Richt, Bulldogs Preview The Vanderbilt Game

Launch GTV All Access

Oct. 15, 2013

Watch Coach Richt's Tuesday Press Conference
Photo Gallery

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...
"We are going to Vanderbilt coming off a loss and one that stung, but we know in our league you have to shake it off and get ready to go again, because no one is going to feel sorry for you. So that's what we've been doing. Vanderbilt is a very good team. Coach (James) Franklin has done a superb job with that program. Of course the last time we were there it was a very heated game and a very close game. Thankfully we came out of there with the victory."

"They are an outstanding football team. Playing there is always tough. Historically for whatever reason it's been a really tough venue for us to go in and not have a battle royale to the very end. The fact that that's all we've had this year I assume we are going to have another one like that. So Georgia fans, get ready. It's going to be a tough game."

On the play of the Georgia secondary against Missouri...
"The thing about Missouri receivers being big is that the big receivers have an advantage on the jump ball, obviously. You can throw the ball high up in the air and you have a corner that just doesn't match up, height-wise, so it's very difficult for those corners to make a play. We got hurt with that. The other thing that big receivers do is block well. They're big guys and strong guys. Now Shaq (Wiggins) had the most success by using his quickness. He wasn't to physically whip them, but I think I mentioned this before that it's a little bit similar to an offensive tackle trying to block the really quick defensive end. The smaller speed rushers are tough on those guys, and I think Shaq's creating a little problem for a big receiver to try to get his hands on it. Shaq really did pretty good in that area, but when it came to the jump balls, it was tough on him. It's tough on most any cornerback in that type of matchup. (Vanderbilt's Jordan) Matthews is definitely a high draft pick. He's going to play, if he stays healthy, a lot of years in the NFL. He's not super big, but he's strong and fast with great hands. He's just a great player. (Jonathan) Krause is not quite as big, he's more of a slot receiver, but he's a very talented guy, as well.

"As far as how our defensive backs did, I think when it got down to the jump ball situation, we got out-manned. When it came to handling some of those quick screens out there, I thought we actually played a pretty good game. You saw Josh Harvey-Clemons make some nice plays where he either powered through a guy or made a guy miss. The one penalty we had might have been one of the bigger plays of the game. If we don't get that roughing the passer call, it would have been third and long at a time that was very crucial. It really doesn't take away from what Josh Harvey-Clemons did. The penalty did, but physically we can see what he did, which is pretty good."

On the defense's ability to adjust to various offenses this season...
"I think most offenses are forcing defenses to react. Obviously, you have to react to how people line up. You have to react fast.  The defense has to react to the offense, and that's just part of defense. When the defense should take advantage is when you win first and second down, and now you get them in a position where they're kind of one-dimensional. We've probably had more third and mediums or third and longs than we've had in a long time, but we're not getting off the field enough. We're getting off some, but not enough. With the third and super longs, we've played kind of a little three-man defense and they've gotten eight or nine or ten yards and had to punt. When it's been third and anywhere from six to eleven, we should win a high percentage of those, but we just haven't won enough of them. I think we're getting a little better at it, and I think we're doing the right things, but we just have to execute better. Part of it is the learning curve of the young defensive backs. Let's face it - we're playing a bunch of rookies back there. It's tough to be great at it when you're just learning as you go."

On Ray Drew...
"Ray's been a little bit of a surprise. When you sign Ray, everybody thought we had this five-star guy who was going to come in and do this and that, and it's taken Ray a little while to get going. Now that the light came on, or however you want to say it, he's really playing well. I like his attitude. I read a little bit about what he was saying, as far as trying to forget everything that happened last week and starting from scratch trying to prove himself each week. He's becoming a little bit of a force. The stat you see with defensive linemen is the tackles or the sacks, but he's been pretty disruptive. He's been pretty stout in the run, as much as he has in the pass. He's a guy that's not only a situational guy - he's an every-down guy. He's played well. I think the fact that we've done pretty well subbing at that position across the board has been good because it's kept guys pretty fresh, but I'm really pleased with what Ray's been doing."

On the overall pressure created by the defense this season...
"I think they're doing good. I think we're really, as far as run defense, we're playing pretty good and that's where you start. Again, you have to stop the run or at least slow down the run to where you can get it to third and long or third and medium at worst, so I think we've done a good job. I think guys have pushed the pocket pretty good, and we've gotten some sacks by the interior defensive linemen. We may have as many sacks from the D-line as the edge rushers, so that's pretty good."

