Richt, Dawgs Talk Gamecocks

Richt, Dawgs Talk Gamecocks

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…

"We are getting ready to play South Carolina. It's good to be home playing between the hedges. We're playing in front of our fans and our families. Of course most of our families make it to most of our away games as well. South Carolina is a very good football team obviously. The last couple of years they have won 11 ballgames and they've beaten us three years in a row. We have a great challenge ahead of us. We have maybe a few redshirt seniors who have been on a team that had a victory over South Carolina, but no one else has had that distinction."

 

"It's a big game for both teams. Obviously it's the first conference game for both teams to set the tone for the future. We don't have a game next week. We have an open date, and there's not a whole lot we should be holding back. We need to get better at a lot of things fundamentally We need to be able to block better, tackle better, especially in space. That's what today and tomorrow will be about in practice. Of course we'll be installing our game plan as well. That's where we are."

 

On Georgia's level of physical play against Clemson

"It depends on the snaps that you look at. There were times where we couldn't have blocked plays better than we did and had some tremendous results. Then there were times where we looked like we were in the first grade out there. We were getting out of position, and there were a couple of holding calls that really hurt us and some pass protection issues that we just didn't handle very well. It just wasn't a consistent enough effort to do what we really needed to do and put more points on the board. We had six drives that were affected by penalties. On two of the six drives we overcame the penalty, but we lost four drives to penalties. The offensive side of the ball is supposed to be the mature side of the ball for us, but most of the penalties were on offense. There was one pass interference on defense."

 

On defending South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney

"There's a lot of different things you can do on pass protection. One of the things is that if you slide your protection towards a guy like that, you free up your tackle not to block him one-on-one. Your tackle basically is responsible for taking him on an outside rush, but if he makes a move inside of him, there will be a guard waiting for him, so that's one way. Another way is to try to even put a tight end to the side that he's at and give him a little bit more to navigate as he's coming through the line of scrimmage. The other thing is to have a back or a tight end off the ball who can chip on the way out. You can also design plays where you don't hold the ball very long. Set your point, get up in the pocket and get the ball out quickly. There's always your quick passing game where you may try to change up your blocking technique with the cut block from time to time. That might give him something to think about, but those are the things that you try to do. You can also sprint your protection to or away from him or move the pocket from time to time.

 

On the offensive line…

"Right now, (Kenarious Gates) will be our left tackle. I think we still think that there's at least six guys that can play and deserve to play, so I think part of our issue has been (Chris) Burnette coming off of surgery. We haven't been wanting him to play the entire game necessarily. I'm not saying he won't this week, but going into last week, we were wanting to give him some relief throughout the game."

 

On Aaron Murray's play during the Clemson game…

"I think Aaron overall played a pretty good game. The fumble was disappointing. With the interception, if you've played quarterback and coached it long enough, that type of thing is going to happen from time to time. It was a good thing that they did schematically, and it just really wasn't in his vision when he was making that decision. Every once in awhile that will happen, so I'm not going crazy about the pick. When you work up in the pocket, you have to be firm with the ball in your hand, and you're going to get hit and tackled from time to time, so we can't spit the ball up. For the most part he made good decisions. Being knocked around like he was and sacked like he was, I thought he continued to go back in the pocket trusting it and being able to make a big play on the next play. He created plays three times where he broke out of the pocket, found guys and hit them on the run. He got us in the right play most of the time, so overall he did well. I think Aaron just has to continue to do what he does for us with getting us in the right plays and the right protections. He just has to hit his target when it's there and not turn a bad play into a catastrophe. Every once in awhile, it's a bad play, so don't throw it up for grabs and if you do happen to get sacked, hang onto the thing and I think he'll be fine."

 

On coaching against Steve Spurrier

"He's a good coach like most everybody in our league. I think everybody in our league is a very good coach, otherwise they wouldn't be here. He's mostly running their offense, but you study film and tendencies just like you would anybody else. He doesn't coach defense or special teams, but he's got a team that's playing hard. He's got a big, physical football team, and they have an identity. Their identity is to play defense, run the ball real physical, take some shots downfield and you saw it on the special teams. That's been a good formula for victory."

