Richt, Bulldogs Preview Capital One Bowl
Coach Mark Richt

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More Video: Wednesday's Football Practice Report

Dec. 12, 2012

ATHENS-----Georgia head coach Mark Richt and a delegation of players met with the media Wednesday during the Bulldogs' Capital One Bowl press luncheon. They offered the following comments:

Head Coach Mark Richt
Opening Statement...

"I had a brief press conference in Orlando and got a chance to meet Bo Pelini, Nebraska's head coach. We were just kind of sharing the things that head coaches share about that time of year, all the recruiting things that are going on and managing practice and classes and final exams. I had a really good visit with him. I was born in Nebraska and I was a Nebraska fan. I was a Nebraska Cornhusker fan until high school when I started getting opportunities to go visit schools. Of course I became a Miami Hurricane out of high school. I've known about Big Red for a long time. It's been engrained in my family. My mom and dad were born in Nebraska, and all of their families are from there. All of my siblings except one were born in Nebraska, so I've got a lot of ties there. To be able to play them is exciting for me on a personal note.

"Nebraska is a team that won their division, just like we did. They were 7-1 in league play; we were 7-1 in league play. Their losses were to the Pac-12 runner-up, an undefeated Ohio State team and to Wisconsin - a team they actually beat in the regular season. They beat them one time and lost to them one time. That's it. Right before the championship game they had won nine out of 10 games and really had been playing extremely well.

"They're a veteran football team. Aside from the two wide receivers listed as starters, everybody is a junior or senior. Defensively there are eight seniors and three juniors. Offensively it's a little bit more of a mix. It's a very veteran football team, a team I'm sure with a lot of good leadership and a lot of pride, very similar to ours as well."

"I know that it's kind of hard to get things going again. Today is the first practice back in a while. You get out of that mode of every single week having a job to do and having every minute of your day planned out. Coaches are out on the road recruiting. Players have been studying for final exams. Some guys' exams might have ended early and they might have found time to go home. There are a lot of things that are a change of the routine, now we have to get back in the routine. We're going to have 10 bowl practices here. Starting today we'll go 10 consecutive days. We'll let them go on the 21st after a morning practice, and we'll report back to Orlando the day after Christmas. We'll have a practice that night. We'll have five practices there and 10 practices here to get 15. 

"The great majority of our bowl practices have always been based on game planning our opponent and practicing the plan. We will take some time at the end of a lot of our practices - maybe half of our practices at least here - to scrimmage some of the younger guys and the guys who aren't getting as much work. We'll get a little bit of that, but it's not like a full-blown spring practice for us. It's getting ready for the opponent and doing everything we can do to try to secure the victory and play the best we can possibly play and send our seniors off with the greatest experience possible, and also try to build that momentum for the future. It's a unique game in that you're finishing with one group and you're starting a new year. It's actually on New Year's Day, so there's a lot of truth to it being the beginning of next year as far as our season is concerned. That's kind of what we're working on. Our coordinators have done a good job of preparing a plan. Not every bit of it is knocked out, but we have enough to start working on that will be valuable, so we're not just out there practicing for the heck of it. We'll be installing some things on day one."

On the  emotional state of the team entering bowl practice...
"I haven't been around them much lately. We did have a big team meeting the Monday after the (Alabama) game, and we talked about all those kinds of things and talked about what was going to happen in the future. We knew at that point where we were going and who we were playing. We talked about the logistical plan and talked a little bit about Nebraska. I think most of them understand that you can't turn the clock back. We fought hard, we had a great plan, we did what we could do that day. We just couldn't get it done. We didn't do enough to get it done, but everybody knows that you have to move on. There are still things that are worth playing for. Number one we get to play another football game. I think our guys enjoy playing football, so I think that in itself is going to be enough motivation. I think landing where we landed as far as the Capital One Bowl, being in Orlando in a warm weather climate, knowing we were going to play on Jan. 1 against an outstanding football team - I think all those things have been positive. I will be challenging our leadership to finish better than we did a year ago and to solidify the job that they've done, because I think they've done an outstanding job to this point. I think they need to put an exclamation point on it or at least finish strong in a manner worthy of the way they led the entire offseason from January until now. That will be a big part of it.  I'll be talking a lot to the younger guys - the guys who know they are going to be coming back - to honor those guys the way they play. Bowl games tend to shape people's opinion of your team and your program. There is a lot of that we'll be talking about as well."

On watching film of the Alabama game...
"It might have been Monday when I watched the film. I watched the coaches' copy and TV copy and saw some things that were obvious to people and some things that might have happened in the middle of the game on second down that could've changed. Alabama could look at the film too and say if this would've happened or that would've happened we would've done even better. That's every game." 

On the attitude of the Georgia people following the SEC Championship Game...
"Everything has been extremely positive. I think the Georgia people, the recruits, our own players - no one likes to lose, but I think everybody felt like we were there in the game that meant everything. Not many people were in a game like that. There were three teams left and we were one of them. We played a great football team and played a great game. I'd say the same thing I said after the game. I was extremely disappointed in the outcome of the game, but not disappointed one bit in our players and coaches and how we battled." 

