Georgia Football: Tuesday Press Conference - Defense


Photo by Sonny Kennedy, http://www.sonnykennedyphotography.com/

Photo by Sonny Kennedy, http://www.sonnykennedyphotography.com/

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

On assessments of the defense through five games…

“We’re obviously a work in progress. We’re battling, we’re fighting and we’re winning as a team right now. We don’t care about the stats. We don’t even really care what everybody thinks about us right now. We’re just every day lining up and trying to get the best plan and trying to execute it to the best of our abilities as coaches and players. I’d much rather have a defense or an offense make the play at the moment of truth. I’ve been saying it for two years now. It doesn’t matter what your stats are if you can’t get the stop when you need it. If you can’t get the touchdown when you need it or kick the field goal when you need it, you’re going to lose. There’s going to be a lot of close games because we play in that type of league. We’ve been playing that type of schedule so far. The goal is to win and move on, and that’s kind of what we’ve been doing after game one, so hopefully we can continue to do that.”

On the play of the defense on third down…

“We’re closer than I think everybody believes we are. I haven’t done any stats on it to try and back it up, but we’ve had a lot of third and mediums and third and longs. When you get them to third and long, you should win the down. You should win the down if it’s third and long most of the time on offense. That’s why you fight so hard to get them in third and long, but we’ve given up way too many third and longs. We do need to improve in that area, whether it’s pressure on the quarterback, or maybe we cover better and force the quarterback to hold the ball that way. We have to find out week by week what’s the best strategy. We just have to execute on that down and get our guys off the field. Even if you did it twice more per game, I think it’s a huge difference. If they’re getting first downs on first downs and second downs, and we’re not even getting them to third down or it’s always third and short, then I’d really be concerned. But we’re getting there.”

On pass coverage defense…

“The better you cover, the more time you have to get a sack. We’ve probably had more sacks because of good coverage than if we just put a tremendous amount of pressure on the passer and he threw it up for grabs. The times that we have gotten the sacks and we’ve gotten off the field, it’s been when we’ve covered pretty well.”

On Damian Swann’s play thus far…

“Damian, I’d say, is struggling right now. He’s missed some tackles in the open field, and he’s gotten beat on some coverages that have been tough on him. There have been some things that he has struggled with, but he’s also made plays for us, as well. I think if you asked him, he’d tell you that he wants to perform better and he’s working towards that.”

On the impact of freshman starters, particularly on defense…

“We knew a lot of freshmen would probably play this year, and we have had quite a few start on defense. Shaq (Wiggins) has, Tray (Matthews) has and Leonard Floyd has. You’ve had (Brendan) Langley, too. Chris Mayes is playing a lot. He’s not a freshman, but he’s brand new to the program. There are a lot of first-time starters, whether they’re new to the program or not. You take lumps. You look at Missouri’s defense – six seniors and four juniors. That’s a lot of experience, and that makes a difference. I remember the year we played Boise State. I think they said they had something like 16 three-year starters on that team, and it makes a difference, especially early on the year. Those guys are talented, they’re getting coached up and they’re learning as they go. When you learn, you make mistakes. It’s just the way it is. You hope they can learn and make mistakes while they’re in practice, as they’re getting their chance to start two or three years in, but that’s not the way life goes all the time. When guys get thrown into the fire right away, we’re watching them mature right before our eyes, and it’s painful sometimes. They just have to keep their faith and keep banging away so they can keep getting better.”

On Quincy Mauger…

“Quincy Mauger has done a great job. He’s another true freshman. He was here at the midyear, and that was very helpful for him to be here. He’s got a pretty good working knowledge of what we’re trying to do. He’s not lost back there, he communicates well and he’s really a pretty good open-field tackler. He still makes mistakes. You’ll get your eyes in the wrong spot and find out that your guy is wide open over there, and you should have been there every once in awhile. That happens to even the best of them. You see that in pro football. Guys get open because somebody doesn’t do their job. Pros have that problem, so it’s not like he’s the only one. But I like what he’s doing. For a freshman, he has a very professional attitude towards becoming good at what he does, and he’s done well on special teams for us as well.”

Amarlo HerreraInside Linebacker Amarlo Herrera

On his assessment of the young defense thus far…

“We’re getting better and better each week. We’re just working hard trying to put together a complete game. We just have to close out the game and play better football.”

On the defense’s lack of success on stopping third down conversions…

“It’s everybody. It’s a team defense. Some players aren’t getting a rush, we aren’t covering long enough, and we aren’t getting off of our blocks. It’s a team defense; it’s everybody. If the rush got there quicker then we wouldn’t have to cover longer. If we cover longer then he’s going to get sacked. It’s a machine.”

On if he’s frustrated with how the defense has played this year…

“It’s not frustrating. I know everybody is working and giving their best effort. As long as you’re giving your best effort and we can come out with the win and stop them when we need to then there isn’t that much wrong. People get mad but everybody is just working all of the time. We don’t listen to everybody. We just listen to everybody on the team and listen to our coaches. Everybody has a positive attitude around here, so everybody is just uplifting each other.”

Chris Mayes and Garrison SmithDefensive End Garrison Smith

On players stepping up to fill the voids left by injuries…

“That’s what the game is all about. Guys have to step up every week. That’s why they’re on scholarship and that’s why the coaches recruit them. It’s time that they have to play. That’s what it’s all about. Somebody has to step up every week.”

On how much faith he has in J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas…

“They’re some tough guys, they don’t quit. I’ve seen it in Brendan Douglas even before he put on pads. I just saw how hard he works. That’s why I was always trying to tell people about him because I knew how good he was. They’re just hard-nosed guys. Little J.J. [Green] is a small guy but he has the heart of somebody that’s seven foot. He comes at you on every play and he runs hard. You’ve seen how he was running. Linebackers couldn’t even tackle him sometimes. When you have guys like that who are just going to compete, it doesn’t matter. I have full faith in them. They’re going to get the job done, I’m just glad that we have guys like that on the team.”

On the mentality that Georgia’s season starts over on Saturday…

“They’re good. They have great players all around and have a good quarterback. It’s going to be a challenge facing them. They have some real, real, real big receivers. It’s going to be a challenge for our corners to play them, but if everybody does their job then we’ll have success. We just have to keep getting better.”

All photos are copyrighted property of Sonny Kennedy Photography,
http://www.sonnykennedyphotography.com/

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Tags: Amarlo Herrera Garrison Smith Georgia Bulldog Football Georgia Bulldogs Mark Richt