Richt, Bulldogs Preview The Tennessee Game
Coach Mark RIcht

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Oct. 1, 2013

ATHENS-----Georgia head 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...
"It's Tennessee week. That's a big game. Going to Knoxville is never easy. Coaching in this league for 13 years now, I've been there a few times and have probably run every gamut of emotion from elation to getting your tail kicked. We know it's going to be a great atmosphere and there will be over 100,000 people screaming for the Vols. We know we have our work cut out not only to handle the noise and handle the communication aspect of it and the emotional aspect of it, but also we are playing a good football team. Coach (Butch) Jones has them going."

On maintaining focus after last week's win over LSU...
"You don't ever want to let down, but we're playing Tennessee so I don't foresee a letdown. If we were playing somebody else, you might start talking that way, but not when you play Tennessee."

On the play of long snapper Trent Frix...
"Trent had a very good game. He snapped the ball very well on the punts. (Nathan) Theus still snapped it for extra points and field goals, and he did a nice job, as well. Frix was right there when the ball got bobbled. He gave the hit to make sure that the LSU man wasn't able to get back on the ball. I think Connor Norman eventually got on it. (Frix) has a very good snap and very good speed. He's played some linebacker in his day, so he's probably a guy that can make some plays getting a guy on the ground. Most people in the country don't account for your snapper. They feel like he snaps and he's not capable of making a tackle, and a lot of teams just let him run free and assume that the punt return man can make him miss or maybe they'll have someone down at the end to knock off the first guy that shows up if it happens to be the snapper. I think he's going to be able to run down there and make some tackles for us over time, as well."

On Todd Gurley...
"I don't know if he'll practice or not. I know that he sprained (his ankle) enough to where he couldn't finish the game, and he's getting treatment for as long as he can get it and still go to class. I just don't know. When we say day to day, that's the best way to describe it because we just don't know how fast it will heal or how fast the swelling will go down. He was supposed to be on crutches, but I looked out the window and watched him walking with his crutches over his shoulder, so I don't know if that's a telltale sign, but hopefully it won't be too long."

On Keith Marshall...
"I think (Keith) Marshall is very capable of carrying the load. You talk about carrying the load with 15 or 20 carries, and I think he could do it if he had to. J.J. Green has done a nice job for us when he's gotten in the game, and we think Brendan Douglas is a very legitimate SEC back. If Todd is not able to go, we can count on those three and then we'll have to figure out what to do in the fourth position. We've had (Kyle) Karempelis play before and A.J. Turman right now has kind of been moving towards a redshirt. We're not sure exactly what will happen there, but I don't think this is going to be a long-term enough situation where we start grabbing a guy out of a redshirt."

On the maturation of the defense...
"They're getting there. Our defense is getting there. I thought we made a lot of progress on first and second down. I thought we won first and second down most of the day, and we got into third and long quite a bit. The problem, obviously, is that we couldn't get off the field there. If they're getting first downs on first down and first downs on second down and we can't even get them to third down, you're really in trouble. I think we've made a lot of progress in stopping the run. We had seven tackles for loss and four sacks (against LSU), so we started to make some good plays. We still have to iron some things out on the perimeter, but that's just learning, as far as knowing exactly what we want done and how we want it done. There were two plays, quite frankly, where two young safeties weren't sure what to do at the moment of truth. Should I hit him or should I go for the ball? If I hit him, should I hit him high and get kicked out of the game? I think we were probably thinking too much. I think we over-coached the targeting stuff. I said that you're allowed to hit them as hard as you want, just don't hit them in the head and don't launch at them. Hopefully that will help."

On the targeting rules...
"I think it's wise to try to keep the game as safe as possible. I think it's just a matter of getting used to it. I know that Tray Matthews in the spring had a natural inclination to go get after that guy and strike him, whether or not it was above the shoulder. I think he has to rethink how he's going to go about his business, and the more that these guys get trained and get used to it, and the more that at a younger age they understand that type of rule, I think it'll become more natural to them. Right now, there are a lot of guys trying to undo some things that have come natural to them or at least become a habit."

On Aaron Murray...
"I thought Aaron played good during the game, when the game was over I thought he had played good, and then I watched the film and I thought he played great. He was on top of everything - all the checks, all the protections. The balls were extremely accurate. He had very few balls that were not catchable. I can't even hardly think of one. There might have been one that wasn't very good, but he played great. I think what happens is that when you get your expectations so high, unless it's perfect, you're not happy. If he was a second year guy, we might say "oh my goodness," but I think we're getting to the point where we're expecting him to hit every target. We expect him to make every check, and we expect him to know the protection all the time, so when he does it, it's not that big of a deal. After I remove myself from it and looked at it as a coach and watched every single snap, I was really impressed with the guy."

