"Practice is over. Most of the physical part is over. I thought it was a good day. I keep bragging about the scouts, but they keep doing a good job. I'm really proud of them. Most of their hard work is done. We were throwing and catching pretty good today. I thought we did a good job competing when it was time to compete. I thought it was a good day."
Q: Will Malcolm Mitchell start on defense?
Richt: I don't want to tell everybody what we're going to do, but both Malcolm and Sanders Commings will play.
Q:Marshall Morgan is 3-for-3 on extra points hitting the uprights.
Richt: Is that right? He's an amazing guy. He must've played pinball as a kid.
Q: I know you don't get involved with mechanics. You want him to make them.
Richt: I want him to, especially extra points. You would think he could get it closer to the center post. I'm smiling now but it could cost us. Just gotta be patient.
Q: Does that scare you at all?
Richt: Yeah, it's not a good thing to have that much drama on an extra point. Plus we had a bad snap—a little high, high and hot, maybe catchable, but certainly not where we want the snap to be. We gotta clean that up. There's some protection issues, as well. We had some leakage inside of our wing man. I don't mind saying that publicly because they watch film and it's obvious we had some problems there.
Q: Speaking of special teams, Malcolm Mitchell has had some issues. Is that just because he's a rookie? Richt: Yeah, it is. We've just had, overall, too many bad decisions, obviously. We've caught the ball inside the 10 when we shouldn't. We've let the ball bounce and not field it when we should've. We've had not a good looking fair catch issues. These aren't all Malcolm's issues. We've had very poor communication at times. We have a call that says ‘get out of the way' to everybody. This has been the last couple years. It may end up being Rhett McGowan before it's over if he can communicate the best, secure the ball the best and field the ball the best. We're trying to find an answer there. Once you try the next guy, then that next guy is a rookie. He tends to make a mistake. It's not an easy job. It's a tough job. People flying down the field, your eyes are in the air, you're trying to decide what to do and someone is getting ready to hit you in the mouth. It's just not an easy job, but we're trying to get it settled down and do the best we can. We're going to continue to work Malcolm and Rhett.
Q: Whatever happened to Branden Smith?
Richt: He had some of the same issues the year before. Actually, for a couple of years. We were having some of the same issues the year before. Right now we're trying to continue to coach and teach and believe it'll get ironed out.
Q: That's sort of how Logan Gray was used a couple of years ago, right?
Richt: Logan played the role that Rhett is playing. Usually Rhett is the guy with his heals on the 10. I'm not giving away a company secret because I think anyone who watches the film understands this…If we're in a punt-safe, we just assume not make a substitution at that time. So if Malcolm is in the game, we think Malcolm can be the guy with his heels on the 10. If we have our punt return team in there, usually we'll sub whoever we want to be the punt return man. It may be that we have to sub in our punt-safe to get Rhett back there. One thing that made Malcolm's problem a little different is because when he's inside the 10 is it wasn't like his heels were on the 10 and it went over his head. He was farther out, and the punter boomed it. When you boom it really far, a lot of times those are returnable kicks. Then, by the time you catch the ball, the coverage team isn't on top of you….It's not unusual to catch a ball inside the 10 and try to take it out…Catching it over the shoulder is difficult to do and you tend to have your momentum going back when you catch it. It's hard to simulate every type of kick you can have in a game.
Q: How big of an emphasis has stopping big plays been this week in practice?
Richt: It's big. I hope it can be corrected. I think sometimes when you play certain defenses and certain looks, you're vulnerable to deep balls once and a while. You can play totally back and soft in coverage and not let anything behind us, but then everyone picks you apart underneath and you go a slow death. I think by disrupting routes and playing man coverage and disrupting timing, you're going to win more times than you lose. Certain teams are going to play super deep Cover 3 or super deep Cover 2 and they're just going to allow some balls to go in front and go tackle and rally to the ball—sort of bend but don't break. Another way is to pressure a little more and put more guys in the box to stop the run and put more pressure on your DBs especially. We've got a good mix of both. We don't want to be too predictable one way or another. Good news is most of our defensive drives have been with a good amount of grass behind their backs. There hasn't been a lot of turnovers in the redzone or across the 50. Most people have had to drive the field. I think most of those passes that got caught for good yardage started back at the 10-, 15-, 20-yard line, and even though they caught them for 20 or 30 yards, they still weren't in the endzone, and we were able to play some pretty good red zone defense.
Q: Was there more emphasis in practice placed on not wasting red zone opportunities?
Richt: No, as far as time is concerned, we're doing about the same amount of time. With the 20 hour rule, it's hard to all of a sudden say "we gotta work a lot more on the red zone," because then you gotta pull from something else. You gotta be careful about that. I think we just got more veteran receivers and QBs and backs that are breaking tackles. We're just executing better right now. The way the SEC does red zone stats, if you get inside the red zone and kick a field goal every single time, you're going to be 100 percent, so you're like ‘wow, they're a hundred percent in the red zone. That's good.' Well if every time you're in the red zone, you kick a field goal. That's really not that good. I think a more accurate way to do it would be how many touchdowns are you getting. I think that would be a great stat and an overall stat. But I think what everyone looks at is that percentage there, and if it's all field goal, then it's really not that good for an offensive team to get a field goal every time you're in the redzone.
Q: Coach, Abry was back out there in a regular jersey. I think he's had 24 starts and 18 in a row. How good is it to see him running around?
Richt: Yeah it's been good. Abry has been very steady, very reliable, consistent performer. And he's gotten consistently better, as well. He's become a leader for us. He's been named captain on more than one occasion. And certainly, he helped our offseason as much as anybody.
Q: You guys prefer bigger cornerbacks (Scott Lakatos and Todd Grantham) when you're recruiting. Is this kind of why they match up like this with the sort of size they have?
Richt: Yeah, it's a big reason why we like the length and size of the corners. One thing that's a little bit different than pro ball is the hash marks are a little bit wider. So if the ball is on the right hash going down the field, then the wide field is wider than it is in the NFL. The NFL is almost like in the middle of the field all the times. The point I'm getting to is: I think you still get away with your boundary corner needing to be a bigger man to support the run. A smaller guy if he has really tremendous cover skills and can survive out there. If not, there's not a whole lot of run support to the wide side of the field. So if you're going to have a smaller guy who has tremendous cover skills, you can still recruit that kid, maybe a little more than you would in the NFL. But we're still looking for long guys that can do it. That's for sure.
Q: Would you be in favor of the SEC going to a uniform injury report policy for everybody? Do you think it would NFL style?
Richt: Oh yeah, I think it would. But there's two ways you can do it. One is to tell everything. One is to tell nothing. I just assume say/tell nothing. I wouldn't. I know everyone wants to know what's going on, especially gamblers. I just assume not tell everyone what's going on—your opponents or people who do that.