is just way out of range. So if that ball is out of range, no one can catch it. Keep it in play, give the guy a chance, that's what we are trying to coach instead of trying to throw that perfect ball. With that, we have caught a lot of deep balls, but if you noticed, it hasn't been on the dead run where the guy can go take it to the endzone. But that's better than overthrowing them. In time and with more experience, Aaron I believe will be able to hit these guys on the run a little better than he has, and I think that will help whether it's A.J. or Durham or No. 12, Tavarres (King). And we have others that can go pretty good too."
On keeping the morale up... "We need to keep a positive outlook for sure. We need to keep coaching and correcting and teaching and all those kinds of things. We definitely need a positive outlook. The main thing that I think we need to do is we need to continue to work hard. We need to continue to stay unified, stay together. And we need to continue to have a positive outlook because the bottom line is things will get worse or things will get better. It's probably going to be based on what we do, what we do as coaches, what I do as the head coach, what we do as position coaches and how our players respond to that. Those are the things that we are really focusing on. The things we don't want to do is lose our integrity or lose our poise or we don't want to take our frustrations out on someone else. We need to teach these young men how to handle adversity. We need to teach anyone who is watching, maybe who has been through tough times, how to handle adversity. That's my goal, that we will be a model of how to handle it and we'll turn this thing around and get it going. Those are the things I am focusing on."
On graduate assistant Nick Jones... "Nick is really fantastic. Of course Nick played center for us and some guard during his day and he is a graduate assistant coach. He's our on-the-field offensive coach. His main job right now is to get the scout team lined up and ready to try to simulate Colorado, and he is doing a great job of that. I enjoy watching him. He is confident in his ability to in drill work, for example, he'll coach the guy. He'll talk about the technique. He'll be quick to see what he's doing right or what he's doing wrong, and he'll be quick to correct or quick to praise. He'll do that verbally where a lot of times a young graduate assistant coach is a little bit nervous about doing that. He's like, 'Is this my role? Can I do this? Will coach (Stacy) Searels get mad at me?' All those kinds of things, and Nick has just done a very good job. During camp, he's had more of a chance to do that, but right now his main goal is just to try to get that scout team lined up and ready to go. I think he is going to be a tremendous field coach. He'll be a great recruiter. He's definitely what I'm looking for in a coach. I'll say this too because you mentioned one, when you look at Todd Hartley and Mitch Doolittle and what they did during the bowl game time and you have Brad Hutcherson also, who was a student assistant with us all the way through. Now he's an off-the-field graduate assistant guy, video guy. Those guys do an awesome job. It would be tough to do it without them."
On what the presence of A.J. Green does for Georgia's tight ends... "The tight end position will benefit if people roll coverage to A.J. That is what happened in some of the games last year. When you saw Orson (Charles) or whoever running down the middle, a lot of times it's because a safety is overplaying No. 8 and there is a linebacker usually and maybe a safety, but normally a linebacker trying to run with him or with Aron (White) or whoever it might be at tight end. I would think if in fact people find a way to double A.J. in some way, shape or form it will benefit the tight ends for sure."
On Georgia's energy level at the start of games... "I don't know if it was the energy level that wasn't right. I think what wasn't right was our ability to adjust to the things that anytime you play a team, they are going to do something new. Usually whatever is new, they are going to give it to you in the first series of the game. You could prepare for everything you see on film, but the bottom line is you are going to see something that you probably haven't seen that needs to be adjusted to. You hope in that first series you can at least have something to draw from and say, 'This is how we would handle this certain look.' But when you have a brand new defense there is not a whole lot to look back on and say, 'Last year when they did this, this is what I would do.' When you are only prepared for what have seen and you see something new, you have to hopefully adjust well that first series, and we haven't been able to. After that opening drive we actually played pretty good defense. I think they got three more points with about four and a half minutes to go in the game still. Of course they had that long 97-yard drive, which was kind of a stake in the heart. It didn't finish it but it sure took a lot of wind out of our sails at that point. I think we have to do a better job of adjusting to some of those things that maybe we haven't prepared for."
On things Georgia had not seen from Mississippi State on film... "There were some formations that we hadn't seen. Part of it was they were using a lot of three-receiver tight end stuff. They had some guys who were injured that we weren't sure how injured they were. If you go by the film they were using those guys quite a bit but we didn't know for sure if they would play or if they weren't going to play. As it turned out they didn't play an awful lot, so they used a different personnel grouping to do some of the same things they liked to do so it was a lot of very common threads but it wasn't exactly the way we practiced it. It had to do with it being more of a two-back, three-receiver than a three-receiver, one-back and one tight end."
