BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Expectations are high in Athens again this season. Mark Richt talked about those expectations along with other items including the Clemson game and his mistakes from last season.
When questions came up about expectations at Georgia, Richt explained that just because expectations are high, that does not mean that opponents will be any easier to beat.
"We want to get to Atlanta. It is hard to believe that Georgia has not won the SEC in 20 years. (But) Florida is still Florida, (they are) going to be very difficult to beat Florida."
But Georgia will not be able to get to Atlanta without changes in clock management on the part of the second year coach.
Richt has been criticized by the media for play calling in the final minutes of games. The Auburn game specifically has been the cause of all of the scrutiny.
"Most fans have said forget about it (the mental mistakes with clock management in 2001) and move on. (But) The Auburn game stung me personally."
Richt went on to say that he knows that he made mistakes and that he is working on correcting those mistakes.
"I've got to do a good job of processing information. I am doing a better job of delegating stuff to the staff and that will free me up. I found myself scrambling around and I did not have a lot of time. I certainly have to learn how to manage my time better."
Richt added that he has taken advice from Homer Smith, a former coach, on how to better himself with time management.
"One of the things that I did was spent time with Homer Smith. Everything that he does with coaching is well thought out."
Smith pointed out to Richt that execution is even more important than anything else. He told Richt that if the play against Auburn had worked, then there would be no controversy. Richt said that he thought that Georgia could convert a one-yard run play with a run. Instead, Georgia lost the game as time ran out with the Dawgs trying to get another play off.
Another item discussed at length by Richt was the Clemson game. Richt knows Clemson well from his days as an assistant coach for Florida State.
Clemson has severed as great motivation for the Bulldogs during Spring practice and through the summer.
"I like the fact that we are opening with Clemson. I think that summer workouts are affected by the team that you open with. I think that we know that we can get whipped in that first game. The upside to opening with Clemson is the way that your players work in the off-season. There are no days off when you are playing Clemson in the first game.
Richt also said that Clemson's talent is impressive.
"Clemson has great skill. Their quarterback can run just as well as anyone in the country."
Richt noted that true freshmen will have some impact on this Georgia team, "I see a lot of freshmen playing because they will have to play for us next year (2003). If any of them prove that they can make plays the same way that Fred Gibson did they will play. There are some cornerbacks that are going to have to play. I have seen enough tape of these guys to know that they will challenge for punt returning duties."
Richt went on to reiterate that he wants to stay in Athens as head coach as long as Georgia wants him there. "I could see myself at Georgia for a long time."
Dean Legge can be reached here: firstname.lastname@example.org