Vandy Week: Press Conference Quotes

Posted Oct 13, 2009

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

Head Coach Mark Richt


Opening statement…

“We certainly had a disappointing loss last week. We have to get back on the winning track against Vanderbilt, that’s our hope. Coach (Bobby) Johnson has done a really fine job there. Since we’ve been playing them for so many years, we’ll go back years on the video and it seems like every year you progress, they are getting faster and more athletic. They are really playing extremely well, especially on defense. They have had their struggles on offense, but defensively they are really giving everybody a bunch of grief. Overall they are a very well-coached team. It is a team that I’m sure is just as hungry for a victory as we are. We are looking forward to getting over there and getting back on the winning track.”


On Georgia no longer controlling its destiny to win the SEC East...

“I told them (the team) that. I said we don’t control it. I said we aren’t mathematically out of it by any means, but we can’t sit here and say that is the goal. It may become the goal again depending on what happens with us and everybody else in the east. The main focus really is beat Vanderbilt. That’s it, and that is what it is on a weekly basis anyway, but there is no lacing in of hey let’s keep pace for control of the eastern division.  That is not in our control anymore, so we are not really focusing on that right now. No one is happy. No one is excited about what happened by any means, but these guys are resilient. They are pretty tough guys, and it’s never easy to get it going again after a tough loss like that, especially one where you end up losing control of your destiny in the league. Those things are not easy to deal with, but they lifted hard, they ran hard. I think they’ll be able to focus on what’s important and start moving this thing in the right direction again.”


On having promise going forward similar to 2006…

“That’s our goal. That’s what we are shooting for, that’s what we are fighting for. (Matthew) Stafford was a true freshman that year and I redshirted (Knowshon) Moreno that year. We were scrambling, fighting, scratching, clawing back then and dealing with some of the things we are dealing with now in regards to trying to keep a positive focus on the future. We’ve been there before. We don’t like being there, but that’s where we are at, so we are looking to have a very strong finish.”


On Vanderbilt’s defense…

“When you watch the film and you watch Ole Miss struggle like mad to get it in there, no one is just driving the field on these guys. If they are making something happen, a guy is making a play. Some where along the way, some guy makes a play. They get themselves in position to score touchdowns, but they’ve held people out of the end zone a good bit in the red zone. They’ve forced a bunch of field goals. The LSU game was very close at the half. Same thing with Ole Miss. They did a very good job defensively in the last game dealing with an offense that is not normal for them to participate against. They are doing a good job defensively. You’d like to say we are going to line up and methodically move it down the field, but I haven’t seen anybody do it yet. Guys are going to have to make plays, guys are going to have to get in situations and do something to kind of break the dam. The one thing as you watch those games, you’ll watch the defense play, and the next series you’ll see the scoreboard and a lot of times there wasn’t a lot of offensive production from Vanderbilt. It helped the teams that were struggling against them. It helped Ole Miss, it helped LSU as they were trying to get some points on the board that their defenses were playing extremely well that day. I think they are underrated to answer your question.”


On the team dealing with increased negativity…

“On Sunday I just talked to them about making sure they stay focused on the important things. There are certain things you can control in life and certain things you can’t control. What people say about you or your team or your coaches, you can’t control that. All you can control is how you focus, how you prepare and how you keep your mental frame of mind. We have control over that, so those are the things that I talked about and really helped them understand that the only thing we can do that can be the most productive thing for us right now is to really focus on this ballgame. Everyday that we come in, whether it’s lifting, running or practice, whatever it might be, let’s focus on what’s important and that’s the only way we’ll move in the right direction here.”


On players who might see more playing time…

“We mentioned Reshad Jones is probably getting too many reps. To get every rep is not good for anybody in my opinion. I think there needs to be a time when you are not on the field every single down. Prince Miller is getting a ton of reps. He’s getting a ton of defensive reps, he’s been the gunner just about every play on the punt team. He’s been the punt return man, he’s the safety on the kickoff team. He’s playing a lot of reps, and we need to get Branden (Smith) in there more. Once we get in the nickel, we get Branden in there a good bit because Prince moves to the nickel. Again, I think he could use a break in there. Right now, offensive line I don’t see any options other that what we’ve been doing right now. At receiver, I think our two freshmen have earned more playing time. I don’t think there is any doubt about that.”


On whether Logan Gray will see more playing time…

“He’s been practicing well the past two weeks, I know that. I wouldn’t say that’s out of the question.”


