No Coaching Changes at Georgia

ATHENS – Following a disastrous defensive performance in a 45-42 loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday, many fans are calling for head coach Mark Richt to make significant changes in the offseason.

Richt said Sunday that changes would be made, but they wouldn't include a shakeup of the coaching staff.

"I really don't (expect coaching changes)," Richt said. "We're going to get better, and we're going to do a better job next year, I can promise you that."

Georgia's defense allowed 409 rushing yards to Tech, the most by a Bulldogs' opponent since 1994. It was the fifth straight team to rush for more than 120 yards against Georgia, and the pressure on defensive coordinator Willie Martinez has increased with each poor performance.

While fans have called for Martinez's job, Richt has taken a more pragmatic approach. He said Sunday that a number of injuries depleted the defensive ends early, which subsequently affected Georgia's pass rush throughout the season.

The high number of early season injuries also resulted in fewer full-contact drills throughout the season, Richt said.

"I'm not sure we tackled enough," Richt said. "We had so many injuries early on in fall camp … and we were a little bit more cautious than we had been in the past on tackle-to-the-ground drills. In hindsight we probably missed that."

Beyond the defensive shortcomings, Richt said changes could be in store for the kicking game, too, and they could come in Georgia's bowl game.

Richt said he would consider relieving freshman Blair Walsh of his kickoff duties after Walsh struggled again on directional kicks against Georgia Tech, booting two out of bounds. Jamie Lindley would likely be next in line to get the job.

"I think that's possible," Richt said. "I'm not going to say that will happen, but there's a chance of it happening. We've got to get the kick where guys can go cover it and know where it's going to be, and we just haven't been consistent in that area."

Georgia's coaches will be on the road this week recruiting, and the team will practice Thursday and Saturday. Richt said the Capital One Bowl selection committee had not told him whether Georgia would be its choice as its SEC representative in the New Year's Day bowl game, but he stressed to his team that its final game – wherever it might be – would be an important one.

"We're going to get an opportunity to play on national television one more time, let the country see us play," Richt said. "We want to make a good showing, have a strong finish and help our seniors have their last ballgame be a victory."

Once that game is finished, however, the work begins for Richt.

He said he will take a critical look at the entire team's work and implement whatever changes he deems necessary. Those just aren't likely to involve any firings.

"We're just going to start at the top and go to the bottom on just everything that we do and really critique it," Richt said. "We just have to be real open and honest in our evaluation of ourselves and do what it takes to get better."


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