Richt: Dawgs Are Healthy for 2010 Opener

Richt: Dawgs Are Healthy for 2010 Opener

ATHENS - Mark Richt and several football players addressed the media Tuesday during the Bulldogs' first weekly press luncheon of the 2010 season. They offered the following comments:

Head coach Mark Richt

Opening statement…

"It's great to be undefeated and in a great mood. This is awesome. Now we have to play. Louisiana-Lafayette, the Ragin Cajuns. Rickey Bustle, I've known Rickey a long time. I knew Rickey when he was coaching at Virginia Tech for years and kind of exchanged a lot of ideas offensively over the years. Not a lot lately, but back in the day. I have a very high respect for Rickey and what he is doing. He's entering his ninth season there, which is great. I didn't realize it until today, he coached Todd Grantham back in his day. So I probably should have been reading the newspapers and I would have known that by now. I just caught wind of that, so that's pretty interesting. I know coach Grantham will be excited about hooking up with coach Bustle.

 

"From what I hear they are very, very healthy. I got a report that Brandon Nash, a backup linebacker, might be the only guy who is iffy for the game. So it looks like their entire two-deep units are healthy and ready to go. We are very similar to that right now which is a tremendous blessing for us. Richard Samuel for us maybe would not be able to go, who would normally go. Chris Burnette, he's iffy right now, but everybody else looks like they will be ready to play, which is great. Everybody is going to be able to practice this entire week who will probably play, so that's good too.

 

"First game of the year, I know our guys will be excited. We know it's going to be high noon. It looks like the weather is starting to cool down a little bit possibly by then, which will probably be good for everybody including the fans. I hope it does cool down to the mid-80s anyway. We're just looking forward to playing. We're looking forward to getting it kicked off and just seeing what we've got."

 

On the opening game for Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray

"I hope it's friendly for him. Aaron – he's human. He's a freshman and he's going to have nerves just like everybody else. I'm a 50-year old man and I'll be nervous too, which is a good thing. Louisiana-Lafayette, you look at them last year. They played Kansas State and beat them. Kansas State plays Texas A&M and beats the heck out of A&M. They are a very capable team and a very veteran defense, as I mentioned, with a fourth-year coordinator, juniors and seniors and guys who know what they are doing, guys who will be very confident from a defensive standpoint. I don't know how friendly they'll be to him. Hopefully our fans will be friendly to him and hopefully our fans will realize he's a freshman, he's a rookie. He's going to make mistakes. He probably won't just be lights out as far as his accuracy and his decisions and all those things. He's going to be finding his way and hopefully his teammates will help him out offensively and defensively and even in the kicking game. All those areas can really help a young quarterback. I feel good about that.  I feel good about the guys around him."

 

On starting a freshman quarterback…

"What I've learned is that you are better off starting slow and you are better off starting with a smaller package and repping him over and over and over with this smaller package. And then hopefully he'll have success and you can kind of grow as you go. That's what I've learned and tried to help him understand. Most of these guys were pretty good playmakers in high school. They are used to being the guy making plays. Sometimes they feel like every time the ball is snapped they have to make a play, you have to do something spectacular. Aaron is a pretty mobile kid, and who knows how many times he created and scrambled and made plays. That's kind of what he's used to. He has to understand that you have to trust your feet. When I say trust your feet, when we drop in the pocket, when you hit that back foot in the ground you are looking at a first progression. When you hitch once you are looking at your second, and when you hitch third you are checking it down or you are starting in scramble mode or you are throwing it away. It's not going to be like every play I'm going to ad lib and do all these great things. You just have to understand, you don't have to be the hero. You just have to run this system, and what we have to understand is that no matter how much he knows, he's going to be going through some things for the first time and we have to help him."

 

On whether the success that David Greene and Matthew Stafford had as freshmen raises expectations for Aaron Murray...

"Greene was really the only one who kind of went through it unscathed or close to being unscathed. Greene was very, very disciplined in what he did. Greene created a lot of great habits as a redshirt freshman in that spring and fall. He rarely did the heroic thing or sometimes the boneheaded thing, where Stafford, he wanted to make plays. He was about making plays. He was about wanting to do great things and guys with that kind of arm strength and that kind of ability, they can't help themselves sometimes. So if you look at Stafford, we struggled with Stafford because we turned the ball over a bunch with him. At the end of the year when we quit turning it over, we won. We beat a No. 5 Auburn at Auburn, and I guess we beat Georgia Tech and we beat Virginia Tech, who had the No. 1 defense in the country that year. He finally just quit trying to be that hero. We struggled with Matthew as the starting quarterback as a freshman and we struggled a little bit less with Greene because of the decisions those guys made."

