Mark Richt, Photo by Danny Bishop

Georgia Football: Tuesday Press Conference


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…

“We are getting ready to play South Carolina. It’s good to be home playing between the hedges. We’re playing in front of our fans and our families. Of course most of our families make it to most of our away games as well. South Carolina is a very good football team obviously. The last couple of years they have won 11 ballgames and they’ve beaten us three years in a row. We have a great challenge ahead of us. We have maybe a few redshirt seniors who have been on a team that had a victory over South Carolina, but no one else has had that distinction.”

“It’s a big game for both teams. Obviously it’s the first conference game for both teams to set the tone for the future. We don’t have a game next week. We have an open date, and there’s not a whole lot we should be holding back. We need to get better at a lot of things fundamentally We need to be able to block better, tackle better, especially in space. That’s what today and tomorrow will be about in practice. Of course we’ll be installing our game plan as well. That’s where we are.”

On Georgia’s level of physical play against Clemson…

“It depends on the snaps that you look at. There were times where we couldn’t have blocked plays better than we did and had some tremendous results. Then there were times where we looked like we were in the first grade out there. We were getting out of position, and there were a couple of holding calls that really hurt us and some pass protection issues that we just didn’t handle very well. It just wasn’t a consistent enough effort to do what we really needed to do and put more points on the board. We had six drives that were affected by penalties. On two of the six drives we overcame the penalty, but we lost four drives to penalties. The offensive side of the ball is supposed to be the mature side of the ball for us, but most of the penalties were on offense. There was one pass interference on defense.”

On coaching against Steve Spurrier…

“He’s a good coach like most everybody in our league. I think everybody in our league is a very good coach, otherwise they wouldn’t be here. He’s mostly running their offense, but you study film and tendencies just like you would anybody else. He doesn’t coach defense or special teams, but he’s got a team that’s playing hard. He’s got a big, physical football team, and they have an identity. Their identity is to play defense, run the ball real physical, take some shots downfield and you saw it on the special teams. That’s been a good formula for victory.”

On the challenges of inserting a game plan each week…

“It’s not that hard because as you’re installing what you’re going to do, you just have to decide what type of tempo it’s going to be. We’ll do some scrimmaging today, I’m sure, to help the fundamental part of it. It just has to be a physical day for us. Tomorrow won’t be a whole lot different, quite frankly, because that’s the type of battle we’re going to be in. We had our hands tied a little bit in camp with being down to very few safeties, and it was kind of tough to get better when guys weren’t practicing, but we have a lot of healthy bodies right now. I think it’s going to help us in practice with physicality.”

On Malcolm Mitchell’s injury…

“You can’t temper celebration. That would be a bad thing to do for us. We’ve done a good job of that from time to time, and you have to play with enthusiasm and injury. You have to celebrate with your teammates. That’s the thing about that injury – it’s probably just as much that type of thing (jumping up in celebration) than somebody actually getting hit. It was sad for us, but I think Malcolm has a good attitude about it. Thomas Davis was an All-American safety here and is now playing with the Panthers, and I think he’s the only NFL player that has had three ACL surgeries on the same knee and returned to play. He played extremely well last year, and Thomas called him and got on the phone with him a little bit just to help him out.”

On losing a game early in the season…

“It’s no fun to lose, and it’s no fun to lose early. With the type of schedule that we have, there’s a risk of that. That’s football, and that’s the way it is. We’d prefer not to be sitting like we were a couple years ago after Boise State and South Carolina. We’re going to do our best not to be in that position, but the goal is to win the SEC Eastern Division. Obviously everyone is in really good shape to do that across the league. Vanderbilt’s the only team that has a loss. Everyone in the East still has control of their own destiny at this point, and that’s really all you can hope for.”

On the crowd noise during games…

“We really do need our fan base to be a part of this game because crowd noise is obviously a factor. It’s not just in college, but it’s in the pro game, too. You’ve got guys that have been pros for years, and they’re still jumping offsides because they can’t hear. We need our crowd to create that type of atmosphere where it’s going to be very difficult for South Carolina’s offense to operate. Part of the thing too with crowd noise is that some of our pass protection issues had a little something to do with the crowd noise at Clemson, in that if you don’t have your verbal cadence, it’s really hard to mix up your snap count when you’re running on a sign basis. When you do it silently, the advantage that we have is to know when the ball’s going to be snapped and the defense really has an equal opportunity to get off on the snap. Where if we’re at home and we have the verbal, the ability to verbalize the snap and change the count and keep people off balance will be an advantage. It will also be a disadvantage for them not being able to alter their cadence. Our crowd is crucial in this ballgame and any of our home games. You just never know what the one play is that might make the difference.”

On the crowd noise at Clemson…

“To me, just about every stadium that we go into can get loud enough to force you to do things. Once you hit a certain amount of decibels, it could be ten times that and it still isn’t going to matter because you can’t hear. But they definitely created enough noise to force us to go to a sign cadence, which we knew going in. It wasn’t a surprise.”

Offense on Wednesday, defense on Thursday.

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