Comments on the first two days of practice.
"We reported here on the 27th, and practiced yesterday on the 28th, and today the 29th. Yesterday was kind of a typical Monday practice, which we don't do a whole lot. Today is a typical Tuesday practice, which is our hard day. I think the overall intensity has been good. It's obvious over the last couple of days of sightseeing and being entertained here in Atlanta is wearing on the players. You can tell they are a little more tired than normal. But overall I think the work ethic and tempo has been good. Tomorrow will be another hard work day for us, and then we will start toning it down, as far as trying to let them get fresh and get their legs back under them and get ready for the ballgame on Monday night."
Why is West Virginia's 3-3-5 defensive scheme successful?
"I think just looking at it, it presents a problem because it's a scheme that you don't see a lot. We saw it two or three years ago with South Carolina and Florida, but we have not seen it since then. I think what it allows them to do is put a lot of speed on the field defensively, playing with three down lineman and whether you call it three linebackers or five linebackers, or three safeties or one safety, there is more speed on the field. And I think their nose guard is a big, physical guy, which you have to have to be able to play that defensive front."
What are the pros and cons of having a tailback-by-committee system?
"I think the obvious good thing is you keep them fresh, and keep guys out there that are hungry to play and want to carry the football. If you have injuries, you have guys that are ready to go. It creates competition. I think the negative is that a lot of times in a ballgame if somebody gets a hot hand, you want to go with him. We've done that. We have a certain rotation that we go into every ballgame, which is always a little different, but we always leave the right to stay with somebody who has a hot hand."
What is the center rotation going to be?
"Russ (Tanner) will start the ballgame, and it's based on the last couple of games. We don't like to change game-to-game, but if there is a two-game sequence where one guy graded out better than the other one, we will make the change as far as the starter. So Russ will start, but the rotation will still be every series like it's been all year."
Has the activities schedule been modified to give the players more rest?
"The curfew has been moved up by design. Coach Richt did that before we left Athens. The curfew will be midnight tonight. I think each day as we get closer, it will get earlier and earier. I think the players since we've been here have had a good time. Now we're ready to get some rest and get ready for the ballgame."
Can you talk about D.J. Shockley's leadership from last season to this season?
"I think it was obvious when we went on the field in the spring that he stepped up into the leadership role, and is the leader of this football team. I think if you step back and looked at what he did, it's probably done more for his leadership on this football team than anything he's done on the field. I think him being patient and being the kind of person that wanted to be at Georgia says a lot for his leadership and the kind of person he is than anything he's done or said on the field. He didn't want to just do something on a whim, he wanted to do things for the right reasons."
Can you evaluate the offensive line and how they match up with West Virginia's defense?
"We've got a pretty good situation on our offensive line. We have four seniors, four juniors and a couple of sophomores that we play with, so we feel good about the depth. We've got good leadership on the offensive line. The first group (starters) has played pretty well overall. Dennis Roland has been consistent at the tight tackle position. Daniel Inman has probably had some of the better games of any of our offensive linemen at the split tackle. Max Jean-Gilles is a very consistent, good player for us at the tight guard spot. Max brings a lot of energy to our football team and offensive line, and a lot of good leadership for us too. Nick Jones got started off pretty slow at the beginning of the year, but by mid-season really seemed to come on and play better. We've had two guys rotating at the center spot all year long in Russ Tanner and Ryan Schnetzer that have done some good things. We have a good challenge on our hands against West Virginia. Their nose guard is a very good player, a very strong, talented guy that will be hard to handle in there. The speed of the linebackers that they play with will create a lot of mismatches that will be hard for our guys to adjust to, I'm sure."
How odd is it to be playing the Sugar Bowl in Atlanta? Does it seem weird?
"It does in a way. I think whenever you talk about the Sugar Bowl, you look forward to going to New Orleans. There are a lot of things to do down there that are a little different, but we're fortunate and really happy that it's here in Atlanta. It's really convenient for us - with the facilities that we'll be practicing in and playing in - that will be good for us. But I hope it's able to get back in New Orleans and they can get everything back in line down there. I certainly don't know what the timetable is, but I hope they're able to do that. But it's been good coming to Atlanta because of the familiarity we have with the area."
Is there one guy on West Virginia's defense that stands out?
"Their nose guard. He's a strong, physical guy. I think they list him at 300 pounds, and he's probably a little heavier than that. He's hard to deal with. We'll have to double-team him a good bit, and get movement on him and that kind of stuff."
Dennis Roland (OT, 6-9, 309, Sr., Bolivar, Mo.)
On West Virginia's defensive scheme
"As far as run blocking goes, you only go three down lineman. The hardest part is getting to the next level. If you are out of space, you got to break down and set up and they are going to try and get around you. That is definitely the hardest part.
"Compared to other games, every game we played this year was against four down (linemen). You are used to driving and then setting up. It is definitely confusing if you are not prepared for us. Usually you have one week to prepare but with the bowl, you have more time."
Bryan McClendon (SE, 5-11, 184, Sr., Atlanta, Ga.)
On injury to WR Sean Bailey
"Losing a good man like that will hurt any time. Sean has good ability to go deep and stretch the field vertically with his good speed. Losing a guy like that does not take that dimension away because we have good receivers, but it hurts to lose a guy like that."
Bowls vs. playoffs
"There are pros and cons to both sides. Playing in a playoff would be hard to do, especially at this level. People will leave it all on the table. It is such a physical game, a very physical sport. It'll be tough to keep everyone healthy in case you make it all the way to the national championship game. I like the BCS system for the most part, except for a couple of glitches, like Auburn last year. There are things I like and dislike about both systems."
TB Thomas Brown (TB, 5-8, 183, So., Tucker, Ga.)
His role as running back
"As a running back, you want to get that feel of the ball in your hand 20-25 times. At the time, you want to save your body, especially a guy with my size, it'll kind of wear you down a little bit."
West Virginia's defense
"They are super strong on defense. They are a type of defense we have not faced at all. They run a 3-5-3. They are geared to stop the run with a lot of guys in the box. They are not real flashy on defense, they just line up an whoop everybody."
QB D.J. Shockley (QB, 6-1, 206, Sr., College Park, Ga.)
West Virginia's defense
"It's a defense we have not seen all year long. It's a 3-5-3. We call it a Gamecock front. We haven't seen much of it. It's a defense that has caused teams a lot of problems this year. It's a defense that has people at the right place at the right time.
"When I come to the line of scrimmage. The line waits for me to give a front call. Then we give identification and everyone knows who's who after that. Basically, from beginning just make sure I'm identifying where everyone is."
Playing in Atlanta
"It's been very emotional for me, especially the last three games. We've played the last three games here (in Atlanta). It's exciting and I'm glad to have an opportunity to be a part of that."
OG Max Jean-Gilles (OG, 6-4, 340, Sr., Miami, Fla.)
West Virginia's defense
"It's something that we're not used to. We have not seen it since I played as a freshman against South Carolina. We call it the Gamecock defense. We have to prepare for all of the coverages and all of the blitzes. Their advantage is that (offenses') running backs have to be at the top of their game."
Importance of games for seniors
"We have to defend the SEC. Everyone has to know that the SEC is one of the most dominating conferences in the country and we can't take this class lightly. We have one of the most winningest classes in school history. For three years in the top 10-five classes in the country, it's a lot to play for.