Richt Talks with Macon TD Club

MACON – With a radio microphone being held to his mouth and earphones clamped around his head, Mark Richt answered questions from a radio interviewer Monday night at the Macon Touchdown Club's weekly meeting while autographing photos and shaking hands with fans at the same time.

He called it multitasking, but explaining his team's struggles to questioners while trying to maintain focus on the task at hand has become second nature for the Georgia coach this season.

"This time of year, you're tired," Richt said. "You're tired physically. You're tired emotionally – especially after these last two games. It's been a lot of tension and excitement toward the end of those ballgames, and to come out of there with victories is outstanding, but even so it can take a toll on you."

That didn't stop him from posing for photos, talking about the season and even swapping stories with a fan in her 90s before sitting down for dinner. Really, Richt was just happy to take a break from the grind of a season that has been one long roller coaster ride.

Georgia is off this week following a four-game stretch of games away from home in which the Bulldogs earned a rousing victory against LSU, a stunning defeat at the hands of Florida and held on for two last-second wins against Kentucky and Auburn.

The break – if it can be called that for Richt – was a necessity following what he admits had been a difficult season.

"You put your heart and soul into it, and when you win, it's exciting and emotional, and when you lose, it's horrible and it's still emotional," Richt said. "Everybody is putting a lot of time in it, a lot of effort and a lot of heart, so they all wear you out."

This season, however, has been a bit more draining than most.

While the fans in Macon were excited to see him, Richt has spent more time than he would like the past few weeks defending his team, his coaching staff and explaining why his team hasn't won more convincingly than the numbers on the scoreboard indicate.

"I think people are missing the fact that we've won nine games so far," Richt said. "We're 9-2. We lost to a No. 1 and the No. 3 in America. That's not too shabby. It's not perfection by any means, but I'm proud of this team. I'm proud of how they've battled and fought."

That doesn't mean Richt is calling the season a rousing success.

A 31-0 deficit at halftime against Alabama and a 49-10 thumping against Florida were the low points, but a bevy of injuries have put a strain on the coaching staff, and a failure to reach lofty preseason goals have presented challenges in the locker room.

"We've had some games where we certainly didn't finish the way we wanted to or play the way we wanted to, but it's like life," Richt said. "You get some disappointments, and you could certainly just sack your bats and go home, or you can get back up and fight. We've gone that, and there's a lot to be said for that."

Moral victories don't count in the standings, however, and Richt isn't ready to start reflecting on what might have been.

The Bulldogs face Georgia Tech in two weeks, and Richt isn't interested in deciding how well Georgia traversed the season before it reaches the finish line.

"Our guys, we deal with reality," Richt said. "If we win, it's a job well done. If we lose, we're all disappointed. But the thing about us is, we've got to move forward immediately. When that game's over, you can't sit there and feel sorry for yourself. You've got to dust yourself off, get the new plan and go fight, get to the next battle."

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