Dec. 31, 2013
Georgia coach Mark Richt and players Arthur Lynch, Hutson Mason and Garrison Smith met with the media on Tuesday in the final press conference before the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl against Nebraska on Wednesday. Here are some excerpts of that press conference.
Coach Mark Richt:
"We are ready to play. With bowl games, you know the opponent for a long time and you prepare and you look at more film than you'd ever dream on one team. Of course, we played them last year so that film's gotten worn out too. We prepared well before we left for Christmas and I thought we did a good job coming back with focus. The players have enjoyed themselves, and we've gotten the work we needed to get done."
"This year, it's not a whole lot different than playing an (SEC) Eastern Division foe again. Both staffs are pretty much intact and most of the same things are being done the same way."
"When a starter misses an opportunity to play, for whatever reason it is, it provides opportunities for other guys. All of a sudden, a second-teamer knows he's a starter and that he's going to get more reps in practice and his adrenaline starts pumping. He's not wondering if he'll get in; he's going to play. Our guys in the secondary have stepped up well. Todd (Grantham) has had time to prepare for it and get people in the right spots. With his NFL background, he's used to a smaller roster. This happened, but no one panicked. We had time to prepare and find who best fits the situation. I think we'll be fine."
"It's an interesting dynamic. It's the last game of the season for this 2013 team, but the bowl is played the first day of 2014, the first day of the calendar year. So you can't help but look at the future. After this game, things change. In that locker room, it's the last time you see all those guys together in one spot. I like to thank our seniors and challenge the next set of leaders. It begins that day, not in the spring but the minute the game is over and you walk out of that locker room. The bowl game can create momentum going into the offseason and serve as motivation for things to correct. Naturally when it's over, the thought is, 'Now what?' But for the bowl, you focus on beating the opponent and having a good game plan. You owe it to the seniors and to the team in general."
"We're thankful to be in a bowl game. We had a lot of unfortunate injuries, but we never made excuses or felt sorry for ourselves. We could have laid down and not be at a bowl right now. I'm proud of the guys. Every game we've been in, we've had a chance. I have a lot of happy memories down here in Jacksonville, so I'm excited about that. Nobody ever gave up or quit fighting. I'm happy with all the guys and I'm proud of my team."
"(Nebraska running back Ameer) Abdullah is a talented guy. He's a muscular, solid dude and he's a tough, physical runner. He can really play football. He's got great vision and can cut back. He's a challenge. We'll have our hands full. He's a problem because he's such a talented back."
"Every team has the same expectations. We wanted to win our division, our conference and ultimately the national championship. We were hit with some adversity and we fell short of our expectations. The senior leaders did everything we could to make the most of the situation. No matter what point we were in, we fought hard. That's all you can ask for of yourself, your coaches and your teammates. There's no disappointments. We fought hard every day and we have a lot to be proud of."
"This is very exciting. You come to Georgia to play these types of games. Seeing the Georgia-Florida game in Jacksonville, I know what to expect from the atmosphere. I've been working hard in the film room and doing what Coach (Mike) Bobo has taught me the last few years. Nothing changes in the way I'm preparing. It's the same every day -- hard work and film preparations."
"Nebraska has an excellent secondary. If you watch last year's game, it took us awhile to get going. We know it will be a challenge throwing the ball. (Defensive end Randy) Gregory is big and lanky and is a good pass rusher. They might be young in some aspects of their team, but as a quarterback, you look at their secondary and there's a lot of experience. It definitely will be a challenge."
"Both teams have prepared for four weeks, which is much longer than any other game except maybe the first one. You've prepared all you can. It's just time to go play ball."