On whether he would have done anything different in the final 15 seconds against Alabama...
"No. When you no-huddle you go with tempo. You want to go with pace. That's what we've been doing all year long. Part of going no-huddle is when you have the defense on the run you snap the ball again. You don't need to stop play. Play was stopped because we had a first down. With 15 seconds, strategically if you are able to call a play and it's incomplete you have time for two more plays. You can run three plays. You want to give yourself as many opportunities as you can. If you clock the ball you probably only get two shots, and hopefully you only need one. If we had clocked the ball we would have called the same play. It was the play that we wanted to call. The problem was the ball got tipped and landed in play. It was not intended for Chris Conley, or at least to us it wasn't intended for him. When a guy runs a fade and a guy runs a speed out, if it's zone coverage cornerbacks are taught not to go to the back of the end zone. They are only going to go so far. If you put a guy in front of him and a guy behind him you kind of put a stretch on him, so you're trying to throw the ball to what looks like might be the shorter guy, and he freezes and the ball goes over the top. That's if it's zone. If the QB thinks it's man coverage, then you are going to throw the best ball to the receiver. In this case, Murray didn't feel like we ran by him. He felt like it was more of an even race, and that's when we throw those back-shoulder throws. Because he threw a back-shoulder throw it was a lower trajectory throw, which is why the ball was able to get batted. If he thought the receiver had beaten him and was going to throw it more over the top, that ball would have probably not been batted. You throw the ball according to what you see. Murray did right. It was more of a tight coverage. We throw the heck out of that back shoulder throw. Even the catch that (Tavarres King) had on third-and-one - that was a back shoulder throw. Watch the last two seasons. He's as good at doing that as anybody. That's what he was doing. If you run a system when you are used to going fast, it's no big deal to just call the next play. It's what we do. If we spike it, strategically you give them time to gather up and get their senses and get their calls in.

"That's how close games are sometimes. I'll go all the way back in time with clock management. We had that Auburn game years ago where we didn't manage the clock well, and that offseason we go see Homer Smith. Homer Smith - if you read his stuff - Homer is not going to clock the ball. He says clocking the ball is for people who don't have a plan. If you're prepared and you've moved the chains, the clock is stopped and you've got the play that you like, then call it. Because if you call it you have a greater chance of getting three plays compared to clocking it and probably only get two plays. That was part of the issue in the Auburn game. We ran a play and could've scored, but if we had thrown the ball and incompleted it I could have given our team two chances. That was the issue; coach didn't give us enough opportunities to score. In this game it was a matter of two plays or trying to get three plays. Making that a part of what we've done that last 10 or 11 years as far as a two-minute drill. Then also once we went to no-huddle it's not a big deal for us to go to the line and snap the ball. It's what we do.

On practicing end-of-game plays...
"We do it two ways. One way is that we go against the defense. We'll call it a situation. 60 yards to go, one minute, one time out, and a field goal wins it, and you just play. You play it out. Whatever happens, happens. You just react to what happens in the practice itself. There are other times that you'll script what you do against your scout team. If we have a first down and the clock is stopped, and we're lined up ready to go, you can snap and spike it or you can snap and call a play. As we're hustling down to the ball, the play was called. It's exactly what we would have called if we had spiked it. It was the same call. The problem was that the ball got tipped and they caught it in play. Do you want to throw it to a guy in play? No. Murray wasn't throwing it to the guy in play. He was trying to throw a back-shoulder ball because it was man coverage. The other thing is why even have a receiver in play? Well, like I said, if it's zone coverage, it will affect their cornerback. It was tight coverage, and that's when you throw on the back shoulder."

On Malcolm Mitchell's positioning during the final play against Alabama...
"He's just trying to get off the jam and trying to get deep. Sometimes you beat them off the jam. To us offensively, there is no shut-down corners. There's no coverage that if the ball is placed properly, the guy can win. If the guy does a good job on the jam and doesn't get beat deep, than he's more vulnerable to the back-shoulder throw. If he's lagging for that or trying to be a hero, than he can get run by, so the quarterback has to recognize the coverage and throw the ball according to what he sees."

On the possibility of Murray rolling out on the last play against Alabama...
"The play is not designed for Murray to roll out. It was a pocket pass - a quick passing game. You throw it where hopefully we catch it for a touchdown or if it's incomplete, you've got two more plays. So you don't want to complete it to anybody in play, but that play is not designed to go to that guy. That guy is basically a decoy in a zone coverage to try to get the corner to bite the cheese a little bit, so to speak. In man coverage, he's not in play at all because the ball is going either over the top fade or a back-shoulder throw."

On Chris Conley's catch in the final seconds of the Alabama game...
'"For every receiver, his reaction would obviously be to catch the ball. A wide receiver catches the ball. That's his nature. For any wide receiver, if that ball hits in front of his face, he's going to go get it and go catch it."  

