Richt, Bulldogs Preview The Florida Game

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Oct. 29, 2013

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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...
"Both teams are a lot alike this year. Both teams are 4-3 and both of us have two losses in league play. Both of us lost a game out of conference and then lost the last two games. Both teams have had a lot of injury issues and both are fighting to try to stay in the race for the East. There are a lot of similarities in that regard.

"Coach (Will) Muschamp has done a very good job there at Florida. He's a guy we know is a former player at Georgia and someone I have gotten to know over the years. I have a lot of respect for him and what he does."

"They are very good on special teams, they've been tremendous on defense and offensively they are kind of a smash mouth team that will take their shots on you. They are just a very good football team. We are looking forward to going to Jacksonville. I'm not quite sure what the weather holds. As of right now it's supposed to be rainy and windy, so we'll see how that affects the game if that happens."

On Leonard Floyd...
"Leonard as a true freshman has come in and played extremely well. He's played mostly outside linebacker and made most of his plays as a rusher, but he's played out in the flat a little bit. He's been a guy that we'll drop in to coverage from time to time. He's a pretty good blitzer as an inside backer from time to time. He's doing very well. I'm pleased with him."

On special teams...
"We've been competing at the snapping position. I would say (Nathan) Theus is going to be the extra point and field goal guy, but him and (Trent) Frix have been competing every day. We've got some drills that we're doing that we're charting off to the side, but most of our thoughts are on the live drills. We're judging it all. We'll make a decision not necessarily based 100 percent on the stats but on a combination of the stats and our gut."

On Michael Bennett...
"(Michael) Bennett did scout team work yesterday, which is what we had planned for him. I doubt he does anything with scout team work again today, and then the next two days are nothing but scout team work. He's running full speed, making cuts, catching balls and doing all of that."

On the emotional uplift for the team after Missouri lost to South Carolina...
"I think everybody got a good little bit of juice from that. It makes us feel that there's still hope to win the SEC East, and that's what we want to do. It's what we're hoping to do. This game is obviously important, no matter what the situation is, but we still feel like we're in the race for the East, so it makes it a little bit more meaningful to everybody. I think it makes it a little bit easier to practice and get after it."

On not throwing the ball deep during the Vanderbilt game...
"I would say that if we had to play the game again, we'd have taken a couple shots downfield. Whether you complete it or not, it's just good to do."

On Todd Gurley's status...
"After yesterday, I'm convinced (that he's going to play against Florida). He's a great player. He's a guy that usually if you block for zero yards, he gets about two or three. If you block for three or four, he gets about seven or eight. If you block it just right, anything can happen. He's a very good pass protector, and he's improved a lot on route running and ball catching. He's a complete back, and he's a dynamic player really. Hopefully he's 100 percent and we can get him some space to see what he can do."

On available receivers for this game...
"I'll have to look at the depth chart. Rhett McGowan is going to play. Kenny Towns will be available to play. I wouldn't bet on Chris Conley right now, as far as being able to play. He wants to play, and we're hoping he can play. We're not planning on him playing, but we're hoping he can play. (Rantavious) Wooten will play, I think, and Reggie Davis will play. (Jonathon) Rumph will be healthy, and Michael Bennett we just mentioned. Also, (Michael) Erdman - Erdman is ready."

On the team's mindset following Missouri's loss to South Carolina...
"Our guys are excited about playing Florida. If you can't get excited about playing Florida in that venue, you shouldn't be a Bulldog. Period. I think we all understand that. I think everybody is going to get their blood pumping for that. Usually that happens a little closer to game time, and when you have an open date, you have a bunch of practices. Even this week, it's going to be kind of a long week since we haven't played a game in awhile. When you see that a team ahead of you drops one game, it gives you hope that there's still a shot. I think we still have three or four more SEC games, and anything can happen. Obviously we have to do our part, and I know Florida's thinking the very same thing. I think both of us, like I said early on, are just fighting like mad to stay in the race. With another loss, I don't know if mathematically or not it knocks us out, but it'd be pretty tough."

