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Dec. 31, 2012
ORLANDO, Fla. --- Georgia coach Mark Richt participated in a Capital One Bowl press conference on Monday at the Renaissance Hotel in Orlando. Richt discussed Tuesday's bowl game matchup with Nebraska and answered questions on additional topics. Here are excerpts of Richt's press conference.
"We've had a good week. We certainly had a mix of work and fun. I was reading some of Jarvis Jones' comments, and it sounds like he really nailed it. There's the time to focus on the game and focus on the practice. That's what we asked of them. For the 15 practices, we wanted the focus to be 100 percent. We also didn't mind them having the chance to enjoy themselves and doing it the right way. Was what we did good enough? We'll find out tomorrow. But I'm pleased with how it's gone."
On how important it is to end the season with a win:
"This game is very important. We lost the last two bowls, and this is another opportunity to win and finish the season on a high note. On a personal level, after the game, we'll all be in there and I'll talk to the team one last time. You want that last memory to be a good one. That's a big motivating factor. And since we'll be playing in 2013, in some ways it's the beginning of next year too."
On Nebraska's defense:
"Nebraska's defense is very sound in what it does. They do a great job mixing coverages and they don't give you clues pre-snap. If a defense shows too soon, the offense knows. But Nebraska does a good job of disguising as long as they can. They are good, sound tacklers, and they do a lot of things right."
On tackling Nebraska's runners:
"You don't knock good backs down. If that's your way of tackling, they're going to bounce off you more times than not and keep running. You've got to come with pace and attitude and you've got to wrap up. You've got to do a good job of that, especially the first guy there. If the first guy goes for a strip and misses, that guy's still running. That first guy has to be sound, face him up, butt him up and get help from his teammates."
On Nebraska's loss to Wisconsin in the Big 10 Championship Game:
"That was one of those games that got away from them. We had a game like that against South Carolina. They got hot and got momentum, and we never did much to stop that momentum. That's what happened to Nebraska. It just got away from them. Which Nebraska team will we see tomorrow? It's the same with us. If they just studied the South Carolina game, they'd be licking their chops. But we had other performances that were better - and they have as well."
On if not playing for the national championship is a missed opportunity based on how many players Georgia will lose on defense:
"Every year you don't make it is a missed opportunity I think. We'll have very good defensive players sticking around and we have young guys waiting in the wings. I think we'll be a very athletic, fast defense. It's just a matter of how quickly can they play a championship style of defense. That's the big push. Starting this year, we had questions about the offense and people said, `Wow, Georgia could be in trouble.' But we played better than expected. I think the defense can be the same way next year."
On having motivation for the bowl game:
"We have enough veteran guys that know this is the last moment they'll be wearing the red and black. I can't imagine them not playing with great effort. Will they play a great game? I don't know. But I know they'll play with great effort. As the seniors do that, the others will take notice and do the same. Nebraska also has a lot of seniors and they care about how they finish and I'm sure they're tired of hearing about their last game. Both teams have plenty of motivation. I watched enough bowls to see guys get excited and want to be there. I just hope we can start with a lot of emotion."
On Georgia's defense:
"We're a defense that has got a really strong talent base. We have a lot of seniority, we have guys who are physical, we have guys who are fast, we have guys with cover skills and we have guys with pass rush skills. If we put it all together and play our best ball, I expect us to have a big performance."
On when it hits Richt that the seniors' careers are almost over:
"It starts at the gala when we honor those guys and we know they're going out the door. At the bowl practices, you know it's the last time you're on this field or that field or it's the last practice period. You think about that. I could tell they had that feeling too. There's no doubt they're excited about their future, but they realize they're going to miss everybody. When the offseason begins and we set the seating chart, all the juniors move to the front seat. When you have a front row seat, you know it's on your time. In the locker room, I thank all the seniors and immediately tell next year's group that their watch has started and it's their responsibility to lead this team."