Georgia Football Press Conference Quotes

By: UGA Sports Communications
By: UGA Sports Communications

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

Head coach Mark Richt
Opening Statement…
“We have two teams in very similar situations. Both are coming off heartbreaking losses. Both of them are looking for a Southeastern Conference victory. Both of them are teams that have tremendous fan bases and tremendous tradition and history of playing winning football so we are both, I would say, pretty desperate for a victory right now. Of course I don’t want to speak for Tennessee.

“Coach Derek Dooley is heading up the team as we all know. I would think it would have to be an emotional homecoming for him of some sorts, being in Athens so long. I think he’s doing a fine job. He’s a heck of a coach.”

“I would think it’s going to be a highly-emotional game, a highly-charged game with two teams really fighting like mad for a victory and fighting like mad for the ability to show people that we can play football. It ought to be a good one. Tennessee-Georgia, enough said I guess.”

On whether Aaron Murray is the bright spot for the Georgia offense…
“Aaron has done well. I think he’s thrown for over 60 percent. I don’t know exactly how many TD’s he’s thrown but his touchdown-interception ratio is very good. He’s making decisions that are very wise so far. He just hasn’t thrown the ball up for grabs. Even the pick last week, it was a situation where he might have held the ball a hair or two too long, but he was getting hit as he released it and didn’t see the guy coming. He’s overall made very good decisions on not throwing the ball up for grabs. I think his ability to run is even better than I thought it would be. His ability to avoid trouble and to actually cross the line of scrimmage and get some first downs, that’s been even better than I thought it would be. I knew he was a good athlete, but I didn’t know he would be able to make that many plays. There are times where he needs to get to his second receiver a little bit quicker, and he needs to be a little more accurate here and there like most guys. To wrap up what he’s done considering he’s a first-year starter and a freshman, he has done very well. I’ve been pretty proud of him.”

On whether he would take an active role in the play calling…
“Right now that’s not the plan. Right now it’s not the plan. I have to be more assertive to let Mike (Bobo) know certain situations. Sometimes if a coach knows he has three downs to get two yards instead of two downs to get two yards, he may call that a little bit different. Or there may be times I’ll say, ‘Let’s run this thing’ or whatever it might be. I need to be a little more assertive in that way just to give him direction and help him know how to approach it. The bottom line is if we score enough points to win, we don’t have to worry about that.”

On whether Caleb King will start at tailback…
“We have not sat down and said who is going to start this week, but Caleb has certainly made a good case to be the starter. I’m not going to name him that right this minutes. A little bit later in the week we’ll decide. We need to practice first and make decisions based on that. I do think that Caleb had one of his better ballgames and certainly no one is happy about the last play of the game, but there were some circumstances there. It wasn’t just your normal fumble in my opinion. It was right in the middle of an exchange. It’s really tough to know exactly what happened even on TV copy.”

On who would return punts against Tennessee…
“Carlton Thomas is getting reps there. A.J. Green is getting reps there. Logan Gray of course has been getting reps there. I’m not even 100 percent sure on who would start the game but they are all capable.”

On his assessment of Georgia’s offensive line play this season…
“I would say not good enough at this point. From an offensive standpoint and a defensive standpoint and a special teams standpoint and a coaching standpoint, I’d say not good enough. I’d say across the board we just haven’t been good enough. There have been some bright spots, there have been some good things that have happened, but we just haven’t done it good enough as a team so I don’t really want to single out the O-line because they’re in the same boat everybody else is in, in my opinion.”

On what Washaun Ealey needs to do to become more of a factor in Georgia’s offense…
“I think he’s doing it. He ran with a lot of energy in the game. Even though he didn’t get as many reps as he would like to, he was in the game, he was excited. He practiced extremely well yesterday just as far as his energy level. I think he’s helped himself earn more time. I’m not saying he wouldn’t win the starting job either. I won’t rule that out either, but I do like the attitude that he had even though he didn’t get to play as much as he wanted to play. He had enough ball security issues that the other guys got the opportunity basically, but he’s still a good football player. The pass protection is important too. Whoever plays the most has the most issues. The more you play, the more chance you have of succeeding, but also maybe not getting the job done. That doesn’t necessarily mean the other guy can do it better, so we’re looking at that. He’ll definitely play. I like what he’s been doing the last few days.”

