Richt Previews Carolina

ATHENS – Mark Richt met with the media Tuesday during the Bulldogs' weekly press luncheon.

Head Coach Mark Richt
Opening Statement…

"We are getting ready for South Carolina – the first Southeastern Conference game of the year. It's definitely a great challenge. Of course Coach (Steve) Spurrier has been coaching a long time and is doing a great job. Over the years he's got South Carolina going the way he wants it. So we know we have our work cut out for us.

"Their offensive line is big. They are kind of a downhill running team. They kind of maul you a little bit; that's what their goal is. Of course when you have a back like (Marcus) Lattimore, who can run as physical as he does at 230 pounds now, they are doing the right thing with those linemen, just kind of zoning you up and getting the big bodies on you and pushing the pile and creating some seams for Lattimore. They've been protecting well so far. Marcus is a great player, not a good player. He proved to be a great freshman. Of course a year ago he broke out with 37 carries and 182 yards, so it's not like we can forget about that. He will get spotted a little bit with Kenny Miles and Shon Carson. Mainly it's his show in the backfield.

"Stephen Garcia, I would have to guess, would be their starting quarterback. He is a veteran, a senior. He has been through a bunch – good and bad. He is also the quarterback who led his team to the Eastern Division championship a year ago, so he is a heck of a football player. He throws it well. He has a great big target in Alshon Jeffery. All of the receivers are big actually, but not as big as him – 6-4, 230, a guy who can go deep and a guy who can catch a screen and run people over for four, five or six yards after contact. He's really a great player.

"Garcia is also a threat to run the ball as he's done from time to time. The only receiver who is not a big guy is Ace Sanders. He's more of a slot guy, more of a jitterbug type of guy. He also took a punt return back for a touchdown 69 yards last week, so he's a guy we have to keep an eye on. They do a good job of using his skills.

"Defensively they are a team that takes their front four and basically plays eight people there. They rotate just about everybody in and out of there. Melvin Ingram is an outstanding player who plays inside and out. He's big, he's physical. He showed up very big, we thought, in the last ballgame. We thought he played extremely well.

"Devin Taylor is also a great player, preseason All-SEC. Of course everyone wants to talk about their freshman Jadeveon Clowney for good reason. You can see he's destined to be a great football player. He's already a very good football player, but I can't imagine what will happen once he gets an offseason under his belt. He's going to be a special football player.

"As far as their linebackers are concerned, they play everyone, about six of their linebackers. They rotated them around and kept everybody fresh. Antonio Allen played the spur, or what we call a nickel linebacker, and had 16 tackles in the game. Devonte Holloman, I don't think he played the last game. I don't know what the reason was, but he played safety last year. I think he's been moved to that spur position too. It will be interesting to see who plays there.

"Stephon Gilmore, the corner, is a preseason All-SEC player and a great football player. On the other side, (C.C.) Whitlock is a returning starter at corner also, but then you have Akeem Auguste, who did not play in this last ballgame. I'm sure he will play this week, or we're hearing he's going to play. I'm not sure if he's going to line up as a corner or a safety; he's played both over his career.

"Their safeties are kind of twin safeties. Some teams will have a safety that plays the deep-middle, and one guy is always in the box, but these guys share the load both ways. They are very well coached defensively.

"As far as their special teams are concerned, (Jay) Wooten didn't play against us last year, but he is the kickoff man. The majority of his kicks have been returnable, or were at least a year ago. We'll see how that goes, but we expect that we'll have some kicks that will be returnable. They usually have a twin-safety look at their kickoff return. It looked like (Bruce) Ellington is the guy they are trying to get the ball directed to, but he also played some wildcat for them. He's a very multitalented kid.

"I mentioned earlier that Ace Sanders returned a punt for a touchdown. Gilmore started out and muffed one, then Ace got a chance and took it to the house, so my guess is Ace will be the guy. Their punter, Joey Scribner-Howard, is a senior and he'll be handling their punting duties. I don't know if they'll do any rugby kicks or not. I don't think they did it game one. We'll have to wait and see and prepare for that.

