Richt: Murray is Our Leader
Mark Richt
Posted Aug 4, 2011

ATHENS - Mark Richt's quotes from his meeting with the media on Thursday.


“Welcome back, everybody. I’m glad it’s time for football, glad we’re practicing today. It’ll be hot and I know you’ll have some questions about that. We’ll try to cover those as you ask them. It’s certainly smokin’ hot out there right now. I’m just thankful we’ve now got real grass out there that we can practice on and there’s actually a breeze up top there. So I think that’s gonna help us. There are some other things we’ll be doing to pay attention to the heat.

“Yesterday morning we did a test of guys running. Overall, we did very well there. We’re still dealing with summer school classes today and tomorrow with final exams. We’ve actually had to get ‘em up at 6 o’clock in the morning and spend a little time with them. I think this is the 2nd time this has happened in the 11 years I’ve been at Georgia, where we’ve had to try and work around final exams of summer school, and still try and get your acclimation days in at the same time. It’s been a little bit tough to manage, but we’ve worked really well with our academic advisers.

A Georgia worker bee positions the mic. (Dean Legge/Dawg Post)

This morning we also had a walk-through before guys had exams, and we’ll be back this afternoon for acclimation practice #1, which will be in shorts and helmets.

On how the heat has changed plans for preseason…

“Well, here’s what we’re going to do. First of all, the first two practices will be in the afternoon. The good news is that, because of the acclimation, the first couple of days need to be in shorts and helmets. I think that’s going to help them, just because they’re not in full pads. We’re adding an extra break or two. We always have water breaks in the middle of practice, but we’re adding another couple of breaks, get them under some shade, get them where they can hydrate. The other thing is, if a kid’s in a drill, and this is all the time at Georgia. If a guy is in a drill – let’s say there are five guys in a drill, and each guy is taking his turn doing the drill. If the first guy gets his ‘rep’ in and he’s waiting in the back of the line for another minute or so, we have student trainers right there with water, PowerAde all day long. So, they can hydrate during the entire practice, but there will be four times in the middle of practice when we’ll stop, get some shade and make sure they’re hydrating.

“The other thing is, starting Saturday we’re actually going to practice in the morning. We’re doing that because of the heat and also because of the cycle of rain. Normally the thunderstorms happen in the afternoon, and if it happens in the middle of a practice, it’s just hard to recover, or try to re-schedule a practice in the middle of the night. So, we’re going to practice in the morning because of the weather patterns and also because it’s going to be 10 to 15 degrees cooler. Sometimes we concern ourselves with not practicing in the heat. You might play a game in the heat, but we also know that once school begins, we HAVE to practice in the afternoon, so we’ll have two weeks of practicing in the afternoon before Game 1. And we all know that Game 1 is in the Dome, so that won’t be much of a factor. We’ll play Game 2 at 4:30, so we think three weeks will be enough time to practice in the afternoon.

“The fact that we’re on grass now and not on the Field Turf will be good. It’ll be cooler than we’re used to. There is a breeze up there, a lot better than it is on the Field Turf now. Even during a break, if we need to dip inside our big indoor area, we can actually hydrate and cool down for a couple of minutes. I think all of those things will really help us a lot.”

Richt said: "I don't think (my future) is an issue at all in this building". (Dean Legge/Dawg Post)

On being ranked in the first Coaches’ Top 25 poll…

“It’s nice to be mentioned without any doubt. It’s more important where you are at the end. I think it’s a good sign for the program. It’s a good sign of respect if coaches feel like Georgia is a Top 25 team.”

On the difference in preparing now versus preparing for the 2002 season, when it had been 20 years since Georgia’s previous SEC championship…

“We were in this room last night and I referred to the 2002 season, the preseason, and some of the things we had talked about. There are some similarities. It hadn’t been 20 years since our last championship, more like five or six, which is too long in my mind. But we talked a little about the mindset of the team and the program, going into 2002, and we did mention that it had been 20 years. We talked about some of the reasons why it had been 20 years.

“Are we preparing any differently? I think, as far as practice schedules and that type of thing, it’s certainly different because some of the NCAA rules have changed. But the mentality has got to be different. We need to make sure our mentality is right.”

On depth concerns dictating the way preseason practice is run…

“Right now we’ve scheduled 11 days in full pads, three of which are scrimmages, one is a special teams practice, and two others are just for scout-team purposes. So there are really just going to be five of what I call ‘competition days’ in full pads. There will be 11 practices in “shells” and approximately six or seven in shorts. So I think we have a good mix of making sure we do things we need to do to get better at blocking and tackling.

