"There is no pressure," the 11th-year head coach said immediately. "I don't feel any pressure at all."
Richt is coming off the first losing season in his two decade-plus coaching career. The Bulldogs finished 6-7 in 2010 – a season filled with Georgia fading in the fourth quarter or losing on the final play of the game. Pressure seemed to mount on Richt because the Bulldogs also had a disappointing 2009 – finishing 8-5.
In a way 2010 was a year of transition. Georgia spent last season moving from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 and they started redshirt freshman Aaron Murray at quarterback. The biggest news of the season was receiver A.J. Green's NCAA-mandated four-game suspension at the start of the season, which helped the Bulldogs limp out to a 1-3 start.
But Richt and his coaching staff rallied supporters with a 5-3 ending to the season and, more importantly for the future of the program, a highly-anticipated recruiting class that some see as critical for success in 2011.
"This class is touted as being special, but they have to realize that they have to earn it," Richt said.
Perhaps the most important addition to the Bulldogs from the 2011 recruiting class is highly touted running back Isaiah Crowell from Carver High School in Columbus. Crowell will battle Caleb King and Washaun Ealey, both former starters, for the top running back spot immediately. Richt indicated earlier in the year that Crowell could start right away if he does everything necessary win the job.
The Broncos have pushed their way into the national spotlight of late, while the Gamecocks won the SEC East for the first time in school history last season.
"Those two games are very crucial to our season, and we have to be ready," Richt said.
Georgia was scheduled to open the season against Louisville, but switched that game out to play the Broncos in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome.
"We wanted the Boise State game. I liked the idea right away," Richt said. "But (our athletic director) wanted me to think about it. The more I did, the more I realized how important it was for our program to play that kind of game – to show the college football world that we are still a pretty good football team."