 

On Kenarious Gates at left tackle…

"I think Gates is a very good player. He is the guy that has the best shot at matching up out there (with Clowney). We wouldn't be playing him at left tackle if we didn't think he could do it. He went up against Jadeveon a year ago, so it won't be like a first-time experience for him. He's ready to go, and he's confident that he's going to play well, but we all know that it's a 60-minute game. You probably have 200 plays in a game between offense, defense and special teams, and every snap is a battle. You're going to win some and lose some, but we think he gives us our best shot to succeed."

 

On South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw

"You've got to be careful with him. The thing about Connor is that he's going to run quarterback draw, he's going to run zone read and he's going to run when it's not there in the passing game. It's kind of three different types of runs for that kid, and you have to have a plan for all of them. When you get a guy in a pocket, especially a guy like that, you have to have some integrity in your rush lane. You can't just let guys totally freelance or squeeze a guy. If you've got a guy that's not very mobile, you don't mind your edge rusher every once in awhile to take it inside or beat a tackler inside to the quarterback because if you flush him, the guy's not going to do a lot of damage on you. You have to be much more careful with a guy like that. You have to be concerned about who is truly containing the quarterback in the pocket. Just like there's passing lanes up front, there are running lanes, as well. If you play too much man coverage or too many combination coverages where everybody is chasing the receivers, the quarterback can work his way up inside the pocket and take off running, and then there's no one there. You just have to have a good mix of zone coverages. If you are playing man, maybe you just have one guy staying back at home spying so the quarterback just doesn't have a free run."

 

On the importance of Josh Harvey-Clemons' return…

"Josh being back is big for us. He'll be able to play in our base and our nickel scheme. Corey Moore, we believe, will be back, too, so we'll be able to insert Corey as well. We still don't want to lose the progress that we think Leonard Floyd is making. We want him to continue to get a lot of reps for us, so it's going to be a little bit of a challenge to get Leonard, Corey, Josh Harvey-Clemons and Tray Matthews on the field at the same time, but we'll figure it out."

 

On the challenges of inserting a game plan each week…

"It's not that hard because as you're installing what you're going to do, you just have to decide what type of tempo it's going to be. We'll do some scrimmaging today, I'm sure, to help the fundamental part of it. It just has to be a physical day for us. Tomorrow won't be a whole lot different, quite frankly, because that's the type of battle we're going to be in. We had our hands tied a little bit in camp with being down to very few safeties, and it was kind of tough to get better when guys weren't practicing, but we have a lot of healthy bodies right now. I think it's going to help us in practice with physicality."

 

On the wide receivers…

"We already saw Justin Scott-Wesley begin to grow up towards the end of last year. I thought he had a very good spring in camp, and then he played well in this ball game. He not only played well as a receiver, but he played very well on special teams. He was actually named our special teams captain. Our captains for this game will be Justin Scott-Wesley on special teams, Garrison Smith on defense and Arthur Lynch and Todd Gurley on offense. But back to the receivers, we also got a little taste of (Rantavious) Wooten being back, and Jonathon Rumph will be back this week practicing. Rhett McGowan will be more ready to play this week than he was last week, so those are some guys that will step up and play other than the usual suspects."

 

On Patrick Beless…

"Beless has done a very good job for us. He's been very accurate in camp, and Adam Erickson was, as well. It was very close competition, actually. I think both of them are capable, and either one of them could possibly kick for us with either extra points or field goals.."

 

On whether or not punter Collin Barber would ever kick field goals…

"Collin has enough leg, as you saw with the kickoffs. We've worked him some as a field goal kicker because he does have distance. If you had to have one from a long distance, like 50-plus yards, he has the leg to get it there."

