Mark Richt, photo by Danny Bishop

Georgia Football: Preseason Press Conference


Georgia head coach Mark Richt and a delegation of football players met with the media Thursday during the Bulldog’s annual preseason media day. He offered the following comments:

Head Coach Mark Richt

Opening statement…

“It’s the first day of practice and everybody is fired up. We can’t wait to get started. Because of our academic schedules our coaches have had little bits and pieces of the guys. This morning we got up at 6 a.m., and did some walk-throughs and meetings, and they’re not coming back until 2:30 or 3:00 this afternoon to get started for our first practice. The day before there was a fitness test early in the morning, and we didn’t meet until 7:45 or 8:00 at night because guys are still finishing final exams. We have a couple of guys today who won’t be around at practice because of finishing up some school. Just about everybody will be out there for practice. Obviously, the first day we have to be in shorts and helmets. We start our five-day acclimation period, which are all one-a-day sessions, and after that we start the two-a-days, and alternating from a two-a-day to a one-a-day until school starts. By the time we get there we might have two two-a-days, maybe three. There aren’t many of those anymore, but we will have a chance to get our 29 practice opportunities in before that first game. That’s what we’re looking forward to doing, just getting started.”

On playing LSU this season…

“We’re excited about our schedule. We know that we’re going to play some great teams and LSU is certainly one of them.”

On what makes this year’s team unique…

“It’s a new team. It’s a completely new year. People still want to talk about last year and last year’s SEC Championship Game. The players know and the coaches know that it’s a new year and it’s a new team. I think they are looking forward to their own identity. They understand they have to have a new identity. We’re not really sure what it’s going to be. I know most people talk about that we have a bunch of players returning on offense, and now the defense is the side of the ball that was like the offense last year. What are they going to do? What can they accomplish? Are they going to grow up fast enough? I’m sure the defense wants to rise to that challenge, but the reality is in talking to the guys, especially the leadership, is it’s a new year and a new team and we want to approach it that way.”

On Kolton Houston’s reinstatement…

“The fact that we’re not wondering anymore is a great thing for him and for us. Right now he’ll work at a guard spot. I don’t know if Coach (Will) Friend has totally nailed down where everybody is going to be, but starting out he’ll be at the left guard position. He’s going to cross train, and he’ll know the right guard position. He’s athletic enough to play tackle as well. We don’t want to give him too much, but day one he’s sitting at No. 2 left guard right now.”

On the new clock rules and whether there would be enough time to run the field goal unit on with two seconds remaining…

“The rule states that if you try to spike the ball with two seconds or less, the game is over. Even if you literally get the ball to hit the ground before the two seconds go, by rule the game is over if you spike the ball. If you have three seconds and you spike it, you should get a play after. Now the question is you get a long play, you’re working yourself inside field goal range where a field goal may win the game, now the clock is stopped because they are moving the chains and the clock is on two seconds. Can you literally get the field goal team on the field and kick the ball fast enough? History shows probably not. That’s something that we have to get on the field and simulate and see if we can really do it. If you can’t, you have to run your offense down there and try to score a touchdown. I do think that it is a good rule in that at least we know if it’s three seconds, we know we can spike it. If it’s less than three seconds, we know we can’t spike it. You have to decide whether you can get your field goal team in there fast enough. That will be something we’ll have to try to simulate and see if we can get it done.”

On Aaron Murray and whether he is in “autopilot” mode…

“Aaron is so experienced that you are definitely not starting from scratch with him. I wouldn’t say autopilot because he loves to devour the game plan, and he loves to devour coaching. He really thrives on that, and that’s what kind of makes him go. He also knows enough to where as you might be installing a game plan, he’ll have a good opinion on it. He’ll have preferences that he knows have been successful in that past that he feels comfortable with. Over the years when I was the primary guy in the room with the quarterback I wanted to know what he really felt comfortable doing. If he doesn’t feel good about it you have a problem. Or he might feel great about a certain play that you didn’t even think of and you say, ‘That makes sense, let’s do it.’ We’re still coaching him and giving him information, but he’s to the point now where he could probably put up a pretty good game plan all by himself.”

On whether Aaron Murray has devised plays…

“You would have to ask Mike (Bobo) on that. I don’t know if he has devised any plays, but I think what happens is over time, you accumulate experience. Let’s say you are talking about red zone and you see a certain coverage. Mike and I have been doing this together for 13 years now. When we look at red zone and we see certain coverages and certain schemes, certain plays are going to pop in our heads because of what we’ve been doing. With Aaron, let’s say Coach Bobo gives the red zone plan, and Murray might say, ‘Why don’t we do this one like we did against another team.’ Those kinds of things might come up, but I don’t think he’s trying to devise a play from scratch. He has enough memory of things we’ve done in the past to say, ‘What about this one?’

On the rarity of a player like Aaron Murray being that familiar with offensive schemes…

“You’ll get guys who get to that point. A guy like (David) Greene and even (D.J.) Shockley, who was five years in the program. Hutson (Mason) would have good opinions quite frankly right now with his experience even though he hasn’t played a lot. The more they know, the more they understand the concepts and what you are trying to accomplish and know the system well enough. Most of the guys that we are going to sign and recruit are going to do that.”

On being ranked No. 5 in the preseason coaches’ poll…

“On my poll I actually ask Claude (Felton) to get everybody’s preseason poll and try to get a consensus and that’s where I start. That’s maybe where a lot of other coaches start too, and I think that’s where we are on mine. We’re five or six on mine because of what everybody said. I’ll start with that, and then I’m move from there.”

On potentially playing three teams in the top-10 early in the season…

“We are playing a non-conference game, conference, non-conference and then conference. Any year everything is on the line in the first month. Because of where these teams are ranked in the preseason, that’s probably why you are asking the question. Every single year that first SEC game is a monster. Of course we didn’t play South Carolina in the first SEC game last year, but if you lose that game you have to run the table basically. No matter who that next SEC game is, that’s a monster. Every time you play, the next game you play, if you lost it it’s over. They are all really, really big. They really are.”

On what unit is the biggest concern right now…

“I’m not concerned, fretting that we don’t have an answer at any position across the board. I’m more curious to see how quickly the entire defense can gel and watch them perform. I have a pretty good taste of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall before we play a game. I’m going to get a pretty good taste of what our defense looks like before we play a game. But until you get in a game, you really aren’t sure how everybody is going to react under that type of game pressure. That’s going to be the big thing – how are we going to react when things get heated up and things don’t go our way? That’s going to be a big question I think.

Photos copyrighted property of Danny Bishop

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