UNC Post-Game: Mark Richt

Read on to see everything head coach Mark Richt was saying following his team's loss to North Carolina on Saturday.

Opening Statement...

 

“Another heartbreaking loss for us here at home. I learned over the years not to say too much at a time like this. I know there’s a lot of tremendous things that did happen in the game. That goal line stand was phenomenal. I think it started with 1st & Goal at the 1 [-yard line], and they don’t get it in, which is tremendous. We got it out of there and flipped the field a little bit offensively, the defense got another stop, we get another score to get it within a score, which was great at that point of the game. That was just a tremendous job of getting that stop. Not many people talk too much about the punting, but I thought [Justin] Vogel was tremendous...one of the best punt returners in America, and just neutralized him through sheer hang time. Bombs and hang time. Very, very impressive job by him and that unit. We had another kick blocked – really the same spot. Again, too much penetration. We got to get better. I thought we had it solved, but we didn’t. That was a little disheartening there. If you could be in the locker room with the team and just see how much they do care about this team and this University, and want so badly to come out of here with a victory tonight, I think everybody would have really at least respected that. I’m proud of the team and their effort. We just have to get better. We just have to get better.”

 

On if he sensed any letdown after last week’s loss to Florida State...

 

“No.”

 

On what he saw on the final offensive play, where quarterback Brad Kaaya was sacked and fumbled...

 

“He’s trying to get up in the pocket, and the guy came around the edge and swiped the ball out. Quarterbacks, as they’re trying to throw the ball...even the play before, I don’t even know how he got the ball out and completed it. I don’t know if they had a twist or not, but it looked like they had some internal pressure. He got the ball out and got the first down. That play was kind of a first-read type of progression. We didn’t have to hold the ball really all that long. We just couldn’t keep that guy from coming around the edge and tomahawking the ball from behind. The quarterback, as he stepping up in the pocket and getting ready to throw the ball, it’s very difficult to always have two hands on the ball...I don’t really remember if he was close to getting the ball thrown or not. It’s tough to be focusing down field on your job when you get hit from behind. It’s tough to hang on to that thing, especially as wet as it was.”

 

On third downs...

 

“They did a nice job. They did a nice job of getting the third-down conversions. We ended up having to resort to going for it on fourth down three times. We got two out of three. You just don’t want to play football that way if you can help it. I can sit there and say a few things I know that happened, there’s a few that I’m not 100 percent certain that happened. But the bottom line is that we just have to execute better and I have to put them in a better position to make the plays.”

 

On moving forward with two losses in ACC play...

 

“It just means we get to play a game here in about five days. Like I told the team, football doesn’t really care how we feel. The football schedule we have doesn’t really care what just happened the last two weeks. Life goes on. We have to get back to work and we’ll have to get to work pretty quick. As a matter of fact, before we go to bed, I’m sure every coach will be working on getting started on the game plan and things of that nature.

“It’s like I told them, everybody - if you look at the scores across the league - everybody is battling every day. You don’t know for sure what can happen. You want to put yourself in position just in case something breaks your way, because it can come around. You just have to keep fighting. It may not seem like it by our record, but I do think we’re making progress. It just hasn’t turned out to be in the form of a victory either one of these last two weeks. But we’ll keep staying the course and keep believing, and we’ll keep doing the right things to continue to get better.”

 

On injuries suffered during the game...

 

“There were mostly guys that were taking shots to certain body parts. There was a couple I think a little bit of ankles, a couple ankle deals. One was a cramp. One was, sometimes guys are out there striking and it takes a while for that thing to feel good enough to get up and get off the field. Most everybody came back in and finished. I haven’t gotten a report from Vinny [Scavo, athletic trainer] yet, but we’ll let everyone know when it’s appropriate time.”

 

On what the offense needs to do to match up to the play of the defense...

 

“Execution. Catching the ball when it’s in your hands. Hitting a target when it’s open. Protecting your quarterback when you need to. Finding the right running lanes when the blocking is there. The better you block, obviously run and pass, the better things go, the smoother things go. We have to get better up front too.”

 

On the struggles of the defense in the first half....

 

“They do a good job of getting guys in space, and they have a lot of plays that are run pass option stuff. They’re one of the better teams in the country that I’ve seen at just sticking the ball in the belly of a back and trying to decide if you pull it out and throw it down field, according to how defense reacts. At times it does create a conflict for a guy, and he bites the cheese, and they throw it down field or throw it out in the flat and have a little bit of grass. The more space a guy has, the better chance he has of making somebody miss. They got some guys out in space today.

“I thought we rallied pretty good and got guys on the ground, for the most part, pretty darn good. Every time you get a guy down on the ground, you get a chance to play one more time. It’s just like we get that stop. I doubt think anybody dreamed we were going to get a stop there, once they got inside the 5[-yard line]. I think it was 1st & Goal from the 1. Who really sat there and said these guys are going to get a stop right here? That’s hard to do. You have to care, you have to be tough, physically and mentally. And I was really proud of that.”

 

On if the gameplan was to involve the tight ends more...

 

“We’ve been getting them going. They’ve been catching the ball. Everybody is catching the ball. We’ve got backs catching balls, tight ends, wide receivers...like I’ve said many, many times, rarely do I have a play where it goes to “him” no matter what. The tight end might be first progression, like the first fourth down that [David] Njoku caught. He was first progression. If they had covered him, he would have gone to his second progression, which was [Stacy] Coley. Sometimes the tight ends are the first progression on a particular play, and sometimes they’re not. It just so happened the ball got to them. When we run those naked bootlegs, we’ll fake the run and come out of there and usually the tight end is first option. Those were a couple drives there where we hit the tight end and got them going pretty good. I’m not sitting there saying, ‘I have to get it to this guy so many times.’ We just have a system where, for the most part, there’s progression reads and whoever comes open first gets the ball to thrown to him.”

 

On fixing mistakes but also game-planning for Virginia Tech on a short week...

 

“What we’re going to do is have a meeting at 2 o’clock tomorrow with the team. We’ll spend about an hour with them and just kind of go through whatever we feel like we need to go through. Normally we’ll watch every single snap with the team. What we’ll do this time is we’ll pull the ones that are the most meaningful, as far as very, very good or something we have to correct. It’ll probably be a shortened version of what we would normally do. We need the time to get prepared for a Tuesday practice on Monday. And those guys need rest. We were thinking of having a full practice tomorrow, but we have to let these guys rest. I think if we go with a Tuesday [practice], a Wednesday and a Thursday – of course that Thursday-type practice will be on Wednesday - jump on the plane, go to Blacksburg and play. It’s a night game, that’ll help. But they have the same issue.”

 

On what he saw from quarterback Brad Kaaya...

 

“At times, really gutty performance. The one drive where he spun out a couple of times and scrambled and made those two plays, that kind of sparked us and I was proud of that. I know that he’s smart. He’s tough. He cares. He’s an outstanding leader and he’s hurting as bad as anybody because we didn’t win. Whether he did good, did bad...obviously if you think you played poorly there might be a little different emotion. But he’s been playing pretty good. Not perfect, just like everybody else, but I’m glad he’s our guy.”


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