On how Georgia’s defense has adjusted to the new scheme…
“We’re getting there. I can’t sit there and say they are 100 percent certain on everything that shows up exactly what to do and how to do it. We’re at least to the point where they are comfortable doing it where they can really play with the speed that you need to play with. As you learn something, you just can’t cut it loose like you do once it’s yours. It’s not an indictment on the coaching or even the players. It’s just a fact of life that as you install things from scratch, there is a learning curve for them. There is a learning curve for our coaches. There are certain situations we put our guys in we thought they would handle and afterwards realized maybe they can’t handle that as well as we thought. You have to make sure you don’t do it again the next time around. The point I’ve made about some of these opening drives, some of these situations where maybe something new popped up that wasn’t prepped for. There is just no experience to draw from to say this is how we would handle that. We are having still a little bit of that from time to time. The thing about collegiate offenses is they are all so different. When you are in the NFL you have the same offense over and over and over pretty much. There is some variance, but you have people running the option, you have the quarterback run, everybody just has a little bit different style. We understand the style, we know how to prepare for the style, but it’s so different as you go. I guess it’s the first time through, and you play the next game and maybe game four, but it’s the first time through on this particular scheme. I think that’s hurt us some, but the bottom line is we have to line up and play football and play good assignment football and make tackles and make plays.”

On how Georgia’s season has impacted recruiting…
“I can’t say that all the recruits are excited about what’s happening, but most of the guys we have committed love Georgia and want to be at Georgia. Sometimes kids even see that maybe this presents a better opportunity for me to come in and make a difference. I think guys want to do that. I think guys want to be at a certain school. Some of them know what certain schools they want to be at. The other thing that attracts them is the ability to feel like they can come in and make an impact for that team as early in their career as they possibly can, so I would think that’s been good in that regard. The bottom line is we want to show them that we’re a good football team and hopefully Saturday we’ll get that done. We’ll have a good many recruits in this weekend, so we’ll want to have a good experience for those guys.”

On the suggestion made during his radio show of leading the team out onto the field…
“When the team runs on the field some coaches go first and some coaches carry up the rear. I’ve always let the boys go first. First of all I don’t want to get run over. Not even first of all, but for the most part I feel like it’s their day, it’s their game. Let’s go get it. The caller made a good point. You’re the leader of the pack, why don’t you lead the pack? That makes good sense to me. I think we’ll try that. I’ve been stretching and I’m a little concerned about puling a hamstring if I go too hard. I hope somebody reminds me to do it because old habits die hard. It’s been 10 years and I haven’t done it. I have to get out front and lead the pack, so I think it will be good.”

On whether the head coaching job is always fun…
“Is it always fun? Head coaching isn’t always fun. I can tell you that, even when you are winning. Anybody who has head coached long enough knows that everything you do in your job is not fun. The purest form of fun in coaching is coaching. Coaching your position and getting to know those kids really good and just being there to show them the way. To be able to focus just on the art of coaching the game and the strategy and all the things it entails, that’s the most fun. Head coaching, you have all kinds of stuff you get to do. I get to hang out with you guys a lot, that’s fun. That’s one of the fun parts. Is it as fun as it has always been? If you said as fun, yeah it’s as fun. I can’t say it’s off-the-chain fun, but it’s a responsibility that I enjoy and I know that I’m where God wants me to be and that’s very important to me, so that’s what gives me the peace.”

On how his spiritual side keeps him going..
“The bottom line is I have faith in the Lord. I basically submitted my life to Christ in 1986. From that day forward my goal was to, on a daily basis, try to love Him and obey Him and try to do things that will please Him. That’s been my motivation and my focus, so that hasn’t changed. God is the No. 1 focus of my life, period. I just happen to coach football. If I did something else then my relationship to the Lord wouldn’t change. I’m true to myself, I’m true to who I am, and if that’s attractive to anybody that’s good. If not, that’s OK too.”

On being a 13-point favorite against Tennessee…
“I hope they are right. Are you kidding me? I don’t look at those things, but wow.”

