Oklahoma State Week: Press Conference Quotes

Posted Sep 1, 2009

ATHENS - Georgia head coach Mark Richt and several football players met with the media during the Bulldogs’ weekly press luncheon on Tuesday. They offered the following comments:

Head Coach Mark Richt

Opening Statement…

“Oklahoma State is a great football team. They are probably the toughest opener that we’ve had since I’ve been at Georgia going into year nine. Of course we played at Clemson, and they were a pretty good football team too. Oklahoma State is ranked in the preseason top 10 for a good reason. This team has played in a lot of big games and won a lot of big games. They’ve been right there neck-and-neck with the best of the Big 12, especially last season. They have a great majority of their playmakers back, not only on offense but also on defense.


“I think their preseason ranking is well-deserved. The fact that they are favored in this game is also well-deserved. We are going to have to play some very, very disciplined football. We need to do a good job as far as our assignments. We need to do a good job as far as not allowing penalties to bite us. We need to win the turnover battle, and we need to play the Georgia way—play as hard as we can play and play together. I know they are excited about opening up in their new stadium; I would be too from what I’ve seen on video and heard about. It should be an exciting day for them, then we kick it off and we’ll see what happens after that.”


On the importance of putting pressure on OSU quarterback Zach Robinson

“It’s very important to have pressure on Robinson. Any quarterback, if you squeeze his pocket, quarterbacks love a nice, firm pocket. They want to stand there where they have space and they can see well and throw strikes. Most guys can, not all guys, but Zach certainly can if you give him a bunch of time and space. Sometimes you may not sack a quarterback, but if you can squeeze the pocket and he starts feeling it closing in him, it’s tougher to make those throws and it’s tougher to see. The closer the big men are in is face, the tougher it is to see. The farther away they are, you have throwing lanes and you just feel comfortable to be able to step and follow through. Yeah, we absolutely have to put pressure on him. In practice I’ve been very pleased with our top two guys—(Rod) Battle and (Demarcus) Dobbs. I’ve seen a lot of improvement there. We have a lot of young guys trying to prove they can do it. Marcus Washington is a veteran, but he’s not a veteran at the defensive end position. It’s going to be crucial that we are able to squeeze that pocket and put some pressure off the edges. If you put pressure on the edge and he steps up, it doesn’t do any good, and that’s where Geno (Atkins), Jeffrey (Owens), Kade (Weston) and DeAngelo (Tyson) have to come in and squeeze that pocket. Although they do try to break contain with him and free him up out there with the run-pass options too. There are a lot of things that have to be defended with this bunch. They run the ball so well that their play-action is very viable. If Robinson does break contain, it’s going to be tough to know that he can run or throw it accurately, so we have to find a way to contain him.”


On whether the atmosphere around the team is different opening with a top 10 team…

“I’ve always felt like our team has been excited to play the first game of the year. I don’t know if we’ve ever gone into the first game of the year and I didn’t feel the excitement and the energy with the team. I think there is a little greater sense of urgency. I think our coaches were more interested in starting the game plan for Oklahoma State a little bit sooner. They were wanting to get into breaking into scout team a little quicker to begin to plan. When you play a team that good it gets everybody’s juices flowing pretty good.”


On having time to prepare for an offensive system…

“It helps defense more than anybody else. The more familiar a defense is with an offensive system, the better chance they have of knowing what to do and being able to play fast. What we mean by playing fast is if a kid understands what he’s dong we’ll enough, he won’t have that hesitation and that uncertainty. The more uncertain a guy is the slower he will play. Even if he runs a 4.4, he’s not going to play fast unless he really understands his keys and he’s able to just go. The more you know about a team, the better chance you have to play fast defensively. I don’t know if it’s a tremendous advantage offensively to have more time. You’d like to have a little more time just to see more blitzes versus more plays. You only have so much time in a normal week to prepare. There are only so many reps, so you are going to try to get their most common blitzes against the protections you think you’ll use. A lot of times if you really spend time with those blitzes versus the run game, you might be able to break something big. It’s just hard to get enough reps to get good at those things. When you do have more time it helps you in that regard. I do think it helps the defense more than it helps the offense to have time.”


On who he is anxious to see play on Saturday…

“I’m curious to see the entire team and which guys may break out, not even so much the true freshmen. I am anxious to see the true freshmen and see how they’ll handle it. No matter what happens with some of these freshmen, I’m not going to put a stamp on this game and say this is what this kid is all about because first-game jitters are tough. A true freshman might struggle this Saturday and five weeks from now really come on. I am anxious about some of these other veterans, maybe not veterans in starting time but veterans in our system and see how they are going to come through, and see the team as a whole and what kind of energy can we create in this game and how much confidence can we go into this game with. More than likely, with a team that can score as many points as Oklahoma State over the years, there are probably going to be some times we are behind. We may be behind two or three scores, and what’s going to happen then? Are you going to give in or are you going to fight? It’s hard to tell how a game is going to start out. I’m curious to see if our leadership is as strong as I believe it is when the adversity hits.”