#11 Aaron Murray
On having A.J. Green back... "It's going to be nice having him back. He's a tremendous receiver and he causes a lot of problems for defenses. They're definitely going to game plan to make sure that they don't leave him one-on-one with their DBs. It just adds another playmaker to our offense who can hopefully get us going."
On Green's return having an effect on the running game... "We'll see. Teams will have to respect the pass a little more with him out there and hopefully it opens up some more lanes for our guys to make some plays."
On practicing with Green knowing he wouldn't be playing... "It gets a little sad sometimes. I didn't even want to throw to him sometimes because I would be a little upset that I couldn't throw to him on Saturdays. It will be nice to have him back this week. He's excited and I'm happy for him. He's been pretty upset that he hasn't been able to be with us the past four week and it's really been killing him inside. He's definitely pumped up and ready to go and like I said, we're excited to have him back."
#12 Tavarres King
On the response of the coaches before practice this week... "We are still high energy. This team is awesome in that aspect. Everyone is still high energy and still has the fight in them regardless of what our record is. Not a lot was said negatively and everyone is remaining positive."
On extra motivation heading into this week... "Definitely. We're down and we're struggling but we'll bounce back because everyone is focused and everybody wants to show the Bulldog Nation that we're not a 1-3 team."
On getting an early spark at the beginning of the game... "Football is a momentum game and I think it'd be tremendous to have something great happen. Maybe we can throw a deep one to '8' or '12' or '16'. That would put a little fire in your belly. When something big happens early, it does a lot for your confidence."
#16 Kris Durham
On his injury and how he feels... "I'm alright. Health-wise I'm good. I kind of got banged up a little bit, but I'll be fine by Saturday. I'm still a little still but I'm practicing today so it's nothing that I haven't been through. It's more precaution, just to make sure that I'm good. I've been doing the treatment and doing everything that Ron Courson says. Whatever he says, goes, so I've been in there talking to him a lot."
On the furthest he had been out of the state of Georgia before coming to UGA... "When I was younger, I used to race BMX. I went out to Nevada and raced in Reno and I've raced my bike in California. I've never actually been in the state of Colorado so I'm excited about that."
On the effect that long trips plays on the team... "It's enjoyable because it's a place you've never been or you haven't played at so it's a good experience. I'm sure it's different for every person as to whether or not the jet lag or the time difference plays a difference. I don't see anything wrong with it. I think it's a fun experience for both us and the opposing team. Whatever the coaches and administration decides what's best, they have our best interest in mind."
On the morale of the team right now... "We definitely realize that what has happened has happened. We are not happy with that. We don't want to accept that it happened, but at the same time we realize we have a great opportunity to move forward."
On Coach Mark Richt's use of a train analogy... "He's said it before, and I know he said it last season when we went through some difficult times. It's easy for us to understand that. This team is a train. It's a big train. It's hard to get it moving early on, but once you get it going really fast it's easy to keep the momentum, it's easy to continue on the path you want to go to for your final destination."
#94 DeAngelo Tyson
On Georgia's 1-3 start to the 2010 season... "Being one and three is a very upsetting feeling. I don't think anybody on the team right now has every started a season of playing football one and three, so it's very shocking that we are one and three because we've put in so much work during the summer and we work hard in practice each and every day. It's just very hard for us right now, but we're moving on. We're not going to ponder on the loss; we're just moving on to the next game against Colorado, which is a good team. We're just going to go out and practice and try and get better than last week."
On the team needing a spark... "As a team, I think the spark would be us winning this game because the train hasn't moved yet, and we just need a little juice to make the train move. If we can pick up a win Saturday that will give us a spark and we can go from there."
#51 Akeem Dent
On the progression of the defense... "I feel like we've come along, but I feel like we still have a little way to go. We can always go out and keep improving on the things that we are doing fundamentally and in our overall game."
On SEC opponents scoring on their first possession against Georgia... "As a defense, you don't want to give up any touchdown, but it is all part of the game. It's just something that we are going to have to go out and just play harder and fight harder."
On going to Colorado... "It's going to be a nice trip. Right now, all everyone is talking about is the altitude and things like that. But I think it's something that we will be able to adapt to during the game."
On fan reaction towards the players following the 1-3 start... "I think the fans are still behind us. I know, that they know, that they deserve more, and we deserve more as well. They are still behind us."