 

On eliminating turnovers…

"That's why you scrimmage and that's why you do 11-on-11. You try to get the QB in as many situations as possible. It's just like our practice game. We were in long field goal range, but we were in range. We had a third down play, and it was a screen. The defense smelled it out and they were ready to defend it. (Murray) could have thrown the ball at his feet and been incomplete and been in field goal range, but he knew he shouldn't throw it directly to the guy because he'd have trouble, but he decided to begin a scramble and got sacked for about eight or nine yards. We were out of field goal range and had to punt. We might have lost three points right there. Later on we had a third down inside the 10, and the scout team actually brought a different look than we thought we were going to see and he made a good decision not to throw it into coverage, but he began to scramble and he was out of the pocket. All he had to do was throw it over their head, and he chose to try to spit one in there. It was not an interception, but it should have been intercepted. There was a possibility of losing 10 points on two decisions in that game. We've been practicing 20-something days and all of last spring. You have to live it out. That was probably more meaningful to him than anything you can say in a pass skeleton drill or even an 11-on-11 drill. It was closer to a real game, and I think it hopefully resonated with him more than what we would say in a meeting."

 

On the importance of the mental outlook going into the Louisiana-Lafayette game…

"I know Louisiana-Lafayette is coming in to beat a top-25 team and make their reputation at the expense of us. Our guys understand that. It's been rare that we weren't pretty jacked up and excited to play an opening game, so I think that helps a lot. I think our players have a very healthy respect for who we are playing, mainly because when you watch the film you see guys who can make plays. They are sending guys to the NFL too. They don't have a talent base problem. When you are in the Deep South you are going to find players and athletes. They are very well coached, so I don't think our guys are falling into that trap at all."

 

On minimizing mistakes...

"That is all they are hearing from me mainly. That's a big part of what we are talking about. The goal is to at least make the opponent beat us. Let's not beat us. Let's see how good we can be if we don't help them. Let's try that and see how it goes. That's been a pretty strong message."

 

On Bacarri Rambo…

"I'm sure it's an honor for him to start. He's excited about starting. He's earned the right to start obviously. He's pretty much earned it because he picked it up the quickest. He learned what to do pretty quickly. He was able to help other guys get lined up properly. And he's a good player. He has very good ball skills, and he's not afraid to hit you. He's got good speed and he's got just a knack for football. He'd be a heck of a quarterback I think too. He's got some ability to do those things. I think he'll do well. But we will substitute. We need to play more than one team along the way. The media keeps wanting to know who's starting. I'm more concerned about who's ready to play. The questions I ask our coaching staff are not who's starting, I ask them who is ready to go in the game and play significant downs for us, so there will be more than him but he's doing good."

 

On the importance of Georgia's backups…

"You have to have depth and quality depth, guys who can come in and play well. A year ago when we had a lot of injuries or even during camp a little bit when guys were out for a week or a few days, it just gives the next guy a chance to get more reps and get better. I think that's crucial. Most teams, as the season wears on, if you don't have enough depth, you're in trouble. Anybody that you play in the first game of the year, everybody is healthy, everybody is undefeated, everybody is excited, and they might not be the same team game eight, nine or 10 that they are game one."

 

On Trinton Sturdivant

"Trinton is doing well. Trinton has been practicing. The last practice game, he got maybe 12 or 13 snaps. Trinton has been hooking it up in our inside running drills, which for a lineman that is live basically. When you go thud with linemen, they are banging heads every play. They are in the middle of a bunch of bodies trying to block a scheme and can get rolled up, so he has gotten those reps and he's gaining more confidence and he'll play."

 

On players making mistakes off the field…

"The flaw is if a guy does something that deserves to be disciplined and you don't discipline him. That's where the flaw us. The flaw is in us as humans. We're flawed, we're human, we make mistakes. When we make a mistake, then we get disciplined for it. As long as we have 18-22 year old guys who are human beings, they are going to make mistakes. That's just all there is to it. If you don't discipline it, you have a problem. If they don't learn from it, then they have a problem. If it's severe enough that they don't belong on the team, then they go, that's just the way it is. I think a lot of times, you guys cover us over and over and over and you're not everyday watching what's going on next door. If you lived in that neighborhood and you watched what happened everyday, you would probably say they have problems too. The problem is we are human, the problem is the culture of the college kids around the country and the things that they think are fun and what they do and just sometimes flat immaturity and that kind of thing."

 

On Caleb King

"He's ready and he's in great condition. He'll get more carries I'm sure than he would have if Washaun (Ealey) was there. Carlton will have to step up, and Fred Munzenmaier might get a few totes at tailback too, so I'm sure he'll be excited about that."

