Kentucky Week: Press Conference Notes

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

 

Opening statement…

"We have to play another game here as soon as possible.  I'm glad we have a 12:30 kickoff; the sooner the better for us.  We have to get back to work and get back to playing football.  Kentucky is a team that beat us two years ago at their place.  They are a team that last year beat the national champion LSU team and also jumped on us 10-0.  We were losing 10-7 at halftime.  It was all we could do to get back in that thing. We did score on the first two drives of the second half and took the lead and held on to it.  They had a game that got away from them, the common theme for the Florida Gators.  They took it to them pretty good as they did to us.  If you take that one game out of the mix, they are 6-2 besides that game. The two losses are a three-point loss to Alabama and a seven-point loss to South Carolina.  We know both of those teams are outstanding football teams.

 

"They have had a couple of rough injuries on offense.  I think Dicky Lyons and Derrick Locke are out.  They are two very outstanding players on offense and these guys are fantastic return men.  They are trying to replace those guys, which we all know when you have injuries like that, it's very difficult to replace.

 

"(Mike) Hartline has been their quarterback.  He is a big 6-6, 200 pound sophomore who is throwing the ball well.  They have decided to play Randall Cobb some at quarterback. Randall is a very, very versatile player.  He is probably their best punt returner right now and is their number one receiver right now, but he is also their quarterback.  I don't know if he'll start.  My guess is they will play both of those guys.  When Randall is not playing quarterback my guess is he will be playing receiver.  (Alfonso) Smith and (Tony) Dixon are doing an outstanding job running the ball.  They throw the ball to their running backs and tight ends; they have always done a good job of that.  Their running back position is really their number two leading receiver.  Their tight end is the number three leading receiver.  Offensive line-wise they have three starters back.  (Michael) Williams is probably the most athletic of the bunch.

 

"Defensively they are a very veteran group.  They have seven seniors and four juniors.  They are second in the league in sacks and number one in the league in pass break-ups.  They are high in the league in interceptions.  They have a lot of confidence in their perimeter and their defensive backs.  They play an awful lot of man coverage.  They will almost always outnumber you in the running game on just about every down and distance; sometimes even in third-and-long they will outnumber you; just play man coverage and see if your quarterbacks and receivers are good enough to beat you.  (Trevard) Lindley is a Georgia boy from Hiram.  Braxton Kelley, the middle linebacker, is a LaGrange kid.  They have some Georgia flare to them.  Johnny Williams, their sam linebacker will get into a pass rush mode if they can get you in that third-and-long.

 

"Their specialists—Tim Masthay is the number one punter in the league right now.  He leads the league in punting yardage.  He is a great kickoff guy.  He has 19 touchbacks.  A few others have gone into the end zone and people have decided to take them out of there.  He regularly knocks the ball out of the end zone on his kickoffs.   They are 15th in the nation in kickoff return; outstanding as always.  A lot of times it's a matter of how well you block.  The only place they are struggling in special teams is their field goal kicking is less than 50 percent.  I'm sure that is a problem area for them.  Any given Saturday we know that a guy can make them all or a guy can miss them all, so he is very capable.

 

"Coach (Rich) Brooks has done a great job there, no doubt.  It's their second-to-last home game, so I know their seniors are excited about playing well at home.  They know what happened the last time we were there, so it will be a great battle for us."

 

On the team's morale on Monday…

"Mondays are tough for everybody.  We did what we normally do on a Monday.  We got the meetings in and got the honor roll done.  We did a little bit of prep work about what they are going to see in Kentucky.  They got their lifting in. their running in, and then our six periods of practice after a few penalty up-downs.  We had an interesting speaker come by in Lex Luger.  He was a teammate of mine in Miami.  He came by to speak to anyone who wanted to listen."

 

On correcting mistakes from the Florida game…

"You watch the film and see the plan for the most part gives us a chance.  There are some plays we look at and say that wasn't very smart, or we thought the defense would react a certain way and they did not.  Most of the times we have a chance if we execute; that's true in third down conversions and first down plays.  It's just football.  When you get in there you need to score sevens, especially in a game like that.  Against LSU we did a pretty good job of it.  The very next week we can't get the touchdowns.  Three times in there in the first half it could be 21-14, 21-10, 21-6; it could be a lot of different scores.  We didn't do very well defensively either.  We didn't keep them out of the end zone, especially in the first half.  You miss your kicks to go on top of it.  To add insult to injury you don't make your kicks.  At worst it's 14-9 going in there.  We have to get better in there."

 

On his coaching at Georgia for many years…

"My goal from the very beginning has been for this be the last coaching job that I have.  That is certainly going to be up to whoever is in charge of making that decision.  My goal was if I moved from Tallahassee, move one time.  I'm not interested in telling a bunch of young men that I have a better place to be.  I've just never believed that.  Everything I've done since I've been here is to try to build the program on a very solid foundation on making decisions that will not only help you in any given year, but for the long haul. I think a lot of decisions are made to get a quick fix.  I've never been much for that.  I've always tried to bring in the right kind of people and the right kind of players.  I would love to say this is the last coaching job I've ever had, but we know that's not my choice to make.  Even the contract we've had together as a university is probably one of the strongest buyouts in the country, mainly because it's reciprocal in how we feel about each other.  Not many coaches want a real large buyout in their contract because they want the ability to scoot out of there if they choose to.  Mine isn't really set up that way.  Mine is set up that the university may have an obligation if they decide to let me go, and it's just as strong going in the other direction.  It's a very strong statement to say Georgia wants Coach Richt at Georgia and Coach Richt wants to be at Georgia.

