Richt, Bulldogs Preview Vanderbilt

Oct. 12, 2010

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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... "I want to thank the students and the student section and what a great job they are doing during the pregame warmups. I know they are keeping things lively. I really enjoyed some of the outfits I saw last week. I just want to commend those guys on their costumes I guess, pretty good stuff.

Shawn Williams in action during the Bulldogs' game with Tennessee on Saturday in Athens. (Photo by Ashley Strickland)

"Vanderbilt, coach (Robbie) Caldwell's team. It was an interesting transition for them and their staff. Warren Belin, who is on our staff now, was a part of that staff as late as last year and knows those guys and he knows coach Caldwell and has as high amount of respect for him as I do. They just do a very good job on their staff of getting these guys lined up and getting these guys fundamentally ready to play football. They don't necessarily try to trick you, but they are very, very sound in what they do. They play fast and they play physical and they really play great fundamental football on both sides of the ball. You could tell they've created a lot of really good habits in the way they play. I think some teams maybe spend too much time trying to put in all these blitzes and twists and stunts and runs and trick plays and this, that and the other, formations and all that. Not to say they don't have a good bit of it, but you can tell that their focus is on being very sound with what they do and take advantage of the athletes they have and put them in the best position to make plays. They do have a lot of young men from the state of Georgia. I think that's something a lot of those guys are going to be excited about."

"It's our job now to hopefully build off of the momentum that we've created with last week's victory. I think when you lose games people tend to think that everything is going wrong and not much is going right. Then when you win games maybe they think everything is going right and not much is going wrong. I think as we were going through that losing streak we were improving in a lot of areas. We just didn't finish really like we should and this game, even though a lot of things did go well we still have more to correct, and that's our job as coaches is to continue to try to improve and again build off the momentum that we created."

On off-the-field distractions... "It's hard to have great continuity week-by-week if a young man has done something to keep himself from being on the field. Again, it's our job also to deal with those things, but also not take away from the preparation and not take away from the focus of the team. It's something I'd prefer not to have to manage, but we've been managing it. This week, I don't think there is any doubt our guys will be focusing on Vanderbilt."

On whether tailback Ken Malcome will play Saturday... "We've been getting Ken ready for probably the last month or so. I don't know if we had him with the varsity the very first week. We might have had him on the scout team. We were watching him in drill work and we feel like he has great potential. Sometimes a kid isn't ready out of camp. Sometimes it becomes a little overwhelming all the things you have to learn. Then when you break camp and the focus maybe is off of you for just a minute it gives you a chance to catch your breath and just kind of be free to make plays. We saw him making some plays, doing a good job of running behind his pads and knocking people back on contact in some of our inside drills. We were very encouraged by what we saw, so we said let's get him up here and just keep spoon-feeding him and get him to a position to where if we need him he'll be ready to go. That's where he's at right now. Is he going to be perfect if he gets in there on assignments and everything? Probably not, but he's been practicing with us for at least a month, so he does know what to do."

On whether Fred Munzenmaier will work at tailback... "Absolutely. Fred definitely will be working at tailback. There may be some short-yardage goal line stuff that he gets at fullback still, and we want him to be ready. Dustin Royston has been getting more work at the fullback position too, so he might be able to step in along with Zander Ogletree, who has also been working the fullback position. Dustin has been more of our jumbo group guy, the big guy you bring in to plow ahead for the fullback. I'll say this while I'm on that subject, I know it was the touchdown that (Shaun) Chapas scored, Dustin was the wham guy. He was kind of the lead blocker for that play. Something happened in the game that we didn't practice as far as their lineman had been in a certain gap the entire time, so he was going to run into what we call the "B" gap between the guard and tackle and take on that linebacker to lead the way for Chapas. Then right before the snap the inside lineman or the nose guard in this particular case, he shot into the "B" gap and the linebacker played the "A" gap or in between the guard and the center. So Royston's thinking all week I'm going to be blasting through this "B" gap because that's where that linebacker is going to fit in there. Then in the game, the "B" lineman jumped in the gap and the linebacker came inside, so Royston did a really good job of redirecting his attack and knocking the guy out of the way to pave the way for Chapas. It showed us that not only is he physical, but he can think and he can react quickly and change direction if need be. That just gives more confidence that he'd be a pretty good fullback prospect for us, so he's been working hard there."