On Tennessee wearing new uniforms this week...
"We've had it where when you win, (the new uniforms) are a great idea and when you lose, it's a bad idea. When you win, everyone loves them and wants you to do it again. When you lose, they want to burn them. You can't even give them away. That goes for helmets, too. When we first did it that night when we played Auburn (in 2007), it was electric. Of course, we sprang it on the team. They didn't know. Our seniors knew, but no one else knew. There was that element of surprise, and there was a lot of steam in that locker room. Literally. I didn't even say anything. If I said something, I would have messed it up. I do remember that year."

On Tennessee head coach Butch Jones...
"He's a tough, hard-nosed human being and a tough, hard-nosed coach. He's very good at what he does. You don't get to Tennessee without having some success along the way. Everywhere he's been, he's done a super job. I've been very impressed with what he's been doing. When I first came to Georgia, I'm looking for a way to have our players buy in and have our fans buy in. You do everything you possibly can, and the best way to get people to buy in is to get a great signature victory against a top-10 or a ranked team. That's what they're banging away for right now."

On the play-making ability of the offense...
"I don't know if we're mismatching anybody. I don't know if our players are that phenomenal where we're just dominating people off the line of scrimmage or breaking away free. I think collectively, they know what they're doing and they're very good football players. They're good route runners, and they're good at knowing what to do. They work well as a team, and they have a quarterback that really understands it all. Coach Bobo has done a tremendous job of putting it all together, scheme-wise, and just executing. It's like I told them - I don't think we're that good where we can just show up and win without really being honed in and without really being focused. I don't know if we can just say, `Hey we're Georgia, and we're going to whip you.' We've got to have the right type of focus and the right type of mental frame of mind to get the job done, so that's what we're pushing for each week."

On the play of the defensive line against LSU...
"Our D line grew up a lot. Chris Mayes played really good, and even Jonathan Taylor got a chance to get in there at nose guard. Sterling (Bailey) was more stout than he's been, and it's just been kind of a gradual thing for him. Ray Drew began to really impose his will a little bit. Garrison Smith has always been playing hard and stout, so we had a lot of guys were tough enough physically and disciplined enough to play their gaps and still come off to make a play. You want everybody to get in the right gap and take care of business in that way, but a lot of times you just like to see a guy beat a double team and make the tackle to make them pay for it every once in awhile. Sometimes your tackles for loss come off a blitz, but a lot of times it's when a defensive lineman penetrates and makes a play behind the line of scrimmage. As I said early on, this (Tennessee) offensive line is the best I've seen. Not that I've seen a lot early on this year, but it's the best one I've seen this year. I do think they're the class of the league and maybe the country when you talk about offensive linemen."

On defensive line coach Chris Wilson...
"I think Chris is doing a really good job. He's a very good fundamental coach. He gets on them. He's very demanding, but he's a good teacher. The guys really respect him. I think they really understand that he cares about them."

On the play of Josh Harvey-Clemons...
"He's very dynamic in his adversity and his ability to cover and just run out. He has good speed sideline to sideline. If you blitz him, he's a good pass rusher. He looks tall and skinny and he kind of is tall and skinny, but he's much bigger than he used to be. He's much more stout. He can take on blocks, he can take on backs without getting knocked back, and he's a great special teams guy. Everyone wants him on special teams because he can run and tackle people in space. He's a big-time guy, and he's really starting to blossom."

On former Georgia and current Tennessee assistants Willie Martinez and John Jancek...
"They're both great guys and great coaches. I'm happy for their success and there ability to be at a place like Tennessee. It's a great job, and they're doing a great job."

On the success of Georgia's offense when running quick one- and two-minute drives...
"It starts up front again. The entire game (against LSU), I don't think Murray felt much pressure. The pressure is real, and it's physical. You may not get sacked, but if that pocket begins to squeeze on you from the outside and you have to move up and here they come in your face, even though you might get the ball off, you're feeling the squeeze of it. There was a lot of space in the pocket for most of the day, and when you have space in the pocket, you feel comfortable and feel like you can make your reads. You can throw the ball without feeling like you're going to get whacked every time you let go of it. I think it started there, and again, the receivers were running good routes. Coach (Tony) Ball and his staff came up with a great plan. It's just execution. If you're executing well, you have a chance to move pretty efficiently, and it was just one of those days."

On head basketball coach Mark Fox wearing body paint and sitting in the student section during the LSU game...
"He told me he was thinking about doing it, and I told him that's awesome but I hope he doesn't expect me to do something like that. I'd have to start P90X right now and shave my body."

On the team's emotional level at this point in the season...
"I think our adrenaline is pumping right now. Certainly during the game you get a huge surge of it, but I think there's still a little residue that stays without you throughout the week. Right now, I'm excited about how things have gone, especially as of late, and with what I'm seeing in this team. I've said it all along - they're a great bunch of guys. They're very, very coachable, and they're very teachable. They try extremely hard to do it the Georgia way, and to do it the way that coaches ask them to do it. If you can have that kind of an atmosphere and culture on your team, and then you win, it's exciting. We just have to keep it rolling." 

