“It’s cold out there. We actually got a little snow, or I don’t know what it was, for a little bit—maybe five or ten minutes. That was interesting for Spring ball. We had a really good day, I thought. Very high energy, but my guess is that it had to do with trying to stay warm. I don’t know if they would’ve been hustling if it would’ve been a hot day. They really were hustling good. We skipped all the breaks and just kept going. Nobody wanted to stand still, but a lot of things going on out there. We’re trying to run as many as three teams—a lot of guys, young guys, that are lost, quite frankly. I’m talking when we get to the number three units. I’m not talking about guys that are trying to take new positions. Overall, the tempo was great. The attitude is good. Everybody is coaching hard. Everybody is playing hard. I’m glad we’re inside now.”
Question: How is your hip?
Richt: I do better the more I move. Being up and around is not bad. The colder it is, the stiffer it gets. The warmer it is, the better it is for your muscles. I did almost get run over one time. I learned to back up a little bit more than I normally do. You’re used to standing in a normal spot, but I gotta back up a little bit.
Question: Was there an early enrollee that caught your eye?
Richt: I saw Rumph make a nice catch. Rankin was flying around out there. He actually put a hand on one of our quarterbacks, which you’re not supposed to do... We don’t want them touching out quarterback. He’s hustling real hard. I saw Tray Matthews and (Quincy) Mauger looked like they were running around back there pretty good. It’s hard to see what a Chris Mayes is doing because we’re in shorts but he sure looks good. He’s really put together well. John Atkins got himself in some pretty good shape during the mat drill program. I did see a lot of those guys on the mat drills. That gave me a good indication of how hard they’re working and how they’re picking it up. Brice made a couple nice throws here and there. He fumbled a couple snaps, too, and threw a couple where you don’t know where he was throwing it, like all freshmen do. It’s hard to name everyone since there are thirteen of them, but they all got a little piece of the day. Our goal is to not have any scout team work in the spring; we want everyone to get reps. By running that third unit, a lot of guys are getting reps. Josh Cardiello was playing some at center. Between him and Bryce, they had their struggles on the QB-center exchange, which is typical.
Question: How is Coach Wilson’s style different from what has been used in the past?
Richt: I’ll be honest, I didn’t really follow him around. I didn’t really watch real close. Now that you say that, I probably ought to at least watch a few periods. I just know he’s a great veteran coach that doesn’t need babysitting. I saw him coach on the mat drills. He got after them (in mat drills). One thing I did notice in mat drills, he’ll bark out instructions and encouragement, but if he wants to say something else that might not be quite as uplifting, he tends to get real close to them and whisper something in their ear. I’m not sure what he’s saying to them. But I did notice that one time. He wanted to get real close to a guy and make his point in private.
Question: Can you talk about Jordan Jenkins some?
Richt: Jordan is in great condition. He already has proved to us that he’s a pretty disciplined football player. He’s very coachable, teachable. He wants to do it 100 percent right, all of the time. He’s probably more advanced than most freshmen because of that attitude and the fact that he got a lot of reps. I see him in position to make a bunch of plays for us, and he’s got to do it. Another guy is DeLoach, whose playing some SAM. He really looks good. He’s in tremendous condition; he’s a great athlete. It’s going to be interesting to see how he can do. We are definitely not as big up front, but we’re pretty quick and athletic. It’s going to be interesting to see how we’ll hold up against a smashmouth team as the season goes on, but we’ve certainly got some guys that can run. We’ve still got some big kids. John Taylor is a big kid. Mayes is a big kid. Atkins is a big kid. We still got some size, but we don’t seem quite as thick. We’re trimmer it seems like. We’re more athletic and faster.
Question: This is a time to experiment a little. Is there a time when you have to decide who is a defensive end for sure and who is an outside backer for sure?
Richt: I think we got to find out where everybody belongs. Coach Grantham always says he is going to try to find the best eleven for the situation—for the game you’re playing, the formation you’re playing or the down and distance you’re playing. So we do a lot of subbing. Some guys are outside linebackers on first down, and sometimes on third down, they put their hand on the ground and they’re a rush guy. There’s a lot of cross-training going on. He does that because it creates some depth for you. If you can bring in a guy that can play here and can play there, it helps you out.
Question: Does Josh Harvey-Clemons need to eat more?
Richt: He looks slim, doesn’t he? Surprisingly, he’s relatively stout on contact. He looks tall and rangy, doesn’t look super thick, but there’s something about him. When he strikes, he holds up pretty good. We want him to be a good cover guy. Want him to be able to cover tight ends and slot receivers. He’s very versatile in his athleticism. Can he play outside linebacker? We think so. Can he play some safety? We think so too. The thing for him is to learn it.
Question: Can you talk about the depth of the defense this year?
Richt: I think we are going to have good depth. Sometimes people talk about depth in that ‘we’ve got a lot of experienced depth. We have depth of guys that have played a lot.’ Sometimes as a coach, you feel more comfortable because if so-and-so happened to get hurt, you have a guy behind him that’s played and is ready. I think we’re going to have depth—a lot of it will be inexperienced, but I don’t see a huge difference between some No. 1s and some No. 2s. I can see us doing a lot by-committee at certain positions, especially up front in that line and along the front seven.
