Florida Week: Press Conference Quotes

Mark Richt

ATHENS - Quotes from Georgia's weekly press conference.

Head Coach Mark Richt

Opening comments:

"We are playing the defending national champions this week and that is a team that could easily be ranked No. 1 in the country. They have two very close losses to two outstanding teams, and they are only a fraction away from being where they were a year ago. They have a lot of talented athletes who are maximizing their abilities and they are very well-coached. They are an outstanding football team and everyone knows it. I have them ranked a little higher than everyone else, I think they are that good. It's going to be a whale of ballgame."

On the Florida offense:

"Offensively, we are seeing the same thing everyone in the country is seeing, and that is Tim Tebow. He is accounting for 70-75 percent of their offense. Everyone knew he could run the ball but no one knew for sure how he would do throwing it during the course of a whole season. But he has proven that he can throw it as good as anyone. Another standout on offense is Ben Percy Harvin. Him and Tebow are both true sophomores who played as true freshmen and made an impact then and now have really taken the offense over. I have compared Percy to Peter Warrick at FSU when I was coaching there, but a faster version of Peter. I say that because at FSU, Peter was a guy who, if anyone tried to cover him one-on-one, they were in trouble that day. Peter could go deep, catch the short route and make it into something big and he could make the intermediate cuts. There was no route he was uncomfortable with and I think it's the same for Percy. He is very talented. Andre Caldwell is getting back in the mix and getting healthy as well. Faison is working in the same mold as Percy, if Percy is not getting the ball out of the backfield, Faison is. They are not giving ball to their backs much but Brandon James is used in the backfield some and he can be dangerous. Ingram, their tight end, has really come on this year. He is a guy that Tebow likes to look to. He has made some big plays and some third down conversions. On that note, Florida is also one of the best 3rd down conversion teams in the country at over 55%. Finally, Drew Miller is their center, and I think he is their senior leader up front. They do a very nice job up front, they are a tremendous team offensively.

On the Florida defense:

On defense, Derrick Harvey has been their most productive player I would say. Productivity doesn't always manifest itself in a sack or tackle for loss. It could just be pressuring the quarterback and forcing people to account for him. There are a lot of protections being slid toward him and he is seeing some double teams. He has tremendous 'get off' and does a great job to pressure the passer. Brandon Spikes is their middle linebacker and we think he is a great football player. Joyner is their senior leader in the backfield and he is doing a nice job. Major Wright was injured and had surgery yesterday or today, but it sounds like he will play anyway. Hayden is doing a nice job as a true freshman, he is a confident cover guy."

On the Florida special teams:

I s doing nice job extra points and field goal, not missed PAT yet and 6/8 on FGs. Punter Henry has done very nice job true freshman tremendous hangtime, until last game had zero return yards against, tremendous speed on punt team. Last ball game Kentucky was able to return a couple for 14 yards, very nice job there. very dangerous returning the ball. Averaging over 30 yards as a kick returner and 19 yards on punt returns, scored a punt return touchdown and had another called back,

On why the Florida offense is so difficult to stop:

"Most quarterbacks carry out a fake and try to affect a defender, that's what the zone read is all about. If he hands the ball to the back and the unblocked defender chases after it, then the quarterback pulls the ball out and runs, that takes away a defender from the box in the running game. It forces someone to play the quarterback. If your quarterback is a true runner and you know he might run on any particular play, you gain an extra blocker. That means the guy you are picking up on the zone read is now being blocked. So the only player on the field who is unblocked is a free safety. If the defense is trying to play a two-safety look against a quarterback running game, they will always have one more blocker than you have defenders.

"Most defenses will only have one safety deep. If you commit to outnumbering them you have to go with no safeties. If you want to stop the run by getting an extra defender, you become vulnerable to the deep ball. It is a serious problem. The only way to stop an offense like this is for someone on any particular play to whip a block. Someone has to whip a block and make the tackle, and you can't guarantee that will always happen. Florida also runs enough option that you have to play assignment football, you can't just go recklessly against them. They have some answers for everything you try to do defensively. It all starts with the quarterback when you have the versatility Tebow has."

On the Georgia captains for the game:

"Fernando Velasco, Knowshon Moreno, Kelin Johnson and Jeff Owens are our captains for the game. I was told that Knowshon last week was the first freshman I had ever made a captain. In the beginning I would lean more heavily towards the seniors, but as time has gone on there have been some underclassmen that deserve that honor. We have done more juniors and sophomores, but I guess we never had a freshman until we selected Knowshon. He certainly has practiced and played like a champion, and that in itself is enough for me to make him a captain."