WR Chris Conley
On whether or not new jerseys and colors can help a team...
"It depends on the team, it depends on the player. Certain players get motivated by certain things, so for some of their guys it could be a confidence boost and an adrenaline rush to help them execute. But when it really comes down to it a uniform is a uniform and it's going to come down to who's ready to play Saturday."

On how the team will perform after last weekend's win...
"I think this is where having older people on the team really comes into play a lot. Older guys who have been in situations where they've won games and realize that they have to forget about that and move forward. I think the older guys are going to be conveying to the younger guys that this win didn't mean anything if we don't win from here on out, and if we don't focus on the game at hand. It's really up to a lot of the seniors and some of the juniors to keep the team focused and make sure we have good practices today and the rest of the week."

TE Arthur Lynch
On whether or not Aaron's game has gone to another level...
"I think he has stepped up his game, even more so than in the past, and it's not just about who we've played but about his decision making, his ability to make the big play when we need it most, and third down throws that are pretty vital. I think that's all something that comes with maturity and hard work and preparation, and those are three things that have always been in his corner."

On if he thinks there's a danger of letdown against an unranked Tennessee team...
"I think there definitely is, and I think that's where it takes guys like myself and the other senior leaders to be like, look, this is the SEC. For some of you freshman that LSU game was one of the most emotional games you will ever play in, but this is not the time to rest on your laurels. You have seven days and you play another tough opponent in Knoxville, that's just how it goes. For us, that's what we're going to press all week. This team is dangerous, they have a new coach, they're hungry for a big win, and they could turn their season around with a win against a top-ten opponent. We just have stay headstrong and stay focused."

QB Aaron Murray
On how he feels as he approaches the SEC passing record...
"It's definitely an honor. It's crazy to think about. I've never been a guy who's worried about stats, it's all about winning, winning, winning, but it's definitely an honor to be alongside some of those guys like Greene and Wuerffel. Guys who did some unbelievable things while they were at their colleges."

On if the team will be able to avoid a letdown after a big win on Saturday...
"I think we are feeling great. We have a lot of momentum. I think the biggest thing is that we have great leadership and our leaders are really going to have to step up right now and make sure guys are staying focused. We've been practicing our tails off in practice, just getting after it, working and training hard, staying very focused in meetings and on the field. I think that's why we've been successful, because we are putting the work in right now."

On the possibility of J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas having expanded roles this week...
"Those two guys have really worked their tails off since they first got here and have done a great job of watching Todd and watching Keith and whatever they do in practice and games. All of us have complete confidence in whoever is back there, especially those two younger guys. It will probably be a little bit of a shock for them when they get into that stadium and see 103,000 people, so you just have to calm their nerves down just like the rest of the young guys. I feel like it's just a ball game. They're very talented backs and I'm sure they will do great when they get in there."

S Connor Norman
On relaying signals to the younger players on defense...
"We have a complex defense and guys are learning what to do on certain calls. That's something that we're obviously working on, getting guys more familiar with the signals. Amarlo [Herrera] is the signal caller for us but teams move fast so you can't always relay the signals from Amarlo. That's definitely something that we're putting emphasis on."

On what the defense is doing to improve communication...
"We're working with the young guys. They're getting a whole lot thrown at them really fast here. It's our jobs, as older guys, to help them get more familiar with everything going on. Relaying communication is a big deal out there because guys on the other side of the field aren't able to look across the sidelines. In the secondary the safeties have to communicate with the corners and the corners have to communicate back with the safeties to make sure that everybody is on the same page."

On the improvement of the younger players on defense...
"We've played four games so far, so they aren't freshmen anymore. They're growing up. They're getting better. Four games in, it doesn't matter what kind of games they were but guys are going to be more confident with the more games they play. That's a big part of it, just getting confidence. We have played some great quarterbacks. You tip your hat to the quarterbacks that you play but you have to look back at yourself and see what you can do as a secondary to get better."

WR Justin Scott-Wesley
On the Tennessee environment...
"I think it's going to be crazy. We're on offense, and they're going to be trying to distract us. The band's going to be playing. Rocky Top is going to be playing. Orange will be everywhere. It's going to be crazy. I heard they have new jerseys, too, so they are going to be amped up."

DE Garrison Smith
On watching the game winning drive against LSU from the sideline...
"It was amazing. [Aaron] Murray looked like Tom Brady out there. He was leading the troops and marching them down the field. They made some big plays, man. That's what it's all about. I'm proud of him and that he did that. That was last week though and we have to do something again this week. That's in the past and we have another game on Saturday and we have to handle business."

On how the defensive line has embraced Chris Wilson as a coach...
"Everybody is on board. He's a great guy to be around. He's a great coach. Everybody is listening to him and that's the most important thing. We've got guys that are really buying in to what he's been preaching since the spring, when he got here. It's all clicking. We're getting better every week. It's improvement and that's what it's come down to every day. We just seem to get better."



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