Richt at the Podium

ATHENS - Mark Richt spoke to the media Tuesday about this weekend's matchup with Mississippi State.

"I want to talk to our crowd and our fans and want to educate our fans just a little bit. We need a lot of crowd noise. I know the fans know that part, but when teams no-huddle some times you are cheering and you might not be cheering at the right time. You might get exhausted, so I want to talk a little bit about what we hope will happen in the game. Chris Relf, their quarterback, gets into his cadence and then he looks for the ball and it doesn't come and then he looks to the sideline. When he looks to the sideline, that's when we need the fans to go berserk, because that's when they are going to try to communicate to the line what they're going to do. So we don't want them to be able to communicate well. We want them to have trouble hearing each other. We want offensive linemen to jump offsides. So UGA fan base, that's the time to go crazy. When the quarterback looks to the sideline after he starts his cadence, he'll look to the sideline and that's when you go crazy and make all kind of noise. Of course if they are down on the goal line, do that every play every moment.

"Mississippi State, they are an extremely talented and physical football team. Of course they beat us a year ago. They did a great job against us. They really haven't lost a lot of people. They have eight starters back on both sides of the ball.

"Offensively, they do spread the field, but they spread to the field to run it maybe as much as they spread it to throw it. They are very balanced. Chris Relf actually has more rushing attempts than anyone on their team. Ballard actually has the most yards, but Relf is definitely a dual threat quarterback, a guy who can run well and a guy who can throw well. He's an outstanding player, big guy, really a good player. We caught him last year just when he was getting going and now he's really become a dangerous player.

"(Vick) Ballard, their running back, is a very physical runner. We think he has a lot of ability to run downhill and run through people and break tackles. He does have good speed, but we think his greatest attribute is his balance and his power. Perkins has had 30 rushing attempts, and he has some speed to get on the edge.

"At receiver, their No. 1 guy is Chad Bumphis. He's mostly a slot receiver, and he's leading their team with receptions right now. The other outside receiver is (Arceto) Clark, an extremely physical guy. He's not huge but he will come and crack linebackers and does a very good job with that. Their receivers are a very integral part of their running game too because of how they block.

"Offensive line-wise they have had some issues with injuries. They've been mixing and matching a little bit. We think (Quentin) Saulsberry is they guy who is most solid up there right now, but they're all talented and have ability. I'm not sure how they are going to line up. I'm not even sure if they know how they're going to line up on Saturday. From what I understand they are going to try some things out today in practice and try to make a determination on what to do there.

"Defensively they are still a pretty heavy-blitz team. They'll probably blitz at least half the time. They have two interior defensive linemen, (Josh) Boyd and (Fletcher) Cox. We think they are really special players. It's going to be a tremendous challenge for our guards to handle these guys. They normally don't line up head-up on the center much. They'll do that from time-to-time, but it's going to be a challenge for our inside three to handle those guys. They are really outstanding in that area.

"Their linebacking corps, Cameron Lawrence and (Brandon) Wilson have 33 and 32 tackles. They are the second and third leading tacklers on the team. I think (Brandon) Maye started out the season as a starter ahead of Wilson, but Wilson, as of late, has come in and played a lot and has played extremely well in our opinion. Their entire defensive backfield is back from a year ago. They have two outstanding corners in (Johnthan) Banks and (Corey) Broomfield. Banks is a guy who already has three interceptions and is the big playmaker for them. He has range and he does a good job. Their leading tackler is (Charles) Mitchell, a safety. He's a very physical guy. The corners get involved a lot in their run game too. They like to blitz their corners, they like to let their corners support the run at times. They'll roll their coverage where safeties get down in the running game, but they'll roll the perimeters where the corners will become the main support for the run, so a very physical bunch of guys there.