On what Georgia’s football program gains from out of region games…

“There is going to be a lot more attention on this game than there would have been if we were playing someone who’s not ranked as high.  If we played a non-BCS conference team, there wouldn’t be as much national attention. There will be national attention because people always want to compare leagues, and most people that I’ve heard said that the Southeastern Conference and the Big 12 might be the two best as of recent times, so they’re wanting to see which league is better. That will be a big question across the country. People may watch it just for that reason. More people will see and hear about Georgia because we are playing this game, and that’s good for us. It’s certainly better for you if you win these kinds of games as far as the perception of the voters and the perception of the recruits. This game, win or lose, should prepare us for what we are about to face when we get into league play. It’ll be good preparation for that.”


On what players have made big improvements since last season…

“Our young safeties got a ton of work because of the hamstring pulls with our veterans. I like what I see in those guys, and it’s not just two; it’s three. You have Makiri Pugh and Sanders Commings, all those guys got good, quality work. I think Vance Cuff has improved tremendously from what I have observed. I’m excited about what (Brandon) Boykin has done. Darryl Gamble has played and everybody remembers LSU, but I think Darryl is a much-improved player. He is in tremendous condition, and he is ready to play good ball for us. (Demarcus) Dobbs seems to be in the best shape of his career and is practicing extremely well. Offensively, just about all those guys have played for us up front at one time or another. I don’t know if they have made unbelievable jumps, but I think they are all good players. I hope Richard Samuel has improved greatly, not that he was poor a year ago, but he was a true freshman and didn’t get a lot of playing time, but just how he has practiced has given me confidence that he is ready to take his game to another level; same with Carlton Thomas. Tavarres King has improved greatly and Israel Troup has improved greatly. Aron White has certainly made great improvement from a year ago. I didn’t mention some of the guys who are obvious; I didn’t say Rennie Curran. Rennie has been proven for quite some time. Those are some of the names that crossed my mind. I see a lot different focus from Blair (Walsh). I think the competition of  (Brandon) Bogotay coming in has really helped that situation. Both of those guys are really capable. (Drew) Butler has improved tremendously if you just look at him punting in practice a year ago and punting in practice now. What does that mean? We’ll see what that means once we start playing, but he’s made great improvement.”


On Georgia’s offensive line…

“I’m pretty confident that we will play more than five linemen. I think Vince (Vance) will get to play, I think Justin Anderson will get to play. I think that Josh Davis is getting close. He’s not going to play this week, but in a week or two hopefully Josh will be where he can get in the mix, which will be great for us.



“They are definitely better than a year ago and better than two years ago. I don’t think there is much doubt about that from their experience individually and playing together as a group. There is a little bit more depth and really there is only one senior in the bunch, so that gives you hope that we’ll have a couple of good years of play out of this bunch. Hopefully we’ll be developing young guys so when they do leave, we’ll be ready to hit the ground running with them, so I’m very hopeful that they will perform with excellence. I think they are ready to do that.”


On Sanders Commings

“If you just looked at him in the weight room, you would think that he is a junior or senior. He has his body in tremendous condition. He’s a big kid. He has good speed, he’s intelligent, he’s very coachable. Now he just needs to play and make plays in games, which will give him confidence for the future. His future is very bright in my opinion.”


On playing a top 10 team on the road…

“I don’t think we can play cautious. What I mean is I don’t think we can hold anything back that I think could help us win the game. The good news is Joe (Cox) knows the system. We don’t have to sugarcoat anything for him. He can run anything that we do from a mental point of view. There might be some things he does better physically than others. We won’t say we’ll throw every route that Matthew (Stafford) threw; we are going to do what Joe can do best. Systematically we won’t have to hold anything back for him. The same thing is true for Richard. I don’t know what our run-pass ratio will be. We still have to define that. We absolutely know we have to run the ball well to have a chance to be a good offensive team. That’s not just Saturday; it’s all season long. We are hoping for a great balance. If people decide to stop the pass we have to run well. If they decide to overload the run we have to throw it well. That’s what I mean by balance.”


On comparing Joe Cox to Matthew Stafford

“I’m not going to compare those guys. I don’t think it’s fair to compare those guys. They are so different, and they are different people. I will say Joe has done a fantastic job of rallying the troops because of the fact that he has waited for this opportunity, knowing it may never come, and has practiced with enthusiasm and has been a team guy all the way. He has completely bought into the Georgia way. He has gained respect of the coaches and the players. Because of that, when he says something it’s meaningful. I think his experience at Charlotte Independence, being on teams that won and being on teams that had camaraderie and togetherness, I think he’s used to that feeling and you want him to recreate that type of feeling. He isn’t afraid to say this is what we need to do to be successful. I don’t know how it’s going to translate on the field, but he’s done as fine a job of getting everybody ready to go since we’ve been at Georgia.”