On Carlton Thomas' status... "Carlton's hamstring is still bothering him, and I would say he is questionable today. He won't practice today."

On opponents' third down conversions... "We concentrate quite a bit on that. We know third and long, especially, has been our Achilles heel. You fight so hard to get them in third and long. We've had a bunch of teams in third and long and we've had a bunch of teams get a first down. It's just so frustrating. A lot of it has been some QB runs. You feel like you have the right call, you have everybody covered and they are right there to get him, and he breaks free. He either runs across the line of scrimmage like the Colorado quarterback did at least two or three times in the first drive of the game, or breaks free and throws a touchdown pass like the quarterback did for Tennessee last week. We did better in that third down area last week, but if you look at it statistically we're worst in the league in that regard. Usually you win the majority of your third-and-longs and then when you go to third-and-medium you don't win as many and third-and-short you win less because there are less yards to go. Our third-and-medium has actually been outstanding compared to our third-and-long. We just have got to continue to get our guys in position to make the plays and get them to make it."

On whether the standard for punishment of off-the-field issues has become tougher... "Oh yeah. No doubt, but they knew that."

On whether Caleb King's punishment is a reflection of the tougher standard... "Yes sir."

On whether Caleb King's punishment sends a message... "Obviously, yes sir."

On what can be done to prevent off-the-field issues... "Every young man has a responsibility to do the right thing. They're aware of what the right thing is to do. Am I open to doing better? Absolutely. I'm very encouraged actually with Mr. (Greg) McGarity in a lot of ways. I think that he's a wonderful choice for our athletic director. I think that he's going to do great things for Georgia. I think the future is very bright with his leadership. He and I have already been discussing some things and we'll implement some things as time goes on that I think will help us. It will be an ongoing conversation, but I really have a lot of confidence that he's got some good ideas in that regard and I'm willing to listen to those and see if we can get better at that."

"You want to prevent things and then if things do happen you still have to make decisions on what to do. In order to make sure that this type of thing isn't happening No. 1, the student-athlete has to take the responsibility of knowing he's got it and he's got to take care of it. Georgia is not going to take care of the traffic violations, they have to. Now we can get involved in helping them, make sure that it gets done, but we are not doing it for them, that's No. 1. Awareness of certain things is important. If we are aware of things, we can make sure something like this doesn't happen. In this particular case, you basically would have to get in contact with every single county in the state of Georgia on a daily basis to find out if something like that popped up. You can check the licenses to see if they are in good standing on a periodic basis. Monthly we've been doing that, but now were are going to do it weekly and maybe we can catch something at the last moment. We don't want it to get to that point. In order to really know something like that we would've had to be made aware of it and then we can make sure that thing gets taken care. Again, we are not taking care of it. We just have to make sure it gets taken care of by the student-athlete."

On Derek Owens... "Derek, of course, was the recipient of the fumble (against Tennessee), but Jordan Love did a great job of knocking the ball out; two freshmen making a play for us. Our kickoff coverage team, you would have to say has been the most consistent and it's certainly the highest rated group that we have - offense, defense, special teams. I think we are No. 1 in the league and top-10 in the country. We've done a great job of covering kicks and kicking kicks. Blair (Walsh) has kicked the ball extremely well. Warren Belin of course heads that up and has done a great job of freeing him up to make the kicks he thinks he can make. Then we get a turnover out of that thing. I think that was the longest return other than I think the very first kick of the season. It ended up in a turnover for us, so that was a good thing. I'll say this too, a lot of times people will call in and fans will ask the questions about ball security and whether or not a guy should have the ball in the outside arm or the inside arm. Their runner actually started out with the ball in his right hand and when he moved to his left, he was switching the ball over to his left arm and within a moment of him trying to make that change, that's when the contact occurred and the ball came out. I don't mind if a kid just puts it in his dominant hand and just lives with it, because if you cut one way or the other way and all of a sudden you try to switch the ball from one to the other, in the process of doing that you tend to make it very vulnerable for a strip or the ball getting punched out."

