BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Mark Richt met with the SEC Press Tuesday in Birmingham. The Georgia Head Coach talked in depth about Georgia and its upcoming season.
Richt started the conference by ending any speculation that there would be a quarterback controversy in the first game saying, "David Greene will be the starter."
But Richt went on to add that he plans on using Georgia backup quarterback DJ Shockley during the games with the first team. Richt went on to say that because Shockley will play with the first team, he will practice with them too.
"A lot of people just have their number one team get reps in practice. But I am used to letting our 2nd team get work. There are going to be times when DJ will be with the first team. There could be a down and distance where we use Shockley. It may be that David will play several series and then DJ will come in a play one."
Richt explained that he knows from his experience both playing and coaching at the quarterback position that Greene and Shockley like the competition.
"I really think that they (DJ and David) respect one another."
Richt went on further to say that originally he was not planning on redshirting Shockley last season. Instead the Georgia Head Coach said that he planned on playing the redshirt freshman. But because of the September 11th Attacks and the delay in the schedule that they caused, Richt decided to redshirt Shockley.
"I would have played DJ against Houston last season, but because of September the 11th, I did not think that it was the right time for it."
Richt added that the rest of the offense is strong. He pointed out that the receivers are explosive, but not particularly steady.
"I think that our receiving corps will be good. They are capable of making the play, but their can not be an off game in that skill group."
Blocking for the skill players is an offensive line steadied by All-American Jon Stinchcomb.
"Jon Stinchcomb is the leader of this team; he is the smartest person on the football field including the coaches. Jon is not worried about being popular, he is worried about winning a championship."
Richt also discussed the status of running back Musa Smith. He said that Smith has been healthy for some time and that he expects Smith, as the only established running back in camp, to make his mark this season.
"Musa Smith is a huge key to our team's puzzle. If he can stay healthy we have a chance to be really strong offensively. If not I have about 5 or 6 guys competing to be the 2nd string guy. But Musa is 100% healthy. He looks great."
The defense will be anchored by a group of outstanding players; among them Tony Gilbert, Jonathon Sullivan, and Boss Bailey.
"Tony Gilbert is a tremendous leader for us. We are going to need good leadership on defense this year. Boss was running through our tailback in the Spring. Jonathon Sullivan is ready to go on the inside, but he is about the only one on the inside."
The secondary is also coming along. Richt pointed out that the cornerback position will be key in 2002.
"Decory Bryant started playing at a high level from the Ole Miss game on. And I have a lot more confidence in Bruce Thornton than a lot of other people do. He is always in position, but has had trouble making the play last season."
The kicking game, perhaps Georgia's strongest one area of the team, is good hands with Billy Bennett and Jonathon Kilgo. Richt said that he thinks that Kilgo is one of the best punters around.
"Our kickers are back, Kilgo, I think is just tremendous. I think that he is one of the best kickers in this league and the country."
Even with all of the strengths of this Georgia team, Richt said that Georgia would have to depend on true freshman again this season, and some will play in key positions. He pointed out that in particular the secondary will have a heavy influx of true freshmen. This will probably include Tim Jennings and Demario Minter playing at cornerback. Richt pointed out that for good or bad, Georgia needs to prepare players that will have to play in future seasons.
Dean Legge can be reached here: firstname.lastname@example.org