 

On being one of the longest-tenured coaches in the SEC…

All I can do on a daily basis is number one please the Lord; that's my main motivation, and past that to try to do the best job I can for the University of Georgia and our coaches, families and players.  To me leadership is about serving the people God has put you in authority over.  My job is to take care of the people I am in authority over.  That's how I go about my day.  Hopefully it's good enough in the end.  It's been pretty successful in the last seven and a half years.  Hopefully this week we will knock out 80 victories in eight years; that's not bad.  I know I fall short in a lot of areas and make mistakes. I hate it when I do.  I at least try to admit it and move forward when we do."

 

On Matthew Stafford's seven interceptions in the last four games…

"When you look at them one-by-one they don't look as bad as when you say seven, because some of them.  You might get a ball tipped at the line of scrimmage, you might have a receiver who ran the wrong route.  You are not going to say and lay somebody out there after a ballgame.  Stafford is not going to do that.  It's a combination of things.  Sometimes there is a guy who is getting ready to hit him in the throat and sometimes he just needs to throw the ball away.  Ultimately it's the quarterback's responsibility on the picks, but there are some circumstances that are a little bit out of his control.  I've not lost any faith in Matthew whatsoever.  I've not lost any faith in Blair Walsh whatsoever.  I've not lost any faith in our defense whatsoever.  We are a team and we are going to stick together.  We are going to battle through any adversity that we're in.  That's just the way we've been doing it.  If you do anything less than that you take a chance of your last loss costing you the next game, and we don't want to do that.  If Kentucky were to beat us this weekend, I want it to be because Kentucky beat us this weekend and not because we weren't able to rally the troops and get back on track and play a good ballgame.

 

On Dannell Ellerbe's injury status…

"The good news is he feels real good.  Even last night watching him run, he looks the best he has since the injury.  We were thinking he was going to play in the LSU game,  He just didn't feel like he could contribute to the point where he could really play well.  This week he was not 100 percent, but he was well enough to play.  He came out of it good, and I think we will see him start to make plays again.  In the meantime Darryl (Gamble) stood up and played great.  Now we have more experience there and guys who are capable of making plays.  Darryl has also been a very big special teams player for us.  Now that Ellerbe is back it strengthens our special teams again."

 

Senior split end, #1 Mohamed Massaquoi

On keeping the Florida loss from turning into more losses

"You never want a snowball effect from one event, so what we have to do is make sure we are focused going into this week and put that game behind us. We have to go into Kentucky expecting to win."

 

Senior fullback, #36 Brannan Southerland

On if the team has to start over after losing to Florida…

"I don't believe we have to start over after that game. I think we made some mistakes and everything, but we've got three regular season games left. We've got a lot of talent, and we got a lot of guys who are playing good and even did some good things in the game against Florida. Unfortunately, we had some other mistakes. We just have go out there have a good week of practice, and come Saturday, we just have to play how we played before Florida."

 

Junior quarterback, #7 Matthew Stafford

On if its tough to go from the high of the LSU win to the low of the Florida loss…

"Not really. It's something that I've been exposed to kind of at an early age I guess. I've been dealing with it for a while, so I know it's going to be there and it's going to happen. You have to take the good with the bad – that's the way it's going to be."

 

Redshirt sophomore tailback, #24 Knowshon Moreno

On how tough it has been dealing with the loss to Florida…

"A lot of the guys were really upset about it, but there's really nothing we can do now. We have to wait till next year for that team, but we still have three games left on our season. We are just focused on Kentucky right now, and we want to finish out the season strong."

 

Redshirt sophomore linebacker, #50 Darryl Gamble

On if it is tough to get excited for the Kentucky game after losing to Alabama and Florida…

"We still get excited for each game because we still have opportunities to prosper and come out with a good record. Those games are over. I just believe that we should still give the same kind of effort in each game even though we didn't pull out wins against Alabama or Florida."

 

Sophomore linebacker, #35 Rennie Curran

On dealing with the loss to Florida…

"We are all a little disappointed with how close we came to accomplishing great things, but I feel in time we are going to be fine. Going into this week of practice we are looking at the positives and not dwelling on what happened. Just getting back on the field is going to take care of everything and get that bad feeling out of stomachs.

 

On what the coaches have said to keep the team motivated the remainder of the season…

"They have really just put an emphasis on us keeping a good attitude and just continuing to try and finish the drill. They gave us the choice of either putting our heads down and let this game effect the rest of our season and lose out or we can continue to regroup, have leadership step up and stay positive to win the rest of the season. We can finish 11-2 like we did last year, which is nothing to be ashamed of."


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