Tennessee Week: Press Conference Quotes

Posted Oct 6, 2009

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

=MsoNormal>Head Coach Mark Richt

Opening Statement…

“It’s Tennessee week and we are going to the big orange house. I guess this will be the fifth time that I’ve gone there as head coach at Georgia, and it never gets any easier. They have an unbelievable atmosphere there. We have to do our best to try to help educate our young players of what it’s going to be like. Until you go there, you just don’t really get it. We’ve had a couple of away games and the atmospheres have been outstanding, but when you get the numbers over 100,000 it does make a difference. We have to get our guys ready for that. Last time we played away, we had a rain day that Thursday and did not get in the stadium and did not get the noise. I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal, but as it turned out at Arkansas we probably jumped offsides five or six times. I don’t know if it was that many and it could have been more; I don’t know, but more than you would like. That’s probably the reason you go to the stadium on Thursday, to get the crowd noise issue taken care of. This is a game where both teams want to get back on track. We certainly had a tough ball game this last week. All of our games have been tough to this point. All of our games have been close. To come out on the losing end after winning three thrillers was a little tough to swallow. The bottom line is Tennessee is not going to feel sorry for us. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We have to buckle it up and get ready to go. Everything that I’ve seen so far from our guys has been outstanding. Sunday’s weightlifting and running and practice; they were back at work, so it was good to see that.”


On keeping the emotions of the team high…

“The main thing today is we have to get the work done. It’s a heavy work day. We have to continue to get better blocking. We have to continue to get better tackling. We have to make sure that whatever we implement, that the kids understand it well and they can get it ingrained enough where they can play full speed and let their fundamentals take over. Today I’m more worried about are we going to get the work done. I really don’t care what mood they are in today, to be honest with you. But as you get closer and closer to the game and as we taper down on the physical aspect of the practices, it becomes much more mental and psychological.  When it comes to the kind of energy and spirit they bring to the game, you worry about that a little bit closer to game time. You can try to get them too excited during the week and by the end of the week they are exhausted. From the point of view of trying to get them jacked up for practice or for the game on a Tuesday, I’m not too worried about that.  But I’m most concerned about what type of work are they going to put in today.


On Caleb King

“Caleb has a fracture in his jaw. I’m not sure which side of the jaw. There are different kinds of fractures. This one the doctors don’t feel will need any type of surgery, and actually, they feel like relatively soon we can protect him to the point where he can play. So it’s not a season-ending thing by any stretch. It might be a stretch to say this week, but we’re not really counting that out. There’s a concussion that he also had from the shot that he took, and that’s probably more of a concern right now. He can’t do anything until the concussion symptoms clear. As soon as they clear, I think they would let him practice immediately with the no-contact and they might OK him to play as early as this week. I don’t think that’s out of the question, but it’s probably not likely.


On who might start at Tennessee…

“We’d probably start Richard (Samuel). We haven’t had an in-depth discussion about that, but Richard would start.”


On Caleb King’s injury…

“I know I saw it because I watched the whole tape, but as I was watching the film I didn’t say, ‘Hey that was the shot that he got hurt on.’ As a matter of fact, I probably saw the film before I even got the report. To say I didn’t see it would be a lie because I saw all the film, but I didn’t say, ‘Hey show me the film where Caleb got hurt.’ I couldn’t tell you right now when it happened. I didn’t study it and go back and say, ‘Hey Ron (Courson), show me the hit.’ Really, I’m going to now, because somebody upstairs asked me the same question. Really the first time this has come up is from the media, so I didn’t know there was some question from that. Again, if you watch film you see those kind of shots every single day, every single game. It’s not that unusual to have that. If you are tackling a runner, you have to stick your face at the guy and sometimes a runner at the last second drops his head. There are so many times helmets hit. But again I’ve not seen the shot, so I couldn’t tell you. From what I understand he played after the tackle.”


On Georgia’s celebration penalty against LSU

“I haven’t been reading everything and watching the TV, but through Claude, (Felton) he’s telling me it’s gaining a lot of attention. I don’t know if I’m surprised because there have been other times in years past where in the Florida-Vanderbilt game a year or two or three ago, when Vanderbilt was preparing to go for two and had one of those. It’s been talked about before. I think that we need to have good sportsmanship. I think the kids absolutely need to celebrate good things happening. I think they probably have to understand how to go about it, and I think that’s probably been the biggest issue, really understanding what you can and can’t do. I did watch the video of A.J.’s  (Green) reaction after the catch. That’s basically how we coach it, go find your teammate and go celebrate with him. Also saw a local television station show video until he got to the sideline. I didn’t see him do anything that would have warranted that—the call. It definitely changed the dynamics of the game, no question about that. Whether or not it would have ultimately changed the outcome of the game, no one really knows that. One thing I’ll say about Rogers Redding and his leadership of the officials is he has always been willing to say if he thought they made a mistake.. I appreciate that about him. No one is perfect. As far as philosophically on that question should we look into changing the rule? I think it might be time to look at that and say we just have to be careful not to take the joy out of the game for the players and the ability to celebrate something good. I do think that it has to be in a certain way. If it involves taunting an opponent, there certainly should be a flag for that.”


