Ga. Southern Week: Press Conference Quotes

Posted Aug 26, 2008

ATHENS - Georgia head coach Mark Richt and several football players looked ahead to the 2008 season opener against Georgia Southern during the Bulldogs’ weekly press conference Tuesday. They offered the following comments:

Head Coach Mark Richt

Opening statement…

“Here we are again. The season is starting and I know our players are ready to play a game. Our coaches are ready to see what we have. I’m sure the fans are excited about getting this thing rolling too. We are playing Georgia Southern of course. They have a great program. They are only 27 years old and they have more victories than anyone in the history of 1-AA football and the most national championships. Of course Georgia’s Erk Russell started it all and started it with a bang and never looked back. You add Coach (Chris) Hatcher to that success and all the things that has done in his career with a wonderful winning percentage and a national championship at Valdosta. He went undefeated in the regular season two seasons in a row. He has done a lot of great things. He has always scored points everywhere he has been. His quarterbacks have done great and he does a great job of coaching quarterbacks and making them the focal point of his offense.

“From what I understand they might be running a little bit of a two- quarterback system until things settle down anyway. We know both (Lee) Chapple and (Antonio) Henton. We’ve seen both guys in our camps and they are talented quarterbacks. They have a relatively new offensive line, which will be like ours. They will have a lot of young guys playing. Their receiving corps is their most veteran group. Their running backs are young, and we are young in that category too. Defensively they have nine guys who have at least started in one game. Three of their four defensive backs are back, and they have 37 interceptions among them. Their placekicker Jesse Hartley has been outstanding. He has kicked a 54-yarder for a game winner. Their punter is brand new, so we will see how he does.

“They are a team that has had tremendous success over the years. Appalachian State only lost one game last year and that was to Georgia Southern, so that gets my attention. We have a high level of respect for Georgia Southern. Most of their kids are from in-state just as ours are. We think it will be a pretty heated rivalry. I know we have some players who played high school ball with these guys, so there is a lot of pride in this game. We are looking forward to getting it started.”

On handling high expectations…

“When we got into camp, I thought we started out with the normal energy, excitement and enthusiasm. Then we just hit an injury bug a little bit more than we are used to having. A couple of kids are already lost for the season since camp started in Trinton Sturdivant and Charles White. Others are going to lose some significant playing time in Quintin Banks and Brannan Southerland. The camp was a little different than others in that it was frustrating for us to not have the players there to practice. We couldn’t evaluate the young guys as much as we would like to. We’ve been juggling more in this camp than we did all last year put together on the offensive line. One thing that has concerned me about this camp is the lack of warm weather. It’s been cool. Like today, there isn’t much heat and much humidity. Even this Saturday if it gets sunny and 92 degrees like they say it might, it could be tough on our guys. I hope we have enough depth to withstand it.”

On the possibility of Knowshon Moreno returning punts…

“Knowshon had a spell where he couldn’t get any reps, and I guess he fell by the wayside. Not to say he won’t get revived one day, but I doubt he does it the first game. If you get the ball to Knowshon in the open field with the kind of blocking we’ve been getting the last couple of years, that is pretty valuable. He just didn’t get some of the work here at the end. I wouldn’t count Knowshon out of returning some punts before this year is over. He is very capable and he would be excited about the opportunity."

On Georgia’s rotation at running back…

“Knowshon will of course get the majority of carries. Richard Samuel and Caleb King will both get reps. I hope Dontavius (Jackson) and Carlton (Thomas) both get reps too. I’m not discounting them from getting a carry here and there. All those tailbacks are still in the running to play as true freshmen. Richard and Caleb are the frontrunner for the next reps. I can’t say who will be the first one to get the carry. They will be the two who get the majority of reps after Knowshon.”

On Georgia’s defense…

“Our defense has a chance to be pretty good. We have a lot of returning players and starters. They are guys who know what they are doing and guys who know what it takes to play the Georgia way. I’m confident that they will get after it pretty good. I wouldn’t necessarily say this is the fastest defense we’ve had. I’m not saying it’s not. It’s hard to gauge. I think we looked faster than usual last year because I know we played more guys than usual. The more guys you play the fresher they are and the faster they look.”

On being ranked No. 1….

“Is it a good thing? It’s good if we stay there and if we are there at the end. It’s been good as far as a lot of positive publicity for our football team. Has it helped me motivate? I would have to think it’s a motivating factor for our guys. It is an exciting factor for our guys to feel like people believe that about our program. They know it will be up for judgment every week, so I guess it was fun while it lasted.”

