Auburn Week: Press Conference Quotes

ATHENS - Georgia football head coach Mark Richt held his weekly press luncheon Tuesday, where he discussed the Deep South's oldest rivalry between Georgia and Auburn coming up Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Georgia's Sanford Stadium.

Opening Statement:

"Before I get started, I have to remember to do what the seniors asked me to do, and that is to encourage the Bulldog Nation to wear black. I asked them why, and they said it would be cool and a great sign of unity."

On this weekend's game with Auburn:

"Big game this weekend, of course. I'm very excited to be going into game 10 and have something to be excited about. This Auburn game has always been a big one for us and a big one for them. There's always a lot at stake, and I'm looking forward to it, really."

On Auburn's running backs:

"(Brad) Lester, (Ben) Tate, and (Mario) Fannin all run very much like their running backs from the last seven years, or at least since I have been here and experienced. They are hard, physical, and tough guys. Two of them are from Georgia, Lester and Fannin."

On quarterback Brandon Cox:

"Brandon Cox is their quarterback, and he is having a great year. It's his senior year and I have a lot of respect for Brandon."

On Auburn's receiving corps:

"Smith and Billings seem to be the ones they go to the most. Smith was another Georgia product who left the state. He actually was a walk-on and ended up earning a scholarship and has been playing some great football for them."

On Auburns offensive line:

"Their offensive line is very similar to ours, and I think everyone knows that. Just to remind everybody, they've been starting three freshmen, also. I think actually three true freshmen. They're doing a very nice job. Tyrone Green, the left guard, is a junior and probably playing the best ball out of all of them."

On Auburn's offense:

"They really are in the same mold as they've been for years under Coach Tuberville. They're going to run the rock. They'll play very physical up front, and set up a lot of their running game with their passing game. That hasn't changed one bit. (Offensive Coordinator) Al Borges does a great job calling their offense and utilizing the skill they have available. (Offensive line coach) Hugh Nall is a heck of a coach. He's a very hard-nosed guy who does a great job. He's a former Bulldog, actually. He's another Georgia guy that got away. "

On Auburn's defensive ends:

"Defensively, their defensive ends are outstanding in (Sen'Derrick) Marks, (Quentin) Groves, and (Antonio) Coleman. I guess Coleman has played so well that they went ahead and moved Quentin Groves to SAM linebacker. I'm not sure if they're going to do that this week or not, but Quentin seemed to do a very nice job out there at the SAM spot. He's got a very similar body type to our Brandon Miller, so it's not too unusual to see a guy like that play the SAM spot. They're doing a very nice job creating pressure off the edges with those guys."

On Auburn's defensive line:

"Josh Thompson, another Georgia boy playing inside, along with Pat Sims, is a very athletic and tough guy. Their front four is probably the strength of their defense."

On Auburn's linebackers:

"Trey Blackmon is an outstanding linebacker. He's very fast and physical and can really hit. That was his reputation in high school at LaGrange (Georgia). He's another Georgia kid who got away. He made his reputation with some really really big hits in high school. He's still doing that now."

On Auburn's secondary:

"Their secondary is doing a very nice job. They're fast and physical. They don't play quite as much man coverage as they have in the past and they don't blitz as much as they have in the past. That has a lot to do with the strength of their front four. They haven't had to blitz as much to get pressure, which is something defensive coordinators love. Pressure without blitz is the best thing you could ever have, and I think that's one of the reasons they blitz a little bit less, and they're one of the best scoring defenses in the league."

On Auburn's special teams:

"Their placekicker, Wes Byrum, is the kid that had to kick two at the last second of the Florida game. He drilled two in a row to secure that victory. It's a like a first year quarterback proving that he can make a big game winning drive or something like that. To have a true freshman be a guy who you know can make a huge kick like that in the clutch is very big. They've been using two punters, Shoemaker and Tatum. Shoemaker's averaging about 44.6 and Tatum's averaging about 43.6. They're number one in the league in net punt. They're doing a great job."

On Auburn's physicality:

"This is a very typical Auburn team. They're a physical, hardnosed bunch. They make very few mistakes. They like to pound the ball and control the clock. They have a very high percentage passing game, a hard-hitting defense, and great specialists. This will be just another Southeastern Conference barnburner, more than likely."

On Matthew Stafford making changes at the line of scrimmage:

"We do a lot more run checks than we have in the past. We've changed protections at the line of scrimmage, and had to change some protections as well. He's more involved in trying to help locate the MIKE linebacker. We did that even before by calling out a MIKE recognition. He would have to recognize the front and then the center would have to point out who the MIKE was. Now instead of having the center doing it exclusively, we have Matthew and him have to agree on who the MIKE linebacker is."

On Stafford's game preparations:

"He enjoys that. There's no doubt about it. He wants to be involved. He wants to study to the point where he gets his team into the best possible situation. Some quarterbacks don't want to do that and some quarterback's can't do that."