"As far as their specialists, their placekicker who has the most reps from what we're seeing is (Brian) Egan. Most of his kicks are returnable. He is left-footed so we have to be aware of where that ball is going to end up coming off the left side. Their punter, (Baker) Swedenburg, is averaging 41 yards per punt and 38 net, which I think is around fifth or sixth in the league. People are only averaging 2.3 in return so they are doing a great job of covering those kicks. They do have twin safeties back there on the kickoff return. We think both of them are dangerous and both of them are capable. Their punt returner is Banks, the corner I mentioned earlier. I believe either he or Bumphis in the last ballgame kind of bobbled one, picked it up and ended up scoring their first touchdown of the game. As we all know, we've had our issues with the punt return, so we have a challenge there too.

"We know it's going to be a heck of a ballgame. We're glad to be home between the hedges, and we're looking forward to everybody being there early."

On whether Georgia is spending extra time this week on special teams…

"We're taking some extra time, meeting and field time, yesterday and today and maybe even Thursday we'll do a little bit of that too. We just have to make sure we have the right people on it and we are doing things the way we need to be doing them."

On opponents using the rugby style punt…

"You can't tell them how to punt it. If they want to rugby style kick it, they can do it. It's one of the biggest changes in college football over the last five or 10 years. It's very difficult to field those punts. There are two things that are difficult. One is it's usually low and hot. It's going fast, and once it hits the ground you don't know how it might bounce. That's a little dangerous. The other thing is the way they protect. They'll have two or three guys in front of the punter. They'll have a front line of guys who might line up in all kinds of different ways, but mostly they'll have a shield of three guys right at the punt. As he's punting right behind it, they're the last line of defense, but if you go around it, he's up in the pocket and he punts it. If you try to go through them, they are usually big men so it's a good scheme. What it allows the front line guys to do is not sit there all day and protect. They will try to redirect a guy or knock him off his track to make it a little bit tougher to get to the punter, but then they are gone. They don't sit there and block until the guy is punted and then release. So they have two, three, four, five, maybe six guys running down there full speed covering these kicks. Not only is that punt a hot ball to catch and field, but you are also dealing with a lot of guys running down the field at you instead of maybe just two gunners running down there. It's an outstanding scheme, do doubt.

"Even last year's Ole Miss team, their punter is one of the finest traditional punters in the country, and most of his punting was in a traditional manner coming into this ballgame. If they were at midfield he might do some rugby kicks, but really hadn't shown it with a lot of grass; he was just booming them. This game, he did a little bit more of the rugby style, which was a little bit of a surprise to us. They did a good job of that. Of course Mississippi State is mostly a traditional punter, not to say he couldn't start rugbying either, so we'll have to be more prepared for that."

On what Michael Gilliard and Amarlo Herrera will face against Mississippi State…

"It's a big day for those guys. They are a very physical team. Most everybody who watches college football probably watched them play LSU on that one Thursday night. Most of the country got to see that game, and what I saw is what everybody else saw, two teams just having a bloody battle up front. LSU wasn't trying to keep any secrets about what they were going to do. They just lined up mostly in the I-formation and just hammered the ball at them, and Mississippi State was holding up pretty darn well I thought. You could just see all their players and how physical they were in that game. We definitely have one of those games where we better roll up our sleeves and get after it. Thankfully I think we've played more physical to this point than we did a year ago. It always comes down to your defensive front first. Are you creating some kind of havoc up front? If the D-linemen get moved, there aren't many linebackers in the country who are going to stand a big 300-pound lineman on them and really come off of that block and make a play. Usually the D-line has to do such a good job of holding that line that these guys have a hard time coming off. If a guy comes off, usually you double-team a lineman and you work up to a linebacker when you run a lot of the combination blocking. If one lineman can handle our down guy, and then another one can freely get up on a linebacker, we have problems no matter who the linebackers are. The big key is going to be will we free those guys up to make some hits. Then when it does come and there's a lead blocker on them, that they do have to fit properly and try to get things to bounce outside. That's what you hope to do with a team like this. If they start splitting you vertically, you are in trouble. Your safeties are trying to make tackles and it's going to be a long day."