On Caleb King

“I think Caleb is going to be OK. Caleb is going today in a non-contact situation. If everything goes well, which we expect it to, he would be able to go tomorrow and get any contact that we get. I’m not sure with this weather forecast what’s going to happen. We may end up inside. Thursday, even though we don’t put the shoulder pads on, we can still simulate some contact and actually get some contact with him to see how he responds to it. Everything is pointing thumbs up on him and Tavarres King for that matter. Vance Cuff is ready to go. He was really ready last week. He didn’t get much playing time because of the amount of work that he had going into it. He should have a full week of practice. (Marcus) Dowtin, we thought would have a chance this week, but it’s pretty doubtful.  I think it’s pretty much out of the question for Dowtin if I remember correctly. (Akeem) Dent, we are very hopeful for the next game for both of those linebackers.”


On Joe Cox

“Joe has been a little bit up-and-down these last couple of games. I would say that yes he is still our starting quarterback. A lot of things go into the quarterback’s ability to play at his peak level. I think quarterbacks get maybe a little more blame than they deserve and maybe a little more credit than they deserve. I think if we all played together as a unit, I think Joe’s productivity will rise like it has in other games.”


On Georgia’s running backs…

No one has really stood out. No one has really asserted himself to the point where he’s our guy. Part of Caleb’s issue has been messing around with injuries all the way throughout. Richard (Samuel) has been solid. I think they’ve all been kind of solid, nothing spectacular. No one really has made the offensive line look better than maybe they are blocking at times. We have pretty much been getting what we’ve been blocking for, which statistically hasn’t been a whole heck of a lot. I do see improvement. Guys don’t get better until they get experience. I think there’s improvement. Washaun (Ealey) has shown some sparks here and there. He’s still learning what to do on all the little things. Carlton (Thomas) did a nice job this last ballgame. We may see a little bit more of him. It has been a situation where no one man has really separated himself.”


On Damon Evans

“I think he said he had concerns about the season if I’m not mistaken. I have concerns about the season of course with the way we’ve played. As far as the program, we have a very strong program, finishing in the coaches’ poll No. 10 last year and No. 2 in the AP the year before and six out of seven years in the top 10, that’s not bad. That’s the past, I understand that. But when you start talking about a program I think you have to start looking at where we’ve been in the recent history here. The other thing is the season is not over, it’s just not over. When some of your main goals not necessarily fall by the wayside, but become less attainable, it’s tough on everybody. We are very concerned about how this season has gone, and we are battling as hard as you can possibly battle to get things moving in the right direction this year.”


On Marlon Brown

“Marlon is smoothing out his game, I guess is the best way to put it. He is a very good worker, he has a very good attitude. He is a talent, he just needed to get more reps to become a smooth competitor, a smooth receiver. He has proved to be a pretty tenacious blocker. You can tell he wants it, you can tell he’s getting better. He has earned a right to play more snaps for us and hopefully he’ll get more opportunities to catch the ball because he has good hands. He’s big, he’s strong, it’s just taking him just a little while to get used to college football. He came from a relatively small program. When I say that I’m not trying to demean where he came from because they’ve done a wonderful job, but I guess the competition level that he played against was an awful lot different from the Southeastern Conference. I think he’s just learning how to play with the caliber of athletes on our team and in our league.”


On drawing from the 2006 team and they way it finished the season…

“It’s hard to measure a team’s ability to withstand pressure. I think a lot of teams fold under that kind of pressure. A lot of coaching staffs fold under that kind of pressure and we never did. We were very resilient. We were very persistent. We stayed the course. We didn’t make a bunch of wholesale changes, whether it was players, coaches or anything like that. We just kept grinding, we kept banging away. You just never know how close you are to success until you live it out. I was pretty proud of that team considering what they went through and how we finished. Even that last ballgame I think we were down 15 or 18 at the half to the No. 1 defense in America. It didn’t look like we had much of a chance, but we found a way and there is a lot to be said about that. I might be as proud of that team as I was any team at Georgia considering what everybody went through.”


On his role in playcalling

“What I do, and again I think it’s the way to do it right now, I will watch film separate from the staff because if you sit in there with the staff you are all kind of thinking on the same line sometimes. One guy might want to look at one thing and another guy might want to look at another thing. I have the ability to look at film without having to put all the nuts and bolts together of the run checks and the protections. I can just basically be a resource for Mike (Bobo) for ideas. If it’s base or certain personnel groups or field positions or down-and-distance tendencies, if there is something I see that I like I will jot it down and hand to him and say if you like it, use it and if you don’t, don’t. I understand being in his position. There are always good ideas but you have to decide how many of these ideas do we use in this game plan that we can execute properly. I don’t want to get him off of the train of thought that he has too. I’ve had times when coach (Bobby) Bowden, especially game day, would want to insert this or that idea. It was difficult sometimes to keep my focus on where I was going. We laugh about it now and we’d laugh about it on Sunday, but there were a couple of times I went into the office and said, ‘Coach, if you would like to take this thing back over I’ve got no problem or if you want this series or that series it’s fine with me. If we are going to have some of these suggestions, let’s at least get them in between series.’ He would always say, ‘I wasn’t trying to mess you up, buddy.’ I can understand where Mike is in the heat of the game, he’s in the heat of the battle. If I do make a game suggestion, I try to make it in between series. There are many times where we are crossing the 50 and I’m saying, ‘Mike you have four downs to get this thing or you have three downs to get this thing.’ He needs to know on third down if he has two plays to get this thing or one. A lot of things like that happen even to decide should we try to move the ball down the field on a two-minute drill before the half or should we just let the clock run or whatever it may be. I’m heavily involved in those types of things. I might say if it’s fourth and less than a yard we are going, if it’s more than a yard we are punting, so I have to alert those guys too. Those are more of the decisions that I’m making game day.”