On Georgia’s leadership with respect to penalties…

“There is a lot of good leadership besides Joe. The players definitely understood how detrimental the penalties were to our season last year. As we were overhauling what happened in 2008 and how can we get better, that was certainly one of the things that came up. It was one of the things they wanted to take some ownership in. They wanted to take some ownership in off the field issues. They wanted to take ownership in work ethic. As we were trying to define what went good and what went bad, the penalty issue was one that certainly didn’t go well, and they want to do something about it. The penalty situation hasn’t been just a coach-driven issue; it’s a player-driven issue too, and the guys have responded really well.”


On Georgia’s travel squad

“Tomorrow is when we post the travel list. I’d rather not spew anything out right now on that. I don’t want a kid to read it in the paper whether he’s on or off the list, so I’m just going to wait on that. There will be numerous true freshmen on the trip.”


On whether Montez Robinson and Abry Jones will play Saturday…

“Before this season is over, yes. I’m not going to say that they will or won’t in this first game, but we are still targeting them to play this season.”


Senior QB, #14 Joe Cox:

On what’s changed from two years ago in preparing for Oklahoma State’s defense…

“They have a different coordinator, and they have some different guys too. Every year when you prepare for somebody it is not going to be the same. It’s a completely different game plan this year from what it was back then.”


On how excited he is to be starting the 2009 season…

“I’m real excited. It’s a great opportunity for me, and it’s a great opportunity for our team. We are playing a great opponent in game one. If we play it like how we need to play people will start to say some pretty good things about us. We are excited about the opportunity, and we’ve been looking forward to it for a long time. We are glad it’s finally here now.”


On getting his opportunity to play…

“I’ve been waiting a long time, and it’s a fun time for me right now. I’m ready to play. I haven’t played in such a long time that it’s going to be a lot of fun.”


Senior FS, #3 Bryan Evans:

On trying to make Oklahoma State’s offense one-dimensional…

“Anytime you can stop a team from doing what they are good at I think that will slow them down a lot. It makes their playbook smaller than what they are used to playing with. Hopefully, our defensive line can get us a great push and make it tough for them to run the ball, and maybe if there’s a great push it will cause some bad throws. We are harping on turnovers this year. That’s something we really want to get accomplished as a secondary.”


On matching up Oklahoma State’s Big 12 offense against Georgia’s Southeastern Conference defense…

“It can be an advantage to either side. It’s just who wants it more that day. The SEC really doesn’t have a lot of five-wide every play offenses, but when we do get a chance to play them we just want to be physical and see if we can slow them down and move it our type of game – hard nosed football. On the defensive side of the football, the SEC is known for having great defensives, so anytime we can go out and hold a team well under their average that’s going to be a great win for the defense.


Junior WLB, #35 Rennie Curran:

On opening the season this weekend at Oklahoma State…

“We’ve been working so hard in the weight room putting in so many hours during the offseason, and now it’s finally time to start the season up again. The fans are going to be there supporting us, and we are just excited. We got a lot of new faces stepping in and taking over for those guys that left last year, so it’s going to be exciting to see what happens.”


On if he will be aware of the SEC vs. Big 12 matchup of the game when he steps on the field…

“Definitely. There’s always going to be some of that because you are not only representing your school but your conference. There’s a lot riding on the line for the reputations of both conferences, so we got to make sure we go out there and play are hearts out.”


On people asking about last year’s defense compared to this year’s defense…

“People ask about last year, but last year is over. It’s definitely a new team with new guys stepping in ready to make some plays. I’m just ready to hit somebody.”


Redshirt Sophomore TE, #81 Aron White:

On his expectations for senior quarterback Joe Cox…

“I think Joe is going to come out and do something he’s been doing his whole career, and that’s leading the team. It’s his fifth year here, and he’s lived his whole career out here in the shadows waiting for his chance. I think now that his chance is here he is going to come out and show people exactly what it is that Georgia recruited him to do. He’s been doing it all along in practice, but for whatever reasons the coaches decided to play someone else. He’s not just going to pick up where he left off in high school because he’s been doing it everyday since he got here in practice and in the weight room. I think big things are going to come from Joe Cox.”


On his expectations for sophomore tailback Richard Samuel…

“I think this is going to be a breakout year for him. He’s got a year under his belt, and I feel like he knows the offense a lot better this year as far as assignments and things like that. As far as I would put it right now, I think he’s the starter, but you would have to Coach (Mark) Richt. He’s a tremendous presence on the field as far as being physical. He’s one of the fastest guys on the team and one of the hardest hitting. He’s a guy who could have easily played linebacker. He plays a bunch of special teams, and he can pretty much do everything. I think it’s going to be a breakout year for him.”


Sophomore TB, #22 Richard Samuel:

On how comfortable he thinks senior quarterback Joe Cox and himself are for starting the season opener this year…

“I would say I feel a little bit comfortable, but I’m still a little anxious to get out there. It’s the first start of the season, it’s a big game and it’s a new stadium. There’s a lot of expectations for us but we still have a job to do.”

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