On Jonathon Rumph...
"Jonathon Rumph is practicing. I don't think there's much doubt he'll play, but he's really not played for us yet. By the end of the week, we'll see how comfortable he is and how comfortable we are with what he knows and if we think he can execute. He was here in the spring, which is great that he's been here all this time, but he doesn't have a lot of reps early in his career. As a junior college guy, he's still young with us, so we're just not sure how many plays he'll play, but we want to get him going, that's for sure. We need him to come through."

On the play of Brendan Douglas...
"Brendan came to a bunch of camps, and we liked Brendan every time he came to camp. You only have so many scholarships at each position, and we were slow to offer him. At the end of the recruiting process, we had an opening and so we offered him. He decided to come, and we're thankful that he did. It was never an issue if we thought he was good enough, but it was just whether or not we had enough space. As it turned out, we did, and he's been just about what we thought he'd be. He's very tough and very physical. I think I said in the very beginning when we were scrimmaging with him that he's a very legitimate SEC back. He's can finish a game in that four-minute offense where you're trying to grind the clock and you need someone to be fresh at the end of a game, but I always felt like he could be an every-down back one day. I didn't know it'd be this fast for us, but he's done a very good job. J.J. (Green) has as well, so you have to give him credit. He's a guy where we weren't really sure what position he would play when we signed him. Of the two positions that we thought, one was corner and one was receiver, so we weren't even thinking tailback. Last spring we were a little bit short on numbers at tailback and thought he had the best shot at filling in and helping us there, and he's kind of taken off with it."

On frustrations with the defense...
"Everyone is frustrated. Everyone takes pride in what they do, but we have to keep believing in each other. We have to keep banging away. We can't lose any kind of hope or faith, and there's enough progress going on that I still feel very comfortable that we're moving in the right direction with a lot of pups. There are a lot of good things happening. People can say what they want about what happened last year, but the bottom line is that nine of our guys on defense made NFL teams, so there was a loss of experience and a talent base and new positions that had to be filled. Sometimes things take time, but you see the signs of good things to come in the future. First of all, I think Garrison Smith is the only senior we've got in the starting lineup, and Connor (Norman) has been playing some. As far as how we're progressing now and how the future looks, I think we're exceptionally bright. We're at game seven now, so we've played enough games to where some of these guys that were inexperienced when they got started aren't anymore. They have half of a season under their belt, so we've got to keep making plays. Even last game, I thought in the second half the defense really did a good job of giving the offense a chance to dig back in that game. We're a two-point conversion away from tying with a lot of clock left. We're sitting there with 4:12 to go and a drive away from tying the game and putting it into overtime, so there were some good things that happened, without a doubt. We just have to keep getting better."

On Aaron Murray's play against Missouri...
"It was a game of patience. You have to be patient with a lot of the zone coverages that they played. They're a predominantly zone-coverage team. They went into the game that way, they stayed true to who they were and they had enough of a lead to where they didn't have to really change their philosophy. As we're trying to get back into the game, you couldn't get a bunch of big chunks. Last year, I think we were number one in the nation in big plays, and we had a bunch of big plays going into this game this year. It was just one of those games where you've got to play methodically and move the ball down the field. Some of the evidence of that was the fact that our tailbacks caught 10 balls between the two of them. There were some other receiver balls that were caught underneath the ball. You just have to catch them and get yards after contact and keep moving the chains. As you're trying to come back, the tendency is to want to get a bigger chunk, and I think a couple of times that's what Aaron did. He tried to get a bigger chunk than he should have, and it cost us."

On the play of Damian Swann and Jordan Jenkins this season...
"I talked a little bit about Damian last time that he was struggling. I think he played a really good second half. He started out maybe a little rugged in the first. With Jordan, I think it's easy to say that if a guy doesn't have `X' amount of sacks that he's not having a good year at the end position, but I think he's playing very physical against the run. I think he's pressuring the quarterback. He's getting some edge pressure and forcing guys in the pocket. We've had a good many sacks, and rarely is it just one guy getting the sack. A lot of times, it's a team effort. A guy's in the pocket and makes the guy begin to scramble and other guys clean up. I think Jordan would like to have more sacks than he's got right now, obviously, but I think he's playing pretty good."

On whether or not Jordan Jenkins is trying to replace the talent of Jarvis Jones...
"You'd have to ask him if he feels that or not, but all I see is a guy working extremely hard in practice. He plays hard. I don't know if you ever see him loaf. I can't even think of one image where I thought he wasn't playing hard. That's all you can ask for from a guy." 

On punters Collin Barber and Adam Erickson...
"We're competing, and maybe pre-game warm-up we'll decide who punts. We're not sure exactly who will punt. We might even interchange it a little bit."

