Arizona State Week: Press Conference Quotes

Posted Sep 22, 2009

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

Head Coach Mark Richt

Opening Statement…

“I want to talk to the Bulldog fans and tell you that I love you and appreciate everything that you do. The Dog Walk will be at 5:00. We will not be there before 5:00 like we did last time. We jumped the gun, and there were probably fans getting ready to go to the Dog Walk and realized that the players had already come through. We need to do a better job of that, so we are definitely going to do a better job in that regard.


“The other thing I wanted to mention with our fan base is how we take care of our campus. It’s one of the most beautiful campuses in the country and we want to keep it that way. We are Georgia and I am encouraging everyone to put the trash where it belongs and if you have to bring some baggage, bag your trash. Let’s do that, because it is a beautiful place and we don’t want it to look like the city dump after a ballgame. I want to encourage everyone to do that, and if everybody takes care of yourself and helps the guy next to you, it will be looking good when we’re done. It’s OK to pick up someone else’s trash if you want to; I do it all the time.


“Jeff Owens was named to the AFCA Good Works Team. There are only 11 in the country that got that, and Jeffrey did that and it’s wonderful.


“One more announcement is this week the American Football Coaches Association is getting involved in the Coaches Cure for Muscular Dystrophy, and we are going to participate in that. We want to show our support for the fight against muscular dystrophy.


“We are playing Arizona State for the second year in a row. We were fortunate to go to their place and get a victory. I was very thankful last year that it ended up being a night game. By the time the game started, we were in the shade, which was nice. Our sideline was actually on the shaded side of the stands. It was good for us. We didn’t quite get the 100 degree heat that we thought we might get after it cooled down. Now they are coming to play us. I’m sure they aren’t too thrilled about the fact that we beat them last year; they’ll be ready to go. They are outstanding all the way around. They are undefeated. I’m sure they are excited about the opportunity to come and play an SEC team and maybe get a little revenge. Coach (Dennis) Erickson, we all know, has won a couple of national championships. He’s been coach of the year many times. We are going to have a heck of a game. I’m looking forward to it. It’s good to get a couple of wins under our belt and grab a little momentum. Hopefully we can keep it going.”


On how A.J. Green has developed since the Arizona State game last year...

“He’s close to 20 pounds heavier than the day he came to Georgia, so he’s definitely a stronger receiver. I’ve seen no drop-off in speed or quickness. He’s a much better blocker. He certainly has a greater understanding of what we are trying to do. Last year we had some guys guiding him almost every play early in the year. Of course as the season went on he got more comfortable. He has changed the game for us to a certain degree. I don’t think there is any question that Arkansas and really everybody that we’ve played has had a very strong awareness of where he is. Arkansas, as you look at the tape, you can see that they definitely were rolling their coverage to A.J., no matter where he was.  A lot of times in a three-receiver set, not many coaches are going to double the receiver in the boundary and leave that three receiver set to the field in some kind of quarters coverage. Everybody is running an overload where they get a backside safety involved on that three-receiver side and play a lot of man coverage on the back side, but they didn’t do that very much. What happened throughout the game is we began to throw the ball to Michael Moore, Aron White and Tavarres King. The guys that were opposite of A.J. began to make plays; the tight ends down the middle, I mentioned White and we also had Orson Charles catch a couple of big balls down the middle. They are all beginning to benefit from the types of coverage A.J. has been seeing. Then it got to the point where they had to go back to running the overload and playing press coverage. That was the one time we happened to throw the fade to A.J. for a touchdown. So A.J., in turn, benefited from those guys making plays. That is something we had talked about all offseason where early in the year we felt like the receivers opposite of A.J. were going to benefit from some coverage looks and they were going to have to take advantage of it. If the played well enough, maybe we could free up A.J. to get some single coverage opportunities, and that’s what’s happened. I think Mike (Bobo) did a good job of scheming to get the ball to A.J. even though they were playing some double coverage on him. We still got the ball to him and he still was a factor in that regard too.


