Sugar Bowl Week 2: Press Conference Quotes

ATHENS - Georgia head coach Mark Richt held a press conference Friday where he previewed the Bulldogs' upcoming game against Hawaii in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The game airs on FOX and begins at 8:30 pm ET on Jan. 1.

Opening Comments:

"The University of Hawaii is undefeated, plain and simple. No one has beaten them. A of teams have had a lead on these guys, but they are very resilient. They will not give up no matter what happens. I've watched a lot of film like we normally do as coaches just to study end zone and side copies. I have also watched a couple of TV copies of some of these games, and it is much more impressive to see them on the TV copy, quite frankly. You get a little better feel for the spirit of the team and just the mental toughness and resilience that they have. I think you have to start with Colt Brennan. There is no question he is the key. You hear about him having a lot of numbers with touchdown passes and yards, and after studying the regular film and the TV copy, he is really good. He is special.

"It's going to be a good game. I'm excited about it. I know our players are. Our coaches have done a good bit of recruiting, but I told our staff that the best recruiting we could do is to win this game. We have a lot of respect for this team and we feel like it is going to take everything we have to win it.

"We are definitely wearing our black jerseys. Our guys are excited about it. I hope our fans are too. Last time when we had this suggestion for the fans to get excited about it, they did and they made the difference in it being a good day and an unbelievable day. I hope our fans are excited about it and get in the spirit of it too."

On the Hawaii offense:

"The backs are very-well coordinated in their protection. The receivers are very fast. They have great hands. They know how to run these routes. They are very tough. I say that because they do catch a lot of under routes and they get hit quite a bit, but they hang on to the football and pop right back up. I am very impressed with what they are doing offensively. Coach (June) Jones is doing a great job in that regard."

On the Hawaii defense:

"Defensively, they are very big up front. They are very stout. The linebackers run well. They do fly around the ball and play full speed and very hard. They were about 95th in the nation in total defense last year. I think this year they are in the 35 range, much improved from a year ago."

On Hawaii's special teams:

"Their special teams are really outstanding. You can see coach Jones' professional influence in how they do their special teams. They are very, very good at that too."

On the notion that the game is a no-win situation for Georgia:

"We would have a lot to gain from a victory. I don't believe that. Our seniors could win their 40th game as a unit. To win 40 games in a four-year span is pretty special. I know our guys are excited about that possibility. I think our underclassmen realize that a victory here would set the stage for the future. The way the BCS is set up, I think it is very important where you are ranked preseason. I hate to say much about it, but it's the way it is. You might climb from not being ranked in the preseason to getting in the game, but if you have the same amount of losses as another team, you probably won't if they are ranked in the top ten or something. I think the preseason ranking has an effect on where you might finish, so there is a lot of incentive for our players to try to win the game for that reason. Everyone wants to be considered champions, and we were not able to be Southeastern Conference champions, but we could be Sugar Bowl champions. I think that means a lot. Eleven wins in a season would be a tremendous accomplishment."

On if it is surprising to see strides made by Georgia's freshmen offensive linemen:

"We probably didn't play as good as I hoped early on at times, but we probably finished better than I thought we could finish. Was I surprised? Maybe a little bit. I was very hopeful we would get really good as the year went on. It's not like we just drop back and chunk it every down and put those guys one-on-one with some of the finer defensive ends in the country. Offensively, our coaches have done a very nice job of doing things that would protect a true freshman left tackle or any of those guys. We've gotten better and better at running the ball. They have played well."

On how satisfying the season has been:

"It has been a lot of fun. It's the most fun I have had coaching. When we did play Tennessee and we lost the way we did, we were trying to figure out why there was no energy, not passion or what seemed to be very little energy or passion. I'm trying to figure that out. You lay awake at night trying to figure out what's going on, and I had to look in the mirror and say you are as big a part of the problem as anybody if not the biggest part. I'm supposedly the leader of the team, and I kind of stood around and waited for something to happen too. I said I'm not going to let that happen again. We are going to gameplan some energy here. We are going top gameplan some excitement. We are going to gameplan some passion. In doing so, some things that we did got the guys excited. They gained their confidence and their swagger, and we grabbed some momentum and we took off with it. It was fun to see everything happen the way it did.

"The Florida game was a lot of fun. That blackout was a big deal. It was beyond any expectation I could have had for that day. It was a unique day in Georgia football history from what I have heard and what I witnessed. I've been coaching for 20-something years, and I have never been through anything like that. It was awesome. It was a day where every player, every fan in that stadium, every coach, everybody had a part in that victory. It would not have been the same without everyone getting involved and buying into this thing, and that was fun."

Georgia Player Quotes

Senior Center, #75 Fernando Velasco on if he agrees with the opinion that Georgia has nothing to gain with this game:

"I think we have everything to gain. This game poses a great challenge for us. It's the biggest challenge we've had all season because of Hawaii's ability to score points and throw the ball around. They'll not only pose a challenge for our defense, but our offense as well trying to keep their high-powered offense off the field."