On Georgia's strategy at the end of the first half against Ole Miss…

"We were very aware of what was going on. We knew how much time was left. We knew that we were pretty much having our way with them offensively. We had momentum. Our defense got a stop and we were trying to score. We wanted more points, and we felt like we could move the ball against them. The first pass was a screen, which is usually a pretty high percentage play. Their linebacker actually tackled the back, which I've never seen an official call that one yet, but really they're not supposed to do that. That's what happened on the first one. The second one we actually took a shot downfield and we actually had the coverage we wanted, but we just didn't place the ball where it should have been. The third one was a run-pass option. If they had stayed in the two-deep look, we would have run the ball in that situation. If they came up and played the single safety look, which they did, we checked to the slant in this case, which was wide open for a first down and probably 15 or 20 yards. Then we dropped the ball. When you are trying to score at the end of the half, if you run it three times you run out of time. You are not going to score. If you throw it you have a chance to save the save the clock and get a first down. If we had caught that ball and gotten a first down, we would have all been excited about it. After we end up punting and they scored, I slammed my headset. I wasn't happy about it and we certainly could have said we are going to get the ball afterwards and have a good lead. I can't tell you what I would do next time around because I don't know. It just depends on how the game is going and what I think we might need to win the game or if I think we can effectively move the ball. They are good decisions when we execute, that's the reality of it."

On in the involvement of tight ends in Georgia's offense…

"You saw it this past week. Like I've said over and over again, there are very few passing plays that we have that will be directed to any one guy. If you throw a screen it's going to that guy, quick screens and things of that nature. There are some plays where the tight end is the primary receiver but the coverage a lot of times will dictate who is going to get the ball. Sometimes an accurate pass or an inaccurate pass makes the difference. Sometimes the protection might break down when you have a tight end wide open on that particular play and that might be the reason why the tight ends don't get it. We have a system that our tight ends play a lot and our tight ends catch a lot of balls. I think Orson (Charles) is either second or third in the nation of all tight ends in the country as far as the amount of catches and yards. We are using our tight ends pretty well compared to everybody else in the country. They are a big part of what we do. I don't know if we've ever had a set this year where we didn't have at least one tight end in the game. A lot of people go three receivers and two backs and not even have a tight end in the game. We hardly ever snap the ball without a tight end or two in the game."

On the injuries of Damian Swann, Marlon Brown, Chris Burnette and Chris Sanders

"Swann, I would say right now is doubtful. Marlon, we are hopeful. Marlon actually got a little work yesterday. Chris (Burnette), we are hopeful there too. We are not counting him out, more hopeful that a week ago. Chris (Sanders) is going to end up having some season-ending surgery on his shoulder in the next week or two."

On Garrison Smith

"I like how Garrison has done. I really like Garrison period. He's a guy that has a great attitude, great personality. He's always got a smile on his face and works real hard. It's fun to start seeing him make some plays and get excited and create more depth upfront. He's a very quick defensive lineman. He's very powerful. He's got great positional."

On the play where Bruce Figgins catches the ball out of the backfield…

"That play that Bruce has been catching is called 344 fullback. He's the fullback, and the fullback is the primary guy. We actually called the play – I don't know if you remember but Orson (Charles) caught a ball – You got the fullback out in the flat and then you got Orson running a deeper route and then you got a receiver that's clearing it out if there is a receiver there. Sometimes we do it the backside of a twins to the left. Sometimes we just run it to the open side. But the number one guy is the fullback and the number two guy is the tight end. Both those guys get the ball quite often. What happens is that people are in man coverage you might be in I-formation and your tight end is being covered man-to-man, and usually an inside linebacker is covering your fullback. When you come downhill as well do running the power play where Bruce takes an angle to block the defensive end that linebacker isn't 100-percent sure if it's a run or pass right way by the track of the fullback. When he ends up splitting out into the flats that guy is a little bit behind normally. Also, when the release of the tight end goes vertical and he tries to get through sometimes he just gets picked off, gets knocked around or has to redirect to chase. So he's in a chasing position. Sometimes they just flat out miss him. The other day he was wide open and no one was even covering him, but (Aaron) Murray didn't quite drop it in to him on a blitz. It's a pretty effective play, and it's one that is so simple sometimes that you don't call it enough. I'm glad that Mike (Bobo) has called it a good bit and we've had a lot of success with it. We hit the tight end on the very same play when Orson caught the touchdown pass. That was the very same play with the fullback in the flat and him in the back corner of the end zone."

