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Monday, July 28, 2008

More From Richt

I'm guessing all of this has been parsed over pretty well already, but here's a few remaining outtakes from Coach Richt at SEC Media Days. Again, I'll be talking to him tomorrow evening in Columbus for the Bulldog Club Meeting. If any of you will be attending, please come introduce yourself and say hi. I'm looking forward to meeting some of you.

Also of note: I'm hoping to speak with Georgia diver Chris Colwill today or tomorrow about the Olympics.

Here's the Richt stuff:

On the upcoming season:

"Excited about our football team. We've got an awful lot of returning starters that have played a lot of ball for us. We've got a lot of guys that have backed up that have played a lot of ball for us. I think a year ago we did a good job of allowing more guys to play. I think that paid big dividends as the season went on. It helped our morale. It helped our team speed. I think it helped our health.

I think we were fresher. I think we were healthier. We're going to continue to try to do that as time goes on. But we're going to report here in a couple days and get it going. With that I thought I'd answer what you want to know, not what I might want to let you know."

On Prince Miller:

"Yeah, Prince, he's a very quiet, unassuming guy. He came from a great high school in South Carolina, Burns High School. They do nothing but work there. They do nothing but work there. He knew how to work the Georgia way. He knew how to compete. He played as a freshman. He's been very steady since he's been at Georgia. He's a tremendous special team player and a field corner for us.

He's gotten stronger, he's gotten faster, he's gotten more mature. He was always a pretty tough son of a gun. I just expect him to play extremely well for us.

With the amount of spread offenses that are being added to our schedule, you know, in and out of conference, our corners are going to be their tongues are going to be hanging out because they're going to be playing a lot of three cornerback defenses. He's certainly one of those top three, that's for sure."

On the tough schedule:

"Again, you know, here's our deal. We know everybody on our schedule can beat us. I mean, we know everybody in our division can and has beaten us. We know when we play Alabama, Auburn, LSU in the West, that's rough. We know when we play Arizona State at Arizona State, playing Georgia Tech, you know, when we play Georgia Southern, who has won national championships, Central Michigan, who won their league two years in a row. I mean, everybody we play, they all know how to win.

We don't sit there and say, Well, we got this one, we got that one. Boy, that will be a tough one. We know they're all gonna be tough. Our state of mind going into the game, every game, is that it's gonna be a 60 minute war. And if you think it's gonna be anything different, and it becomes that, you're in trouble.

So, I mean, I'm thinking of what plays we're gonna call in an overtime period before the game even starts. That's kind of how I go into every game (laughter). When we win games, I feel relief. I don't feel like, Well, we should have had that one, just get puffed up about it. You know, I know every victory's a tough one.

But that's the exciting part about this league. That's the exciting part about this season in particular. It's a great, great challenge, as you said. We've got outstanding coaches. We've got outstanding players. We've got some experience. But so does everybody else.

I mean, LSU won the National Championship. Great football team. Not good team; great team. They lost twice. You know, that's just the way college football is. That's the way our league is."

On where Matt Stafford and Knowshon Moreno rank among the great RB-QB tandems he's coached:

"Well, there's been Charlie Ward-Warrick Dunn was a pretty great tandem, no doubt. These guys, I don't know if they rival that or not. When you look at the production of Charlie and Warrick together, it's pretty outstanding, pretty spectacular. Will they be as productive as those two? I don't know.

As far as being creative with those guys, Knowshon is versatile enough to do something besides just be an I back, no question. Matthew can certainly play under center. His whole high school career he was in the gun. He's got much more running ability than I think people give him credit for. We have incorporated QB run with Matthew because he's a legitimate runner. He's a guy that if you don't make a plan for him, then you could get hurt by him. We don't want to game plan it where he's going to be the runner, you know, 10 or 20 times a game necessarily. But we'll pick our spots.

They do give you some good versatility. A more mature line, that gives you more versatility. I mean, last year we had three freshmen starting for us, and you can't be quite as creative when the line can't quite hold up like you want it to down after down.

Hopefully we'll be a little bit better up front earlier in the season, and that will help us, too."

On whether he looks for a specific body type when recruiting:

"We don't. I think a lot of people do have a certain size that you have to be or speed that you have to be to play a certain position. If we were really caught up in that, we wouldn't have Rennie Curran today starting as a true freshman at linebacker. Some guys just break the mold and are highly, highly productive. What we have to gauge is can he take that high school productivity and actually be able to get it done at our level.