On Georgia’s defense…

“I think when we get people in the third and long situations, the possession down, we need to nail it more often. We need to get off the field when we get them there. There are a lot of things we have to improve on all the way across the board with the entire football team. We’ve gotten ourselves in that position on enough occasions where if we could just finish it I think the outcome of a couple of our games would have been different too.”


#14 Joe Cox

On Vanderbilt…

“They’re a good team. You hear about them struggling and think they are having a down year, but they’re not. You watch them on film, especially on defense, and they are a real hungry team that’s really played well against everybody. They played LSU well, they played Ole Miss well, and they lost a couple of close games that could have gone the other way. They are a well-coached team, and they are every year. They’re always disciplined and have really smart players. This year they’re hungry. I know they are going to want to get a win versus us more than anything, and we need a win versus them. It’s going to come down to who executes the game better and who really wants it more.”


On the importance of big plays…

“It’s huge to have anybody make big plays. Big plays build momentum, and we didn’t have any this past game. It’s definitely something that we need in this weekend’s game against Vanderbilt. Big plays turn the momentum for both sides of the ball, especially big plays in the running game. If you run the ball well, a play-action pass works out a lot better. It just helps out everything about your offense, so we know what needs to be done and we know we need to put a lot more big plays up this weekend.”


On the running game…

“That’s probably been the most frustrating thing is that we know it’s there but it hasn’t been working. It’s something that we got to just keep chipping away at. We know we have good backs, we know we have a good line and we just got to get it going so we know we can do it.”



#81 Aron White

On the team’s focus…

“We can’t be thinking about what’s happening with everybody else with the SEC, what bowl we are going to get in or if we are going to get a bowl. Coach Richt said our main focus has to be our next opponent. He’s always big on saying take one game at a time because right now the only thing that should be on our minds is Vanderbilt because that’s our next opponent. He said nobody likes to lose and you should feel bad about it and sick to your stomach, but come your next practice you have to get in there and start working on the next team. You’ve got to forget and move on. Every season is not going to perfect and obviously not live up to your expectations, but right now we just got to focus on making the best out of the rest of our season. We’ve still got a lot of games to play.


#3 Bryan Evans

On feelings after the loss on Saturday…

“Kind of struck. We are 3-3 now, so we are 500. Last time I remember being 500, was in ’06 when we went 4-0 then we lost four games straight. We had a pretty strong finish so that is just something that we have to get turned around.”


Comparing the ’06 season to this season…

“In ’06 it was worse than this. We lost 4 straight including losses to Vanderbilt and Kentucky. We just have to go out and win against Vanderbilt and try to get this win streak going.”


On contributions that helped turn around the ’06 season…

“Just never giving up. There were a couple of days where you felt like throwing in the towel, but it’s just not our nature to give up so anytime that we can go out and try to get a win and get our win streak up that’s what we are going to do.”


On not being a front runner in the SEC East…

“It’s very strange. This loss really set us back a lot. The way the SEC is played it can change at any minute, so you can never say it’s not going to happen. Right now, it just feels very weird.”


#35 Rennie Curran

On feelings after the loss in Knoxville…

“Everybody is just ready to get back to work. We all realize what we need to do to get better. Getting in the film room more and doing everything that it takes. We realize as players that our time is limited being college students. At the same time, we have worked so hard this season, and in the off-season, so we can’t just let that go for nothing. We just have to continue to fight hard and bounce back, and that is what everybody is doing. We are staying optimistic, not getting down and realize that there are going to be failures, but we just have to continue to fight hard.”


On playing smarter and having less mental errors as a defense…

“We all want to win, we are all fighting hard and playing our hearts out every single game, but at the same time we have to focus on playing smarter and that starts with our preparation. Coach Martinez could coach his heart out, but it’s up to us to stay in the film room for an extra 30 minutes or whatever it may take to learn those formations and those tendencies that will help us on the field when the offense comes out and does something that you haven’t seen before. That is only going to come with the time you put in as a player and being a student of the game.”

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