On if last year's Mississippi State game was a tipping point with what all happened in that contest…

"We had a penalty call back an interception that we had. We had a penalty called with (Kris) Durham catching a slant getting inside the 10 or something like that. We had the fumble. We had a lot of things happen. But they made their breaks too though. They had some things bad happen to them too that could have been big plays for them too, so it wasn't like it didn't happen both ways. It was a frustrating day because it seemed like every time something really good happened to us that could have sparked us ended up with either a penalty or a turnover. We're talking about the Durham touchdown. We're talking about (Washaun) Ealey getting hit on the one-yard line after really a heck of a call by Mike (Bobo). We had our tailback vertically hot down the middle of the field, which not many people do. We caught them in the right blitz. We executed perfect and gained 15 or 20 yards and then the ball spits out. They knocked the ball out. They did their job. They earned it certainly. It was a frustrating day. I'm not looking forward another one like that."

On if last year's game carries over to this year…

"For me it does personally. I don't know if the players are looking at it that way, but I do."

On what has been different for Bacarri Rambo this year aiding his success with interceptions…

"He's had opportunities. The ball has got to come your way. He's caught them all but one. I think there was one against South Carolina that he could have got that might have been a big difference in that game. He's been making the play when it comes to him. He's been benefiting from the defensive line or linebackers pressuring the quarterback to force bad throws. He had a great spring. I think he's totally recovered from his injury that he had at the Auburn game early in his career. He's got a great focus. He had a great camp, and he knew all along he wasn't going to play game one but he didn't mope or cry, he worked. I think he's an outstanding player. We got a pretty good perimeter right now in my opinion."

On updates of the status of Kolton Houston and Derek Owens

"Nothing new to report on Kolton. On Derek, I hope to have some information by the end of the day to be able to address that."

On assessing the team a third of the way into the season on what he is proud of and disappointed with…

"I'm most proud of how hard they are playing, how much they are enjoying the game, how much they are enjoying each other and how hard they are competing. I really like that. I like what we are doing with the no huddle. We are seeing the benefits of it, and to just run and pass the ball as well as we did last week. I think we are still a very balanced football team but now with a different pace and a different tempo, which I think is very good. I like the energy that the young players have been bringing to this season. There have been some key freshmen and redshirt freshmen doing something big things for us. I like that. I'm not really disappointed. I get disappointed when guys don't try hard. I get disappointed when guys don't act right. I don't get disappointed in the guys if they don't execute. You're not happy about it. If he doesn't execute because he's careless, because he doesn't study the game or because he try hard enough, I'll get mad at those kind of things. We've got to not give up some of these big plays that we've been giving up. The turnovers against South Carolina were just monstrous. The fake punt was big. The special teams issues – sometimes you have issues that don't cost you the game or don't cost you a touchdown, but we've had some pretty big ones that have cost us. We've got to get better at that."

On if Texas A&M being in the SEC will open up recruiting in the state of Texas more…

"Definitely to the SEC in general, but I would think more so to the Western Division because of the proximity of the teams on that side or that area of the country. But not to say it wouldn't help the Eastern Division teams to get into Texas too. We still like our state a lot. We have no complaints about the amount of talent based in our own state. There'll come a time when there will be some more efforts to get into Texas I'm sure."


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