On this game's impact on recruiting:

"Well, maybe not this year, but maybe for next year. I think if one team was just slaughtering another team, and did it three years in a row, you might have a kid who during his freshman, sophomore, and junior seasons saw one team win by a large margin. He might decide he wants to be a part of that team, but a lot of times it just gets down to 'where do I have the best opportunity to play early?'"

On recent games against Auburn:

"Two years ago, I thought that that might have been our best offensive game of the year. Shockley came back off that injury, and we played pretty darn good that day offensively. Last year, it could've been our very best game, again. Against a quality defense, for sure it was our best."

On how to play both Thomas Brown and Knowshon Moreno at running back:

"We haven't gotten into that discussion yet. All the fans are talking about it and I'm getting a lot of questions about it. Until we see Thomas practice today and tomorrow and get a gauge of where he is physically and mentally, we'll have a little more information to try and make a decision on what to do."

On Georgia's offense:

"For us right now, our greatest success has been with a very balanced attack, and a serious dedication to running the ball in order to set things up. I can't imagine us trying to go away from that. We've really come around, and by now, we ought to be playing pretty good, and I think we are."

On running back Thomas Brown:

"Thomas loves Georgia. He has been nothing but a faithful warrior to this program. The guy is tenacious in everything he does. It's like he's said, 'if I play it's going to be at full speed. It's not going to be at middle ground'. That's the way he's attacked his academics. This guy's going to graduate in three and a half years, including a semester of 21 hours in his senior year. How many seniors take 21 hours and are able to do everything he's been doing for us? He's a gunner on the punt team, a safety on the kickoff team, the kickoff returner, and the starting tailback. That guy is a great Georgia Bulldog. (David) Greene and (D.J.) Shockley might get those accolades because of the position they played, but Thomas Brown is as great a Georgia Bulldog as any of those guys."

Georgia Player Quotes

Sophomore Quarterback, #7 Matthew Stafford

On the team's recent performance:

"We've been playing well lately. Hopefully we can keep it up. We're going against a really good defense this week, but we're coming off the best few games we've probably played.

On having a balanced offensive attack:

"There were some passing plays in the last game that we could have made that would have jumped the numbers up, but we're about as balanced as it gets."

On his biggest stride since Auburn game last year:

"Probably making fewer turnovers and keeping the ball on our side. Also just being able to manage the game better. I can do that better now than I could last year."

Junior tight end, #86 Tripp Chandler

On the proposed "black-out" for this weekend's game:

"I know Penn State did the white-out, and I like that. If we can get some black pom poms like they had the white ones that would be cool too. Fans have to commit to it though. We can't have just students doing it or just the alumni or half and half. Everybody has to do it."

On a young offense growing out of mistakes:

"We're definitely moving out of that. There are times when you can still see it, but that's growing pains. Luckily as an offense we were able to go through it together. Matthew is young, and I didn't get any real of what I would consider playing time until this year. We're all going through it together. I think it's forming a chemistry between all of us, and I think you're seeing us start to work out of it. But at times you can still see it."

Freshman Tailback, #24 Knowshon Moreno

On the Georgia-Auburn rivalry:

"It's just another game. I'm not looking at it like that really. It's just another game where we want to try to execute and come out with the win. It's going to be a tough game, and we just have to stay focused and come out with the win."

On if the team is where it wants to be offensively:

"We can definitely do better, but we're doing some good things out there. We're still working hard because we can still get better."

On the team's improvement since Oklahoma State:

"We're just clicking better as a whole team. Defense is playing well, special teams is doing its part, and the offense is moving the ball well and getting some good things done."

Junior Linebacker #44 Marcus Washington

On whether or not there is any extra emotion for playing Auburn since there are several players on Auburn's roster from Georgia:

"Yeah. There are a couple guys on the Auburn team that I know. There are a couple guys from the Augusta area that I know. It's kind of like a pride thing, so yeah there's a little extra emotion involved with the game."

On going against Auburn's offensive line that includes three freshmen:

"We'll probably send a lot of different stunts at them. We'll just try to confuse them with their youth and everything, but it is deeper into the season and I'm pretty sure they're well-seasoned now and probably have a good understanding of what is going on."

Sophomore Cornerback #2 Asher Allen

On if his first interception happened like he envisioned it:

"It should've gone for a touchdown. I should've scored. If the ball had just been a little bit higher, I would have been to the house. It was just good giving the ball back to the offense in good field position, and obviously, it did feel great."

On Auburn's offense:

"They are able to do so much. They are able to obviously run the ball. They have great backs there, and with a great quarterback with (Brandon) Cox, he's able to throw the ball and make the big time throws that they need. We want to make sure we just try our best to stop that."

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