Georgia head coach Mark Richt and a delegation of players met with the media on Tuesday during the Bulldogs’ weekly press luncheon. They offered the following comments:
Coach Mark Richt
“It’s good to be home again and good to play between the hedges. We only have three more shots this year playing at home. I know our fans are looking forward to it, and our players are. We are looking forward to a great crowd. It’s a noon kickoff, and historically those have been a little slow starting as far as getting people in the stands. Even the Dawg Walk sometimes is a little bit different from a 3:30 game or a night game. I know the Bulldog Nation will rally and be there early and be a difference maker for us because we need the help. I’m thankful for our fans and what they’ve done to this point, and we’re looking forward to another great atmosphere at home.
“Missouri is a very, very hot team. They just moved into the top-25 for good reason. They are 5-0 and 1-0 in league play and very dominating against Vanderbilt last week. It was kind of scary actually to watch the tape of it. They were so proficient on offense.”
“As I said before, they are a very, very hot team. They are a team that looks very confident and should be. They are very well-coached, and they are looking to win the East just like we are. We are both undefeated in league play. It’s a huge game, and we’re looking forward to the challenge of it.”
On players that he foresees stepping up this week….
“At the receiver position, Michael Erdman is already learning and getting more reps. Michael has been in our program for awhile now, and he has a pretty good working knowledge of what we do. He’s been working mainly on the scout team, as has Blake Tibbs. Tibbs has also been in the program for a little while, and he has a working knowledge of our system. So it’s not like we’re going to teach them from scratch, but both of them have mostly spent time on the scout team. I don’t see (Jonathon) Rumph playing this week. I think Rumph is still a ways off on his hamstring, unfortunately. He’s a guy that was here in the midyear and had a good spring and had a good camp, but he’s just been hampered by that injury. Early on in camp, we’re thinking that he’s probably going to get himself in this rotation at receiver, and by now it’d be nice to have him more ready than he is, but he’s just not ready. He’s not getting reps, and he’s not healthy right now.
“Obviously our two freshman backs will have to be ready to carry the load. (Kyle) Karempelis and Brandon Harton have played well at tailback for us in the past, so we’ll expect them to be ready. I don’t really know for sure on (Todd) Gurley’s situation. I would say that it’s doubtful. I don’t know if doubtful is the best word, but he’s not going to practice today, I know that. Tomorrow, we’ll see how he runs just straight ahead. Is he going to play this game? He could. We’re not counting him out, but we have to prepare as if he won’t play. For the most part, I think that covers our main issues.”
On injury updates with Michael Bennett, Tray Matthews and Collin Barber…
“Michael will have surgery later on today. Barber is questionable, and I think Tray is doubtful. He could possibly come around, but he’s not going to practice today.”
On the team’s mentality at this point in the season…
“I think we’re fine. We’re ready to go to battle again. Football is a physical game with injuries, and other teams have injuries. Some guys are very excited about the opportunity to make more contributions, and the rest of the guys are excited about making their phase of the game stronger in order to help the spots that we’re wounded at, to a certain degree. I think everybody’s excited about the challenge of it all.”
On being able to re-watch the game and enjoy it after Saturday…
“I wouldn’t go that far. I go back and watch the TV copy, but I can’t just say I’m being entertained at that time. I’m still evaluating. I’m still looking for things that we might need to correct or looking for things that I might can build on, as far as motivation or whatever it may be. I can’t say I’m sitting there being entertained by it. Even driving away, sitting in the car with my wife on the way to the airport, I think I made the comment that you could see why there were 100,000 people there. You could see why college football is one of the most exciting sports out there. It’s very, very dramatic stuff, and we’ve had the most drama in a two-week period that we’ve probably had in a long time when it comes to games that were just tightly contested and hard fought. To come out on top has been very gratifying.”
On Marshall Morgan’s progress from last year to this year…
“When I saw his high school film, it was a year where we knew that we better get us a kicker. We tried to look at whom we thought were the best kickers in the country, and of all the film I saw, to me he was the best. From what I saw, he was the best. We went after him, and we got him committed, and we were very excited about it. Of course, last year he did struggle as a freshman. Why those guys struggle, I don’t know, but I knew he had it in him. He kicked very well in the spring, and he kicked extremely well in the fall and in camp. Obviously, he couldn’t kick the first two games, which was kind of sad. It’s like watching Josh Harvey-Clemons practice, and we’re thinking, ‘Man, I wish he could play in this game’ or ‘I wish Marshall could kick in these first couple games,’ and it’s just because they had been practicing so good. But anyways, it’s been good to see him kick the extra points and the field goals the way that he has. With the kickoffs, we’ve given him much more of a leeway to try to knock it out. We were trying to get distance and height, and now we’re just saying that if he can knock it out, just knock it out. By giving him that freedom, he’s done better. From a coaching point of view, it’s on me, right or wrong. Some of his kicks weren’t going out because we liked the hang time. The guy was kicking 4.1 or 4.2 hang time, which is a long time to hang a kickoff. If you remember early on, most of our tackles were inside the 20 with that unit. Of course, you get the one that goes to the house and then you start saying let’s just trying to knock it out. That’s been more on me than anything else, and I think he’s been doing a lot better job of that.”
On Missouri quarterback James Franklin…
“James is healthy and he’s more confident (than last year). He’s running well. They run the option, they run the read option, and if nothing is there he’ll take off running with confidence. He’s standing in the pocket with a lot of confidence, and he’s very accurate. He’s on target, and he looks like he’s in his element.”
Offense on Thursday, Defense on Friday
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