Sometimes there are great high school players that can't translate. So you do have to be careful. You can't have a massive amount of those guys. But every once in a while there's a guy that can do it.

I mean, for me, we've had 5'6" receivers and we've had 6'6" receivers. If the guy is 6'6" and doesn't run as fast probably, at least he can out jump somebody or out muscle somebody. There's something about him that makes us feel like he can win and he can produce in our league.

The character of the man makes a big difference, too. You know, you might have a smaller man in stature, but he's a very big man when it comes to integrity. You know, that goes a long way for us and how we decide who we're gonna bring in."

On Blake Barnes' decision to transfer:

"You know, Blake's a wonderful kid. I still text Blake. We keep up with each other. I mean, we're Christian brothers. We get along great. He was not mad when he left. He just knew Stafford was gonna play. He wanted to play. He wanted to see what it felt like to be the leader of a football team. So he found a place where he would have that opportunity. He's excited about his opportunity.

You know, every once in a while that's what a guy feels like he needs to do. You know, D.J. Shockley, on the other hand, he wanted to wait through the David Green era. Even if he had a shot to only play that one season, it was worth it to him. Joe Cox is here playing behind Stafford in the same age group. They're both juniors right now.

Some guys decide they want to stay and some guys decide they just want to go and try something. I'm all for that. Just as long as they continue their education, keep chasing their dream, I'm happy for them."

On the possibility of a plus-one system and an early signing date:

"The early signing date, I was not really in favor of it. In my opinion, if we move the early signing date up, then all of a sudden we're gonna have a lot more official visits in season when you're trying to coach your team. You want to coach your team. It's hard to have a great official visit and do a great job coaching your team.

Now, the idea came up, if a guy wants to sign early, which is somewhere around the junior college signing date, December, whatever it was, they said if a guy the only way a guy can be eligible to sign early is if you did not participate in an official visit because you already knew where you wanted to go.

So now, with that idea in mind, my fear of having too many official visits all of a sudden disappeared or dissipated anyway. I'm thinking, That might not be a bad idea. If you got 10 guys that know doggone well they want to be at Georgia, don't want to take any official visit, that's going to make our life easier maybe in season. That's when it turned me, that suggestion tagged onto an early signing date, turned my thinking to saying, That might not be a bad idea. Then you could concentrate.

Let's face it. If a pool of players have decided what to do early, then everybody else knows where to go. The players know. Let's say a guy committed at his position. He knows to go to another school. We know we didn't get this guy. We know to go after another player. I think that's not a bad thing.

But it moves that calendar up, if it forces more official visits in the summer or something like that, I'm like, Forget it. We all need our summers, coaches, our families, the players, the high school coaches. Even our academic advisors. I mean our academic advisors are on call all summer when an official visit walks in town and wants to learn about what's going on. We all need to take a little break."

On what position concerns him the most heading into the season:

"Well, still offensive line. We have one junior lineman, no senior linemen. We have one junior lineman, Vince Vance. He's a second year junior college player. He's one of the few junior college guys that can come out with three to play three because he didn't play one year in junior college because of an injury.

That's our junior, but he's only been here two years. The rest are freshmen and sophomores. Yes, three did start last year. But we literally could be starting, you know, four sophomores and a true freshman possibly.

That's still a very young unit.

At safety, we've got three guys right now that I think are really game ready. You get one of those guys hurt, now you don't have any substitutes that have had any game experience at all. That's a little bit of a concern.

You know, there's other positions that even tailback, let's face it, Knowshon, he's a heck of a tailback. I have zero game experience behind him. Caleb King is a redshirt freshman, and the other three guys are true freshmen. There's no other game experience besides Knowshon.

What looks like a tremendous strength may not be, especially if he tweaks his ankle and he's out for three weeks or something.

Even at fullback right now with some injuries, I've got one fullback with any experience at all for that first ballgame. We moved two linebackers to play fullback, at least for the first couple ballgames. We're waiting on a couple guys to get healthier off of a suspension. So those are some of the areas.

You mentioned kicker. We think Blair Walsh is the number one candidate for that position. We scholarshipped him because we thought he's a heck of a player. Brian Mimbs, our punter, has been working with him all summer. He likes what he sees. We're excited about that. Hopefully he can handle the pressure of the job."


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