Question: What’s Brandon Harton’s injury? And can you talk about the tailback situation overall?
Richt: I forgot what Brandon’s was, but we have a few guys that are hurt. I don’t know if it was a muscle pull or a shoulder. I can’t remember what it was. We think he’ll be back by the time spring break is over. We think Keith Marshall will be back by the time that’s over, too. We’re running J.J. Green at running back right now. We had Karempelis, Green and Gurshall. Is that what we call him? I mean Gurley.
Question: Is J.J. Green more of a need at that position?
Richt: Right at this moment, we need him to be there, but he’s not going to be like a split receiver or a wide receiver. He’s going to be more of a slot receiver. A lot of times if you can cross-train a back to be a back and a slot receiver as well, that’s where we think he’ll find a niche for us offensively. And of course, special teams, we want to see what he can do there, too.
Question: Anyone taking a leadership role on Defense that maybe you didn’t expect?
Richt: I won’t say I didn’t expect it, but right now your top two guys are Swann and Garrison Smith.
Question: What’s with practices after G-Day?
Richt: I like a day between every practice. I like Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. I think everybody likes that. We actually schedule our classes around Tuesday, Thursday. On Monday, Wednesday, Fridays, a lot of the classes dig into the normal practice day... If you practice and then practice again (the next day), as you’re watching film of this practice, it’s hard to install for the next practice on the next day. So now, we can spend a whole day after watching the practice you just had. The meetings prior to the next practice allow us to install.
Question: Can you talk about Aaron Murray helping Brice Ramsey and some of the younger guys?
Richt: He really is another coach on the field. He’s having fun out there right now. He knows what he’s doing. He’s out there making plays, and when he’s not, he’s out there helping other guys figure it out. I told the guys after practice, “you’ve got thirteen guys (twelve without Trammel Terry) practicing for the first time, so help these guys out. Help them. Teach them. Encourage them.” It’s going fast for those guys. Usually in the spring, you don’t have rookies or mid-years, you have veterans, so you can install things fast at a veteran’s pace. When you have a few rookies in there, it’s hard for them to keep up. Hopefully our guys will encourage them and help them along the way.
Question: How is Michael Bennet’s recovery from the ACL?
Richt: He’s on track. He’s doing great. He won’t do anything in the spring. I don’t know the exact date, but I think he’ll get at least two or three full months of no limitation on his training. We think he will be full-speed and ready to go.
Question: What can you say about Tony Ball’s decision to turn down Tennessee and remain on staff?
Richt: I’m thrilled to death that (Coach Ball) is still there. Tony is one of the best coaches I’ve been around. He’s so meticulous in his work. He’s not taking anything for granted with these kids. He’s going to teach them the fundamentals of how to play that position from the very grassroots of it—even the stance. Every little detail you can think of he’s going to cover it. Even a guy like A.J. Green with his awesome talent, if you’re coachable and teachable, you’re going to get better with Coach Ball. Not only is he a good position coach, he’s an outstanding special teams coach. He really has a great understanding of the big picture. I think Tony understands the run game and the passing game, and he’s got some really strong leadership qualities. He’s a guy that could be a coordinator one day somewhere. I’m really glad he’s here. I don’t even know if the players knew what was going on. Tony’s a very private guy, but I’m glad he’s staying.
Question: Who else can help the pass-rush besides Jordan Jenkins?
Richt: Whoever plays SAM and WILL, they tend to be in position to make sacks. You’ve got some interior linemen that are going to jump in there and could make some plays. Your edge rushers are the guys that make most of the sacks. I mentioned DeLoach here just a minute ago. We may have to bring pressures to get some sacks. Josh Harvey-Clemons is going to play some SAM; Josh has got some pass-rushing ability, so I’d think he’d get some opportunities. No reason Ray Drew can’t get some sacks. He’ll probably have a chance one-on-one with a guard and they may be sliding their protection away from him, so he could do it too.
Question: When you’re talking about the early enrollees, some that you’ll probably need this year, how slowly do you bring them along this spring?
Richt: It just depends on the depth chart. Are there a lot of guys on campus right now at a certain position? Like safety, right now. We don’t have a boatload of guys at safety, so Tray and Mauger, those guys are going to get reps with the No. 1 units. It’s going to go fast. Their brains are going to start spinning with all the information they’re trying to get, but also, there’s pressure to step on the practice field for the first time. You think about being a Bulldog for a year and a half or whatever, and now all of a sudden there you are in practice. There are emotions that go through your mind as you’re trying to figure everything out. The more you do it, the better you get. What happens is when spring is over and they have all summer to practice what they know they’re doing, when Fall practice begins, those midyear guys are going to be glad they went through everything in the spring. When they’re watching their other freshman teammates go through it, they’re like ‘man, I’m glad I got that over with.’