On whether A.J. Green's presence has been beneficial to Georgia's tight ends... "I think so, yes. I think that A.J. is drawing the double teams that we thought he would and the tight ends are definitely benefitting from that. They are getting more coverages that are just linebacker-coverage related, but the other thing too is I think it also has to do with Aaron (Murray) growing up. I think it has to do with it just so happened the times we called those plays, the protection was there that time. When he progressed, maybe the No. 1 receiver vs. Colorado is covered so you go to the secondary guy. It's the same play, this time the tight end got it. A little bit of it has to do with the coverages being played and who they decide to cover. A.J. being there is a tight end's best friend."

#16 SE Kris Durham

On QB Aaron Murray... "Aaron prepares extremely well and plays with heart. I have full confidence in him and the coaches have full confidence in him. He does everything you could ask for and more. He gets up there and makes plays to win the game. He never sits back and plays not to make a mistake. He plays to win.

On the Tennessee game and momentum... "It's a game of momentum and a game of inches. It's a little bit of a breath of fresh air. We had a lot of balls bounce our way [on Saturday] so you just have to take that and roll with it."

#61 C Ben Jones

On the mood after Tennessee... "There's always things to work on and improve on each week. You can always fix things and be working on things."

On Trinton Sturdivant's health... "It's big for Trinton this year to be back after a lot of injuries and to play a whole game. You now can see what we can do. I think now he has the confidence to play. He looks back to normal and he plays hard. He's working out there. He looks like what they say he always used to look like."

#11 QB Aaron Murray

On the Tennesssee game... "We hadn't been playing a complete game and this past weekend we did. The offense was definitely there and making plays. The first five game we did some good things and other times weren't making plays. This past weekend was nice."

On A.J. Green's impact... "Teams will send safeties over the top or put a corner on him and things like that, which frees everyone else up. Maybe there's one less defender on another guy or one less in the box so it's nice to open things up for everyone else."

On Orson Charles... "He and Aaron White are special at tight end. Teams respect them. They are both threats and playmakers, probably more of the athletic tight ends in the country. Teams have to respect them."

#94 DT DeAngelo Tyson

On addressing the team's third-down defense... "We do it every day in practice but you're not really getting a full-speed look that you really need for the other team. We do our best, and we do what we are supposed to during practice. You're not getting quite the look from the scout the team that you're going to get in the game, but they do a good job. We're just going to have to focus more on that this week."

#93 DT Abry Jones

On what Saturday night was like after experiencing a victory on Saturday afternoon... "Saturday night was just a relaxed feeling. There was no thinking back to the game about what could have gone better, about what I could have done better and what could have the team done better. It was just relaxed in just saying we are back on track, we won one. I was just sitting back relaxing and enjoying the win."

On Tennessee not scoring on their first possession... "That was a pretty big deal because a lot of people read into that and that was one of our goals going into that game as a defense. We're tired of people scoring on the first drive. We're saying to ourselves we are going to step up, we're going to stop them right here and we're going to do better. We're going to show we are a good defense, and I think we came out and proved that."

#36 FS Shawn Williams

On defeating Tennessee... "It gives you a lot of confidence, but I don't think you can just keep thinking about that one game. You've got to move on to the next."

On the defensive performance against the Volunteers... "I think we performed great, but we did have a couple missed assignments. It's better than is was, so as a team, I think we are getting better on defense."



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