On Sanders Commings…
“I think he’s been one of the bright spots as far as a guy who maybe wasn’t sitting in a position where the coaches might have thought he was going to get a ton of playing time going into camp or even into game one. But he has steadily improved. He listens to what Coach (Scott) Lakatos says. He takes it to heart. He reps it everyday in practice and now he is starting to see more playing time. He’s earned it. That tackle he made out in the open field on that third down play, that was one of the finest open field tackles we’ve had here in a while. A guy out in space, a guy he had to get up on him, he had to wrap him and he had to run his feet and drive him back or it’s going to be a first down. That was just one play, but the other thing I think really helps Sanders is on this kickoff coverage team he really took off from game one making plays. That I think helped his confidence and it also helped our coaches’ confidence to watch him play and play physical and make plays. He’s done a really good job. I’m really happy for him.”

On the fourth quarter fumble against Colorado and whether Georgia’s defense is making enough disruptive plays…
“If they would just not block us I think we would make more plays like that. That’s what happened, we didn’t block him. We absolutely need more plays like that. I think there were three fumbles that they had. I think they had three fumbles and we got zero. I think that’s right. I hate to say it but it’s looking a little bit like a year ago. Fumbles are getting caused but they are landing next to their guy. Why? I don’t know. I wish they would land closer to us, because I do believe we’ve had enough reps at recovering fumbles that we would get it. Once we got it we wouldn’t let go, but the ball doesn’t always bounce to you. Most balls on the ground seem to be bouncing closer to the opponents than they are to us right now. But I think we are getting some of that, we are getting some of those balls getting knocked, but we have to get on it.”

On Branden Smith having two concussions…
“We do have to be very careful. (UGA Director of Sports Medicine) Ron Courson has been on some committees to even talk about on a national level how to handle concussions and what are the signs to say that a young man is concussed and what are the signs to say that a young man is ready to go back and play safely. There is no question we have to be careful. Ron has his procedures that he does and we are going to follow that protocol. When Ron says he is safe to play, then he’ll play. If he says he’s not, then he’s not. Right now we don’t think it’s going to be this week for sure and probably not any time soon. I can’t predict that. There are certain factors that are tested and gauged and whenever he meets that criteria to go play, then he’ll play.”

On whether he has talked to Vince Dooley about the Tennessee game…
“Once or twice. He did mention to me basically what he said publicly in that I think he said he was going to stay at home and watch this one. I’m sure he’ll probably see (Derek Dooley) the night before the game. I’m assuming he would. I don’t know what he’ll do, that’s their business. Coach (Vince) Dooley absolutely loves the University of Georgia. There is no doubt about that. It’s such a big part of his life, but I think he loves Derek more, which he should.”

On practicing the ones vs. ones and twos vs. twos in full pads on Monday…
“I’ve never done that. Monday is usually a day in shorts and we do a little running and lifting and meeting. We install a little bit just from a mental standpoint, almost a glorified walkthrough just to kind of mend up on all that. I decided that we just needed to put the pads on and we needed to go have a little spring ball, which is No. 1 vs. No. 1. We had a team run drill where each group had eight plays apiece and the team that won didn’t have to run and the team that lost had to run after practice. Then we had an 11-on-11, which is more of anything goes, 1st-and-10 type scrimmage where you can run or pass with the same criteria, winners and losers. Then we put the ball on the four-yard line and got in a goal line situation and said you have four downs to score a touchdown, but you have to stay in your goal line offense and defense and you can’t throw the ball. It has to be a physical confrontation. We did that and I thought the players responded beautifully. I thought it pumped some life into those guys. I think they had fun playing football and blocking and tackling. We haven’t been blocking and tackling good enough. I’m going back to my original philosophy when I came to Georgia and that’s when I would say it’s hard to get better blocking without blocking and tacking, so I went back to that philosophy. What got me off that philosophy? A lot of it had to do with the one season when we had 32 guys hurt going into the year. You start out with camp and another one goes and another one goes. There are different schools of thought. One is you have to block and tackle to block and tackle well. The other one is let’s get everybody to the gate healthy and let’s kind of play our way into this game and pick our shots when we do those types of things. We did the least amount of that in camp than we’ve ever done. Is it biting us in the rear end right now? Probably so. That’s a decision I made based on what I just told you. The only thing I know how to do is go back to the basics of blocking and tackling and make sure we do that well.”

On whether he will carry that philosophy going forward…
“Yes I would. It’s hard not to flinch sometimes when you have your red cross looking pretty rough, but it’s part of football.”