“One thing I like about (defensive coordinator Todd) Grantham is that he’s so used to playing with a 53-man roster. When you look at a college depth chart, you’re thinking, ‘Man, we might be thin.’ And he (Grantham) says, ‘Coach, I’m used to playing with 53 guys.” He’s right. There are some spots where we can’t afford many injury issues. I say that, but then someone could step up and do something great. This is a story from way back, but I recall when Kentrell Curry had some type of pre-season leg injury and I was thinking, ‘We just don’t have enough safeties. What in the world are we going to do?’ So we said, ‘Well, let’s just take Thomas Davis and move him to safety.’ It might have been best thing we ever did. He was one of the greatest safeties I’ve seen in college football. Sometimes, it just forces a guy into a different situation and it becomes a great thing for him.”

Addressing the heat again…

“We didn’t have any precautions back in my day. No worries about that. But it is very hot. If you took 90 degree temperatures last year on the Field Turf, and then take a 100 degree temperature on the grass, we’re probably better off on the grass because it is cooler on the grass. And with the breeze we’re getting, I think it’s going to help us.

“No matter what precautions you take, you’ve got to keep a really close eye on your players. You hope you know them well enough to see if they begin to show any signs of heat problems.”

On keeping freshmen’s expectations in check…

“I told all of them, ‘Your goal is to learn what to do.’ Most of them have been here during the summer, working out. They’ve realized that there are some pretty good players on this team. Now that we’re installing things and we’re going at a veteran pace and not a rookie pace, their heads are swimming already. And they’re realizing they have a lot to learn, a lot to prove before they’re ready to play. So all I’m asking them to do is learn what to do, and to do your very best to get yourself in position to compete. I want all of them to contribute; I hope they do. I hope a lot of them contribute in a big way. As far as skill sets, there’s no question that, either sooner or later, they will really be productive for us. It’s just going to be when they figure it out and, maybe, the depth situation at their position may dictate some things. But I don’t want them to feel pressure to carry the team on their backs.”

Richt said online imposers of players and coaches were common nowadays. (Dean Legge/Dawg Post)

Inside Linebacker, #45 Christian Robinson

On the upcoming season…

“It’s an exciting feeling knowing that the season is right here and what we’re playing for. I’m really excited for the freshman to get out there. I’ve been here and I’m ready to get prepared, but I also want to see these young guys that are going to help us contribute this year.”

On the freshman class…

“I think we’re just trying to prepare them for what’s about to happen. There’s going to be times where the coaches are going to get on them and the past two or three years they’ve been recruited, it’s been all fun and games. The moment someone gets on you that’s been your best friend for a while, that might be difficult. I know that physically, they’re all ready and that they can contribute if they just study. It’s going to take time. Camp is about making football [like a] class and I think if they take the time to treat it like that and excel, a lot of them will be able to contribute.”

On the Boise State game changing the pre-season preparation…

“I don’t know if it’s changed, but we realized what happened last season wasn’t what we wanted it to be. Because of that, having all of these extra things added on to that, besides having new jerseys and having this huge opener, and the game after playing South Carolina, it just makes it that much more hyped up. It gives us motivation daily. We have a constant reminder about what’s coming and remembering that we don’t want last season to happen again. We’re ready to go and I think we have the tools to be successful.”

On No. 22 in the coaches poll…

“At the end of the day, teams can start off not ranked and can win a national championship. I think that if we win our games in this conference, that’s what could happen. It might not be where people thought we were, but we have the tools to have a really high ranking and to beat a lot of good teams, and ultimately, if we take it one game at a time, we can be that top team. People might think that’s a little cliché, but it’s all about taking care of business.”

Quarterback, #11 Aaron Murray

On having patience in the pocket…

“I think that the comfort level has definitely increased. You get to the line of scrimmage and you hike the ball, there’s guys flying everywhere, the speed and the size of the guys, sometimes going through your mind is just ‘Get rid of the ball so you don’t get killed.’ You really have to trust the guys up front. You have to trust that they know what they’re doing. They’ve put in the time and effort just like you have to understand the responsibilities. I know Ben [Jones] as a leader of the group has done a tremendous job with the other four guys, making sure they know what they’re doing, that they’re fundamentally sound and they’re ready to go when it comes to run protection and pass protection.”

