Richt, Dawgs Preview Buffalo

ATHENS - Mark Richt and a delegation of players met with the media Tuesday during the Bulldogs' weekly press luncheon. They offered the following comments:

Head Coach Mark Richt

Opening Statement…

"Good to see everybody, and I'm glad that it's finally game week. We've been waiting a long time, and we're getting tired, quite frankly, of running into each other. I'm sure every coach in America is saying this, but it's true. We just can't wait to play. I guess we're going to get out there today to practice. The weather is a little bit rough, but I think we'll be fine unless lightning strikes. We'll be in our shoulder pads and helmets, which is normally what we do on Wednesday but we're a day ahead of schedule. The next couple of days will just be in shorts and hats, so I think that will go well, even if we have to go inside a day. We're far enough along so we'll be okay.

 

"To talk about our first opponent, Buffalo, Coach (Jeff) Quinn is in his third season. He's doing an outstanding job there, no doubt about it. I was looking at their offense and one of the things that I saw from their first to their second year was that they were really adding their yards per game and doing much better in points per game. Their turnover ratio has improved dramatically from year one to year two and now they're going into year three with a lot of veteran players. It's a little bit similar with what's going on with our defense in that everybody knows what they're doing. I'm sure they're in the same situation in that regard. They are a big bunch, and they have three guys that started all 12 games last year on the offensive line, so we're looking forward to that challenge. With our line against theirs, it will be interesting to see how that goes. I figure they'll be wanting to run the ball a lot, and it will be a challenge for us to stop it."

 

On the importance of Richard Samuel's play this season…

"There haven't been a lot of guys that have been able to cross-train, but having Richard able to do that is good for Richard and good for Georgia. The thing that makes it easier than maybe a Malcolm Mitchell trying to play receiver and defensive back is that everything he needs to learn is being done in the same meeting room, whether it's fullback or tailback. So that helps him really know what to do in both areas. I think throughout the year we'll see Richard at both positions, and we might even see him at both positions this ballgame. It's possible."

 

On the development of Ken Malcome

"I'm really proud of him. He got to a point in his career where he thought he should leave Georgia because he didn't think he'd get to play much. He thought the answer was to leave, so I did try to talk him out of it when he first came in. I asked him if we had really seen the best Ken Malcome and he ought to show himself his best and then decide what to do. But he felt like he should go a day or two later, and once he was living that decision out, he realized that it wasn't the right one. He didn't want to quit, and he wanted a chance to come back. I told him that if he wanted to come back, I wanted to see his best and not only in the field but also in the classroom and everywhere else. He began to work, and he didn't complain or look around at the competition, but he started to work. He became the best he could be in the classroom and on the field, and then good things started happening for him. He knows what to do and how to do it, and he's been practicing his tail off. Good things have been happening to Ken, and hopefully this will continue when he steps on the field." 

 

On Ken Malcome's career to this point…

"The book on his career hasn't been fully written, but at the rate he's going if he continues to progress like he has it's going to be a wonderful story. He still has a ways to go to finish strong and make it a story worth writing, but he certainly has come a long way. There are so many of our guys who have had to overcome things. I think everybody in life - we all have our stories, we all have our issues that we need to overcome. Some things seem more drastic than others, but it's real to everybody. Ken is doing well. I'm happy for him right now. I'm proud for him."

 

On Ramik Wilson and the outside linebacker position…

"It's our Sam linebacker, basically, and he'll play a lot of they are in base personnel. If they are spread out, that guy is usually out of the ball game. If they are in certain personnel groups he plays a good bit, and if they are spread out a bunch he might not play as much in that position anyway. Ramik, we think he is a very talented guy. He can play outside linebacker. We believe he can play inside linebacker as well. It's his second year in the system, and we just expect that we'll have a lot more productivity out of him. We like what he's done. He's been really good for Georgia."

 

On entering his 12th season at Georgia and the expectations entering his first year…

"I didn't know for sure what was going to happen being a first year head coach. When I left Florida State I left a great place. I left a great job working for a great man. My family was happy. There was no burning desire to leave Tallahassee, but I knew that this head coaching thing was going to happen if I wanted to take advantage of it. I always felt like from the very beginning if we ever left there we were only going to leave for a place we thought could be our home for a long time, because I enjoyed the stability of being with Coach (Bobby) Bowden for 15 out of 16 years. It was great for my family. When you're at a school long enough you get to see the guys come in as freshmen and leave as seniors. You even get to see a guy come back five, six years later after graduation and come back with his wife and kids and just really enjoy coming back what feels like home to him. There is something to that that I was very attracted to. The types of things that Coach Bowden was building in Tallahassee were the types of things that I wanted to build here at Georgia. It's not shocking to me that I'm still here in that I know in my heart this is where I want to be, but we know that it's a rough business too."

