Richt, Bulldogs Preview Florida

More Video: Player Interviews

Oct. 25, 2011

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...
"Coach (Will) Muschamp has a very outstanding team in my opinion. I know they've lost the last three, but they've played three ranked teams, and two of them are dominating everybody that they play. I think there is a perception that Georgia is on a roll and Florida is struggling, but if you flip those schedules I'm not sure it wouldn't be a whole lot different story for us and for them as far as winning. They are a very talented team as always, very fast team. That's the one thing that sticks out more than anything is just the team speed, offense, defense, special teams. We have issues to deal with in that regard."

On what he will say to Aaron Murray about last year's game against Florida...
"I think the less said the better. We're trying to focus real hard on not the fact that it's in Jacksonville, not the fact that it's even Florida. We're looking at the team we're playing as far as their personnel, their scheme. If you are a quarterback, what's really important? It's not important if it's your hometown, it's not important if it's in Jacksonville. It's important to know if there is enough crowd noise that you are going to have to deal with that. It's important to know what jersey numbers they wear and what positions they play and what types of tendencies they have in the red zone or third down. Those are the things we are focusing on, not so much that it's Florida, not so much that it's his home state team. I want him to focus on what's going to help him win when the ball is snapped. That's where our conversations are going."

On the status of WR Malcolm Mitchell...
"He didn't do well yesterday. He practiced for about five minutes."

On whether Aaron Murray's emotions affected his performance against Florida in 2010...
"I think it has a lot more to do with the fact that they played well. That first pick of the game, the guy breaks on the ball and makes the play. I don't think it had anything to do with emotions. I think Murray threw the ball to the right guy on time, and he jumped it. He did a great job. I think it's more of an execution issue, really."

On Georgia's defense preparing for three different quarterbacks...
"We're trying to study what each guy does when he's in the game. There is not a huge difference among the three guys. They might be doing a little bit less without (John) Brantley. (Jeff) Driskel seems to be the guy who is more apt to run, although I don't think they are building a quarterback run game with Driskel. If anybody else is back there we'll consider that a wildcat look, and we have to look at the tendencies of what they do when somebody else besides a traditional quarterback is back there like we do most games. Most everybody has a package like that. I don't think they are drastically different in style. They are certainly different in experience, but we do have film of every one of them. We have a rough idea of what to expect from each guy. Now you have two weeks. Who knows who you'll see or what you'll see?"

On Georgia's defense...
"The first role of everybody is to still play stout against the run. We've got to not let the run game get away from us. If we do we are in trouble in any ballgame, so we have to play strong against that. If we do get into some situations that look like passing downs situations, we'd love to have pressure without blitzing. If you can rush four and squeeze the pocket a little bit or cause the quarterback to thrown it sooner that he wants to, it helps you coverage a lot. That's what Cornelius (Washington) was doing there, especially in the last couple of games before his suspension. I hope he comes back with the same kind of energy. He was playing harder and faster than I've seen him his whole career. I'm very proud of that and I hope he gets back to doing that."

On Alec Ogletree...
"I think Alec, just in yesterday's practice, looked fast, looked quick. He didn't look very rusty to me. I'm sure there will be some rust on him once we get in the game, but he looked good. I think he has total confidence in the healing of his foot."

On how Georgia addressed its special teams during the bye week...
"We looked at our scheme again, we looked at our personnel again. Let's say you make a mistake in any phase of the game, you can go and correct that mistake, but if you go and correct that mistake based on what happened last week, it may not be what you see this week. So if you spend too much time correcting the mistake from a week ago, you really aren't preparing for that's going to happen this week. We didn't try to go too crazy about it, but we know we have to get better. I think a lot of it has to do with challenging those units to do exactly what the coaches tell them to do. That's been at least 50 percent of the issue."

On Georgia's special teams personnel...
"Every time guys get healthy, that does give you more depth in your special teams. Not to say (Alec) Ogletree couldn't run down and cover a kick too. I wouldn't be surprised to see more of that. Even Shawn Williams, as that Vanderbilt game was going on and he knew what was at stake every time the ball was being kicked, he was personally taking younger guys off the team and putting himself on the team to help us win, so I wouldn't be shocked to see that."

On the effect Blair Walsh's season has had on him...
"As a head coach, it really hasn't phased me. I'm sad for him that he has struggled and maybe didn't have the type of season statistically that he had hoped he'd have at this point. But I really do have full confidence in him. I'm not going to go into this game saying I'm not going to attempt that 52-yarder or 47-yarder. I'll have the same mindset with him that I had in game one in regard to that. I know how hard he has prepared, and I know how good he is. When it's your senior year and you're wanting great things to happen and he knows it is a team sport, but he also knew he had a really good shot at some national awards at that position. Those things are not very likely now but he still wants to help Georgia win and finish strong, and I believe he will."

On how the off week has helped Isaiah Crowell...
"I think Isaiah is healthy right now. Until you get in the game and start taking shots I don't know if that wrist injury is 100-percent healed, but I'm hoping by time we get there it will be like game one for him in regard to that injury."

