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Richt-Andrews to renew long rivalry

NEW ORLEANS — For 15 years, Mark Richt and Mickey Andrews found that working to make Florida State a better team meant working against the other.

Mark Richt's time in Tallahassee as an assistant coach included seven seasons as the offensive coordinator. Mickey Andrews has been the Seminoles' defensive coordinator and secondary coach for 19 years.

During Richt's time as offensive coordinator, practice after practice it was Richt scheming against Andrews in team drills. The goal was team success, but the competition between the two successful assistants was intense.  

"We never kept score, but we were competitive,'' Andrews said Sunday.

On Wednesday night, they finally can keep score.

The game within the game during the Georgia-Florida State Sugar Bowl will be the play-calling of Richt, in his second season as Georgia's head coach, and the schemes employed by Andrews to stop Richt's offense.

Said Florida State coach Bobby Bowden: "They know each other pretty dog-gone good. That will be interesting.''

Because each coach is so familiar with the other, there are expected to be attempts to break away from normal tendencies. In this case, familiarity does not breed a sense of comfort.

"It makes you stay up a little late at night studying how they're doing things,'' Andrews said.

While Richt is even-keeled, Andrews is fiery and capable of explosions on the sideline. The contrasting styles worked to help take Florida State to two national championships and its first nine Atlantic Coast Conference titles, but at times in practice it seemed the two were pulling in opposite directions.

"It wasn't fun,'' said Richt. "I did learn a lot about how to compete on a daily basis from Mickey Andrews, on a drill by drill basis.'' Added Richt: "Mickey didn't want to lose at anything and he didn't want his players to lose at anything.  "He just wanted to whip your butt. He wanted his (second-team defense) to whip your (starters) and he wanted his ones to whip your twos. He just wanted to win and that's how he coached and that's what he instilled in those players.  "His will to win and compete is something that I really admire.''

The competition between the two was especially intense in goal-line scrimmages at the end of practice. All the offensive players and coaches gather on one side of the line and face defensive players and coaches, and that leads to the most intense minutes of a practice.

"Back then it was real fierce,'' says Florida State junior cornerback Rufus Brown. "You had two coaches who really knew each other. You had your battles.''

Added junior cornerback Stanford Samuels: "We'll get to see Coach Andrews and Coach Richt go at it again. They are very competitive, just like we're really competitive. That's exciting.''

The key is how much either has dared to change about his scheme and normal philosophies in order to catch the other off-stride. While there are always adjustments made for any opponent, coaches normally are wary of straying far from strategies that have proved to be successful.

"I'm sure there has been a lot of thought on each side on do we change this or change that,'' said Georgia offensive coordinator Neil Callaway. "We're not going to change the base of what we do.''

Georgia assistant head coach and receivers coach John Eason was Florida State's receivers coach from 1981 through the 1994 season. Eason also will be renewing a rivalry with Andrews because Eason's  receivers always worked against Andrews' defensive backs.

"It will be neat,'' Eason said. "(Andrews) and I used to have some great one-on-one battles.''  Eason smiled Monday when recalling some of the goal-line scrimmage tactics.  "They expect you to run every one up the middle,'' Eason said. "When you go outside or do something different, (Andrews) would go through the roof.''

 Eason said the practice rivalry did not affect the relationship between Richt and Andrews.

 "On the field, they are competitors,'' Eason said. "They have done a good job of leaving that on the field.''

 Andrews admits he can get carried away in the heat of a practice or a game.

  "I don't like to lose,'' Andrews said. "I'm a little more demonstrative than some people. I need to keep my big mouth shut when things aren't going right.''

 Andrews' defenses were a fixture among the top 10 national rankings in yards allowed per game before falling to No. 43 last year and No. 62 this season.  Richt's offense struggled early this season but finished strong to lead the SEC in scoring.

 "When I watch (Georgia) play, (Richt) has not changed,'' Bowden said. " When I watch his offense play, there are times I can call his plays. I will know what's coming.''  

That's what could lead to some changes Wednesday night.

 Said Eason: "It will be a little bit of a chess match out there.''

 Added Richt: "I don't know what (Andrews) will do. All I know is he'll have a great plan.''

 If Georgia has the ball near the Florida State goal line, Andrews will know better than to plan on Richt calling a running play at the middle of the Seminoles' defense.  At Florida State, Richt often would call something different in those goal-line situations to irritate Andrews.

 Some tendencies never change.


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