On No. 22 in coaches poll…

“It just shows we have the talent to win. We have all the talent in the world. We get great recruits year in and year out and have great coaches. There’s no excuse why we shouldn’t be a top-10 team or a top-five team. We’ve just got to go out there and prove it. I know we’re excited and eager to go out there and show the nation that we’re even better than 22nd. It’s an honor to be ranked, of course, but our goal is to be ranked No. 1 and to finish at No. 1. We won’t be satisfied until we are.”

On improving the offense…

“[We need to] just finish games, especially in the fourth quarter. If you look at our production in the first three quarters, we were moving the ball great. Then fourth quarter some games, we just died down a little bit. We’ve just got to keep that intensity rolling throughout the game. Also, a lot less mental mistakes at all position. We’ve just got to stay mentally focused throughout the game and I think we’ll be fine.”

On his leadership role…

“I’m still working on that leadership role. That’s something Coach [Mike] Bobo and Coach [Mark] Richt challenged me this offseason to do is to increase that role a little bit. I definitely think I’m starting to earn the trust of my teammates a lot more. I know we’ve got some great older leadership, especially Ben Jones and Brandon Boykin – they have done a tremendous job of leading this team from the offensive and defensive standpoint. I think my comfort level of what I need to do has increased and that’s allowed me to work with other guys, to work with younger guys, work with the lineman, the receivers and really get to know what they’re doing a lot better. I think as a leader, you’ve got to learn what the guys around you are doing. Last year, I was more concerned about, ‘Hey, I’ve got to work on me. I have a lot to prove. I have a lot to work on. I have yet to play a game.’ Not saying I know it all now – I still have a lot to do to improve my game, but now I am able to focus a lot more on the other guys. I think when you do that, you’re definitely showing the guys how much you care about them and about this team, and that improves the leadership.”

Center, #60 Ben Jones

On Coach Richt’s new energy for the season…

“All the coaches have a positive attitude about this year. We put in a thing about the ‘energy bus’, saying everybody get on board or get off. So that has been a big thing in the offseason. He showed us videos. We read a book about the energy bus. So that was a big part of our offseason.”

On goals for the offense…

“This year we just want to finish the fourth quarter. I know we left a lot of points out there in the fourth quarter and made a lot of mental errors in the fourth quarter. I know some games we had a great first- through third-quarters. This year we want to finish the game, and get some wins in the fourth quarter.”

On how to practice to get better for the fourth quarter…

“[We need to be] doing everything to perfection in practice. Don’t let the little things slide because when you are tired that’s when the things happen. It’s the fourth quarter. In the first quarter it might be alright because you’re going hard and that guy’s going hard, but when you get tired, that guy might be going a little harder than you, so that’s when it might be a fumble or a sack late. That’s when it happens, when you are a little tired.”

On QB Aaron Murray…

“It’s a pleasure having [Aaron] Murray in the huddle with us everyday. Last year he was focused on getting the play in and executing. This year he is motivating us, telling us, ‘Hey, let’s finish this drill. We are going to go out and dominate the defense today.’ He has really stepped up as the leader role in the offense.”

On being ranked No. 22 in the coaches’ preseason poll…

“That’s an honor being ranked in the top-25. Just looking forward to that first game vs. Boise St. I know we worked really hard this offseason and we have a lot of talent coming back, so I’m shocked, but I can’t wait. It’s just going to make us work that much harder today in practice.”

Sr. CB, #2 Brandon Boykin

On what he wants the team to accomplish the first day of practice…

“First day, probably just looking to accomplish getting back in the groove of things, seeing how well conditioned we are. I know we have been running and doing things this summer, but we have to put it on the football field. We just need to teach the young guys on what to do because we are going to need those guys on Sept. 3.”

On importance of third-and-longs…

“It’s so important. Just going back and looking at the games, we lost a lot of them because of the third-and-longs we had. I thought we did pretty well on the third-and-shorts, but we have like a third-and-12 situation, and we weren’t able to take care of business. It’s something we have to be more consistent on to win games.”

On TE Orson Charles…

“He’s a playmaker. He’s one of the best offensive players we have. When he has the balls in his hands, he makes plays. He’s a threat all the times he has the ball in hands. He is a vital part to our offense, and giving him the ball gives us an opportunity to win.”

On what freshman he’s excited to see…

“I definitely want to see what big Jonathan Jenkins can do today and how he moves. Chris Sanders, Damian Swan, and I want to see what Malcolm Mitchell is going to do. I have seen him on the 7-on-7s, so I want to see what he can do.”

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