 

On the 2009 and 2010 seasons…

"It's just a very fine line between winning and losing. There are so many close games that we didn't win during that stretch. If you go back farther and some of the years that people are saying were more successful or seasons we had more wins, there were a lot of close games we won. It's really a fine line between success and failure in this business – winning and losing. You have to understand that and know that sometimes when you are winning there are some things that need to be fixed. Sometimes when you are losing there are some things that you probably don't need to abort. You need to stay with them because you are not that far away from having that success again. If you make too many changes in philosophy or personnel or whatever it might be, then you might be setting yourself up for failure because you forgot what got you there too."

 

On Marshall Morgan's readiness to kick in front of 92,000 people…

"I don't know how ready Marshall is. He's a talented guy, there is no doubt about that. We wouldn't have brought him in if we didn't think that he had the talent base to do it. He has a strong enough leg and he's had enough success in his high school career to do well. I think in time he's gong to do extremely well. What will he do in his first game and his first kick? I don't know. It will be interesting to see.

 

"Of course Collin (Barber) is kind of in the same boat as a true freshman punter as well. We have had some good competition with Jamie Lindley in practice, and I'm not sure if Jamie will get in there or not, but we've also had some good competition with Adam Erickson at the punting position too. I wouldn't be shocked to see those guys in there as well."

 

On whether Christian LeMay could get some snaps on Saturday…

"Our plan is to line up with Aaron (Murray) as quarterback and try to win the game. We don't have a plan with Christian like we might have had with (D.J.) Shockley back in the day where we knew we were going to play him in the first half. We'll just see how the game goes and sub if possible."

 

On different teams recruiting players from the state of Georgia…

"Georgia is not a secret anymore. Atlanta with the airport and the accessibility for people to come just about anywhere in the United States to have a direct flight from Atlanta and go recruit and get out of there. It just makes sense for time and for what it might cost to do that. Everybody is in the state. Everybody is in Atlanta, and everybody is trying to find some Georgia boys to help them win, so it's not a shock to see them all the way in Buffalo."

 

On Mark Beard

"I'm not 100 percent sure he'd be the first guy to come in if something happened to Kenarious Gates, but the more he practices there and the more comfortable he gets there, the better chance he'll have. We did have Austin (Long) there, but then we decided to move Austin inside, so I don't know if he would go in first or if Mark would. Austin was at left tackle at the beginning, but now he's moving around a little bit. We'll see if it's Mark or not."

 

On the offensive line…

"It would have been nice to have Kolton Houston as well ready to go. Hunter was making some strides at center and guard before he broke his foot. I don't know if we would've had a situation with two full lines and the one unit leaves and the two unit comes in. There's been only a couple of seasons that I can remember that I've been coaching that we had that type of a line. Mostly it's one, two or three guys who can go in there and play. Right now it's good to have those two feeling like they are ready to go. Beard is kind of working his way into that mode, so we'll see."

 

On being a top-10 team despite new faces at tailback, punter and kicker…

"The year we were preseason No. 1 (in 2008), that was the year Cordy Glenn and Ben Jones started as freshmen, and it's hard to think you're the preseason No. 1 team when you have a lot of freshman linemen starting for you. We have a brand new punter, kicker, tailbacks. There are a lot of question marks, no doubt, but I think everybody in the country have some kind of issue. Sometimes teams look more glamorous when they are far away. You don't see all the warts."

 

On the SEC…

"Our teams have been able to have one make it to the national championship game every year for the last six years and win it. If we were in that game six years in a row and won three out of six, I don't think people would be talking about the SEC as being a dominant conference. The reality is we've won the last six in a row, and with teams that might have had a loss here or loss there. One year there were two losses with LSU having two losses. People are saying a one-loss SEC team may still be the best team in America, or at least still has the right to play for it. Of course Alabama had one loss and they didn't win the league, but they played for the national championship and won it. I think it's a tribute to the programs as a whole. When you take the fan bases, the administration, coaches, the players, the talent base that everybody has and the competition level in all areas – that's what make us better. We compete so hard against each other, and there is a bunch of us that are good enough to beat each other too. Some people think it's top heavy, but there are some pretty strong teams all the way across the board I think."

 

On whether he is more inclined to open up with a fullback so Merritt Hall can get the start…

"I guess if you don't play the first play you aren't considered the starter, but he's the starter in our base unit. I'm happy for him and I'm happy for Georgia. Sometimes you look at a depth chart and a position and wonder how we are going to do. For him to come out of the blue and play the way he did in the spring and the fall and solidify the job and create competition, it's good. It's good for us, good for Georgia and good for him. Will we start in base? I don't know. That means some other guy doesn't get to start. We'll see. I'll let Mike (Bobo) decide that."

 

On Georgia's freshmen…

"You hope when you sign them they are going to come in and help you, and then you start practicing and see these kids need to play. They need to help us on special teams and get as much experience as possible this year because we are pretty senior-heavy on defense right now. It's good to get those guys as much work as possible."

 

On the difference between this year's season opener and last year's season opener…

"I think it's just the media attention. When we played Boise State, it was hyped a whole lot more than this game is. I think because we are a preseason top-10 team, the media will cover this game. Most sports channels talk about what happened in the top-10, so I'm sure we'll get some attention for that reason. The biggest thing was having two pretty highly-ranked teams or at least two top-25 teams playing against each other outside of the normal area. I think that's what made it a bigger story."