"That's South Carolina. We have got to really play a physical game. I think the game is going to be won in the trenches. I think whosever offensive and defensive line plays the best will have the best chance of winning the game. It will be a great challenge for us - our players and our staff. Today we are going to have a good, physical Tuesday practice and competition day. I think Coach (Vince) Dooley called them bloody Tuesdays, and I think we'll call it that today too. We'll be ready to go."

On correcting Georgia's mistakes on the offensive line…

"Everything is correctable. The thing that was most disappointing to me was the pass protection, especially third down. Protection belongs to the running back, protection belongs to the offensive line, protection belongs to the tight end at times, and it belongs to the quarterback, too. There are times when the quarterback can certainly get rid of the ball and not take the sack. Six sacks is way too many. The majority of the issues were on third down. We've already spent a lot of time making corrections of this last ballgame as far as pass protection is concerned. Also, you have a whole new set of blitzes and schemes and things of that nature, so a little bit different scheme, a little bit different blitz package. We'll have a little bit better idea of who is going to line up where and where they are going to bring their pressure from, but we can only go by what we saw last year and a little bit this last ballgame. We do need to improve, but we can. (Kenarious) Gates, right now, won't practice today. It will be as we finished the game, with (Chris) Burnette and Dallas Lee at guard. Everybody else is in the same spot."

On the recruitment of Jadeveon Clowney…

"We weren't really in it. It was pretty early that we knew we didn't have much of a shot at that kid."

On whether South Carolina has been better at keeping top players in state…

"As of late they have. Of course the most notable was last year Marcus Lattimore, then this year Jadeveon Clowney. Those kids just happened to be two off the best in the country at their position also, not just in their state. That was huge for them. I've heard Coach Spurrier mention how important that has been for them to nail down those kinds of guys, because there has been some history of them losing them. Also, with the success that Lattimore had individually and South Carolina had as a team, I'm sure helped them get Jadeveon in the house too. Success usually breads success. But we won't quit recruiting South Carolina guys, that's for sure."

On Christian Robinson "Christian has done a great job, and he has stepped forward in his preparation. He got bigger and stronger, but his mental preparation, I don't think there is anyone on our team who prepares like him other than maybe (Aaron) Murray. He just does a great job of getting everybody lined up where they are supposed to be and getting everybody confident in what they are doing. You have to have somebody who can communicate when people make the kinds of adjustments and shifts and that kind of stuff. Boise State probably does that more than any time that we'll play all season long. That was a big challenge to try to get lined up properly. Most of the time we did under his leadership. I'm real proud of what he's done so far." On Christian Robinson becoming a coach in the future…

"He'll be a natural as a coach. Hopefully he'll play for years to come, but whenever his career ends I can see him being a great coach. Of course growing up in a family where your dad is a coach, and he loves his dad and looks up to his dad, and that's what he wants to be. It's kind of neat."

On the Georgia-South Carolina rivalry…

"I know that for us - the coaches and players look at them as the most important rival, especially this week. Historically, ever since I've been here, it's been the first Southeastern Conference game. I think that's going to change in a year or two; I think we play Vanderbilt before them one time pretty soon. That will be kind of different, but that game has been huge for both teams. It's kind of set the tone for what's going to happen the rest of the year. I think it's a really big rival game."

On Sanders Commings playing corner and safety…

"He'll be more freed up to play corner, but right now he could play both. It's good to have that kind of versatility."

On Rantavious Wooten's role going forward…

"Rantavious had a great camp, and I thought he played well in the game with a lot of energy. He made a nice catch on a high ball that was the exact same play that was our last fourth down play that could've gave us a chance to score and get an onside kick. I thought that ball was out of his reach, but he ran a good route and got open. He's competing for the starting job right now. Today we are going to compete. Some guys are competing for starting position; some are competing for playing time. And I just want everybody to just compete period, and just try to win the day. That's one of the competitions with Rantavious, but I've been real pleased with him."