On the youth of Georgia’s offensive line…

“We were very concerned to start three freshmen last year. That is a concern to have three freshman linemen start in the SEC. We did have some stability. We had an anchor in Fernando Velasco. Chester (Adams) did a good job too. Fernando was the leader of that group. Now the leadership we had last year is gone. We were thinking there would be three returning starters, but with an injury and a suspension, we have one returning starter. Chris Davis played guard, and now he’s our center. Everyone else is a first time starter.”

On Matthew Stafford’s leadership…

“His leadership has absolutely evolved. He did what good leaders do. When he was young he watched the older guys and tried to learn from the Fernando Velascos, Thomas Browns and the Kregg Lumpkins. His first season he tried to learn what he could do and help the team. In his second year he tried to perfect his trade. Now he’s in that role of leader. He’s comfortable, and he’s always that way. Because he is comfortable he has definitely been more vocal.”

Junior Matthew Stafford, #7, QB:
On his relationship with offensive coordinator Mike Bobo

“I think he is just like anybody. He’s going to get more and more comfortable with repetition. Obviously, the season hasn’t started, but from what we are putting in and the things I see him doing, I like it. We’re pretty good at talking about what we think will work against a team and putting something together. It’s been good.”

On what he is anxious to see this Saturday…

“I just want to see us come out there and play with excitement. If we go out there and execute and play with a bunch of energy that’s all you can really ask for. We’ve been working really hard and beating up on each other. I think we are ready to get out there and play another team."

Junior Vince Vance, #72, LG:
On comparing this year’s offensive line to last year’s offensive line going into the season…

“I really don’t want to speak on whether it’s better or worse, but I know that as far as experience wise I’m a year more experienced, Chris (Davis) is a year more experienced, Clint (Boling) is a year more experienced. Kiante (Tripp) and Josh (Davis) got a few reps last year too. We have two good years underneath our belts working with coach (Stacy) Searels and all of his techniques. I think we did okay in the scrimmages that we’ve had, and I think we’ll do fine. In my opinion, as long as we stay health and do what coach Searels says we’ll do fine.”

Senior Mohamed Massaquoi, #1, FLK:
On Knowshon Moreno…

“His talent is unmatched. When you get a chance to spend time with him, his personality, the energy that he brings to the game and the way he gets the fans involved – people actually feel apart of Knowshon Moreno. His teammates rally behind him. He’s just a guy that you just can’t help but love and pull for.”

On being in a leadership role…

“It’s kind of something that just happens through time. You appreciate being a Bulldog a little more the older you get, and you kind of take things a little more serious out there. You are kind of more focused, and the young guys feed off of that because they know you’ve been through the tough times, you’ve been through the ups and downs and you’ve been through a lot of the battles that they are going to see.”

Junior Asher Allen, #2, DB:
On the overall hype of the 2008 season…

“I’ve been a part of a 9-4 team and an 11-2 team, and I feel like we ended on a high note both years. Obviously playing Hawaii and being able to beat them, that would give us, in the media’s eyes, a high ranking. But, I think our team considers itself a top team. Going into the season, the hype has been increased tenfold; I think that’s something that comes with the territory. But we aren’t thinking about it, I know Georgia Southern doesn’t care what we are ranked and I just know that this game is going to be really fun.”

On the differences between camp and the regular season…

“It’s a lot different from practice. In camp, you are going against guys you know, you think it’s kind of a competition and you’ve been going against them all camp. Now you’re going against another group of receivers every single week and it’s something new to look forward to. With every game you get more experience and you grow as a player so hopefully for the younger people that can help.”

On preparing for Georgia Southern…

“All we can do is run hard and play fast. We don’t have that much stuff to see on them, but all we can do is play hard and play fast and hopefully we can come out victorious.”

Sophomore Reshad Jones, #9, FS:
On the hype surrounding the preseason No. 1 Bulldogs…

“I try not to look at all the hype and all the different polls they have. At the end of the day, you still have to play ball and play games. I’m proud, I’m always proud of history and this is the first time in Georgia history that we’ve been ranked No. 1 but I really try not to read into the polls.”

On playing in the first game of the season…

We’ve been beating up on each other all summer and all spring. I think it would be fun to get out and play another team and show our talent and show our potential. I’m ready to get it started.

On the difficulty of preparing for Georgia Southern’s dual threat QB situation…

“It makes it a lot more difficult. Last year they had a great quarterback, which had more of a running style. I think we are prepared and we have a feel for what kinds of things they are going to do out there. So we have to adjust at game time, I think we will be ready.”

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Ga. Southern Week: Tuesday News and Notes
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