On Malcolm Mitchell's recovery and rehab process...
"He comes to practice every day and goes to meetings every day. Our injured players go to meetings each day with their position coaches, and then the position coach decides on a daily basis when he wants him at practice and when he might want him to just rehab. Sometimes he's better served to rehab than standing out on crutches watching a game that he can't play in. At the end of every practice, everyone is gathering up. We make sure we see everybody and that they hear all of the announcements. I'll run into all the guys from time to time because I've been doing some of my rehab, but Malcolm really has very good spirits right now. He's not moping around. He's working hard, and he feels like he's ahead of schedule. He's been a good encouragement to some of the other guys. Reggie Wilkerson tore his ACL this summer, and he was here in the spring, so Malcolm's been able to help him out a little bit. There are other guys, of course, going through it, but spirits are good. I'm excited about him getting back."

On the difficulties of evaluating Florida on film after a series of injuries to the team...
"You have to look at film from more recent games, and even last week, I think Florida had three guys that didn't play - Damien Jacobs, Ronald Powell and Darrin Kitchens. I think Kitchens is doubtful and the other two are questionable, so you're really not sure. When you're looking at personnel, you've got to find the games that these guys have played and see what they like to do. Some things have changed because of certain injuries, and it's put people in different positions, too. You just have to try to keep track of that."

On the years where Florida was winning the majority of the games in the series...
"I think you just have to plan the best that you can and practice the best that you can. You just have to get after it the best that you can. You have to try to win the turnover battle. That's number one, and we kind of go from there. Everybody has their way of doing things. If I was an expert at it, everybody would be asking me what to do, but we'd have a better record against Florida, too."

On not being able to win the National Championship at this point...
"The only goal that we've had to adjust is not winning a National Championship. That's the only thing. I've said this for years, but this league is so good in my opinion, and I think everybody's fans know how good the league is. If you can win the league, it's not a good year - it's a great year. It's a great accomplishment. Winning the East is good, but winning the SEC is great. If you happen to win the National Championship, that's unbelievable. That's really the only thing we've kind of put aside is a shot at the National Championship."

On what he remembers about recruiting Kelvin Taylor's father, Fred, to Florida State...
"He was a really dynamic player. I remember he kind of said, `Hey, save a spot, I'm coming.' I don't know when that was, but it was pretty late in the game. The last weekend at the very end, they were just going to go hang out at Florida and see what was up. That was one of my first experiences with that, and then Sunday night I couldn't find them. We might have spoken. What can you do?"

On Florida and Georgia recruiting a majority of the same players...
"Somebody said that we had about 20 Florida guys on our team, and they have 19 Georgia guys on their team. That's going to happen. They've got too many players in their state, as far as they have more than they can gather up, and we're the same way in our state. Obviously guys are going to cross those boundaries and there are a lot of different factors that go into it. A lot of it has to do with playing time or what they grew up thinking. There are so many things, and there's a lot of those battles every year."

On Tray Matthews...
"I think right now Tray would be a bonus for us if he can, in fact, go full speed. I'm not saying that he wouldn't play, but I'm just saying that we're still planning without him, but he is getting some reps. The more he shows that we can do it, the better shot that he'll have at playing in the game."

On Reggie Carter...
"Reggie, I think, is having surgery today just to see what they've got. We don't know for certain, but we think it's a cartilage issue. (With him potentially out), we have Tim Kimbrough and Johnny O'Neal. Those are the next guys in line. They're tough thumpers. They're really good run-stopping guys, and they're helping us on special teams. I think they'll be pretty good linebackers in the future. Are they really ready to play 70, 80 or 90 percent of the snaps if something happened to the other guys? It'd be tough on them, but that's who will go in if something happens."

On Will Muschamp...
"Florida's going to play great defense and great special teams. Their offense is going to pound the football. They want to control the clock and win the turnover battle. That type of attitude is what I've seen coming into those games."