On using a no huddle offense…

"I think the biggest thing, no matter how you operate offensively, the bottomline is you got to execute. If you execute well whether you no huddle or you don't no huddle that's what is really most important. There are some advantages that you could have if you get the no huddle going and get a little momentum going with it. We didn't have much trouble as far as the operation of the no huddle. The problem was just when the ball was snapped, when we had problems. We did have some trouble with our tackles as far as hearing the cadence. We did start out the game with the cadence and then we had to change to a non-verbal cadence. Then we weren't jumping off-sides but we were late off of the ball. That was part of our issue with the protection. This week at home I'd appreciate all the fans to keep it down when we go the ball and go crazy when they go the ball. That will help us operate."

On how does the no huddle work for calling in play…?

"We've got signaling. I'm not going to say exactly who they are because we are trying to keep that from the opponent, but there's more than one guy signaling. One guy at any particular time is the live guy and that's who those guys are looking at."

On if that was the same procedure when offensive coordinator Mike Bobo was on the field last year…

"Mike's not signaling. A lot of defensive coordinators like to do it. Some do, some don't. I know Todd (Grantham) signals his. There's a few coordinators out there that signal their own, offensive coordinators, but it seems like most offensive coordinators got one or two or three guys all signal at the same time. The quarterback and the players know who is live but the other team doesn't."

On the perception of this being a pivotal game for him and Georgia…?

"I view it as a very important game."

What's the competition like at inside linebacker with Alec Ogletree being out…

"We've got Jeremy Sulek and Amarlo Herrea working, and we also have Michael Gillard who could also end up doing it. We'll know more after today. Today is going to be very physical, and more than likely tomorrow we'll pad it up. At least when we do our inside run tomorrow we'll probably go live again tomorrow which is not to common, but because of who we are playing and how they go about it and the fact that we have young guys and inexperienced guys that need as many reps as they can get we're just going to have to do that. It'll probably be Wednesday after practice before we know, but we'll have a lot better idea after today."

Any thoughts on moving Jarvis Jones to inside linebacker…?

"No. Jarvis is doing so well where he is. He's locked in. He knows what he is doing. He's playing fast. He's very physical. We hope to get him a better situation with the chin strap or whatever it is to keep his hat on and keep him safe. I don't know if he just wanted air time or what, but he got a bunch. But he played great. He looked like a guy that hadn't played for a year or how long, a year and a half, and just couldn't wait to hit somebody again. He played with a lot of energy and he got after it. What we got to do though is try to create a little bit of time where we can get him off the field and give him a little bit of a blow. We talked about being in the air conditioning and that kind of stuff at the Dome, but it was hot in there. I imagine it will be a little hotter with humidity, although I'm hearing mid-to-high 80's which is still a pretty hot day. I wish it was hotter in these practice days and cooler this weekend, but it's going to be cooler this week and hotter on the game day. It's tough to prepare for heat when you're not in it."

If this Georgia team is thinner in depth…

"Offensive line and linebacker would be especially true of that right now, but in the perimeter I think we've got some pretty solid depth there. Up front on the defensive line we've got pretty solid depth there. At receiver we've got solid depth. Tight end we do. Running back everybody is healthy and we've got some depth there. Even at kicker we've got good depth. But linebacker and the offensive line certainly are questionable areas when you get past first-teamers."

Was there any thought to Richard Samuel going back to linebacker…

"There wasn't any discussion. I thought about it kind of just laying on the pillow at night, but by the time Richard got back and trained up and really ready to play (Alec) Ogletree would probably be back ready to play. We've had 29 practices plus last week, so you've got over 30 practices with these other kids, and I don't know if it would have been wise for us to do that."

On Richard Samuel having trouble getting yards and how much of that was blocking, and if moving forward it's still him and Isaiah Crowell at running back…

"I think Richard got all he could get with what he had. Those two they will be the ones and the biggest competition will be for the number three tailbacks."