 

On Georgia's depth…

"When you travel in an SEC game you are only allowed to bring 70. I think historically we've had a handful of walk-ons that are either walk-ons that earned scholarships or that are just still walk-ons that have been a part of our special teams. We've had a great tradition of walk-ons playing big on special teams for us. We've probably been averaging about 65 guys on scholarship when we travel to an SEC game. Even all of those don't get in the game. An NFL team is running around with a 53-man roster and they seem to do okay. The difference is they can make trades and they can do things if guys get hurt. I think right now we have enough guys to go play football and play well. We have been very blessed to get through camp with very few injuries. Hunter Long's foot injury, which is about a four to six week thing, has been the biggest one to any scholarship player that I can think of."

 

On whether Georgia has had a policy change on addressing personnel or disciplinary decisions…

"I don't know if there is anything etched in stone, but we are handling it a little bit different this year. I don't know if I can say why, but we are definitely handling it just a little bit different."

 

Senior WR Tavarres King

On young receivers like Justin Scott-Wesley and Blake Tibbs

"They've come a long way. The big part is understanding the offense and what we're doing; understanding the concepts. Tibbs has come a long way and has done really well – those young guys have done a good job learning the playbook and what we need them to do."

 

On Marlon Brown
"He's been really consistent. He's done everything that's been asked of him – in the running game, the passing game, everything. He's attacking the ball when it's in the air, and looks like a really well-rounded receiver right now. He's going to continue to progress and get better. It's crazy the steps he's taken and the strides he's made."

 

On expectations for Saturday…
"I just want to see our guys do what we've been doing in practice – guys having fun, enjoying themselves, fighting hard and playing for their teammates. That's what we do in practice and hopefully that incorporates itself on Saturday."

 

On the progress of the offense compared to this time last year…
"We're absolutely further along. I tell my guys [the wide receivers] it starts with us. If we're there when we need to be there, things will go right. I'm sure the O-line says the same thing. Everybody needs to believe the team success starts with them."

 

Junior QB Aaron Murray

On the offense…
"I think we look great right now. The biggest thing is the no-huddle, I think it's been moving more rapidly and the guys are able to get lined up faster. We're getting the plays in faster and things are smooth. When the guys don't have to think too much, you can get lined up and execute. Credit goes to guys like Merritt Hall – they've learned the playbook and they've worked hard this offseason."

 

On a freshman kicker and punter making their debuts…
"I'm excited to see what all the freshmen can do, every position. I know they'll be ready. I don't watch much kicking and punting in practice but I've heard good things. Hopefully we won't need to use them too much for punts. Just kickoffs. That's always the goal of the quarterback."

 

On freshmen handling their first game…
"I think they have different reactions and it depends. Kickers, when your numbers is called and you have to make one play with all eyes on you, it's nerve-wracking. Wide receivers might have some more time to get into it, then you might get hit and then your adrenaline starts going. I'm interested to see how they do. We try to simulate game situations in practice so everyone can get used to things."

 

Senior DT John Jenkins

On how the team's anticipation for Saturday…

"We want to get the show on the road. We're just excited, I don't really know any other way to say it but we're just overly excited. We're on a mission for great things to come from this season.

 

On his individual, and team goals for the upcoming season…

"Individually I just want to do everything I can to help this team win. I tell everyone else that as long as we win the game as a team, then everything else individually that I have set for my goals will come true. From a personal standpoint, I want to get better fundamentally and then be able to apply those fundamentals better in a game time situation. As long as we are able to get the win, that's all I care about."

 

On the importance of the new strength coaches…

"They have been very important to us throughout the preseason. All of these guys have their own kind of area of expertise. Coach Herman Armstrong has done a great job of stretching us out and maximizing our quickness. Coach Justin (Lovett) came here from the Denver Broncos and I have been working with him a lot personally doing some MMA training to work on my hand eye coordination and help my feet movement more precise for pass rushing. I'm that much greater than I was last year because of all of the work these guys have put us through."

 

Senior LB Christian Robinson

On how the depth of the linebacker position…

"Last year after Alec (Ogletree) and I went down I think everyone was kind of worried about what we were going to do at inside linebacker, but look how great these guys did. Mike Gilliard and Amarlo (Herrera) came up huge for us and now we have four or five guys that can play for us at that position and no one would question it. It's all about going out and getting reps and even though some guys are out, we have enough players to back them up. Then when they come back we'll have even more depth and we'll be cheering for the younger guys to get more reps too."

 

On what he is most excited to see come Saturday…

"I want to see these young running backs. Keith (Marshall) put a move on somebody the other day that I hadn't seen in a while. He shook two people and they both fell down. I haven't seen anyone since I've been here that could do something like that. Maybe AJ (Green) had that kind of juking ability. That's pretty special to me. I haven't seen someone just blatantly fall down because some one juked them, so I want them to be turned loose so they can stop hitting us. I think we have a lot of good running backs, they all have their own style and they're each unique in their own aspects so I think we have a good group. I think this group is way farther ahead than a lot of other groups in recent past."

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