On Stafford not getting as much attention as other quarterbacks, including Colt Brennan:

"That's just people's opinions. Matthew is a great quarterback and he's done a great job for us this season. That's just not our style. Colt Brennan throws the ball all over the place. That's not Coach Bobo's kind of offense. We'll take a couple deep shots here and there, but they're going for it five-wide every play. He might not have the same stats and numbers, but as long as we win I'm sure Matthew's not worried about all the hype."

On wearing the black jerseys in the Sugar Bowl:

"When Coach Richt first told us we were going to where the black jerseys against Auburn, of course all the seniors said we wanted to wear them too if we got to the SEC Championship and we wanted to wear them in the bowl game too. I'm glad it all worked out that we can wear them in this game."

Junior Split End, #1 Mohammed Massaquoi

On if Hawaii will come in with a nothing-to-lose mentality:

"I don't think they're coming in here playing like they have nothing to lose. They're trying to gain respect. They think that they deserve a spot in the National Championship game, so they're not playing with nothing to lose. They have something to prove."

On if he's still disappointed not being in the National Championship game:

"Not a all. We're playing Hawaii, we're going to a BCS game, and we're happy."

Senior Tailback, #20 Thomas Brown

On talk that Georgia is in a no-win situation in this game:

"I don't pay attention to that. It's a great game for our program because if we win it I would hope to start in the top three or at least top five next year. I know I won't be a part of it, but I'm just excited about what this team could do in the future."

On getting to wear the black jerseys this year:

"There are a couple of guys who have wanted to do it since we've been here. I can remember talking about it as a freshman. It was Coach Richt's decision to bring them out for the Auburn game and again in the bowl game, and we're excited about. It's a great emotional boost for us."

On leaving a possible legacy if they win this game:

"We want to finish out on top and be the senior class that propelled Georgia to a top-five caliber team. If we win this game, the worst we would be ranked next season in my opinion is No. 3."

Senior Strong Safety, #30 Kelin Johnson

On coach Mark Richt saying that this season is the most fun that he's ever had coaching:

"I agree. You can tell he's having a wonderful time. You can tell his family is having a good time, the coaching staff is having a good time and his players are having a good time. You say that when you are winning, but it's just something about him. When we see him in a good mood, it puts us in a good mood. It makes us want to come to practice and work hard and it makes us want to play harder in the game. That's one thing about this team this year that's been a blessing in disguise. Whatever it is, it's a good momentum for this team right now."

On whether or not next year's preseason rankings will be the last big part of the legacy of this year's senior class:

"I guess it is. I know this game against Hawaii will be the first game of the regular season for those guys next year. That's how I feel. The juniors are going to be seniors. This is a milestone to something great - to go out there and get after Hawaii so that they can have a wonderful off-season. The spirits are going to be high and the momentum of this program will be on a high. If we win this game, and if we win it real good, we are top-five no doubt. That brings a lot of things to this program that we haven't had in the program the last couple of years."

On what he thought about senior Thomas Brown taking 21 hours of classes this semester:

"I thought he was crazy, especially in the middle of the season. That just says a lot about him. He's going to do some things that are just unexpected. I'm sure Thomas or A.J. (Bryant) would say the same thing about me. (Thomas) is just a guy that is hungry. He knew his goals and he fulfilled his goals. That's one thing that a lot of our underclassmen going to look at and say 'Wow, I have an opportunity to graduate this semester, maybe I can take two extra classes that what I usually would so that I can get my degree.' He did that."

On how quarterback Matthew Stafford has handled the team emerging as a rushing-based team:

"To be honest with you, I think we are balanced. Knowshon Moreno has done a great job, Thomas Brown has done a great job running the ball for us this year, so yeah it seems like we are a running team. But there's been times where Matt knows he has to get the first down, where he knows we need to get the touchdown - and boom there it is. We did a great job of just milking the clock this year helping the defense out. There have been teams like Auburn and Florida - we've been keeping them off the field. The offense has been having these long 18 play drives of whatever the case may be and that helps a lot. It kind of seems like we are a running team, but in reality we still have that passing threat. We have still have those receivers that can go downtown and get it. That's a balanced offense."

Senior Defensive End, #38 Marcus Howard

On going against a pass-oriented team in Hawaii:

The whole defensive front is licking their chops because we don't like to play against the run. We want to play against the pass - the whole defensive front. Hopefully, the coaches will let us do that in practice so that we won't have any inside."

On if he was excited to find out about the match-up against Hawaii knowing that Hawaii will pass several times:

"At first, the defense was like 'man, we got to against Hawaii and they're just going to throw the ball and we're going to get tired like we were against Troy,' but then when you think about it, you want to showcase your athletic ability. The best way to do that is to play against the pass and play against a great quarterback in Colt Brennan. The DBs, they are going to have a great chance to showcase their talent because this will be the best set of wide receivers we've played all year."

Sophomore Cornerback, #2 Asher Allen

On the challenge of going against Hawaii' offense:

"This is going to be the biggest challenge all year. This game, obviously knowing what they are going to do coming into it, obviously is big, but many teams have had the same feeling. You pretty much go into the game having an idea of what they're going to do but they still put 40 points on you, so obviously defensively this is a big game for us."

On going against Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan:

"The receivers and him have a great chemistry together, and you can see it on the film of how well they work together. Again, it's going to be the biggest challenge for us by far defensively, and we just have to make sure we get ready for it."

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