“I don’t think there is a certain type of route that you’d say he is best at. He can run very route. I wouldn’t say he’s just a deep ball guy, I wouldn’t say he’s just a quick-screen guy. He can really run just about any route that we want him to run. When you take his combination of height and the range of his arms, his speed and agility; a lot of guys who are tall might be fast and can make a play on a deep ball, but  A.J. can outjump people, he can run by people. He can make them miss, and he’s becoming a pretty darn good blocker. There isn’t much that you’d ask a receiver to do that he can’t do well. He’s pretty good. I’m glad we have him.”


On mixing the tailbacks…

“There will definitely be a plan to play both of them. I’m not even sure we have settled on who will start, though I will say Richard (Samuel) will start the game; I’m pretty sure that’s going to happen. Caleb (King) did very well. He ran the ball well. He pass protected well and secured the ball well. He showed no signs of the hamstring becoming an issue for him, so it was a very good performance for Caleb. I think our tailback position just got stronger by virtue of that. Carlton (Thomas) certainly has done a nice job for us, and we still have confidence that he can go in there and play ball for us.”


On Georgia’s punting game and long snapper Ty Frix

“Ty’s Frix, of course his daddy snapped for Georgia and was on the national championship team. I think he was on a couple of SEC championship teams. I didn’t want to mention Ty much in the preseason, because when you have a brand new snapper, you don’t really want to tell the world about it, so I didn’t say much. Then we he sailed that snap over the punter’s head, everybody knew who he was. There was a lot of juice on that, by the way. He really has a strong snap, so I guess we could say there was a silver lining there. Other than that snap, he’s been extremely accurate. He has a great operation time. Between he and (Drew) Butler, we get the ball off pretty quickly; maybe as quick as all the years I’ve been at Georgia, which is great. He actually has a couple of tackles under his belt. A lot of times a snapper is a guy who you just hope he can get that one job done, and if he happens to fall into one as far as a tackle is concerned, you are happy. He actually gets down and does a good job of breaking down and made a couple of nice open field tackles, so that’s a bonus with him.


“As far as our punter, Drew, what can you say other than he’s been fantastic. There is still improvement to be made. When he has decided to kick it deep, it’s been over the heads of the return men. We do still need to be very conscious of hang time, because there are so many great return men that we’ll face throughout the rest of the year. A 55-yard punt and a 60-yard punt is exciting, but if it doesn’t have the hang time that it needs to get our people to cover, it’s too much space for dangerous runners, so we have to continue to be conscious of the hang time and not get too enamored with the distance. It’s hard to do when you are leading the country in that category or first or second in that category, but he has to stay unselfish for the team’s sake.”


On Georgia’s biggest issues it needs to shore up

“I always make the analogy of the team being a train. You want to get that train on the track and you want to get it rolling down the track and gain momentum and energy as you go. It’s hard to get that train going from a dead start. After losing that first game, we didn’t’ get it moving it all. The second game took a lot of effort to get it rolling, and now we are getting it rolling pretty good, but I think we’ll roll a whole lot faster if we don’t have the two anchors out the back of the caboose that are stuck in the ground dragging behind us, and that is our turnover ratio is very poor and penalties have cropped up on us. If we can just cut those anchors lose, I think we will fly even better and if we just improve in those two areas, I think everything will improve.”


On shoring up Georgia’s pass defense…

“It’s always the same answer, a combination of pressure and coverage. Which comes first? What helps the other one the most? The better you cover, the longer that quarterback has to throw the ball. If you’re in zone coverage, or man for that matter, we have some man coverage where it’s still only a four-man rush. We have a couple of high-hole and a low-hole player that are playing zone, a robber-type coverage. The better you cover, the longer the quarterback has to hold the ball and it allows your pressure to get to him. We also know that if we put pressure on the quarterback he tends to throw the ball too soon or a little bit off balance, and that helps your coverage. It’s as simple as that. We have to cover better and we have to put more pressure. One area where I thought we might be putting a little more pressure on the quarterback where we really haven’t up to this point on a consistent basis is right up the middle. We need to get more from the inside push. If the quarterback does step up he’s got nowhere to be comfortable or no space and we’ve had too much of that.”


