Tennessee Week: Press Conference Notes

ATHENS - Georgia head coach Mark Richt and several football players previewed Saturday's game against Tennessee during the weekly press luncheon on Tuesday.


Opening statement

"We get a chance to play an outstanding football team. I know they are 2-3 right now but if you look at their season they have an overtime loss they certainly could have won just as easily as they lost it. They lose 14-12 to Auburn and they are basically one exchange away, handing off the ball to the tailback away from winning that game. They very easily could be 4-1 and could be a top 15, top 10-team right now. They are that good, they are that capable and I just want to make sure everybody understands how good of a football team this is.


"Just about their entire line is back, four out of five are back. They've got over 112 starts together. They run the ball extremely well. They got great backs. Arian Foster is one of the best backs they've ever had at the school; he's tracking down a lot of the rushing records. As a matter of fact, career-wise if he were to stay healthy, he'll be the leading rusher, the best rusher in the history of their school as far as total yards gained, and (Monterio) Hardesty is just fantastic. We recruited Lennon Creer out of Texas too and Lennon is a fine back. If he's their third-teamer right now, they got two great backs I can promise you because Creer has tremendous talent.


"Wide receiver wise you've got (Josh) Briscoe, (Austin) Rogers, Lucas (Taylor) and (Gerald) Jones. You've got four guys and even more down the line that can play and they've got a lot of experience and made a lot of big plays. Gerald Jones, No. 4, I guess they are calling him the "G-Gun" over there. The guy that will jump in there at quarterback and do some of the things that I guess the NFL is calling the "Wildcat" and all that thing with the Miami Dolphins and what they are doing with Ronnie Brown.


"Jones is their man doing that and not only is Jones a great receiver, but he's playing some quarterback. He's also a great return man; he's their punt return man. He's been at four different positions: punt return, kick return, wide receiver and quarterback, where he's had big plays over 20 yards. So he's a big play man for them and if you take a guy and make him your quarterback you know he's got great skills. And they want to make sure he gets the ball; they want to make sure he causes problems.


"They've got four people at tight end; Luke Stocker has played the most. Jeff Cottam has been injured, No. 80, I think he's back and healthy. He's big at 6-foot-8, 260 pounds, is a great blocker with good hands. Brandon Warren, who is a transfer from Florida State, is actually an outstanding wide receiver/tight end and they do find a way to get him in the game and give him opportunities because of his skills as a pass receiver.


"The fullbacks are about what you would expect from fullbacks and that type of system. They are the hammers. They are the ones that are going down-after-down, running into those defensive ends on the Power O that they run over-and-over and any kind of lead play they run. They are going to be leading up on these linebackers; they do a great job of that. 


"Their new quarterback, Nick Stevens, I studied that game a little bit more than the rest knowing that he was going to be the quarterback. I was very impressed with him. He would stand in that pocket. He would throw very accurately. He seemed to have no trouble whatsoever getting them in the right type of play. I didn't really see any confusion. The only thing I saw I think once or twice was they jumped offsides and I don't know if it was a different situation. But by now that shouldn't be a problem at all and it wasn't a big problem in the game for them, and I'm not even saying that's why it happened, but that's the closest thing I saw to having some kind of ill effect on the new quarterback. He was highly, highly accurate and just seemed to have a confidence about him; he's not scrambling around looking like a guy who wasn't sure what he was doing. He stood in there firm and he definitely delivered the ball and did an outstanding job. Apparently they thought he did too because they didn't mess around deciding who's going to start this game. There was no discussion about it. He did the job and I think they have a lot of confidence in him.


"On defense, the front four are all juniors and seniors. They've all played an awful lot. They're as good-looking bunch of defensive linemen as you'll see. That's never changed since we've been playing Tennessee. Probably when Coach Dooley was playing against Tennessee I'm sure they had the same type of good looking defensive players on their team that could really run. I'm not sure; I don't think (Ellix) Wilson played last game if I'm correct, their middle linebacker, but I think he could have played. They might have held him to make sure he was 100 percent healthy. He's a little bit like Rennie (Curran) 5-foot-10, 225 pounds, a guy who is a high-energy guy, I think he's leading the team in tackles, but their linebackers are very much like we are used to seeing. Other than him, he's a little bit shorter than some have been in the past. Rennie Curran is probably shorter than he is and I wouldn't trade Rennie for anything and I'm sure they wouldn't trade Wilson either.


"In the secondary, I don't think you will find two more talented safeties in the country. I think history will prove that they will be two of the highest-drafted safeties when their day comes of anybody in the nation. They are big, they are fast, they are physical, they are playmakers and they are playing with tremendous confidence.


" (Demetrice) Morley and (Eric) Berry, two not good players but great players and then (DeAngelo) Willingham's got most of the experience there, playing left corner and of course (Dennis) Rogan is also an outstanding football player. As a corner, he's also their "kick return man, He's averaging 25.4 yards a kick return, which is outstanding. Between him and Jones, they've had many, many, many plays 20 yards or more. They are the big-play men for them.


