During his preseason news conference, Richt joked that he'd be far happier if Georgia was ranked No. 2 than No. 1 in the first polls of the season. Starting at the top didn't suit his team well a year ago.
As it turns out, he won't have much to worry about this preseason. The Bulldogs were ranked 13th in the first USA Today/Coaches' Poll, released Friday. The news didn't come as much of a surprise to Richt.
"I figured we'd be somewhere in there," he said.
The No. 13 ranking is the same place Georgia started in 2007 when the Bulldogs wound up winning the Sugar Bowl and finishing the season at No. 2 in the poll. With a difficult schedule that includes 11 BCS-conference opponents, Richt said the opportunity for a similar performance is there this season.
"Our schedule is set for if we have success, we'll move up, no doubt," he said.
A WHIRLWIND START
The NCAA mandates players have five days in shorts and shoulder pads before they can participate in contact drills during the preseason, and freshman lineman Kwame Geathers was already behind schedule after failing to earn NCAA clearance to report to camp until Thursday.
His first day in Athens was a whirlwind, Richt said, as the team rushed him through a physical and some quick orientation to make sure that the five-day clock started immediately.
Geathers' first practice Friday included little beyond running and conditioning, something Richt said the freshman needs to do a lot of during the coming days.
"It's very evident when you see a guy come in that late compared to a guy who has been here all summer, working with our strength staff all summer, working in the heat of the day, having veterans be able to teach him the ropes on and off the field," Richt said. "He's behind because he wasn't here, and we understand that. We'll be pushing him, but we can only go so quick."
GETTING HIS FEET WET
Senior linebacker Marcus Washington spent the majority of Friday's practice working with the defensive ends. Washington, who missed all of the 2008 season, spent some time as a stand-up rusher during spring practice, and Richt said the senior will continue to work at the new position regularly.
"He was working at defensive end in pass rush, in inside drills and a little bit in 11-on-11," Richt said. "He's starting to learn how to line up. We're seeing what kind of a knack Marcus has."
Richt said the plan is to use Washington at linebacker during traditional defensive sets and move him up to the line of scrimmage when the defense shifts to a nickel package.
A STYLIST'S NIGHTMARE
It's tradition for Georgia freshmen to get their heads shaved by their veteran teammates each preseason, but linebacker Chase Vasser is hoping to avoid the embarrassment. Already sporting some flowing locks, Vasser earned the name "Cush" due to his resemblance to former USC linebacker Brian Cushing.
Hoping to avoid the haircut, Vasser said he struck up a deal with senior Darius Dewberry in which, rather than going completely bald, the freshman can't cut his hair for a full year.
"I said I'll grow it out long for a year, so as of right now, I'll be growing it out long," Vasser said. "I've never had it shaved before, and I don't know if I might have a giant mole under there or something."