With the current depth challenge at inside linebacker, do you have to look at your game plan on offense to compensate…

"I think you just have to do what you think you can do best on offense. You need to get first down and score points. That's the bottom line. How you do it? I don't know if it's that important. As we all know, there are a lot of different styles of football out there and a lot of different ways of moving the ball and a lot of different ways of putting points on the board. I think the biggest thing is score some points. A year ago, we really didn't pressure South Carolina to do anything out of what they were doing which was running a zone. If you put too many to stop the zone they threw the little quick screen. They did a lot of that throughout the game and looked real comfortable doing it throughout the game, and we didn't force them to feel any pressure to do anything a little riskier so to speak. It was because of the lack of offensive production regardless of how we were trying to go about it. We just got to get points on the board."

On assessing the play of the nose guards…

"I think all of our down linemen played pretty well. We didn't get the pass rush. But early in the game when we go them into passing situations we got off the field with a couple three and outs. I mentioned in my press conference that they started the game with more man protection and some of the things they like to do to get five guys out and that kind of thing, but after a little while they began to go a little more quick passing and a little bit more of their slide protections which makes it a little bit tougher to get to the quarterback. When you have a veteran quarterback and he knows where to go with the ball he's getting the ball out and that's part of it too. Against the run, we actually did pretty well. As a matter of fact, the longest play from scrimmage, run or pass, was I think 20 yards. So we didn't give up a lot of big plays and we didn't give up a lot of big runs. The biggest runs they got were a reverse and then when they came in and ran No. 9 in the Wildcat with the zone-read. That's where they got a couple of their longer runs. The other runs we kind of held them in check. So I think the D-line did a good job."

On if Ray Drew is ready to go…

"We hope Ray will get in there and get us some work. We're going to rep him with hopes of that."

On assessing Kwame Geathers

"Kwame did pretty good, but he got a stinger that kind of slowed him down a little bit. But we expect him to play this week."

On if there will be an effort to get the running backs, especially Isaiah Crowell, to get them out in space rather than running up the middle…?

"We had some outside runs too. One thing that we feel like with Isaiah is that there's not really a certain type of run that he does better than another in my opinion. I've seen him run the power, I've seen him run the zone, I've seen him run the stretch, I've seen him run some of these speed sweep type plays and sprint-draw. He's a very natural runner, and the more space we give him, provide for him the better. But you can provide space between the tackles too. We don't think he's an outside guy exclusively, but he can run any style of run you want to do. We just got to block a little bit better."

On something that surprised him about his team after facing Boise State…

"I think just overall execution. I would've expected more than what we had."

On assessing Dallas Lee…

"Dallas played well. We thought he came in and did well, and he might have played better than any of the guards as we graded it out when was all said and done. So whether (Kenarious) Gates was healthy or not, he would have had a very good chance based on the game on starting this week. Of course, he is going to start this week. I don't think there's much doubt about that because of the injury to Gates. If you base it solely on the game, he would be your starter this week. We would have been practicing three guards today if Gates could practice and that could have changed. It looks as if Lee is starting because of an injury, which is true. He got a chance to play because of injury, but if everybody was healthy he probably would be the starter unless he went backwards this week in practice. He's got some good punch to him. He can get some movement and he's got some toughness. I think he's healthy. I think he's excited to play football. I'm glad that he got over all that Asthma."

On how much more Georgia could use Brandon Boykin and Branden Smith on offense and finding a balance with using them on both sides of the ball…?

"We would've liked to use Boykin more. He ended up with a couple bags of IVs at the half. He was cramping up. We didn't want to overdo it with him. We needed him on defense. Our number one and number two kick returners were him and Smith. Smith's foot was a little bit of an issue. I think he's sore but not as sore as we thought he would be, so I think Braden will be in a lot better shape. But between Braden Smith and Boykin we do want to continue to use them on offense with Richard and Isaiah, and that's probably going to be the majority of the carries. Not to say that a third back won't get an opportunity, but those guys are not only competing for the number three tailback job but they are kind of competing against how many reps Boykin and Smith can take in a ballgame.

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