On Rogers Redding…

“He’s always been willing to say if he thought it shouldn’t have been called. He’ll say this should have been called or shouldn’t have been called. He’ll shoot you straight and I appreciate that about him.”


 On Georgia’s midseason issues…

“We have been inconsistent enough in the ball placement of some of our kicks. We are very, very immature on that team. We have too many young guys side-by-side on those teams, on the kickoff coverage team in particular it’s probably the youngest bunch we’ve ever had out there. Even some of the guys that have some good experience on it, we’ve had some injury issues with that. A guy like Chad Gloer, Chad is becoming a star on that team for us, and he pulls a hamstring on Wednesday or Thursday. That’s one more guy that had to get thrown in there that didn’t really have the experience. We are learning. You only get good at something through experience. You hate to have bad things happen to you in the process, but they have. We’ve also gone up against—the two teams that hurt us the most had the two most prolific returners in the nation probably; maybe two of the top three in the country over the last couple of years. So it wasn’t like we were going up against chopped liver. We have to continue to work on our consistency on the hang time and ball placement and guys’ abilities to basically execute what’s being coached.”


On what position hasn’t played like he thought it would…

“The position that has been the most effected by injuries has been the offensive line. Some of it is a little bit of a residual of a year ago. A lot of our guys were rehabbing some fairly serious injuries. Chris Davis has a hip injury and had surgery. Josh Davis had double shoulder surgery. Trinton (Sturdivant) had his deal and came back and got hurt again. Trinton and Tanner Strickland got hurt in the offseason and preseason, so we’re just not as strong as we need to be. When I say strong, strong in numbers. Even Chris Davis, as he was battling his tail off, he was not able to squat all summer long. His power base just because of the nature of the injury, he was not able to do that. Everybody has problems. Everybody has issues. Everybody has injuries. Regardless of all those things, we need to block better. We definitely need to run block better. I actually think we’ve pass protected pretty well, but we need to run block better, and that includes tight ends. There are times that the offensive line does it and the tight ends get tossed around. Every once in a while we’ll have everything blocked to the T, then the fullback takes an edge off a linebacker and doesn’t go right down the heart of a guy. Our run blocking needs to improve, and as I study our runners, we need to continue to mature and see these blocking schemes and understand them better and hit it where it needs to be hit. When they get in situations where it’s just one guy, we need yards after contact. So it’s a little bit of everything right now in the running game.”


On Georgia’s offensive identity…

“I guess no one has an identity until they are consistently playing something where you could define that team to say this is what we do well. Right now we’ve not been consistent offensively, defensively or in the kicking game quite frankly. I feel like we are gaining a lot of positive momentum defensively. Some of our special teams have played outstanding and a couple have struggled. Offensively, we’ve pretty much run the gamut of emotions and productivity. Again, I guess the one word I’m looking for more than anything else is a more consistent effort all the way around.”


On Georgia’s offensive line benefitting from an open date…

“I’m sure that can help. I think it would help the whole team. Everybody is dealing with one open date. Ours is probably in a pretty good spot. Some people had it the first or second week, then you go 10 or 11 in a row. Some people have it right before the 12th game so you are still going 11 in a row. It’s probably in a pretty good spot strategically in the middle of the season.  I guess we are hitting seven and then having an open date. I doubt anybody would tell you that they don’t know it’s going to happen here in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, everybody has to grind. Do I think the line will benefit from it? Yeah I do. But I think the whole team will benefit from it. I know the coaching staff will benefit from it.”


On Georgia spending more time on special teams…

“It’s very, very difficult as far as time. We are crammed to the gill on this 20-hour rule. Every minute is accounted for and even if you add five minutes to that team, you are going to pull five from something else. Whoever is losing that five minutes is screaming and squawking and rightfully so because they feel like they don’t have enough time to get it just like they want it. That’s one of the challenges of college football is to whatever you do, do it in the time frame allotted. As I compare special teams field time and meeting time compared to most people in the country, I think we are probably more. I know for a fact we do more than most people I’ve talked to. To answer the question about personnel, some people think you can just throw a guy in there and all of a sudden he’s good. There is technique involved in that just like there is technique involved in playing linebacker or anyone else. It’s not that easy just to throw someone in there. All that stuff takes reps and time to get better at. The other thing that changes on a weekly basis is the scheme that you are going to play. You can say this is what we do, but every week if the team you are playing has a little twist here and there, you have to understand it, you have to rep it. It’s not that easy. We are hoping that we continue to grow as we go. That’s usually what happens with young guys. I think they will be a lot better game six than game five, I hope. Those guys are learning as they go, and I think they are getting better.