"I think (Britton) Colquitt's back as their punter, although I do believe the young man who punted instead, (Chad) Cunningham, a Georgia boy, I think he actually punted pretty well for them. Colquitt certainly was their starter for a reason and he's back being their starter. From what I understand, he might be their kickoff man too for this ball game and he's always been outstanding in that regard. Colquitt is a 42.4 yards per kick career man so he is outstanding in that regard.


"Daniel Lincoln their extra-point/field goal man has had his ups and downs, I think he is 5 for 9. I'm not exactly sure how many were long kicks, but he' s missed a couple over 52. I wouldn't say that our guys struggled so it's not fair to say 5 for 9 is real indicative of his abilities if he's missed a couple of long ones.


"They are leading the league in total defense I think they are one of the top 10 in the country in total defense. They are at least very high. They've been very stingy. I know in the last couple of ball games, they've hardly given up a thing in the fourth quarter. I think Northern Illinois had minus-9 yards. 


"They've actually given up nine turnovers. They've had nine sudden change situations, where the defense had to jump back on the field immediately. They've only given up 19 points in those situations, which is fantastic defensively. The ball gets turned over and all of sudden you are in a bad situation. You've got to make a stop and they've done a great job of keeping people from getting a lot of points off of turnovers, which is fantastic.


"So, they are a very, very capable football team. Like I said before, they could just as easily be 4-1 as they are 2-3. We're probably in the same boat too; we could certainly be at least 3-2 at this point with that tight ball game against South Carolina. I don't think there are a whole lot of differences between both of our teams as far as their personnel and ability to win the game. I think it's going to be a barn burner.  I think it's going to be physical and we better be ready for that type of ballgame because that is exactly what Tennessee brings year after year."


On the differences between the offensive line last year and this year…

"Last year's line, I think they got all 29 preseason practices in the same spot and just the great majority of the year they were all in the same spot.  I think (Scott) Haverkamp was the one that got beat out by (Clint) Boling. Other than that, it stayed pretty solid as far as everybody getting used to each other and working together at the same positions. I think we've settled in pretty good.  There's no question we'll get better. A year ago I knew as the season went on we were going to better. Not to bore everybody, but if you have a third year tackle or even a fourth year junior tackle, when the season begins to mid-season, he should improve some. He's already built his base of his strength and he's built his base of his knowledge, so he should improve a little bit as the season goes on. But if you take a freshman at ground zero and you let him go through camp and six ballgames, he may not be where that junior is but he may go from here to here. The improvement should be pretty significant for Cordy (Glenn), for (Justin Anderson), for Ben Jones. Those guys are going to get better. Their level of play should go up more drastically than a guy who has been around a while. I do expect those guys to make drastic improvement and they have been improving."


On Tennessee's offense…

"It is obvious they've made a quarterback.  We recruited the heck out of Jonathan Crompton. I think he's a tremendous talent. I think he's a very capable quarterback but for whatever reason they were struggling and they made a change and a lot of times that can be the spark that makes the difference. I remember when we were playing Colorado and Matthew (Stafford) was actually playing a pretty good game. Matthew was putting it on the money and we dropped about four, five, six balls.  We made a change because we felt like we just needed to make a change not so much that Matthew was the issue, but for whatever reason it just wasn't happening. We put Joe (Cox) in there and things turned and all of a sudden we looked pretty stinking good on offense that day. Good enough to come back and win the game. Sometimes a change can make a big difference like that and I'm assuming that's why they did it.  So far they've had positive results."


On the bye week being a benefit to Georgia…

"We have a wonderful opportunity to turn it around. I really hope we take advantage of it. I see nothing out there to make me feel like we won't turn it around. Alabama is undefeated. They are second in the country. They are pretty good. They are a very good football team and for whatever reason, we had that slow start but I believe that we have a bright future ahead of us and this game is huge in how our season is going to be remembered."


On the significance of Brannan Southerland's return…

"I think it's significant in that he's one of our finest leaders on the team. He's one of the most respected players on the team, and arguably the most respected player on the team. Our coaches actually voted him offensive captain and he hasn't even taken a snap offensively. That gives you an indication of how the staff feels about his leadership ability and his playing ability as an offensive football player. Shaun Chapas has played very well. Not good, but very well. He had a couple of things here and there. There was an obvious time when he fell down on a route where he could have possible caught a touchdown pass. You don't want to ever just base it off one glaring thing but he's played extremely well and we will continue to play Chapas also."


On Georgia's tight end situation…

"It won't change a thing. We might be a little more apt to use him in short yardage and goal line running situations because we have done that in the past. It wasn't like those plays were out of the plan, we just didn't use them as much.


Dawg Post Top Stories