On the linebacker rotation against Nebraska...
"I don't know how we're going to line it up. Normally, Amarlo (Herrera) and (Michael) Gilliard are more apt to play in more of your base defensive looks, and Christian Robinson gets more opportunities in more nickel type situations, so I guess it'll be something like that. (Alec) Ogletree is pretty much in there the whole time."

On the challenges of stopping Alabama's run game...
"Some of it was just wrapping them up better. I told them, "You're not going to be able to knock these guys down. You might knock them down a time or two, but if your goal is to knock them down, you're not going to knock them down. You're going to get embarrassed. You've got to wrap up and run your feet until you get them on the ground." Sometimes it might get ugly, but you have to be able to do that. Really the goal is not to provide a whole lot of space to begin with to get it going. It's just like our backs. If you give them a little bit of space and a little momentum, it's tough for one man to bring them down. But that's just football, and that's defense. We had a couple times where we could have made some stops I think if we just wrapped up better."

On Abry Jones...
"I know his intention is to rehab and get ready to play. He was making progress towards that goal. Do I know whether he'll be ready to or not? I don't know that. We've not counted him out by any means for this bowl." 

On the team's mentality about the Capital One Bowl...
"In some ways I appreciate the media saying Georgia got this or Georgia got that, as far as they didn't get what they deserved and they should be a BCS team and all that kind of thing, but the bottom line is only two per conference can go. Is Florida deserving of an opportunity? I think they are. I think we are, and LSU might be, and South Carolina might b e as well. Do we have teams that are good enough to play in BCS bowls? Yes, but the rules say that only two teams can go. I understand the deal, and that's just kind of the way it is. But I think we landed in a tremendous place. The Capital One is a great bowl, and Nebraska is a great football program."

On whether or not other schools have contacted him about his assistant coaches...
"I think our coaches are worthy of that, and I think our coaches have obviously been courted, but no one has called me. Have I been contacted? No. I've not had one call." 

WR Tavarres King
On his legacy at UGA...
"I think the class before me, and my class, we've changed the culture a little bit here. We've gotten Georgia back to a place where you expect to win. That's satisfying - the way Georgia used to be thought of is back. People knew they were playing Georgia and they had to buckle down, and I think that is back."

On his career...
"I've progressed every year and gotten better, that's because of Coach Bobo and Coach Ball. They coached me, and put me in the position to succeed, and I can't thank them enough for that. I will work on continuing to get better, learning and growing as a football player."

On getting to play in the Senior Bowl...
"It's exciting. I'm looking forward to it. To me it's one of the most prestigious all-star games to get chosen for, and it's a chance for me to showcase my talents, get out there and make a name for myself."

On being ready for the Capital One Bowl...
"We will have to be. Any time you put on the pads and helmets and wear that G, we're coming to play. We'll be excited and we'll go out there and compete to get this bowl win."

FLK Chris Conley
On his progress this year...
"I feel like now I can say I can play in this league. When I came here I knew about the tradition and all the talent, and I wanted to be able to add to that. I think now I know I can, and I want to continue that."

On the Capital One Bowl...
"I feel like I, personally, have been given more opportunities as the season has progressed, the coaches trust me, and I'm thankful. I feel good about this game and as we head into bowl practice, we'll get back to fundamentals and play the best game we can."

LB Christian Robinson
On what the bowl game means to the team...
"I think it's just another opportunity for us to show that we can finish the season. We haven't won a bowl game in three years, so I think that if we can do that and go out on the right note and prove that this team is different and win 12 games then that would be a great accomplishment for us."

On how the bowl game effects the offseason...
"Depending on how the bowl game goes, if you finish a close one then it is motivation and going out on a good note is very positive for the younger guys. They get to experience winning a big game like that. This season, the way we finish will determine how next season goes because guys will learn from this senior class as they move forward."

On finishing this season on a high note...
"We want to be a team that finished, we don't want to be a great team that just gave up and laid down because their ultimate goal didn't happen. We were five yards from being somewhere else but we don't want to show that we weren't worthy of it by not finishing."

DL John Jenkins
On what has Georgia has accomplished during his two seasons with the team...
"When I got here, the program was a little different. It wasn't the program that we see today but at the same time we all felt that we were going to do whatever we could to turn this program around. That was my job for two years and now we get to leave here having accomplished a lot. If we win the bowl game then we've won 22 games in two years, which hasn't been done in a long time. From three years ago to now, there's been a huge turnaround."

On the future of the defensive line...
"I see good things for the line. A lot of people don't know about the guys we have coming in and the guys we already have. Ray Drew is a great player; we've seen a lot of great things potentially from him during the season. We've got Jonathan Taylor; he's going to be a massive guy and someone to look out for. We've got Sterling Bailey; he's an athlete. We have Garrison Smith who's going to lead them next year and we have two new guys coming in that are supposed to be great guys. You can't count the line out yet because we are going to have a lot of leadership around next season."



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