On how much of Crowell's battle with the injury is a mental thing...
"I think it is part of the learning process. In our league, anywhere in college or in the NFL, there's time where you'll run the ball and there's some space and you can do great things on those plays. But there's a lot of plays where the blocking is in place but you're not getting a tremendous amount of movement where everybody is stood upright and maybe all you need is one guy to hit the pile and push it through and all of a sudden break out of there or get two or three yards after contact. Sometimes it just flat out stinks and you get hit in the backfield. That's not much fun either, but you got to get used to that. I think all young backs, especially high school backs, could dominate people who couldn't hardly tackle them and they could start one way and turn around and go the other way and no one could pursue them and chase them down. It just doesn't happen anymore in their careers and they got to learn to deal with that. I think Isaiah as well as all young backs are learning that."

On if he is to a point where he is considering a redshirt year for Rantavious Wooten...
"I suppose Wooten could be redshirted at this point. We've been hoping that things would turn. He's still on the injury report. I ask every day how he's doing. I'm asking about symptoms. When you hear 'not much of a change,' 'not much of a change' long enough you realize that this thing was a little more serious than we thought. It's still week-to-week in my mind though. There's still a lot of football to be played, a lot of very meaningful games to be played, so I'm not counting him out right now."

On if there is any awkwardness preparing for Florida with two players out the first half...
"With Kwame (Geathers) and Shawn (Williams) being out the first half as far as nose guard goes we know we got big (John) Jenkins and we also play enough nickel stuff where those guys might not even be in there. I think that's the easier personnel thing to handle. With Shawn it's a little trickier. How are you going to play it the first half? Are you going to double train some guys? How are you going to fill that spot? I know how we are going to do it. I'm not going to say how we are going to do it, but that one a little bit more tricky to find the answer for on how to handle that first half." 

On if it is harder knowing those players will be back in the second half instead of out for the whole game...
"We are glad we are getting them both back in the second half I can tell you that. I think the challenge to the players would be that whoever plays in their place to step up and take care of business. That way when those guys get back we are still in position to win the football game. As coaches when you know a guy is out the entire game I think it simplifies the decisions that you have to make, but I wouldn't trade it for getting them back in the second half."


On if he believes that to former Georgia player and now Florida head coach Will Muschamp that this game does not mean more to him than any other games...
"He won't know until the game is played in my opinion. He has experience coaching against Georgia, so he's used to that. He's just not done it as a head coach, so I'm sure there might be some different emotions as maybe a coordinator, I don't know. The first time I did it I was just a couple years out of leaving Miami. I was a young graduate assistant coach, and I still had teammates that I played with and most of the staff that coached me was still there. It was very emotional. When I came to Georgia and coached against Florida State I knew at least 50-percent of the players and just about 90-percent of the staff. Now, it is far removed for him. He hasn't really coached or played with hardly anybody on our staff, so I think I can buy into what he is saying." 

On going week-to-week knowing that a loss would be set back after getting on a winning streak...
"Our focus is the Eastern Division. That's all we really have been thinking about, talking about and aspiring to win. We know this game could set us back but it wouldn't bury us. With the way things are happening in our league it doesn't count us out. We know if we win it, it doesn't count us in. It's important and it's huge and we know we are in much better shape if we win the game, but there's no guarantees either way win or lose."

On if preparing for Florida has evolved through the years...
"We've tried different things. I know one year or two years, and one year in particular that I can remember we had a team meeting every day in the off week bringing in somebody that played for Georgia or coached for Georgia that had success and let them talk to the group. I can't remember when we did that. I think we might have done that a couple years and one year we won and one year lost. I think we are much better off focusing on the things that really truly matter, and that's what is your job, what is your assignments, what are you going to do if this happens, what are you going to do if that happens. When we get there, I don't think we are going to have any problems emotions. I don't think we are going to have any problem with guys being excited to play that game. We practice crowd noise, practice schemes, try to get better fundamentally and get after it."

On how he feels about the defense playing good...
"When the defense plays good it helps everybody. I know when I was a play caller when the defense played good it was the offensive coordinator's best friend. Even if you were having a rough day it wasn't as noticeable. Field position, turnovers, points off defense - all those things help your team in general. If you make mistakes offensively with a turnover or a special teams mistake and your defensive can bow their neck and turn it into three points or no points that's huge. I like the fact that our defense is really beginning to become a championship defense. I wouldn't say we are there, but we are getting there."

