Richt Reflects on Preseason Pressure

A year ago, Mark Richt was in a similar position to the one Florida's Urban Meyer will face this year. His Bulldogs were the hot preseason team, expected to be number one when the polls came out. The Gators are almost everyone's pick for the top spot this season, and they'll have the added expectations of a possible repeat national title on top of it.

At the SEC meetings in Destin this week, the Georgia coach said Meyer's welcome to that pressure.

"After last season, I'd rather not start a year at No. 1 again."

That won't be a concern for the Bulldogs this year. They're likely to begin the season somewhere between 10 and 15 if most early published rankings reflect what the actual pollsters do. Quarterback Matthew Stafford is gone to the NFL, but Richt seems confident fifth year senior Joe Cox will be an effective leader in the huddle.

"They see Joe everyday in practice. They know he understands the system well and puts the team first. They can see how accurate of a passer he is. They believe in Joe."

Cox has only started one game in his career, although he did come off the bench to rally Georgia for a come from behind win against Colorado in 2006.

Richt has periodically indicated his displeasure with the arrangement for the Florida-Georgia game to be played in Jacksonville each year, but was less vociferous about it in Destin.

"I don't care where we play the game, quite frankly," said Richt. "Somebody asked me a while back do I think it's neutral, and I said 'I really don't think it's neutral, no'... It's a bigger deal than it should be, in my opinion."

Richt, who began coaching in Athens in 2001, is now the longest tenured coach in the SEC at his current school. He described knowing that as, "kind of weird. I still feel young and energetic, which is good."

With a schedule that includes a road opener at Oklahoma State as well as nonconference matchups with Georgia Tech and Arizona State in addition to the SEC meat grinder, Richt will need every bit of that energy this season.


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