 

#11  Aaron Murray, QB

On the cohesiveness of the offensive line…

"I think that they're a great group of guys. They've worked together, at least some of them, for three years now. I've said it 100 times but I think that they're probably the best offensive line in the SEC and probably one of the best groups in the country. Those guys, all of them could play on Sundays. They all enjoy each other. They're a great group of guys and they really like to hang out with each other. They work well together, which is huge. There's no risk between those guys. There's great communication out there, which is really reassuring when you get to the line of scrimmage and they're all saying the same thing and are all on the same page. It's great to have those five guys in front of me."

 

On potential nerves before the game…

"I wouldn't say that I get nervous. I would say that I get more juiced up. I get really excited, and I need to take that down a notch. I get extremely pumped up. It'd be a great thing if I was on defense and I was trying to take someone's head off, but offensive wise, you want to be a little more mellow. I think that I'll be fine once I get calmed down a bit. I'm just excited about the opportunity to come out and play."

 

On opening the season at Sanford Stadium…

"It's going to be a great experience and a great way to start the season and my career. Being at home and being in front of all of the fans, it's definitely very exciting and I'm very excited to get out there on Saturday."

 

#16 Kris Durham, SE

On coming back from his season-ending shoulder injury last season…

"It's not starting over, because I kind of understand the concept of everything out there. It's hard to put into words, but it's exciting. It's nerve-wracking. I'm just excited and antsy. I even have a little bit of anxiety because I'm so ready to be out there on Saturday."

 

On play of QB Aaron Murray…

"I didn't realize, because I didn't get to throw with him a lot last year because I was injured, just how good of a player Aaron really was. He's intelligent. He's a student of the game and it's almost like he's a veteran already. He really is something special."

 

#78  Josh Davis, OT

On the play of junior OG Trinton Sturdivant

"Trinton is really excited about going back again. He's being smart and making sure that he's not doing anything that will hurt him during his return. In my opinion, Trinton looks great. He's almost back to his old form. He's ready. It's all he's been talking about every day at practice. "

 

On the play of the offensive line as a whole…

"We feel good as a whole. We know that we have to get comfortable out there as a whole and we know what we have to do out on the field. We're ready for [Saturday]."

 

#51 Akeem Dent, ILB

On overcoming his injury…

"It was frustrating in the beginning when I had some adversity, but now I'm in a position to be well and be ready to play football."

 

On getting the call despite missing camp…

"It's an honor. The guys in there while I was out did fantastic and really took on a  leadership role and did a nice job. To have missed camp was unfortunate but now I feel like I'm ready to go and I'm glad to be back in there."

 

On the rest of the defense…

"We worked hard all preseason and all camp and we're ready to go. I know everyone is ready to make a contribution. I trust in my teammates 110 percent."

 

On his senior season…

"You get to that point where you start to feel like it's your last season. You always think you'll play football all your life, but you don't know that. When your senior season rolls around you have to take advantage."

 

#18 Bacarri Rambo, FS

On the defense's keys to success…

"I think we have to win the turnover ratio. When you are able to create turnovers it really sets the tone for the defense. In the past we've been ranked low in that category so we have to go out there and focus on getting turnovers and getting our great offensive players back on the field because they'll make plays. Our coaches have stressed that to us. Coach [Todd] Grantham is aggressive on play-calling, and we'll do things and force the quarterback to throw bad balls and help us do what we need to do."

 

On playing against an opponent…

"It's been a very long time since we got a chance to hit an opponent so we're all ready to go out there. It's different when you're playing your own guys. We all want to go out there and do it but at the same time you don't want to hurt your teammates. We're excited to face an actual opponent."

 

On getting to start his first game…

"It feels great to get out there and start and to know I'll have everybody screaming. It's exciting to start my first college game – it's a dream come true. I've been dreaming about that since I was a little boy. My dad always told me I'd get where I need to be if I worked hard and I've been working hard to get to this point. I'm going to continue to do that to achieve my dreams of succeeding here and playing at the next level."

 

On the difference in starting vs. coming off the bench…

"Being on the sideline and watching guys play and having an idea of what to do when my turn is called is helpful. But now that I'm starting I really have started to focus and pay much more attention to my playbook because I'll be out on the field all the time. On one hand it's very difficult being on the sideline but in some ways it helps too. I want to be a starter and have my name called at the beginning of the game."

 

#94 DeAngelo Tyson, N

On where he is now…

"You can never be comfortable because there's always room to learn, but right now I feel a little bit of comfort knowing the system and knowing we can play fast. At first there was a lot of stuff to learn [with the new system] but the coaches that we have are great teachers. When you have great teachers you become a great learner."

 

On what the defense expects…

"We're going to play whatever Coach Grantham calls. We are comfortable with the things we've worked on in practice, we've gone over everything a lot of times, so we're just going out and having fun. That's what we'll do each and every Saturday."