Mark Richt’s opening comments:
Very proud of our team. It was a year that I thought we had overcome a lot. I think this game was maybe very similar to the type of season we had as far as losing some key people and other guys having to step up and make plays and just continue our focus and continue to fight. Just really, really proud of everybody. Our players, especially our seniors. A lot of our seniors get a lot of attention because they played a lot, they made plays. They made tackles and catches and touchdowns and all those types of things and threw touchdown passes. There’s a lot of our seniors that were scout teamers. They were seniors that were walk-ons. But, all those guys are very important to our program and I just want to wish them the best because they deserve it. They’re Dawgs for life and we’re going to be there for them to help them transition to life after football which is very important to me to let our guys know that and to follow through with that. I thought our coaching staff did a super job. Great game defensively tonight. Their offense has been averaging over 30-something points a game and we were able to hold them to 14. Even towards the very end when they were trying to get seven more on the board, they kept fighting until the very end and I’m proud of the job they did. Our offensive staff pulled together under some adversity. Anytime you lose a coach like Mike Bobo, you’ve got to rally. You’ve got to come together and do that. I know Will Friend is going on to Colorado State with Mike, but Will chose to stay for this bowl game and that was key to our success. It would have been very difficult to run this bowl game without Will there with those offensive linemen. I think they played their tails off for him and for Georgia. John Lilly obviously did a good job of honing the game plan down. Plan B made it a little bit simpler. Nick Chubb did a beautiful job, but he couldn’t do it by himself. He showed everybody in the country again that he’s a pretty talented young man. I’m real proud of Nick.
RE: Louisville’s defense came in ranked at third before the bowl game against the run, why did you guys have so much success running the ball?
Well, you block well and you run well. You have to have a good scheme. I think you have to be patient to. I don’t know how many times early on we have a one-yard gain. It wasn’t just like we were plowing through them. When you look at the end result, you see we ran the ball well against them, but it took some patience. Just having the score the way it was, and us trying to eat up as much clock as possible in the second half, we chose to run the ball for that reason. A lot of it had to do with how well we played on defense. Some of it had to do with the fact that Hudson was out of the game and we didn’t want to put too much on our younger quarterback.
RE: Talk about your desire to coach in the SEC?
I coached for fifteen years at Florida State and then one year at East Carolina. Then taking the Georgia job was an exciting opportunity for me and my family. You know it’s a rugged league. It’s very tough league and when you win in this league, you know you’ve done something special. It’s not just on the field. It’s in recruiting, it’s in facilities, it’s in coaching staffs. The passion of our fans is by far the most exciting thing about our league.
RE: When you think about next year and the optimism, a lot of it will start with Nick.
We certainly have some backs that are talented and that’s a good place to start. We’ve got four out of five offensive linemen returning. We’ve got some good things offensively to build around no doubt.
RE: Do you care to comment on Bryce Ramsey’s performance tonight?
I think Bryce came in, and of course it was really, really cold. We decided to take a shot. If you score, it’s a real smart play. If you throw an interception, it’s not exactly what you’re hoping for. He didn’t have one shot to even warm-up. We were scrambling to get him in the game and probably shouldn’t have put him in that position right at that moment. He did some good things. He made a couple of nice throws that were big on third down situations and he made some mistakes too. It was a big responsibility and overall, he secured the ball well.
RE: What does this bowl win mean for you personally?
It’s great to win, period. It’s just not fun to lose. Losing leaves a bad taste in your mouth. I told the team before the game that I was thankful we had another game to play. I’m glad that for our seniors, we had a chance to play another game and win against a really good team. The bowl was awesome. I really appreciate everything that the Belk Bowl did for our players and our staff.