Florida Week: Press Conference Notes

ATHENS - Georgia head coach Mark Richt and some football players previewed the upcoming game.

ATHENS-----Georgia head coach Mark Richt and several football players met with the media during the Bulldogs' weekly press luncheon Tuesday.  They offered the following comments:

 

Opening statement…

"This is a press conference where you probably don't have to give out statistics of the team you are playing or talk about the defensive players and the special teams players you are about to go up against.  A lot of times I feel like I am helping educate not so much everyone sitting here, but I know it gets out on the internet, and you want to educate your fans.  I feel like sometimes I'm helping out in that way.  This game in particular I don't know if we need to introduce some of the names that are household names at this point. We know we are probably playing the hottest team in the country and probably the fastest team in America.  Certainly they are one of the best coached teams in America.

 

"Florida is the number one scoring team in the league.  It's the number one stat you like to have when you talk about offensive football.  They also have the number one scoring defense in the league.  Of course the team stat, which is turnover ratio, they are number one in the league.  All those things add up to what's happening right now; they are scoring a lot of points and playing tremendous defense. They are beating people by large margins, and they are gaining steam no doubt.

 

"Tim Tebow does a great job of running the show.  He probably felt in the past that he had to carry the team a little bit more than he does this year.  He has tremendous support.  He also has a very veteran line in front of him.  He's really surrounded by a great offensive cast.  When the defense is playing so well it takes pressure off the quarterback.  When the defense plays well the offense doesn't have to take as many risks.  They are just a very aggressive football team at all levels. 

 

"Defensively Brandon Spikes is the core of the defense.  He's the hub of the defense and he's a leader.  You can see it on film and you can see it statistically.  The speed factor comes in when you talk about defense.  Their down lineman are athletic and fast for the positions they play.  They have 10 interceptions in the secondary and four for touchdowns.  They lead the nation in interceptions for touchdowns.  They block punts, they block kicks, they have returned kicks and punts for touchdowns.  Not only can they return the punts so well, but when you have a combination of a team that can also block them, it makes it very difficult. 

 

"Their punter is outstanding.  He's second in the league with a 43.8 average.  He's only had to punt 22 times.  They are sixth in the nation in the least amount of punts.  A lot of times don't punt because you are scoring points or you are turning the ball over.  Knowing that they are number one in the league in turnover ratio, it's not because of turning the ball over that they aren't punting; they aren't punting because they are scoring.  That's a great challenge for us too.

 

On whether Florida is peaking…

"I hope they have peaked already. We seem to be getting better as the season goes on and it's not all that unusual, especially with the youth we have. They are playing with a young team too, they don't have one senior on their defense. The one or two juniors playing on their defense are young, too. The offense is a better group. They've been hitting on all cylinders from the very beginning. I don't think anyone has really slowed them down. They slowed themselves down in the Ole Miss game with a couple of fumbles. The only game they really had any turnover issues was that one. If they don't turn it over, no one's stopping them."

 

On the status of Dannell Ellerbe and Tripp Chandler

"We plan on them practicing today. We plan on them not doing some of the offense vs. defense stuff. They will work with the scout team. We just don't want to set them back right now. They've made good progress, but its not like they are 100 percent full speed doing anything at this point. We are still being a little cautious with them. I hate to say because I thought both were going to make it last week. Sunday I was more optimistic that they'll be with us when we travel."

 

On Georgia's depth at linebacker…

"It's very important to have as many able bodies ready to go as possible. I think we are

going to have to substitute to stay fresh and to play really fast. Everyone on our team is probably going to need someone to sub for.  The guys that really run hard play after play after play expend a lot of energy that way. We need to keep rotating them in and out of there. I haven't even begun to have a conversation with Coach (John) Jancek as to who might start."

 

On players stepping up after teammates have suffered injuries…

"I'm thankful we have those guys here and that they stepped up.  We really don't complain much about injuries.  We really try not to feel sorry for ourselves.  There have been a few times in staff meetings where we were hanging our heads, last week particularly just trying to figure out how we were going to get these guys prepared.  After the game is over, to see guys play well it makes you feel good that you recruited well and you have guys who can step in and play well."

 

On Matthew Stafford

"Just like (Tim) Tebow's teammates making plays, his linemen protecting him and his defense playing well.  Every quarterback needs that to be a winner.  You can't do it by yourself.  Matthew has certainly had guys surrounding him play better, but he also has improved in that he has bought into standing in there and stepping up, throwing it downfield accurately.  He is gaining a lot more confidence in the (offensive line's) ability to protect him.  He is beginning to realize that if we are going to have success, he is going to have to do that.  He has always been a student of the game.  He really knows what we are doing and why we are doing it."