Player Quotes

Junior Tight End, #86 Tripp Chandler

On Florida having a psychological edge:

"They might with some of our guys, but with me it's not like that. It doesn't matter if they're the No. 1 team in the nation; I'm going into the game thinking we are going to win. I think everybody has to think that way."

On adversity:

"We've been down a bunch. We've been able to come back, and well, there have been times where we didn't come back. It's not a situation where if we get down we're going to fold. We've faced adversity before. Last year against Kentucky we were down 18 going into halftime. We've faced it before, and if we get down then we will fight back."

On Florida winning the game last year and much of the recent series:

"That's a different team. Last year's team is different from this year's team, and the year before that was different from this year. This is the '07 team. We can't worry about '06 or '05 or as far back as this bad stretch has gone for us. It's not about those other teams- it's just about this team."

Junior Fullback, #36 Brannan Southerland

On ball security:

"Coaches constantly stress ball security, ball security, ball security. You hear it every day and you practice it every day, and it just becomes second nature. As far as running backs go, just keep the ball 'high and tight' is what we always say. Keep your elbow against your ribs, and make a conscious effort to apply pressure."

On the offense without Knowshon Moreno should he suffer an injury as well:

"We would definitely lose an aspect of it. Just like losing Thomas (Brown) and Kregg (Lumpkin), those guys are hard to replace. Hopefully that won't happen. We've got some of those players behind us. Jason Johnson is definitely ready, and Caleb King is ready. He has got a lot of ability. Daniels has shown that he has ability too. The fullbacks, me, Chapas, and Munzenmaier, know the "H" and could get in there if we have to."

Sophomore Quarterback, #7 Matthew Stafford

On keeping up with fellow class of '05 quarterbacks Mitch Mustain and Tim Tebow:

"I keep up with them some. It's hard not to, because (Tebow's) everywhere you look. Tebow is doing a great job this year. He's all over the place. He's doing a great job and I'm happy for him."

On comparing himself and Tebow:

"We're in two completely different offenses and play on two completely different teams. I just try to be the best I can be and do what it takes to help this team win."

On when 'youth' is not a viable excuse for poor performance:

"I think that it's different for every position really. If you're a receiver you don't really have to think about anyone other than what you're trying to do, and the offensive line has to know what the guy next to you is doing. I think it's just different for every position and every person."

Junior Split End, #1 Mohammed Massaquoi:

On getting back into the SEC East race without playing a game last weekend:

"We know that we don't completely control our own destiny. But if we do the things that we need to do, we can put ourselves in position to be right where we want to."

On the series with Florida:

"It's a long history. This rivalry has been one that a lot of people have looked forward to every single year. We want to go out there and do the thing's we have been doing and get better with this game, show improvement, and try to come out with a win."

On playing in Jacksonville:

"This game is a special game and it's really unique. It's not like anywhere else; it's a neutral site. The fans are 50-50 on both sides, but we still have to just go out there and play."

Junior Free Safety, #5 CJ Byrd

On Florida quarterback Tim Tebow:

"I think he's a great player, and I think he has a different mentality as a quarterback. A lot of quarterbacks aren't as physical and don't like to be hit, but I think he likes the pain and he likes to bring the pain. He's just a different quarterback, and you have to treat him differently. He's a lot stronger and bigger, and he can run too."

Junior Linebacker, #44 Marcus Washington:

On returning to the action following injury:

"I've been battling these injuries trying to get on the field and stay on the field, and I just got to stay healthy. The bye week gave me a little bit of extra time to get healthy. Now, I'm going to come out and practice this week and tackle full go, and we'll see what happens this weekend."

Senior Strong Safety, #30 Kelin Johnson:

On Florida having an early lead in the games over the past couple of seasons:

"Florida has been doing a good job of setting the tone and stealing the momentum straight from us, and we're always having to play catch-up from behind. That's one thing that we are really going to have to focus on. We can't play catch-up, not against this team. We have to be fighting the whole time because they are going to be fighting the whole time. That's our goal to set the tone."

On if Georgia can use the off week prior to playing Florida to its advantage:

"Of course. You have to use it to your advantage. You have guys that are rested up now. We gained people as far as the scout team. I think the scout team is the number one thing for us this week. We gained guys back to help the team emulate Florida on offense and defense. Then we have guys coming back that are starters that are playing on defense like Marcus (Washington) and Brandon Miller. Those are two key guys in the middle of our defense."

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