On Georgia’s defense against the run…

“We have been stout against the run. I think some of the passing yards have to do with the fact that people haven’t had a lot of success. Coach (Steve) Spurrier and Coach (Bobby) Petrino like a balanced attack. They found more success throwing so they did throw. Is it very unusual to be able to stop the run and not pressure the passer. I wouldn’t say it’s highly unusual. There are certain body types that can maybe stuff the run better than they can get after a passer but I wouldn’t categorize our guys that way. If you looked at it from a statistical point of view, you might start drawing that conclusion. But I’ve seen Jeffrey (Owens), Geno (Atkins), Kade (Weston), DeAngelo (Tyson), I’ve seen all those guys, and even young Abry (Jones), they all have the ability to rush the passer and push the pocket. We just haven’t done it well enough on a consistent basis. So that’s definitely a big point of contention for us.”


On Georgia’s defensive identity…

““Game one, I think they actually played an outstanding ball game. Games two and three we certainly gave up a lot more passing yardage than we thought we would. Our defense to this point has been outstanding in the red zone. Once the team has gotten into the red zone whether it’s through a drive, which doesn’t happen that much, or more with the turnovers and the kick return yardage.


“Over half the time, they force field goals instead of touchdowns, which is a huge victory. We’ve had to start playing defense on the six, on the eight, on the 23, on the 42, on the 37. Before the last game we had six times where they started the drive in field goal range; three times we forced field goals and three times they did score touchdowns. We had three turnovers in the first quarter the last ballgame. We had a wonderful stop to start the game, and we are going to get great field position, and we fumble the punt. All of a sudden they have to roll back out there and play ball again. Then we fumbled the pitch to Richard (Samuel) and all of a sudden they have to go play defense on the short field again. The pick wasn’t quite as bad, because they did have the two penalties that pushed them back, but again two more turnovers where we put our defense in a very bad spot. I would love to see what would happen if we don’t have to deal with that kind of thing. When we’ve defended the long field, we’ve defended it extremely well. Going into last game, it was a rate of 28 percent that they scored on the long drives. Any drives over 50, the only scored 28 percent of the time, and one of those drives was aided by a fake punt, which ended up being one of the drives. Of course we had a snap over the head, we had an interception for a touchdown. As a team we have not helped our defensive unit when it comes to those things. We need to do a better job of getting our field position right. I would just like to see what happened if we did that quite frankly.”


On whether the stats are an indication of how well the defense has played…

“After two games we were averaging 19 points a game that we pretty much gave to them if you take the six drives that I think one was 43 and the rest were 32 or less where the drive started, and a pick six and the snap. That was a total of 38 points that was given up in those situations. It’s a miracle with our turnover ratio that we’re 2-1 right now and undefeated in the league. You can look at it a couple of ways. You can be upset about everything, which I’m not pleased with some of those issues, but you also can say if we could just clean up things that are very correctable, who knows how good we can be? I just want solid improvement. If we just keep getting better and better and better as we go, we are going to have a chance to be pretty good.”


On Richard Samuel’s turnovers…

“I’m not too thrilled about it. I don’t know if we are ready to move him from the No. 1 position, but I would say if that kind of thing continued, we’d have to really consider whether or not he should start for us. You can’t have two a game, that’s for sure, and continue to play the kind of football you need to to win. You just have to do a better job.”


On how criticism affects the team…

“I think people don’t understand how busy we are. We are working our tails off. I would guess we are working somewhere around 80 hours a week.  We are going. We are looking at the next opponent. We are getting prepared for the next game and trying to correct any mistakes that we made in this game, but we are moving forward and constantly doing that. We don’t get too caught up in that kind of thing. We are a very, very strong team. The one game that we didn’t play that great offensively is the one game we lost; we won the next two. Winning is what it’s all about. You are not going to see anyone pointing fingers. You are not going to see anyone do anything other than encourage their teammate and their fellow coach. That’s just the way we’ve been operating here for the last nine years and that’s not going to change.”