On quarterback Aaron Murray...
"He handles everything great. He just works hard every day and tries to find a way to get better. He really does. On Friday morning, I'm in the office, and I see him and Faton (Bauta) our there doing footwork and drill work. I went over the rail and told them to get out of here and relax, but he said that there are no days off. That's how he is. He's wired that way. Every single day, he wants to try to find a way to get better. He's not feeling sorry for himself, or anything like that. I think he's still very happy that he's here with us, and he wants to finish strong." 


ILB Amarlo Herrera
On if Missouri's loss gave the team a lift...
"I think it definitely helped a little and gave us some more hope, but I always had hope. We still have to do what we have to do and go out there and take care of our business."

On Florida's offense...
"I think they're a good offense. They have a lot of speed and a lot of skilled guys. They have a great quarterback that's stepped in as a backup and he's playing good ball. [QB Tyler Murphy] is athletic and he can make plays with his legs and he can make plays on the run."

On the play of LB Ramik Wilson this year...
"I've been around Ramik for a long time so I know him pretty well. He's a hard working guy and he's been making plays out there. I think he's surprised a lot of people with his athletic ability because he hasn't really been playing a whole lot until this year."

On what has helped Georgia overcome Florida in the past years...
"Win. We go out there and play hard and we've been able to win. I wasn't here when they were beating us so I couldn't say if it was a mental thing. We just look at them as another SEC team, but it is a rivalry game so it is a big one."

SE Rhett McGowan
On the expected return of TB Todd Gurley...
"It's huge to have him back because of his experience, his confidence, and his ability. He is, in my opinion, the best running back in the country and he's a game changer."

On how much pressure Gurley takes off the passing game...
"He takes a lot of pressure off. Having him in the backfield, the defense has to honor that, and it opens up ways for Murray and us to make plays in the secondary so it's huge to have him back."

On the Missouri loss to South Carolina...
"My eyes were glued to the TV last weekend and that was an exciting day. I felt like we had just won a game. It gives us hope. We still need a little help, but it was exciting."

K Marshall Morgan
On the advice he would give younger players heading into this game...
"The fan factor is even on both sides. It's a different atmosphere, but it's kind of like any other game they've played."

On Missouri's kicker missing the short kick against South Carolina...
"Kicking is a hero or zero. The week before he had a huge game, but last game he had a little struggle there. I would never want another kicker to miss a field goal, but I'm glad that one gives us a chance now."

QB Aaron Murray
On Missouri's loss to South Carolina...
"I'm sure everyone in this state was watching that game hoping that South Carolina would pull it off and they did. So it was a great feeling to know that we are still alive. Obviously we need them to lose a couple more, but the most important thing is we have to take care of business. We can't lose anymore. We have to go in each week really focused, determined, and ready for a battle."

On the importance of the series history between Georgia and Florida...
"We just have to go out there and play ball and have fun. You can't be worried about whether you've lost this many in a row, or won this many in a row, because every year is different. It's a new team, new players, and new circumstances when it comes to injuries or how the season is going for each team, so we just have to go out there, play ball, and have fun.

S Connor Norman
On being named one of the team captains...
"It's definitely an honor to be named a captain. You want to play well and be a leader out there and keep everybody focused on what needs to be done."

On how he views the Florida rivalry...
"It is a special week. This is always a fun game and it's fun to play a great team like Florida in the atmosphere down there. It's just another football game though. We have to continue to get better and win games. You can't get caught up in the whole atmosphere of it though; because once the ball gets kicked off it's just another football game. It's very impressive down there. I think it's just a cool thing for the players of Georgia, Florida, and the fans to get to experience something like that. It's split down the middle and it's such an electric atmosphere. It's about as close to the SEC Championship as you can get with the atmosphere like that."

On if Missouri's loss gave the team a lift...
"I definitely think it did. Missouri controls their own destiny still, so all we can really keep on doing is just get better and win games."

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