The Bulldogs hadn't had a lost a bowl game since the 2005 season and hadn't had a losing season since 1996 – both happened as a result of the loss to the Golden Knights. Richt had never experienced a losing season as a coach in his career before 2010.
"I think the biggest reason for the change (this year) was going 6-7 and losing that last game," Richt admitted days before the Outback Bowl. "The catalyst was how everyone felt when last season ended. I think (not having that losing feeling) again was the biggest motivator."
The turnaround involved a ten-game winning streak for the Bulldogs after an 0-2 start. Richt also acknowledged the pressure on himself and his staff coming into the season.
"We decided as a staff that we were going to take a positive approach to the season," Richt said. "We knew all of the negativity that was swirling around before the season, and we knew we had to make our Butts-Mehre building a place were the players could show up and feel good."
"What a difference a year makes," Richt said of his team's bowl preparations. "It was like pulling teeth a year ago. But there has been a great spirit about them this year – and really it's been like that all year."
Richt said that offensive lineman Cordy Glenn – one of the seniors to return after the loss to UCF in the Liberty Bowl last year – has improved his NFL Draft stock as a result of his performance during his senior season.
"You know that you've got a guy who can play guard for sure," Richt said of Glenn. "But now after seeing him play tackle I bet you a lot of people are pretty confident he can do that, too."
Running back Richard Samuel appears on pace to play at least a few snaps for the Bulldogs in the Outback Bowl.
"When Richard practiced in Athens he was sore, and he could only go so far," Richt said of Samuel. "But here he's had no problem with his stamina. I don't know what his pain issues have been, but he hasn't shown anything. He's not been limping around or anything."
Richt went on to add that he expects at least three running backs – or even four – running backs will play Monday.
Richt said that injured linebacker Mike Gilliard has practiced against the scout team and that he "has a chance" to play. But the news was not as good for injured defensive end DeAngelo Tyson has "not practiced at all". Richt said he didn't expect Tyson to play in the game.