On Rhett McGowan...
"Rhett's been here awhile. Rhett found his niche here at Georgia. It's hard to break through as walk-on at any position. You're fighting your way into some playing time on the field, whether it's special teams or offense or defense. A lot of times, you've got to do it well for a long enough time that the coaches finally see that the guy is dependable and talented enough to get it done. Let's let the guy play. It's a great tribute to him and his persistence and his abilities. He's done a good job. Sometimes that opportunity happens in a spring game or in a spring practice when a couple guys may go down, and then all of the sudden you get thrown in there, and when you get in there you're playing well. It's been a combination of all of those things with Rhett."

On preventative measures against injuries...
"With the ACL, I don't think there's anything to do with conditioning. A lot of ACL injuries are freak injuries and non-contact injuries. Obviously Malcolm Mitchell's was non-contact. Well, I guess there was a (chest) bump when he landed wrong on that celebration. Justin Scott-Wesley was just trying to keep from hitting the punt return man as he made a fair catch as he was trying to cover a kick. Obviously Keith Marshall's was a contact injury, but ACL's I think don't really have a whole lot to do with conditioning. I think most hamstrings go when there's enough fatigue, and guys are bursting when they're tired. The muscle just pulls, but I think we do a good job. Last year, we had very few hamstring injuries. It was one of our better camps for that because a lot of times they happen in camp. You can practice all summer, and you're running routes with your quarterback, but you can hardly simulate that two to two and a half-hour practice or that volume of camp. You're running a lot of routes and there's installation. Guys usually pull their first one then. We have a little bit more than usual, but I think we're doing the right thing when it comes to strength and conditioning and flexibility. Sometimes I think we as coaches have to be wise, and I think the players just have to know if their hamstring is beginning to get tight or fatigued a little bit. It's hard for a guy to go to a coach and say that their hamstring is sore. It's not because the coach is going to yell at them, but the guy is trying to make the team. He's trying to get a starting position and he doesn't want to look soft, or whatever it is. Sometimes the players just have to do a good job. Our older guys are really good at saying if something is tightening up on them and they need to pull back. Our veteran guys will do that, but some of our younger guys don't understand that right away."

On the status of junior college transfer Shaquille Fluker...
"You get to the point where you decide who you're going with, so to speak, and he just wasn't ready at that time. I know he had some injury issues somewhere along the way, and by the time we settled on who was in there making the plays and getting the reps, he wasn't one of them. We're going to redshirt him."

On senior Chris Burnette...
"The home visit in his house made it very, very easy to see why he's the person that he is. Mom and dad are awesome, and the whole family is awesome. He had a goal sheet that I actually have a copy of in my office. I kept it in there in case he got off track. I was going to pull it out and show it to him, but I never had a chance to do that because he never got off track. He's just been phenomenal. One of his main goals - and I don't think he'd be mad if I said it - was to be a man after God's own heart. He was very serious about being kind of a modern day knight kind of guy. He's just been tremendous in every aspect of college life. He's been a great representative of his family and his faith and his team."

On Todd Gurley being able to practice today...
"I wouldn't anticipate that. I wouldn't predict that. He's definitely progressing, but do I think he'll run plays today with even the scout team? I don't know if he will."

On the Coaches Poll and his voting process each week...
"I'm fine with it. I'm a voter, and my goal is to do the very best that I can with who I think are the best teams. I think all the coaches do that. I have no idea what other coaches do, but I look at every game that I can, as far as when I'm free to watch games. After we play, I spend the rest of the evening watching games and highlights and things of that nature. I'm always looking at the scores and looking at the standings and win-loss records. Every once in a while when I'm not sure, I try to look at who played who and what the results were. I do the best I can. I don't worry about trying to be perfect every week. I think it's good for me that it's not public every week because I'd probably spend more time on it than I want to. I know that as the year goes on, it all kind of weeds itself out sometimes. If you have one team a little bit higher than the other by a spot or two, and they're going to play each other two weeks down the road, it really doesn't matter what it is today. It matters after the game more, so I don't get too crazy about it, but I think I have a pretty good pulse of what's going on. In the last few weeks when it gets down to the nitty-gritty, I'll look at the overall season and try and do a good job to put everybody where they belong."

On whether Georgia could benefit next year from the four-team playoff...
"Well the one thing about us this moment in the polls is that we're the highest-ranked team with two losses, so that's at least a sign of respect for our program. We need to take on the responsibility, in that respect, and try to keep it that way. Hypothetically, if it was next year and you've got two losses but you can win this league, I think you'd have a pretty good argument, but that's what it would be - an argument. You'd be building your case because again, it's going to be people deciding who they think the best four are. I would imagine if a team has a bunch of midseason injuries but at the end of the year they're more full speed again and playing good at the end, you'd probably have a shot, if it was next year."