 

On Malcolm Mitchell's injury…

"You can't temper celebration. That would be a bad thing to do for us. We've done a good job of that from time to time, and you have to play with enthusiasm and injury. You have to celebrate with your teammates. That's the thing about that injury – it's probably just as much that type of thing (jumping up in celebration) than somebody actually getting hit. It was sad for us, but I think Malcolm has a good attitude about it. Thomas Davis was an All-American safety here and is now playing with the Panthers, and I think he's the only NFL player that has had three ACL surgeries on the same knee and returned to play. He played extremely well last year, and Thomas called him and got on the phone with him a little bit just to help him out."

 

On Josh Dawson

"He did very well for us (against Clemson). Josh was a guy that was brought in as an outside linebacker, but his body grew up to more of an end for us. He's a guy that's going to give us quality play and quality snaps. We expect a lot of productivity out of him for the rest of the year and the rest of his career."

 

On losing a game early in the season…

"It's no fun to lose, and it's no fun to lose early. With the type of schedule that we have, there's a risk of that. That's football, and that's the way it is. We'd prefer not to be sitting like we were a couple years ago after Boise State and South Carolina. We're going to do our best not to be in that position, but the goal is to win the SEC Eastern Division. Obviously everyone is in really good shape to do that across the league. Vanderbilt's the only team that has a loss. Everyone in the East still has control of their own destiny at this point, and that's really all you can hope for."

 

On the crowd noise during games…

"We really do need our fan base to be a part of this game because crowd noise is obviously a factor. It's not just in college, but it's in the pro game, too. You've got guys that have been pros for years, and they're still jumping offsides because they can't hear. We need our crowd to create that type of atmosphere where it's going to be very difficult for South Carolina's offense to operate. Part of the thing too with crowd noise is that some of our pass protection issues had a little something to do with the crowd noise at Clemson, in that if you don't have your verbal cadence, it's really hard to mix up your snap count when you're running on a sign basis. When you do it silently, the advantage that we have is to know when the ball's going to be snapped and the defense really has an equal opportunity to get off on the snap. Where if we're at home and we have the verbal, the ability to verbalize the snap and change the count and keep people off balance will be an advantage. It will also be a disadvantage for them not being able to alter their cadence. Our crowd is crucial in this ballgame and any of our home games. You just never know what the one play is that might make the difference."

 

On the crowd noise at Clemson…

"To me, just about every stadium that we go into can get loud enough to force you to do things. Once you hit a certain amount of decibels, it could be ten times that and it still isn't going to matter because you can't hear. But they definitely created enough noise to force us to go to a sign cadence, which we knew going in. It wasn't a surprise."

 

On the availability of Brendan Douglas this week…

"Douglas is going to practice this week, and we think he'll be able to play. I don't know if he'll get in as a running back, but I think (Todd) Gurley is fine, (Keith) Marshall is fine, J.J. Green is fine, and Green and Douglas were kind of battling it out for that number three spot. We'll just see how quickly he can go full speed. If he's full speed and we think he still knows enough what to do, then we might give him a chance to play. He was also being used on some special teams. It was getting to the point where we were getting ready to trust him in those areas, so he's going to start getting reps there again. He may end up playing some special teams."

 

On the depth chart listing Garrison Smith at nose guard this week…

"I didn't even look at that. I never look at that. I don't know what to make of it, quite frankly. Garrison will play both positions, but it just depends on the situation. We really do roll our guys around a lot. It just depends on the personnel group that we're playing and the matchups that we think are going on. Garrison does a good job at nose, but a lot of time it's just a matter of trying to get more agile pass rushers inside rather than the big, run-stopping, space-eating guys."

 

FLK Chris Conley

On if he noticed anything was wrong with Malcolm during the first TD celebration…

"We always celebrate the same way. We always have a little competition to see who can jump higher, so everybody was thinking the same thing and no one really even noticed until we got back over to the sideline that something was wrong."

 

On how they will celebrate touchdowns in the future…

"Of course, now everyone is a little more conscious about it. It's kind of an unspoken that we're not going to do that anymore. We'll find another way to celebrate, and it won't really take away from it, but we'll definitely be more conscious about it so that we can prevent things like that from happening again in the future."

