Texas A&M Week: Press Conference Quotes


Posted Dec 16, 2009


ATHENS - Georgia head coach Mark Richt and several football players met with the media Wednesday during the Bulldogs’ Bowl Media Day. They offered the following comments:

Head coach Mark Richt

 

Opening statement…

“Texas A&M is an outstanding football team with a great football tradition.  Coach [Mike] Sherman has their team on the rise and playing extremely well late in the year. It will be a tremendous challenge for us.

 

“To start out with their offense, they are No. 1 in [the Big 12] offensively in total yards and in the top three in just about every offensive category. That all starts with No. 1, [quarterback] Jerrod Johnson. He’s 6-5, a 240-pounder, and throws the ball extremely well. He’s hit over 61 percent of his passes, has 28 touchdowns and only six interceptions – that ratio is tremendous. He has close to 700 yards rushing and over 3,200 yards passing, so he’s really been the guy, absolutely the catalyst of that offensive football team. They love to spread it out, go fast-paced, go with three-receiver sets, four-receiver sets, a no-back, five-receiver look. They get into certain personnel groups and give you every formation known to mankind and do it in a very quick manner, so it’ll be a challenge just to recognize what’s happening and get lined up properly. We’ll try to get after it.

 

“Up front they’ve got three senior linemen really in the best spots you can hope for as a coach. Both tackles and the center are seniors and have done an outstanding job of paving the way for [Cyrus] Gray and [Christine] Michael, their top two runners. They both have run for over 750 yards apiece and are very much alike, really – their statures are pretty close, 5-10, 5-11, and around 200 pounds, give or take a few. Their running styles are very similar. Receiving-wise, [Ryan] Tannehill is their leading receiver. I don’t see him on this depth chart, so I don’t know if he got hurt or not. I don’t have that figured out yet. Then [Howard] Morrow, and [Uzoma Nwachukwu] is a freshman receiver, very fast and talented. [Jeff] Fuller is their fourth-leading receiver. They throw the ball around a lot. They like to spread it out to throw and so they can get you thinned out and run their running game. It’s mostly a tailback running game, with some quarterback running, as you can see in the amount of yards that Johnson has as a quarterback rusher.

 

“Defensively, they have a young man by the name of Von Miller, No. 40, who has 17 sacks and leads their league in forced fumbles and tackles for loss and is one of the better rush hands in the country, I’d have to say. As far as leading tackles are concerned, their safeties are their top two tacklers, [Trent Hunter and Jordan Pugh] with 87 and 75 tackles, respectively. Then their linebackers, [Garrick] Williams, [Kyle] Mangan, and [Michael] Hodges are their next three tacklers – all pretty close, and about where it ought to be.

 

“The special teams I haven’t really spent a lot of time studying yet, so I don’t want to start spouting off things that I haven’t looked closely at. It’s been a little different from a normal week. I haven’t had a chance to sit down with the staff and talk about anything. We gathered today to get ready for today’s practice. We’ll practice today all the way through to the 22nd, then on the 23rd it will be a travel day. The 24th we are to report around 2 p.m., and will not practice the day we get there. We’ll practice the 25th and 26th, then the 27th – the day before the game – do our normal walk-through and meeting routine. We could practice, but more than likely it’ll just be a normal day-before-game. Christmas day we will treat like a normal Tuesday and the 26th we will treat like a normal Wednesday. We kind of miss that Thursday practice, but we’ll get plenty of things done and because of the multiple practices I don’t see a problem. If I feel like we need a practice day before the game, we may do that. That’s the plan right now, where we’re sitting. We did have practice yesterday between our class and exam schedule. It was a very spirited practice. We designed it in hopes that it would be – short, sweet, and high-tempo, high-competition. Everybody responded really well. Our players are excited about the challenge and looking forward to working really hard and getting after A&M. From what I hear, the travel time from Texas A&M to Shreveport is about three or four hours, so they should have a strong contingent of fans. We anticipate crowd noise as an issue so we’ll be practicing with that.”

 

On juggling bowl preparation, recruiting and hiring coaches…

“It’s busy. It’s busy for sure. First of all in recruiting we have a good number of commitments. At this point all the young men are holding firm. Who knows what any recruiting class will bring as you go down the stretch whether you have a situation with staff or not, you just never know what will happen down the stretch. I think everybody has done a pretty good job of covering those areas and getting on the phone and getting in person. I think we’ve done a good job there. The preparation for the bowl has been interesting on the defensive side of course with a couple of graduate assistants working with coach (Rodney) Garner and myself. I’ve really been encouraged by what they’ve put together, and I think the players are, I think their spirit is going to be right to be cooperative and take it as a challenge that they have to step up to, so I don’t see any issues in that regard. As far as the search, we all know it’s a very important hire and one that I’m doing the due diligence I think that it takes, but I’m working towards that end.”