On the injuries this season...
"You can't control injuries, and I don't really try to assess it other than who's left and what they can do and what gives us our best chance of winning. That's what I try to focus on from a pure football and strategy point-of-view. The personal part of it is that you feel for your players. As they're rehabbing, you want them to still feel a part of the team and not feel like just because they're not producing that they're not as important as they used to be. They really are to us, but sometimes it's hard for that guy to feel that way because he's not producing. It's a production business."


TB Brendan Douglas
On how surprised he is at the playing time he's had...
"I didn't think I would be playing as much as I've been. I guess you could say it's been a surprise. The coaches have done a great job to get me and J.J. ready to go when our name's are called, and I give it up to the coaching staff for getting us ready to go."

On how happy he is with his performance so far...
"I came in hoping to play a little bit at least, but of course I didn't think I'd be playing this much without the injuries. Like I said, the coaching staff, you've got to give credit to them for getting us ready to play."

On his relationship with J.J. Green...
"We're kind of on the same path right now. We've got a good connection going on between us two, teaching each other the offense as we go, and it's been good."

QB Aaron Murray
On the Georgia defense...
"I think they are doing fine. You can definitely see improvement every week. You see guys stepping up on the defensive line, at linebacker, at DB. Guys like Shaq [Wiggins], who played a great game last week. Guys are getting more comfortable out there, they are getting more experience. It's the second half of the year, it starts like a new season, and I'm looking forward to seeing them continue to get better."

On the team's goals following the loss to Missouri...
"Our first goal is to get to Atlanta. That's the number one thing, and whatever happens after that happens. Right now that goal is still attainable. We feel like if we take care of business and we win the rest of our games, Missouri has a very tough schedule left, then who knows what happens. They might win all their games, or they might lose a couple and give us a shot. We just have to take care of business and we can't lose anymore. Hopefully we will be back in Atlanta."

TB J.J. Green
On teammate Brendan Douglas...
"Brendan came in and we were like, who is this big, buff, white kid playing running back. You look at him and you'd be like there's nobody who is going to be able to tackle him. Every time he runs the ball he runs hard, and that takes a toll on the defense. Sometimes defenders will turn that down. If it's one on one they won't try and tackle him. They might try and push him out of bounds but they won't tackle him."

On his relationship with Douglas...
"Me and Brendan are real close. Almost everything outside of football we do together, and everything with football we're together, so it's been a pretty nice ride to get to meet someone new."

S Connor Norman
On what the defense needs to key in on against Vanderbilt...
"We obviously all know about Jordan Matthews who is a great receiver, but they also have a couple of other guys on the perimeter who are good receivers, and backs that can come out of the backfield too. Really, it's going to be all about our assignments and executing what's called."

On how matching up against Missouri's receivers has helped in preparing for Vanderbilt...
"They have some height on the perimeter and I think playing the ball better is going to be a big part of it. Our guys are just going to need to be confident in their ability [to match up with the receivers] because they are good enough to play against them. We just need to be confident in what we can do."

On creating more turnovers...
"I don't know if there is a special formula to creating turnovers, but we need more turnovers obviously. I think it's just, obviously, executing. Then it's also guys that are second in on the tackle and just being aware of the situation. Turnovers are huge and we need them. They're game changers so that's definitely something that's in the back of our minds."

DL Garrison Smith
On if he is pleased with the play of the defensive front thus far...
"I'm definitely happy. I'm glad that we're doing pretty decent considering that this is a very young defense, but I'm not satisfied. I think there is plenty of room for improvement and we have to keep getting better."

On the defensive front coming together and being the strength of the defense...
"We're just executing and doing what the coaches tell us to do. Everybody is doing their job and we're working together to create opportunities for each other, and for players to get sacks and things like that. It's just teamwork and working together and communicating."

On the play of DE Ray Drew this year...
"He's just getting after it. He's trying to get sacks and it's working. He's pretty good. I'm happy for him and I'm glad that he's finally doing well and playing well. I'm just happy for the guy."

On improving on their third down defense...
"We just have to get more pressure on the quarterback. We need to get back there faster and take some of the pressure off of the DBs. Like I say, the whole defense has to work together to make each other better. We have to do a lot to help the secondary. It's that sort of thing. We all just have to do our job."

 

Shop here for Bulldogs gear

SHOP NOW

At the Official Online Store

    Auctions
    Twitter Facebook Instagram Google