Mark Richt was in Orlando today for the contract signing to play in the Capital One Bowl. He told reporters yesterday he may be sticking around for the presentation of the Doak Walker award tonight, but made no promises.
In any case, below is a transcript of Richt's Q&A with reporters from the contract signing.
You can find the audio file and quotes from Michigan State's Javon Ringer and Mark Dantonio at the Florida Citrus Sports Web site.
"I'm glad to be here today, 'cause that represents an opportunity for us to play in the Capital One (Bowl), which I feel is one of the finest bowl games in the country. We've been here before. We played here a few years ago [in 2004] against Purdue and had a thrilling game. (We had) an overtime victory in that game. I think the thing I remember most about this bowl is that everybody really, really enjoyed it. I'm talking about our coaches, our wives, our children, our players – I know our administration did, our fans did. It was a great time, and we're glad to be back."
On Orlando as a bowl destination
"I just remember it being one of the best bowl experiences we've ever had. You absolutely want to win the game, there's no doubt about that, but you want your players to enjoy the bowl. It's a reward for them for a job well done. We try to set our practices where we get most of our work done in the morning and the rest of the day they can enjoy all the things Orlando has to offer, all the things that people all around the world love to come here for. I think we'll have a good mix of work and pleasure."
On the Big Ten's four game winning streak in the Capital One Bowl, with the SEC's last win coming in Georgia's 2004 overtime win over Purdue
"We do want to represent the Southeastern Conference well, and we want to represent Georgia well. We, just like Michigan State, are trying to get win number ten. I think win number ten is very significant in any program, and I think both of us are going to be battling pretty hard for that...There's good teams in the Big Ten, absolutely. It seems like they've been able to line up and just physically have their way running the football and making plays offensively. Our game [in 2004] was a barnburner. We fumbled it late, and (Purdue) tied it up. Luckily, we won it in overtime, but our game was a battle, too."
On Georgia's 2008 season
"We're sitting at 9-3, of course we've got an opportunity again for ten victories, we're very excited about that. We've got some outstanding football players on this team, some great leaders....I heard Coach Dantonio (talk) about winning some close games. We won most of our close games, too. So I think this ought to be an exciting match-up."
On standout players for this year's Georgia team
"I think most people want to talk first and foremost about our running back Knowshon Moreno and our quarterback Matthew Stafford....A couple of guys have really sprung up for us. (Wide receiver) Mohamed Massaquoi has had a fantastic senior season, not only as a player but as a leader. He had over 900 yards receiving, and then he mentored a young kid named A.J. Green, a true freshman out of Summerville, S.C. A.J. actually had a couple more yards receiving than he did. I think he led the league in yards receiving. I think the coaches named him the freshman of the year in the league. So that's an exciting year for us, to have that many players offensively that have done well. I think we had three offensive linemen [Justin Anderson, Cordy Glenn, Ben Jones] that made first-team freshman All-SEC. We had a (defensive) lineman, DeAngelo Tyson, who was a freshman All-SEC performer. Our kicker (Blair Walsh) was a freshman All-SEC performer. Rennie Curran was a first-team All-SEC player, a linebacker who is just a second-year player for us. He's kind of the heart and soul of the defense. We had a lot of guys do great things."
On the benefit of the bowl experience on younger players
"This game has a lot to do with the finish of the 2008 season, there's no question about that. But it's also the beginning of 2009. The game will be played in 2009. It will set the tone, I believe, for 2009. So there's a couple dynamics going on right now, and both of them are very positive - finishing strong and also beginning strong. I don't think they conflict in any way, but I think there's probably just a little bit different motivation for a victory. The seniors want to leave on a high note, and the younger players want to have a tremendous start to the 2009 season."
On the importance of getting the tenth win
"I think it's something that more people will look at and say, 'you got double-digit victories.' I think there's something to that. A one-game difference can mean a lot in a season. You tell me what sounds better – 9-4 or 10-3? I think it's pretty obvious when you hit that number ten, it's something that's significant. Five of the last six seasons, we have won ten. The other season, 2006, we won nine. We're looking to make it six out of seven. I think it's important for our seniors leaving, they have an opportunity to get their 40th victory as a unit, I think that's significant, too."
On running back Knowshon Moreno
"Knowshon has absolutely been a big part of our success over the last couple of seasons. He ran for over 1300 yards both of those seasons. What I think is significant about Knowshon's accomplishment is that Knowshon ran behind a line last year that had three freshman starters and two senior starters. This year's line, we thought, would be more mature, but had some injury issues, and he ended up running behind three freshman starters and two sophomore starters. So he has really run behind some babes. I don't know what he could have done running behind a mature line either one of those two seasons. He has an energy level that is unparalleled. The only guy that could have matched it since I've been at Georgia was David Pollack, and David was a three-time All-American as a defensive end and a first-round draft pick. (Knowshon) has a spirit about him that just kind of lifts up the rest of his teammates every day in practice and in the game, and lights up the fans. It just gets everyone excited, the way he plays and goes about his business."
On stopping Michigan State's Javon Ringer
"As far as trying to – I don't want to say stop Javon Ringer because I don't think you can. You hope to slow him down some. That's going to be a tall order. Not many people have done that. It's obvious what he's done in his career. We've just have to play good, solid, fundamental football. I don't think it's going to be real tricky. I don't think it's going to be real fancy what's going on, it's people trying to knock us off the ball and us trying to stand our ground and get off blocks and make tackles. We hope to get in position where we're there to make the play, and when we get there, we've still got to make it. That's what makes a good back a great back. You can scheme it just right, have a guy in perfect position, but the human equation comes into play, and if their guy is better than our guy down after down after down, we're going to have a hard time getting him on the ground."
On whether he'll be rooting for Florida in the National Championship Game
"We're always rooting for the SEC. Unless we're playing them."
On the match-up between Florida and Oklahoma
"It looks like a lot of points. Everyone would say that right off the bat. But you just never know in a game like that. Momentum's a funny thing. (If) people play real solid, don't turn the ball over, special teams play well, there may not be as many points as people think. (If) people start turning the ball over and having some shotty special teams play, who knows how many points could be scored? It might be a new world's record."