On if he draws experience for the Georgia-Florida series from going through the Florida State-Miami and Florida State-Florida series...
"Early on when I first came to Florida State there was the Florida issue too. I don't know how many years in a row Florida beat Florida State. We had to get over that hump and then Miami was kind of a nemesis for some stretches three, four and maybe five games. So I've kind of been through it at Florida State trying to get over the hump against Florida and Miami. Usually it takes a game -- rarely to you usually just line up and whip them - usually you have some type of dramatic moment in a game where it turns the tide for you, some type of defining moment that will probably have to happen for us to win this game. We got to play good solid offense, defense and special teams, but there will be a moment of truth or two in there where somebody has got to make a play. Most big plays are relatively ordinary plays that are done at a spectacular time so to speak or a time where it has got to be made. If you throw and catch a slant and take it to the house on the first play of the game, it's a good play. If you are down by four and there's only 15 seconds on the clock and you hit that same play all of a sudden it's a spectacular play. It's a play that defines the game that most people will point to. You have to make those kinds of plays all game long, but you definitely need to make them in the fourth quarter or overtime."


Sanders Commings
On the preparation for this week...
"We have been paying a lot of attention to details this week. We are focusing on the little things because this game is a little more physical. We don't like them and they don't like us. It's a different type of environment in Jacksonville. You look up at the stands and it's half red and half blue. We need to focus on getting the job done and making plays. If we do that we will be successful." 

On the teams focus this week...
"We are paying more attention to this game this year because of the way the SEC East race is shaping up. We're tied for first in the East and we feel like we really have a chance to win the East as long as we do our part. This game is more about that than just the fact that we are playing Florida." 

On playing Florida...
"We need to look at this game as we do any other game on the schedule. Last year we had a chance to win but a couple of plays changed the outcome. If everyone stays within themselves and we play the way we are capable of playing, everything else will take care of itself." 


Mike Gilliard
On Florida's Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey...
"Those guys (UF's Jeff and Chris Rainey) have blazing speed. You have to respect that. We have to take proper angles to get those guys down. We need to make sure we get to the ball and wrap up and make sure those guys are definitely down on the ground." 

On playing through injuries on the team...
"Injuries and things like that are part of football. Hopefully the back ups will go in there and make plays when they have the opportunity. I'm always excited to see some other players step up when they have the chance." 

On learning different positions...
"I never know what's going to happen in the game and where the coaches will need me. I just go out everyday and practice at different positions to make sure that I am ready if they need me to play. My main objective is making plays that will help the team win." 

On being a Bulldog...
"At first it was hard to adjust coming to college and playing with guys that are really talented. It was a mental thing that I had to get through. As soon as I learned the defense, everything slowed down and I was able to make plays. Every freshman goes through a phase where they question whether this is the place for them. I'm happy to be at Georgia and happy to be a part of this team." 

On the role of inside linebacker against Florida...
"Rainey and Demps are speedsters. When they see a hole they can get through it. It's up the our linebackers to get to the ball carrier and take good angles and make sure those guys are down." 


Aaron Murray
On treating the Florida game like just another game...
"I don't know if it's because I'm from Florida or if it's just a big game, but it's a big game. It's one that you circle on your calendar every year. When we're working out in the off-season, we've got the first game, Florida and Georgia Tech circled. There are other games on the calendar, but those the games that get us motivated and pumped up when we're conditioning. It's a great rivalry. I love the atmosphere in the stadium and just being a part of it." 

On last year's game...
"I was definitely very excited. Growing up, I wasn't a big Florida fan, but obviously living in Florida means you are going to watch the Georgia-Florida game. Going from seeing it on TV and then getting in the stadium and being a part of it, I definitely had some jitters. I didn't start off the way I wanted to offensively, but we pushed through and had an unbelievable second half. I've definitely matured and I understand what the environment is going to be like; I think I'll be able to handle it better this year." 

On the offensive struggles in the Red Zone...
"We just have to execute when we're down there. We've had plenty of opportunities to get the ball in the end zone, but we just haven't connected in either the running or the passing game. We've been working on that; just watching a lot of film and figuring out what we need to do in there. It was a great bye week in order to go back and figure out the things we need to work on. That was definitely one of them and I think we figured it out and we're ready to go out there and put more points on the board." 


Chris Burnette
On where the Florida rivalry ranks for him...
"I guess you could say Florida and Georgia Tech are 1A and 1B. I guess which one is a bigger deal depends on who you are. For me, Florida is the biggest rivalry. It's been so one-sided these past 12 years, so hopefully we can go out there and prove ourselves and do well this year."

On really being able to contribute to the O-Line this year...
"It's been encouraging; especially since I didn't really have the opportunity to contribute an do what I came here to do my first two years. Those first two years really gave me patience and the opportunity to grow as a person and as a player. I feel like having the opportunity to help this year is great. We've been doing well the past few weeks and I just pray that we continue to do that and continue to get better." 

On Florida's defensive speed...
"It's definitely going to be a challenge. They have plenty of speed, not only in their secondary but in their defensive front. Those guys are very athletic. I guess people are saying there are a lot of five stars on their defense. They're also young, so hopefully we can take advantage of the lack of experience. Most of the time when you play guys with a lot of speed, you have to get them before they get started. So, if we can catch those guys and block them before they can get a lot of speed going side-to-side I think we'll be able to do well."

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