Mark Richt, photo by Sonny Kennedy,

Georgia Football: Tuesday Press Conference

Mark Richt, photo by Sonny Kennedy,

Mark Richt, photo by Sonny Kennedy,

Georgia coach Mark Richt and a delegation of players met with the media Tuesday during the Bulldogs’ weekly press luncheon. They offered the following comments:

Coach Mark Richt

Opening Statement…

“We are getting ready to play Kentucky. Coach Mark Stoops and the Wildcats are coming to town. Both teams are coming off tough road losses in league play and hungry for a victory.”

“It’s a game that certainly means a lot to us. We are playing at home for the last time and playing hopefully our best game for our seniors and honoring those guys with how we go about our business this week in practice and in the game. It’s the last shot between the hedges for everybody this year. We’re looking forward to the fans coming out and continuing to support our guys and thanking them for everything they’ve done.”

On comparisons between the loss to Auburn and last year’s loss to Alabama….

“I haven’t really related them or bunched them together. It was a tough loss, obviously, a year ago and this was a tough loss, as well. This one is a little different in that last year we were trying to get there, so to speak. You’re chasing an opportunity to take the lead late in the game, and we weren’t quite able to do that. Of course, it was the very last play of the game, or our last play of the game where we couldn’t get it in. This game we kind of got there and then it got ripped out from under us, so to speak, and that was tough. But then we get the ball again, and here we go again. We’re down there about to sling it into the end zone a couple of times where we could have had a double miracle so to speak. We had our team meeting, and we talked about once we leave this meeting and once we get done with our meetings with offensive and defensive coordinators and special teams coaches, we’ll set this game behind us and move on in practice. Once we hit the field, let’s get back to work. I saw good spirits, good tempo and good efforts last night. It was a pretty night, a nice cool night, and everyone was moving around good and doing their job. I think that’s the best medicine going back to work. It certainly was a tough game, and I’m sure that in the offseason it may be thought about more than most games, but right now we don’t have time for that.”

On addressing the loss to Auburn with the team…

“I always tell the staff and the players to think about what we can learn from this and how can we make sure that it doesn’t happen again. I always have to look at what I could have done better, and the coaches have to look at what they could do better and the players are the same way. What can you do better? Instead of saying what he could have done better, we say what can we do internally to do better? I was there. I could have said, ‘Hey, the ball is up in the air, bat it down.’ I didn’t do it.”

On takeaways from the Auburn game…

“There are a lot of things – angles or just doing a better job of pad level defensively. It’s just fundamental things. You’ve got to play a little bit lower, you’ve got to maintain your gap a little bit and not get moved or create too much space for skilled runners to get through, and guys need to wrap up better. Pass protection-wise, we started out having a hard time with the speed rush, and I thought we did a pretty good job of getting some chip ins by our tight ends and our backs a little bit. We did some quick-game stuff.

Obviously, at the end of the game, you’ve got to know to knock a ball down in that situation. You know, we had a timeout prior to that. I’m in there, Grantham’s in there – we’re all in there. I could have easily said, ‘Hey guys, if the ball’s launched deep, bat it down.’ I could have said that. That’s a good reminder for a young bunch of guys back there. I, quite frankly, didn’t think it was a time where they were going to launch one. To me, there was enough time to move the chains, so we weren’t thinking that they were going to launch a bomb into super deep coverage. You shouldn’t really throw a post into that look. You’ve got two or three guys deeper than the guy, but they launched it and we didn’t bat it down. I certainly could have said, ‘Hey if that ball is anywhere where you can knock it down, don’t think about a pick, but think about knocking the ball down because it ends the game.’ I had my chance to coach that up and didn’t do it. We bat it down in practice every Thursday.

In the moment of truth, the ball is coming right to you and you’re thinking about getting it. Josh Harvey-Clemons is trying to defend the play. He’s looking at the ball. He’s not really sure where the safety is. He knows where the safety was running to, so he was trying to knock the ball down or trying to defend the play. It was kind of a weird deal.”

On Auburn’s game-winning touchdown on Saturday…

“There was a post and a dig, and quite frankly, Nick Marshall could have hit the dig. He may or may not have gotten the first down, depending on if we rallied fast enough to tackle, and then continue to move the ball down the field. At that point and that far away, we weren’t thinking that it was time to launch it. Now if he’d have been somewhere around the 50 or 55 yards away, we know Nick has a strong arm. If it’s just a couple seconds to go, you’re thinking this is the last play and they’re going to launch it for a Hail Mary. It wasn’t really a typical Hail Mary situation, so that’s part of the reason why we’re sitting there. We’re not thinking that, but certainly if the ball is around midfield and there’s just a couple of ticks left and maybe one or two shots, you’re saying ‘Hey, be ready to bat it down when they throw it up there for grabs.’ It just wasn’t a typical time to throw a Hail Mary. I don’t think it was a Hail Mary. It wasn’t like everybody ran down field and they were trying to throw a Hail Mary – it was a dig route and a post and some other concepts underneath to read. Usually if the deep ball is there, you throw it. If the safeties are deep, you throw the dig, but he let it rip and it turned out to be a good thing for them.”

On Kentucky Head Coach Mark Stoops…

“I don’t know him well. I’ve gotten to meet him just at some of the official events that we’re out, but I really don’t know him well. He seems like a great guy, and I know he’s a great coach.”

On whether or not he still pays attention to Florida State…

“It’s been such a long time since I’ve been there. I’m 13 years out of there. I pay attention to what’s going on in college football pretty good in the south. I watch what Florida State does, but I watch what just about everybody else does. I’m a voter, so I’m always checking out scores to see who did what. They’ve had a really good year, obviously.”

On the hit that Aaron Murray took on the final play of the game…

“I watched it. It was a hard hit, but I don’t even know what targeting is anymore sometimes. I’ll look at this one and it is, and I’ll look at another one and it’s not, and I’m wondering what is the difference. I think it’s been a very difficult thing for everybody to define, and I do think it will be the number one rule that will be addressed to try to figure out what’s the best way to move forward. It’s been confusing and problematic in a lot of ways. Even taking away the ejection but keeping the penalty – there are so many things to it that it’s hard to manage. There’s got to be something done with it. We’re doing our best to try to teach how to tackle properly without taking away aggressiveness and just taking away a guy going to tackle somebody. Early in the year, I think we had some situations where our guys really weren’t sure what to do at the moment of truth. So it’s almost like you’re learning how to play football again back in the perimeter, which is tough, because everything’s happening fast. I haven’t even seen the one that (Kentucky) had, but apparently their safety is missing the first half of this game because of a targeting play.”

On his satisfaction level with behind-the-scenes interactions with SEC staff regarding officiating…

“I think the transparency is very good. Steve Shaw will say if they blew it, or he’ll say if it’s a good call. It’s not like every single time he agrees with what happened out there. I think it makes us feel better to hear that something really should have been called or it shouldn’t have been called. We use it maybe to feel a little bit better about those things, but they try to use it to teach their guys to do better in the future.”

On whether or not the SEC should make public their review of officiating from each game…

“There are so many calls. What a hard job to officiate a game like that because there are so many things that happen that could get called or not called. Things happen super fast. I don’t think it should be public, quite frankly. I think the way they do it is the right way to do it. There have been some times where they’ve come out regarding something monumental and said some things that maybe should have been done differently, but I don’t think it’s healthy to have that as a public conversation.”

All photos are copyrighted property of Sonny Kennedy Photography,

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