 

Senior fullback, #36 Brannan Southerland

On both Georgia and Florida playing well going into this year's game…

"I think both teams are playing great. Both teams have shown the ability to put up big points and play defense. Really, I think the stage is set with both teams with just one loss and looking for control in the east. We're going to give it everything we got, and I know Florida is going to give it everything they've got."

 

On if there is a danger in getting too hyped for this game…

"I guess there could be if you get too fired up and everything. We had the day off yesterday, and that was nice to kind of relax and look at everything. You do have to guard a little bit against it, but I think the coaches and the older players are doing a good job to keep everyone focused on Saturday. That's the game. We got to practice and prepare and everything, but stay calm, stay collected until Saturday."

 

Senior split end, #1 Matthew Stafford

On if quarterback Matthew Stafford is as good as other quarterbacks the Bulldogs face…

"We can't control public opinion, but we know what he does for us and we know what he means for us. We know that he does everything that we need him to do, so in that sense, he's the perfect quarterback for us. We can't control the outside things and what people might say ranking one person versus another."

 

On the offensive line…

They are doing a heck of a job. They are so young; they've been playing a lot this year, which is good for them. They've got a ton of experience from this year. They are working really hard in practice. Coach (Stacy) Searels is doing a good job of teaching them and they want to learn. They are starting to gel and helping each other out any way they can. They are playing sound fundamental football."

 

On Florida quarterback Tim Tebow…

"Tebow is a fantastic player, winning the Heisman Trophy last year, and he's playing well again this year. Anytime you play a guy that plays your position, that's highly touted player that people have a lot of respect for, you want to play well."

 

Redshirt sophomore FB, #48 Fred Munzenmaier

On his 1-yard touchdown run against LSU

"I expected to be blocking because Knowshon is pretty consistent at getting it in the end zone. When I saw the ball at the 1 yard line, I thought (the coaches) might call a fullback play. When they called it, I got a little nervous, but I just sucked it up and made the play."

 

Sophomore offensive lineman, #60 Clint Boling

On this weekend's game with Florida…

"We're coming in pretty hot after a big win at LSU, and Florida is coming in hot too after a real good game against Kentucky. I think both teams are really hot right now and kind of at their peak. That's what we want. We want to get Florida at their best, and they're going to get us at our best too."

 

On quarterback Matthew Stafford trusting the offensive line more…

"I definitely think Stafford is learning to trust us a little bit, which is a good thing. He's stepping up and helping us out too. He doesn't take too many sacks and he gets rid of the ball pretty quick, which helps out a lot. I think it's just a little bit of both us playing better and him trusting us a little more too."

 

 

Redshirt sophomore TB, #24 Knowshon Moreno

On the game against Florida Saturday…

"I think a lot of the guys on the team are ready for this game. We are focused and we know its not going to be easy. They are a very good defense and we need to be focused."

 

Senior SE, #88 Kenneth Harris

Evaluating the offense…

"I think we stepped it up a lot for the LSU game. It felt good; our offensive line played well, Knowshon ran the ball well, the receivers made plays and Matthew keeps putting the ball on the money. I think everything is starting to click. I'm hoping to come out this week and have a good game."

 

On the game against Florida Saturday…

"This is what you come to Georgia for; you come to play in the Georgia-Florida game. You come to play in the big game on a national stage and you want to go out there and have fun. Hopefully, we will come out of Jacksonville with a win."

 

Sophomore WLB, #35 Rennie Curran

On limiting big plays and penalties in recent weeks…

"I feel like we've been doing a good job of containing the big plays and not letting things get too out of hand. There have been times where we've been careless and not focused, but for the most part we've been doing a good job and not committing penalties. As long as we can contain that and improve in those areas, we'll be fine."

 

On the game against Florida Saturday…

"When you look at the schedule, you know it's going to be a big game. With the way our season has been going, it's been building up to this point. You know how big of an impact it's going to have on our season and where we are going to end up makes this Florida game this much bigger. It's something you try not to think about with the games you have ahead, but you can't help but think about with the athletes they have and the hype that goes into this game."

 

Redshirt sophomore WLB, # 50 Darryl Gamble

On trying to contain the Florida offense…

"We have to try to eliminate some of the things they do. Throughout the week, we will try to figure out their tendencies and see what they like to do. We need to try to match their speed. Tim Tebow is a great quarterback and he runs the ball well, too. We need to match their speed."

 

On him having more of an impact on defense this season…

"I think it's been a whole 180 (turnaround since last year). Last year, I always looked at the game through my kicking team assignments. This year, I've been thinking about a little bit more than just how we are going to block a guy on the kickoff team. It puts a lot on me because I'm trying to build myself into being more of a leader."


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