On Tennessee’s new staff…

“Anytime there is a new staff anywhere, the dynamic changes. Everybody has their own style of recruiting. You kind of get a pretty good feel of what each coach is like or what their program is like. Anytime a coach comes in new, one of the greatest things that he does have is that he is new and he can say this is our plan and this is a vision of what we want to do, and that can sell. Tennessee, Auburn, even when coach (Houston) Nutt went to Ole Miss last year, when those guys come in new they definitely create a buzz.”


On Georgia tackling in practice…

“We are still live tackling in practice today. Tuesday is the only day we will take guys to the ground, and we’ll do it again today.”


On the art of tackling…

“I think people probably tackle less in practice than they did 20 years ago. It’s hard to simulate tackling without tackling, that’s for certain and that’s why we spend time tackling in space. When I say space, some of our perimeter drills without the linemen, and we’ll definitely tackle our inside running game. We used to tackle a lot in 11-on-11 situations, but we do less of that. There is an art of thudding. If you thud properly, you will do everything in a fundamental tackle other than toss the guy to the ground. If you thud properly, you can still keep your fundamentals of tackling. It’s safer, but if you thud properly, you must move your feet, you must get in front of the man and you must bend your knees. If you are tackling, you might can lay out and grab a guy with your hand and rip him to the ground. In a thud situation we’re never looking to reach out and snatch a guy. The goal is to get in position to strike him. I say tackling has gotten worse, but I don’t know if it has or not. I think the numbers are an issue. When you start grabbing and throwing guys to the ground, somebody is going to get leg-whipped or something is going to happen where you cost a guy a week, month or season.”


On Rantavious Wooten

“Rantavious is a very high-energy young man. He has great body control, good speed and good hands. He seems to play extremely well under pressure. The week before he had two third down catches, two key grabs. Both of them were not easy plays by any stretch. He is getting better on a daily basis. He is a sharp kid and doesn’t have trouble learning what to do any more than a normal freshman I guess. He is doing a good job.”


#14 Joe Cox:

On freshman tailback Washaun Ealey

“I think he did pretty good. The best thing about him is he is hungry. He’s wanted to play and finally go this chance. You could tell he was running really hard and that he was just excited to be in the game. A lot of times that is the type of spark you need is having somebody that just really just wants the ball in his hands. Hopefully, he can be that player all the time because I’m sure he’s going to be getting a lot more carries as the season goes on.”


On Tennessee’s defense…

“They definitely do a lot to stop the run first. They like brining down safeties into the box and being able to have that extra run support. A lot of times you can tell they are just lining up saying ‘you are not going to run the ball’ or ‘we’re going to make you beat us throwing the ball,’ so that will be tough because you want to have a balanced game plan. We’re just going to have to find ways to open up holes for fun game against all their looks and still be able to be effective on the ground.”


#12 Tavarres King:

On facing Tennessee’s defensive back Eric Berry

“He flies around the ball. He’s a heck of an athlete and a heck of a player. I’m excited for the opportunity to get to go against somebody like that.”


On playing in front of a large crowd on the road at Neyland Stadium…

“It’s exciting to know that you’re about to step into an environment like that. You probably can’t even simulate how loud it’s going to be in that stadium, but I’m looking forward to it and I’m excited about it.”


#35 Rennie Curran:

On defensive being on the field so much last game…

“It is just something you have to continue to be positive about. Not everybody is going to have their best day every game and at the same time you have to keep working hard, encouraging your guys and trusting each other. We are all in this together so we just have to improve on the little things and details because sometimes that what it is. All it takes is for one guy to not do something right and the whole entire unit will not do well.”


On how close the team is to playing a complete game…

“We are real close. If you watch us on film there is really only a few things that hold us back. Like I said, it’s all about details and about every single guy doing things right on every play.”


On some things going wrong every week…

“Most of the time it is the same thing. Guys are not focusing when they are tired. The most apparent thing is when the fatigue sets in because guys start making mistakes that they normally wouldn’t.


On Tennessee’s offensive line…

“Their line is senior-driven and they have guys that have had a lot of experience. They have backs that can carry the load as well. They got two very talented backs that can break tackles and make things happen if you let him.”


On both UGA and UT being unranked playing each other for the first time since 1937…

“Well it’s a huge game every time out two teams meet up. There is a lot of tradition involved, a lot of emotions and goals that can be achieved for whoever wins. It is going to be a big game for both teams.”


#49 Shaun Chapas

On the offensive struggles…

“Well it is encouraging to know that although we still have a lot to improve on, if we put it all together I think we will have something pretty special. So it is something we strive to do and we are going to try and put everything together.”


On playing with young guys and if their inexperience is hurting the team…

“That might have something to do with it, but the young guys aren’t the only ones messing up though so you can’t necessarily say that. But experience is definitely huge and helps out a lot when it comes to making mistakes.”


On how close the team is to playing a complete game…

“I have full confidence in our ability to do that. If we just all go out and played focused and play hard like we know we can then we can do it.”


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