 

On when he will hire the three coaches…

“I would say the safest bet, and I don’t want to put a time table on it, but I would hate to think it goes much past the first week of January. You have to get back on the road recruiting. I’m not sure exactly when you are allowed to get back in the ground after this second dead period. There is a dead period for the coaches’ convention. You’d like to hit the ground running at that point with your new staff. Even then I’m not going to say 100 percent because I’m not 100 percent sure when it will happen. I wouldn’t imagine it going past that if that.”

 

On whether he will hire coaches before the bowl game…

“I just don’t know. I think I’ll know when the time is right. It’s just so hard to predict.”

 

On Georgia’s travel itinerary and whether the team spent Christmas in a hotel for the 2001 Music City Bowl…

“I don’t think we did. It seems like it was a three-day trip. We might have had to report Christmas day, but it seemed like we reported the day after, but I’m not sure.”

 

On the team’s plans for Christmas…

“We are going to have a nice meal, and we are trying to put together a Christmas program. We might even get our own players involved in seeing what kind of talents they have. We’re working on that, but I think that would be something that everybody would enjoy. I would imagine most things are going to be closed that day, so we’ll have to provide our own entertainment. Hopefully the guys will get into the spirit of that.”

 

On who will call the defense in the bowl game…

“My answer to that from this point forward is it will be a group effort, and it will be.”

 

On the process of hiring coaches…

“I’m just going to say that it’s a private search. The bottom line is I’m going to be the one making the final decision on it.”

 

On Georgia’s offensive philosophy…

“As always you are going to take the talent base you have and try to get the best players on the field and guys who are most productive and try to get the ball to them. You are going to try to do it without self-inflicted wounds that we’ve had. That’s going to be the biggest issue is to continue to improve in all areas but also not setting ourselves back through the penalty and turnover issues. If you can turn around the penalty and turnover issue it will be a tremendous improvement.”

 

On whether A.J. Green will play in the bowl game…

“Unless he has a setback between now and then. He practiced the last time we practiced. I’m losing track of what day that was that we practiced, but he’s going to practice today. He’ll be in some non-contact probably most of the bowl practice, but as we get closer to the game, we are going to let him get a little block and full-speed and some things that might let him know he’s confident that it feels fine.”

 

On whether Montez Robinson will make the trip…

“No, he will not.”

 

On his involvement with the defense…

“I’ve enjoyed it. I’m not trying to re-invent anything defensively. My greatest role is to set some parameters and make sure that everything is being covered and that everybody not only has a plan schematically, but a plan to implement strategy. There are some special teams things that we had to visit as far as how we are going to handle those. Then I’ll also be keeping a very close eye on how things are progressing as far as how players are responding to the coaching and all those kind of things. That’s the biggest part of my role, which is not altogether different than what I normally do, but a little bit more intensive in that area.”

 

On special teams coaching responsibilities…

“We are going to have Mitch Doolittle and Todd Hartley work on the kickoff coverage team. Coach (John) Lilly will handle punt return and block.”

 

On whether he has talked to Logan Gray about switching positions…

“Have we talked to Logan? Yes. Logan wants to play. Logan is the one who is going to decide what he wants to do this spring. If he wants to stay strictly at quarterback and compete in that area, I’m all for it. If he wants to try another position to see if he could get more playing time in that role, I’m fine with that. I know that Logan is not going to forget what to do at quarterback, so even if he does something in the spring at another position, it doesn’t mean he won’t be back at quarterback in the fall. It’s really going to be putting the ball in his hands. We love Logan. We think he’s a heck of a player. We think he’s a heck of a Bulldog, and we want him to feel like he’s getting his best opportunity to make a contribution to the team, so it’s really going to be up to him. At this point nothing is changing. He’s not going to slip out there and try to play another position during the bowl practice time. It will be a decision that he’ll search after this bowl game is over.”

 

On whether he would feel comfortable with Aaron Murray or Zach Mettenberger starting at quarterback in 2010…

“I don’t want to get into hypothetical things, but I will say that we think they are outstanding quarterback prospects.”

 

On whether he has talked to Richard Samuel about switching positions…

“I have not.”

 

On Joe Cox

“He’s a first-class guy. He’s very tough physically and mentally. He has persevered. He has persisted. I have a lot of admiration for that. He’s been a leader of this team in a tough season, but he has not ever shied away from that responsibility or done anything that would even come close to resembling throwing in the towel or anything like that. He’s had some really outstanding moments. He’s had some very good days and some things that maybe aren’t exactly what he wanted, but I have a lot of respect for what he’s done. I think he’s handled it well.”