On whether Vance Cuff will play Saturday…

“He’s possible. He won’t go today. At this point, I’d say it’s possible that he plays. We’re more hopeful than not. If he can’t do anything at all tomorrow, we’d probably get a little discouraged, but Ron (Courson) feels like he is going to have a chance.”


#14 Joe Cox:

On being named the Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week…

“I was pretty surprised. That’s a pretty big honor to get. I knew we had a good game, but anytime you get an award like that it’s definitely something that you are really proud of and feel really honored by.”


On talking with former Georgia quarterback D.J. Shockley…

“He wishes me luck before the games, but it’s not like we have long conversations with him telling me everything that I should be doing. He just tells me to have fun with everything that comes with the job and to just play loose and play football. I think that’s what our offense has been doing the past two weeks that we didn’t do week one. We just wanted to have fun, cut everything loose and just worry about playing hard. I think that’s been the difference.”


On if he has watched any of the Arizona State-Georgia game film from last season…

“Yeah, and we’ve watched a lot of their tape. They’re a good team with a good defense, especially this year. You can tell that they are playing really hard and flying around. They’re going to want to prove something when they come here Saturday, so we need to keep practicing like we’ve been practicing, working hard and preparing for this week they way we have the past couple of weeks.”


#22 Richard Samuel:

On the play of the offensive live…

“I feel the line is playing real good. They’ve gelled together and they’re playing real good. We lost Trinton Sturdivant a couple weeks back, but we put another guy in and continued going.”


On quarterback Joe Cox’s performance against Arkansas…

“Joe’s performance was real good. He just showed what he’s capable of doing no matter what happens or what people say.”


#12 Tavarres King:

On what sophomore flanker A.J. Green does that amazes him the most…

“Nothing. Not a thing. That’s Superman right there. He really is. Nothing he does surprises me. He’s just awesome.”


On if defenses are playing Georgia as the team expected this year with the presence of A.J. Green…

“We knew coming into the season that his name was out there and that people were going to try to double team him and maybe even throw triple teams at him. We knew that was going to happen, and things are going as planned so far.”


#13 Drew Butler

On his punting career…

“I always knew I was a more natural punter and I had the potential to punt at the SEC level. My dad was great to have as a personal coach and to be able to talk and ask him questions after practice. I actually did not start punting and kicking for the football team until my sophomore year of high school. Growing up I always just played soccer and golf. My junior year I realized that I might have college ability and here I am today.”


#58 Demarcus Dobbs


On having to go back on defense when offense turns the ball over…

“We just tell them to keep their heads up and that we will get it back for them and they will make it up. And this past game they did just that.”


On putting pressure on the quarterback…

“Our defense is centered on stopping the run first. But we are so focused on stopping the run that we have to do a better job at converting to pass rush and getting to the quarterback. I think that will come with experience and being able to read stats better and studying their offensive line.”


On the high scoring games…

“It is a bitter sweet feeling. We are glad we came out with a win, and we think we did some good things on defense, but when you look up at the score board and see all the points that were put up against you, you will start looking at things within yourself and ways to get better and change that. “


#35 Rennie Curran

On the one team he would love to play…

“Southern Cal because they are respected across the nation and they get a lot of hype. Also, because of the kind of program they have. I was hoping we would get them a couple years ago in the Sugar Bowl, but they had their rule with the Rose Bowl. I think that would have been bigger than the National Championship.”


On traveling to other parts of the country to play…

“It makes me realize that we have the best fans in the world. For us it is just a business trip when we go, but it is cool to see the different atmospheres and what type of things they do.”


On the high scoring games…

“It is frustrating as a defense. We want to hold the offense to the least amount of yards and least amount of points as possible, but we are definitely doing the right things. We are keeping a good attitude, working hard and encouraging each other. There were a lot of times in the last game that we could have pointed fingers and got discouraged, but we didn’t and it has really helped build us up. We know where we are at as a defense, and I feel that we are not very far from being great. We just need to take care of some of the details and I think we can be a great defense and shut people down.”


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