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Mark Richt: Post-Duke

Read on to see everything Mark Richt was saying following his team's win over Duke on Saturday.

Head Coach Mark Richt Postgame Press Conference Transcript

Duke – November 26, 2016

 

Opening Statement…

“First of all I want to say thank you to our seniors…for the entire season, really beginning in January, buying in to what we were trying to get accomplished, leading the best they could, putting up with us a little bit here and there with some new things, new ways of doing things. Without their buy-in, it would have been tough to make it through the tough time we had midseason. I’m just really thankful for them and how they kept it together. Whether or not those guys know it or not, the younger players do look up to them and they do respect them, and they usually do what they do. What they did is they led well and they persevered through the tough time. I want to thank them and then just congratulate the entire time.

“It was a great victory. I always tell the guys that it’s a victory for the entire team – even the guys who are hurt, sometimes they feel like they’re not a part of it. They’re off on the sides sometimes and don’t really get the same interaction, because of their injury. You got guys who are scout teamers that are, every single day, giving us a look that gives us a chance to get better. The better they do, the better chance we have of playing well. I want to thank those guys…just a great victory, a great way to finish. I like when we finish without a whole lot of drama at the end. We did that tonight.”

 

On the performance by junior quarterback Brad Kaaya…

“He did a great job. The play at that broke it open, obviously was the one down the middle to [David] Njoku. They were showing a blitz. He felt like it was true zero coverage, meaning no safety deep, so he checked to a play that’s really good against that. As it turned out they did have a safety deep, but Njoku kept enough width and had enough speed, and Brad just laid it out beautifully out of that really fine pocket.

“After that, it kind of snowballed on them. I know they’ve had some injuries on the perimeter and in their defensive backfield. We probably waited too long to exploit it a little bit, but in the end, just about everybody had a deep ball somewhere along the way, which was great.”

 

On his evaluations of his first regular season at Miami, which culminates at 8-4 and 5-3 in ACC…

“I really felt like we could have won the Coastal [Division] when the whole thing started. You just don’t know, for sure, what you have and how to compare it to the rest of the league and all that. No disrespect to the Coastal at all – Virginia Tech, in [head coach Justin Fuente’s] their first year, took care of business. They got it done. They whipped us, really of all the games we played, they took care of business with us and they had no drama at the end of their game against us. They did a great job. There’s no reason to believe that we can’t become one of the teams that every year is going to be fighting to get into that championship game. Hopefully we just keep getting better.”

 

On Kaaya’s hot hand in the third quarter, when he totaled 195 passing yards on five passes…

“He audibled to the first one, and I laughed when I saw him on the sidelines, ‘You got tired of all of this dink-and-dunk, high-percentage stuff? You just want to launch it?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, I wanted to launch it.’ He launched it and it was good. It got contagious with me. I said, ‘Alright, let’s launch a few more and see what happens.’ You need protection. You need guys to make plays. [Stacy] Coley made a great play, [Braxton] Berrios made a phenomenal catch. I don’t even remember everybody who made all those plays. The little naked bootleg we ran and hit [David] Njoku out in the flat. He got a great block from his fellow tight end [Christopher] Herndon. I know Stacy was blocking downfield. That’s when you get big plays, when guys will block down field for their teammates. That was nice as well.”

 

On if the deep pass was something the staff saw at halftime or was the game plan going in…

“I call them ‘shots’ – deep ball shots. Part of the deep ball shots is if you see a certain coverage, you can audible to max protection and take a shot. That’s what kind of broke it open. I really was thinking we could run the ball better than we did. Give them credit. They did some twisting and things of that nature. We threw a couple ‘nows’ out there when maybe we could have handed it off and had a softer box – meaning less defenders in the box. We got a little frustrated with that. Again, the audible changed everything. Brad’s ability to see what he saw and make the play was huge.”

 

On the team’s schedule over the next few games ahead of the bowl destination announcement…

“We’re going to recruit. Coaches will recruit. I’ll be out on the road tomorrow with everybody else and we’ll recruit until the dead period really hard. The guys will be lifting, running…things of that nature. We might have one bow practice the weekend of [December] 9th… big recruiting weekend for us. We’ll probably have one there, then I think it’s the next Wednesday when exams end. We’ll probably crank up practice again. In the meantime we’ll be doing what we have to do academically and then also, the running and lifting to stay in shape. You can get strong again this time of year. You can get healthy this time of year. You can get refreshed this time of year, and that’s going to be our goal the next couple of weeks for the players. Coaches will be recruiting like mad until the dead period comes.”

 

On how conversations with Draft-eligible players fits into the schedule…

“I’ll talk to them soon. I’m not saying the day, but I’ll talk to them soon. The first meeting is just about trying to get a feel for what they’re thinking. If they’re like, ‘Coach, I’m coming back no matter what,’ it makes it pretty simply. If they say, ‘I’m not sure,’ then  it gets to a point where…I want them to understand how I’m going to go about it – that is educate them the best we can with the best information. That’s really NFL information. They have a system to find out where a guy is going to be a possible draft pick, and then you know people in the league that can give you a really honest assessment. I just want to educate our guys to let them know how the draft works, how the slotting of the rounds goes, how the NFL – maybe not every single team in the NFL, but a lot of teams in the NFL that we know and trust - how they view you.

“Like I mentioned in another press conference there may have been as many as 80 or 90 guys, by the media or somebody, said they are a first-round draft pick. There’s only 32 slots.  A lot of guys are like, ‘Hey, I’m a first-rounder. I’m a second-rounder.’ But you may not be a first-rounder. You may not be a second-rounder.  You have to at least hear the truth, or at least the opinion of other people. I’ve just seen too many guys go and not go where they could have gone without getting their degree. 

“I’m not trying to talk anybody into staying or anybody into going. I‘ll just go back to when I had Todd Gurley, I knew he was going to be the first running back taken in the draft. That’s what everybody said. That’s what I said to him. He was even thinking he might want to stay and all that, and I said, ‘There’s no professional reason to come back. You probably will be the first pick of the draft.’ [Matt] Stafford was going to be the first pick in the draft at his position…AJ Green, guys like that. Knowshon Moreno was in the same boat. That conversation with them is a little different than guys who might be mid-second round projection to third. How does that compare to being a mid-first rounder? If everybody ahead of you gets drafted, then al; of a sudden you move up because of that vacuum and you actually even get better. In the meantime, you get you degree, there’s value in that. We’ll at least explain everything to them and let them do what they think is best for them and their family.”

 

On if he thinks about the possibility of Brad Kaaya leaving early for the NFL Draft…


“I want what’s best for all our guys. If it’s in the best interest for him to move on, then that’s what we want for him. Is that necessarily true? I don’t know. That’s what we have to investigate. There’s time between now and when they have to declare to try to get a real clear picture of what’s in his best interest.”

 

On the team playing itself into a more prestigious bowl game…

“We’re excited about where we go. I’m not sure where we will go. I’ve learned to be thankful for any bowl that you get. Every bowl I’ve ever been to, whoever is running it, is busting their tails to give us a great experience – not only us, our players and coaches – but family members and everything else. Hospitality at bowls is phenomenal and you’re always welcomed by everybody. So I’m going to be thankful, I can promise you that.”


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