Richt Talks Juniors and NFL & More

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Head Coach Mark Richt Post-Practice Availability Transcript

West Virginia – Russell Athletic Bowl – December 25, 2016

 

Opening Statement…

“That was the last practice in pads. I think they were glad when it was over. They did a nice job. Again the accommodations have been great, this hotel has been great, Celebration High School has been great. The guys have responded well to what we’ve been asking them to do practice-wise. It is kind of a repeat of what we did before we left town. We did a Tuesday practice, a Wednesday practice, we did a Thursdaypractice. We’ll do one tomorrow like it’s Thursday. Hopefully it’s engrained enough where when the heat comes, and the emotions change, die down, ramp up or whatever, that they’ll still be able to know what to do because of the habits they’ve created.”

 

On if the offense has the ability to slow it down and pound the ball…

“I think we’re versatile enough to do that, kind of choose what we want to do. I hope we will be when we play. It’ll be important to be able to run the ball well. Sometimes it’s important to go with pace and sometimes it’s important to slow it down. What we have been able to do in a lot of games is, at the end of the game, slow it down, run the ball, and most of the times, get some more points on the board. Not only eating up clock, but a lot of times we’ve gotten a touchdown run out of it. There’s times you absolutely want to slow the game down, chew up clock and hopefully still put more points on the board. I guess it was NC State in particular, I think we were up by seven, we wanted to slow the game down. We knew at worst if we punt, we’re still up by seven. We knew even if we got even a field goal on top of it, by the time we got down in red zone, it would be tough to score twice with two or three minutes to go. It’s important to be able to do both.”

 

On what the team will do at fullback next season…

“It’s hard to say. With Marquez Williams, he was a guy we just happened to know and knew he was a mid-year transfer. He was perfect. You can’t draw them up better than him, as far as what we’re looking for. But a lot of times over the years, linebackers have been that, sometimes smaller guys have been that. Sometimes even a nose guard who is a terror but he’s only 5-foot-11, he’s kicking butt in high school, maybe he’s not quite long enough to be nose guard in college - those types of guys can end up being it. We’re on the lookout. There might be somebody in our building who can be that, because obviously [Wyatt] Chickillo is a senior, he’ll be gone as well.”

On if he plans to play seniors in the game against West Virginia…

“I would love that. I would love that. It hasn’t entered my mind until you said it. I hope we’re in a position to do that, but I’m not by any means predicting that. It’s a battle royal. We have to play whoever we think is best. If it happens to be a senior, great.”

 

On playing the best players regardless of age in an effort to win the game…

“Yes. Like any other game, we’re trying like mad to win it. We have first-teamers because we think they’re first team, second-teamers because we think they’re the next best. Those are the guys that are going to play mostly in the game.  If we come out with a one-point victory, I’m thrilled to death.”

 

On if there is any more risk-taking calling an offense in bowl games than conference games…

“Not really. If I think going off the beaten path will help win the game, I’ll do it. But I don’t want to do anything unless I think it’ll help us win the game. There has been a lot of invested in this game. I’m talking about just from the time the season ended until today, there’s been 11 or 12 practices. That’s a lot of work. There has been a lot of film study. There has been a lot of lifting and running sprints after practice. We’ve been trying to pay a price to be in position to win a game. That’s really what it’s all about. That’s the purpose of this trip, to go win a football game. Secondary is to have fun while you’re at it. I’ve always believed you can do both - if you go to bed on time.”

 

On advising players about their futures as it relates to leaving early for the NFL…

“My goal is always to give them as much NFL information as possible, either through the committee that does the evaluating, or I’ve made a lot of contacts over the years in the NFL. There’s a lot of guys I’ve coached who are scouts. There’s a lot of guys that I’ve maybe coached with who are part of the scouting or G.M’s and all that kind of thing. You meet head coaches over the years, they come and try out your players. After a while you get to know a lot of those guys. You can ask them to give you a good feel for what they think of these guys. That’s the information I want them to have. I don’t want them to make a decision based on emotion, based on what somebody in the media said they were going to be selected as, an agent who says, ‘If you come with me, I can do this for you,’ or even coming from me, saying,’ ‘Here’s some of the benefits of staying.’ My goal is to educate them the best I can and allow them to think it through, play it through and do what’s in their best interest.”

 

On advising a player to return or leave based on receiving a third-round grade or fourth-round grade…

“There’s slots. There’s historical data that says if you’re slotted mid-third [round] compared to mid-second, here’s the difference. If you’re slotted mid-second to mid-first, here’s the difference. Mid-second to mid-first could be a difference of $10 million in guaranteed money – that’s significant. If you’re right around that general area, second- or third-round pick, and you have a chance to improve and move up into the first round the next season, that might be worthy of consideration.

“But there’s other things, like getting you degree before you leave, trying to a win a championship, maybe just mature more as a guy, as a man. There’s been a couple of guys over the years where I say, ‘You, in my opinion, are ready enough to make a team and play in the NFL. But I’m not sure you’re mature enough to handle the money and the fame and all that. I think you need to grow up.’ I’ll tell them that if I think that. When I spoke to [Matt] Stafford, I said, ‘Matt, there’s not one thing you can do to improve your draft status. You’re going to be the first pick in the draft, probably.’ ‘A.J. Green, most people say you’re going to be the first receiver taken in the draft.’ ‘Knowshon Moreno, Todd Gurley, everybody tells me you’re going to be the first pick in the draft at your position. If you stay it’s because you might want to win the Heisman or might want to try to win a national championship or get your degree before you leave. There’s no business decision here where you could improve your status.’ We’ll talk real frank about all that stuff.”

 

On what is unique about quarterback Brad Kaaya…

“For me, just coaching quarterbacks, he has the best peripheral vision I’ve been around and an ability to recall what happened. I can ask him what he saw and to me, it’s amazing what he’ll see and why he did what he did. There’s been times where I thought I saw this and I thought he really was going the wrong spot – that’s why I ask guys, ‘What did you see and why you did what you did?’ rather than, ‘You should have done this or should have done that.’ Because he has rules. He has reads and progressions and reasons why he goes on this side of the field or that side of the field. He’ll see some things that I didn’t notice, maybe, as it was happening. Then you’ll turn on the tape and say, ‘Okay, I see why you did that.’ He’s not always right, but he can tell you what he saw and what he sees is more than just this little tunnel vision. It’s very broad. His vision, I think, is really special.”

 

On what Kaaya has meant to the University of Miami football program…

“To this point, Brad has been nothing but the starting quarterback since the day he walked on campus. There’s a big responsibility. He has been a tremendous leader and face of this program. His picture is all over everything that you can put a guy’s picture on or image on, and it’s mainly because of how well he plays on the field but how he represents the university. He’s a good kid.”

 

On why Kaaya was not made available to media prior to the game…

“Because he really has wanted to focus on the game, and I think everybody wants to ask him about other things. He doesn’t really want to talk about it right now. That’s the main reason.”


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