 

On having A.J. Green back…

“It will be exciting no doubt. That guy is special. We all know it. It’s going to give A&M something else to think about besides trying to stop the run, so that’s what you want. You want a threat to score anytime somebody tries to single cover him and I think A.J has that ability, so they have to decide what they want to do as far as how they are going to stop the run and still manage A.J., so it’ll create a problem for them.”

 

On the senior class…

“I think that these guys are not a whole lot different from any other senior class that has come through since I’ve been here. They are guys that chose Georgia. Georgia chose them, of course, but they chose Georgia. They dedicated hours and hours of time, blood, sweat and tears. They were as dedicated to the cause as any of them. Their senior season wasn’t as sweet as some other guys have had, but they’ve been involved in a lot of tremendous victories throughout their careers, and a bunch of great memories. A big part of that night (Georgia Football Gala) is remembering what they looked like when they were freshmen and seeing what they look like now and knowing that they are ready for manhood. They are ready for life outside of football, and that is exciting. I can’t tell you how many moms or parents every year will come up to me and I’m sure the other coaches and say, ‘Thank you for helping my son grow up.’ They know their sons have grown up in a very positive way, and they know they’ve been treated with respect and dignity and they are thankful. The guys are too.

 

You’d love to have that banquet after the last game, but after the last game you are trying to honor seniors who aren’t going to be there. They are going to be getting ready for the league and that kind of thing or whatever they are going to do in the future. So I think you have to have it when you have it. I can’t imagine anybody doing a better job of honoring their players than what we do with that gala. The Athens Touchdown Club of course is a big part of helping us in that regard.”

 

On whether the defensive coordinator will have input in hiring assistants…

“He’ll have say and suggestions, but it’s got to be through my blessing. I do want to hire the defensive coordinator first so he will have some input.”

 

On whether he will consider hiring a special teams coordinator…

“I would consider it. It has to start with the defensive coordinator and then just see what that gentleman feels like he needs to succeed and then move from there. We’ll definitely have our special teams covered one way or another. Whether or not there will be a special teams coordinator, I wouldn’t predict that right now, but to say I hadn’t thought of that as a possibility, I’ve thought about that.”

 

On whether he is looking for schemes or philosophies in the coaching search…

“I’m open to championship level defense. I’m not going to say I will not consider this scheme or that scheme or I have to have this scheme or that scheme, I won’t do it because there are different ways of skinning it. If you are really good at skinning it the way you do it, it’s OK with me.”

 

#35 Rennie Curran

On other people stepping up to help coach defense at the bowl game…

“We know that Coach Richt is going to bring in the best guys for the job. It is kind of an awkward time because we got our graduate assistants here who we believe in and they are young guys. We are just looking into the future and seeing what’s going to be next.”

 

On spending Christmas in Shreveport…

“It is definitely a bummer to be away from our families on Christmas day. This will be my first time away from my family, which is everything to me. Hopefully we will have a program or something to try and make it like Christmas at home. But we are honored to be invited by them and to have the opportunity to play, but normally you don’t want to miss Christmas. We are excited for the opportunity to play another game. A lot people down us because we do not have our coaches with us, but we are all hanging tight and tough and staying together.”

 

On having to play Texas A&M without three coaches…

“It is a huge challenge. It is going to put a lot of emphasis on us as a team and as a defense especially. It will allow us to come together even more and be more of a team and push each other individually and as a group to make sure that we are coming in every day during these bowl practices and being focused and not letting us become undisciplined just because our coaches aren’t around.”

 

On Mitch Doolittle coaching during the bowl game…

“I obviously don’t like Coach Jancek being away, but Coach Doolittle has done a great job. He has picked up on our system really quickly, and he is a guy that I feel like relates to us so well being young and energetic. I sat down away from Coach Jancek with him many times and he has given me tips here and there on how to improve my play and understanding the philosophy of football. So I have a lot of confidence in him that he is going to do a great job.”

 

On Coach Richt’s role for the defense during practices…

“He is just that motivating factor. He is just walking around and checking up on us during our drills. We haven’t really gotten into the meat of our game practices yet, but so far he’s just been making sure we are staying on task, on track, and business-like. As our coach he is doing a great job—the best that he can.”

 

On winning the MVP at the UGA football gala…

“It was a huge honor. I didn’t even believe it when they called my name out. It was a huge honor to be named in the same sentence with Vince Dooley, who has been a part of so much tradition of UGA. To get an award that is named after him was an honor, and to know that is how my coaches look at me and how my teammates respect me is humbling. Just to know that’s what they think of my hard work and me. It has been my goal from day one to go and work as hard as I can and use what God gave me to be a blessing to my teammates. It was definitely a humbling experience and something that motivates me to work even harder and be that role model for my teammates and to continue to make plays and do what I can to help this team be successful.”



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