On Garrison Smith and whether Georgia’s record impact what freshmen might play…
“Not the record, no. It was just a matter of feeling like we needed a little more punch up front. He’s a very strong play, very powerful guy. He’s still playing too high as rookies tend to do. He has to learn that he’s in a different league and that he’s going against much bigger, stronger, more physical people. He has the ability, and it was good for him to get that under his belt and learn and I think he’ll get better in a hurry. There is a chance that other guys will play. There are some other freshmen we have looked at to do that.”

#11, QB Aaron Murray
On practice in full pads yesterday…
“I think it was great. Coach [Mark] Richt really challenged us before practice that we were going to do something a little bit different and change it up. The guys really stepped up. If you are a true football player you enjoy competing. You don’t care that it’s two days after a game – you are ready to compete and put the pads back on. I feel like yesterday everyone was ready to compete and worked hard. We weren’t feeling sad about our record or anything. Everyone was flying around the ball and making plays. It was a very high-energy practice.”

On his season so far…
“I’m still making improvements. I have a lot that I need to work on. I miss things here and there, but my goal is just to keep getting better. I’m taking baby steps through the season, game in and game out, but I feel like I’m making strides. I want to just keep getting better, keep working and see what happens.”

On individual vs. team performance…
“[The team’s performance] is all that matters. I would trade all my stats for that. I would have 30 picks if it meant we were undefeated. Stats don’t mean anything – the only thing that matters is the win-loss column, and that’s all we’re worried about. It’s not about how many touchdowns. I want to do whatever it takes for us to win, whether it’s rushing or passing or whatever so that we can get a ‘W’.”

#48 FB Fred Munzenmaier
On costly turnovers…
“It’s been tough because of the area of the field that they’ve happened in, like sometimes right on the goal line. It stinks to lose the ball, and if anything it’s a huge momentum changer to be that close and have it taken away.”

“That takes consistency in practice and showing that it won’t happen. Our guys get a ton of reps in practice in those fast-paced situations and those things actually rarely happen in practice, so it’s unfortunate that it’s happened in games.”

On the strength and conditioning aspect…
“We work tremendously hard. There’s not a day that goes by that we’re not doing everything we can to be better. Our staff here makes sure that we’re constantly working and putting in the hours. I don’t think we ever feel that we’re overpowered by our opponent. You’re always going to have guys out there who are freaks of nature, but when we match up I’ve never been overpowered by anyone.”

#16 SE Kris Durham
On the mood of the team…
“We’re trying to stay positive, trying to have a positive mentality, and get back to having fun. It’s never fun when you lose. We want to work hard on positive things happening for us. But the big thing is we have to finish games. We have to finish. We haven’t done that yet so that’s what we need to focus on and that comes from us.”

On how A.J. Green’s play impacts the other players…
“Unfortunately I haven’t been able to play with him in a year and a half, but it’s one of those things where he opens windows for other players because he’s such a special, impact player. Teams have to roll coverages his way, which opens up the running game, and opens up other receivers. He’s such a playmaker. You just can’t say enough.”

#51, LB, Akeem Dent
On the team's response to practicing in full pads on Monday…
"I feel like we responded well. We went out full pads on a Monday, something that we're not used, and we went out and had a lot of fun. It was real exciting. Guys were upbeat and up-tempo and just ready to compete. It kind of sparked a little more fire and a little more energy throughout the guys in the locker room. Even after practice, we were still in there talking about practice because guys were out there having fun and guys were out there flying around. I think it was something that we needed."

#45, LB Christian Robinson
On giving up big plays on third down…
"It's difficult when you've done so well on first and second down and then on third down you don't get off the field. But with coach (Mark) Richt and coach (Todd) Grantham, what we do in the offseason practice with mat drills it's not fun. It's painful, and you know that sometimes you might get set back when you know you did it perfect. It's about finishing in the face of adversity and continuing to do what you're taught on the next play. Once the play is over you have to move to the next one because if you dwell on it that's when offenses are going to get you."

#15, WR Marlon Brown
On scoring his first touchdown last weekend at Colorado…
"Huge. Exciting. I was just happy. I was just real happy I finally got one."

On what he heard from the crowd at Tennessee last year in addition to boos…
"I heard a few comments here and there about my recruiting and wrong decision making but they are fans."

On how much more confident his is going into this year's Tennessee game compared to this point in the season last year…
"Tons. Like a lot. Like from level one to level 10."

On what made him overcome the pressure to stay in state at Tennessee and decide to come to Georgia…
"I just prayed about it, and when I woke up I was like 'I want to go to Georgia.' That's what happened."


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