"I Was Proud Of The Step We Took"

"I'm really proud of our kids, really proud of our players. They never stopped believing in themselves, they never stopped believing in each other. And we finally went out and made some of those plays that we haven't been making. We made those plays today."

"And it just shows the faith those kids have in the program and in each other as a team and in themselves that they can make that happen. That was a big win for us, a big win for our kids, I couldn't be prouder of a group of young men and what they did."

"A great atmosphere, the fan base obviously had a lot to do with that. We need to win at home. If we're going to become a championship football team we need to win at home and this needs to be a tough environment for teams to come play. And our student body and fans did a great job providing that atmosphere tonight."

Q: You were moving the ball well, what was the thought process of going for it on 4th-and-1? "Well, Les Koenning called a great game tonight. I called one play, the interception on the trick play there. John Clark, who is in charge of me, I looked at him and said don't let me make any more stupid play calls. Tell me to keep my mouth shut and let Les call it. And Les did a great job, called a great game."

"And on 4th-and-1 it was pretty close to getting the first down. We were right there. If I'm preaching to our kids that we're going to go make the play to win the game, I can't shy away from making a call to go win the game. So it wasn't hesitation, we went for it right away, and our kids did a great job coming off the ball and getting that. It was a great play."

Q: On Chris Relf's touchdown throw, was that a called pass all the way or a read? "No, we called pass. I thought we did a great job challenging our kids, we have a great opportunity to go win it. We're back to the wall, down on our own end and need to put together a drive to go win this football game. We got some good field position, we were running it, you could just see them starting to get to the point they put everybody on the line of scrimmage."

"We called pass, Chris did a great job, made a nice throw. And Arceto Clark made a nice catch. It was a similar throw that we made on the first interception last week, not the same play but similar style throw. To see them not shy away, to have the confidence, that the same two guys went up but this time they made the play. And you see the different result."

Q: It almost seemed going on 4th-and-1 with the lead that you were forcing the issue? "Well, we need to believe in ourselves. We needed to believe in ourselves. When that game is on the line we want everybody to be the guy. I saw that on the sideline today. It wasn't just one guy that made a play, there were a lot of guys that were cheering each other on, in each other's face. There was a lot of good leadership at the end. K.J. Wright called the defense together a couple of times and I thought had some good leadership on that side of the ball, to get some stops there in the second half. I was just proud of the step we took. Now, it's a long path to where we want to go. But this is definitely a step in the right direction."

Q: Talk about Chris Relf playing the whole game and the play he made on third down? "Yeah, Chris did a nice job. We played to his strength, run the football a little to get him some confidence. But 8-for-13 throwing the football is a pretty good day. The one turnover we had, the interception was just a bad, bad call on my part. So that one's on me. We preach we need to protect the football if we're going to win games, we did that today. So I was pretty pleased with Chris' performance and his toughness on the field. And he did a good job managing the game, that's what quarterbacks have to do."

Q: You mentioned Wright, how important was what he did? "I think our defense, we kept telling them we've got to make the plays. One thing we wanted to stop was sometimes you get a confusing look, like ‘we gave up a play' and everyone will look confused, ‘what happened?' I said why don't y'all just step up? The guy who made the mistake say it's my fault, I'm going to make the next play. So keep going, you guys don't worry, we're going to make the next play as a team. I saw K.J. showing that leadership to the team."

"Even if we gave up some third downs there, they were 7-of-15 on third downs, a pretty good day. But even after we give up a third down, not getting a stop, our guys rebound right away and make the stop. And that was critical for us."

Q: You start with a great kickoff by Derek DePasquale, make a stop, score on the first drive; how does that set a tone? "Well, it was critical. And we did talk about that. Someone mentioned to me that seven of the last eight games we've scored on the opening drive of the second half. We needed to do that the first half, we needed to come out fast, get a fast start. And we were able to do that. I think it really gave our guys the confidence to make the plays throughout the game that we made them right from the beginning, from play one."

Q: Can you talk about the confidence coming off this win? "That's what we keep telling them. And the difference you saw is that when we didn't make a play it wasn't, like I said, a confused look, and guys wondering ‘oh no what's going to happen?' It was we're going to make the next one and give you the ball back again."

"A Vick Ballard had that drop, and (we said) we're going to give you the ball, you'd better get ready. He made some big runs. So our guys rebounded. That is what you have to do. We're still a very young team at the skill positions and that confidence from making those plays; and knowing if they don't we're still going to come back to you, that helps boost their confidence."

Q: What made you decided to stay with Relf the whole game? "We didn't play Tyler Russell. At times I was about to put Tyler in. Chris was loose with the ball, fumbled a couple of times; you can't run loose with the football. Fortunately, one of the ones that was big, was he threw that interception and they were off-sides; we were able to drive the field and pin them deep. On that play he threw the interception I had a chance to talk to him between plays and settle him down a little bit. I think that really helped."

"But we're still going to look to play Tyler and still develop Tyler, and there are situations for Tyler to grow in. But we were running the ball well, Chris was doing some good things, our plan was working moving the football. So we didn't want to break the rhythm we had."

Q: As well as the defense played the first half, how much did it help having a Georgia touchdown called back and another turnover at the goal line? "Well, those were big plays. The one that was called back was a penalty, holding; they wouldn't have scored if they hadn't held the kid. But when that happens there is going to be some momentum, it's a big play and they had some confidence. But you know what? There's a penalty and we get another chance to make a play. There wasn't an ‘oh we just gave up a big play'. They knew, I mean we would have made the play if it wasn't a penalty on it. So they knew they were ready to go make the next one."

Q: Sean Brauchle made his field goal and you had better kickoffs? "Yeah, it wasn't bad. Certainly the gusts of wind at our back wasn't hurting. And Sean did a good job, he kicked off the last two kickoffs; he came up to me and said I'll put them out of the end zone. So I said you've got it, go with it! That's what we're looking for, somebody to step up and get the job done. So we used both of them, I thought they both kicked the ball well, hopefully that gets them out of whatever funk they've been in.

"You know, they're kickers, kickers get in these weird funks. Maybe we need to full-pad the kickers and isolate a circle drill with them for about an hour tomorrow and say hit each other! They started kicking well so hopefully that carries through to the rest of the season."

Q: Was there much discussion at all on the 4th-and-1? "It wasn't much discussion on my part. It may have caught Les Koenning off-guard! I said call it, we're going! But there wasn't discussion on the play. He called it. I learned my lesson, keep my mouth shut, from earlier in the game. So called the play, I sat there and kept my mouth shut, I said if I'm going to make suggestions I'll do it between series of what looked good. There wasn't any hesitation."

"I think our kids wanted to go for it. Our kids wanted to show that they could make the play, at a big moment in the game."

Q: The extracurricular at the end of the game with your staff and their staff, what was that? "I was celebrating with our students. I don't know about that. But that is their team, they can worry about their team. We were celebrating with our students a huge win. Mark Richt can deal with whatever issues he has with his team."

Gene's Page Top Stories