 

On the receiver group moving forward after Malcolm Mitchell's injury…

"We've got guys who are talented, guys who can make plays in different positions. We still feel that way. You know Malcolm was a huge playmaker, a huge leader in the receiving corps and he will be missed. But I don't think this will slow the offense down. I think we'll get stronger. We'll have opportunities for young guys to step up and make plays. It's unfortunate, but having this depth at the position will allow someone else who's prepared themselves to step up."

 

TE Arthur Lynch

On how the team will game plan for Clowney…

"I help with all defensive ends every week. It's kind of just what I do from the tight end position. Not just me, but all the tight ends. I don't think we'll game plan any different. We'll acknowledge the fact that he's a very good player, and that we have to account for him in our process for how we are going to block certain things, but I don't think we'll have to alter our game plan to where we get out of our comfort zone."

 

On the team's response following Saturday's loss…

"I think we knew it would have been nice to win the game, but I think we hurt ourselves more than they hurt us, if that makes sense. We gave up eight penalties, most were on third down, and you don't recover from them. You turn the ball over twice, you are going to lose the ball game. The fact that we only lost by three says a lot about our offense and the team overall. I think a lot of guys on the defensive side of the ball got a lot of experience, and a lot of guys stepped up. I think we're in a lot better frame of mind than most people think."

 

S Connor Norman

On the outcome of the Clemson game…

"I guess the only important stat is winning or losing, so it really wasn't that great of a day. A lot of the guys grew up pretty quickly out there. I was happy to see how Brendan Langley played out there in the secondary, Tray Matthews as well. Those guys are growing up and they're learning a lot. We learned a lot yesterday when we were watching the film so we're just trying to correct the mistakes and get ready for Saturday.'"

 

On communicating with freshman S Tray Matthews…

"It was pretty consistent over the whole game. We were communicating every play pretty much whether it be him communicating over to me or me communicating to him. It's usually safety-to-safety and then the safety will communicate to their corner. It was pretty good over the entire game. Obviously with the hurry up offense like Clemson had it had to be a little bit quicker so we were trying to catch up to that pace but overall Tray did a great job."

 

On comparing South Carolina's offense to Clemson's offense…

"Clemson is a heavy pass offense, they're hurry up but South Carolina is a great offense also. They line it up a little more and run it right at you. In that sense they have a really good running game and a great offensive line to do that. Not saying Clemson didn't but they spread the ball out more and throw it around more than South Carolina does."

 

SE Justin Scott-Wesley

On being named captain for the South Carolina game…

"That's big. That's big for me. That's one of my greatest achievements, to be a captain for the University of Georgia. I'm definitely honored."

 

On establishing himself after the loss of Malcolm Jenkins

"I just have to be consistent. I don't want to be a one-hit wonder. I know people are going to know who I am and try to game plan for me, so I just have to come out and be consistent."

 

On whether or not he feels any added pressure with Malcolm being injured…

"I don't feel any pressure. I feel like Coach Ball puts pressure on us everyday. If you know what it's like playing under Coach Ball, the game is fun. Practice is the most pressure."

 

DL Garrison Smith

On switching from Defensive End to Nose Guard…

"I do it all. I'm like the handy man, I'll do anything it takes to get the job done. I played mostly at the Nose [on Saturday]. It's all football for me. Wherever the coaches want me to play at. Whatever it takes to make the team win, then I'm not worried about my stats or anything like that. I'm all about winning and I'm all about the team. Big team, little me."

 

On how badly he wants to beat South Carolina, being 0-3 against them in his career…

"You want every game bad. We don't like losses and I don't like losing. Nobody likes losing. We just have to go out there and do the best we can and try and get the W."

 

On the mentality that Georgia's season starts over on Saturday…

"I feel like since its conference play it's definitely way more important, but at the same time every game is important. We just want to do the best we can and try and get a victory."

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