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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Notes: Richt Mum on Taxi Incident

What seemed like an April Fool’s joke turned out to be no laughing matter, and Georgia coach Mark Richt is still working to get to the bottom of a story that several of his players made threats to a couple in a cab in Athens last week.

The Red & Black reported that four men physically and verbally assaulted a couple in a taxi on March 29 and the victims believed the men were Georgia football players.

That was the extent of the report as of Thursday evening, Richt said, and he was in the dark about further details.

“Right now, it’s speculation,” he said. “We don’t really know anything for sure. I’m aware of the report, and we’ll just wait and see what’s going to happen from here. I don’t want to over- or under-react at this point.”

The police report said that the four men harassed the couple and slapped the victims multiple times while making suggestive sexual remarks.

Richt said he is working to get more information, but he said he only learned of the incident moments before practice began and had not had a chance to discuss it with the team.

“I had (the story) stuck in front of my face real quick right as I was walking on the field, and I really wasn’t aware of it.,” he said. “I don’t even know enough about it to answer that question.”

(NOTE: More from Marc Wiezser on the incident.)


Georgia’s kickoff philosophy was one of the most talked-about issues of the year last season, but kicker Blair Walsh said that should change in 2010.

Under former coach Jon Fabris, Georgia routinely employed a directional kicking philosophy in which the kicker aims his kickoffs to a specific spot on the field. In the past two years, however, Walsh had trouble keeping those kickoffs in bounds and Georgia ranked 117th in the nation last season, allowing nearly 26 yards per return on kickoffs.

This spring, Fabris is gone, and new coach Warren Belin has taken the restraints off of Walsh and will let him boot a few more long ones. Walsh led the SEC with 17 touchbacks last year.

“It’s not like it was here the past two years directional-wise,” Walsh said. “It’s a lot more use of my talent I would say. I was fine doing what they wanted me to do. I’m a team player, and I can go along with it. But it’s a lot more use of my talent, and I’m happy about it. I don’t feel like there’s a restraint on me anymore. Without giving too much away, it’s different.”


Tailback Caleb King did not participate in Thursday’s practice due to a combination of an illness and a sore knee.

Richt said King hurt the knee in high school and occasionally has problems with swelling and soreness. Those symptoms returned after Tuesday’s practice, but Richt was still hopeful that King could participate Thursday. Instead, the tailback was further hindered by nausea Thursday morning and sat out the day’s workouts as a precaution.

“It wasn’t like there was some kind of incident that happened on the field that made it happen,” Richt said of the knee injury. “It just got a little irritated.”

Richt said the injury was “nothing serious” and called it a sprain. He said the team was hopeful that King would be able to participate fully in Saturday’s scrimmage.


Outside linebacker Justin Houston dripped sweat and staggered to do an interview in front of a camera following practice. Safety Jakar Hamilton said he was holding back vomit. Nick Williams doubted he’d be able to eat when he got home because he was too tired.

The reason for such post-practice anguish was a grueling bit of discipline done by the team before they left the field Thursday. A rash of penalties during practice meant the entire team had to roll 200 yards – up the field and back – before wrapping up the hottest day of practice so far this spring.

Williams said the rolling may actually have been a bit better than being forced to run, but by the looks of his teammates, they hardly caught a break. But Williams wasn’t complaining. He said he understands the need for the punishment.

“It was high energy (at practice), but we just had a lot of penalties,” he said. “That’s something we’ve got to fix. We were a penalized team last year, so that’s something we’re working on. And hopefully this year it won’t be a burden on why we may or may not win games.”


Richt said he cut practice about 25 minutes short Thursday, due in part to the high temperatures – which reached into the mid-80s – and in part to ensure a strong showing at Saturday’s scrimmage.

“I wanted them to be really fresh and excited about scrimmaging because it’s really the last scrimmage where we can do all the things we want to do schematically,” Richt said. “This Saturday is really the last big test with all the stuff we’ve installed.”

Because the team’s final scrimmage on G-Day is open to the public, Richt said the team will employ a more vanilla scheme then, making Saturday’s work crucial because it will be the final time coaches can see the team execute everything that has been installed this spring.

On the injury front, linebackers Marcus Dowtin and Chase Vasser were among a small group of players who missed practice with injuries. Receiver Marlon Brown was in a green non-contact jersey but participated in most of the team’s workouts.


BigMuddyDawg said...

I don't know what rolling 200 yards means but if it is enough to make Justin Houston have to hold back vomit, I'm pretty sure it would kill me.

David Hale said...

I think it's essentially dropping to the ground, rolling, back up and then doing it again.

And yes, I concur.

Dawgfan17 said...

Are they assuming it is football players because they were big and black or did the guy recognize them? If it was football players and what they did is true then whoever made the threat and the ones who made any physical contact should be thrown off the team. Just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I agree. If the story being reported is factual, kick every one of the losers off the team. However, I agree anyone should get the benefit of the doubt and I'm sure Richt will get to the bottom of it. I really hope its not true.

Kathleen said...

Like it's been said, why wait two days to report it?

And my biggest issue with the credibility of this report is...why in the world would they let the taxi take them home with the men in it? Who in their right mind would show their attackers exactly where they live?

Do you think they paid the taxi when the got home?


Anonymous said...

I call BS. There are sooo many holes in this story. Where is the Taxi Driver and the three drunk white guys??

Listen, if it walks like crap, talks like crap, and smells like crap, it's crap.

This story is crap. Just my gut feeling.

The Watch Dawg said...

I always am a bit skeptical when someone says they "think they were UGA football players." Basically they were big and black, so the people just assumed they were football players.

Believe it or not, there are black students at UGA that are not football players.

UGA69Dawg said...

Seems like a lot of witnesses and in one report the victim said that the cab driver knew one of the "players" and called him by his first name. This should be an easy case to solve just get a press guide and have a picture line-up. If it turns out to have been players, we don't need people that stupid on the team or in the University.

Anonymous said...

Kathleen, according to what I've read, the driver dropped off the four black guys first and the couple was the last to reach their destination. The whole thing is so bizarre, its hard to even know what to believe. I think everyone should just wait until there is more information to make any judgments.

Robert said...

Guess they had that football player build and were indeed "big and black." The thing is, the cab dropped them off at East Campus Village, where scholarship athletes live.

JRL said...

Innocent or guilty this is not good for the program.

If the story has any truth in it ugh........a huge black eye.

Assuming the best and the story is false it is still fodder for all that dislike UGA.

Without a confession from the couple stating they made it up there will always be the rumors and innuendo that someone was paid off or it was swept under the rug or whatever.

I feel sick..........

Kathleen said...

My bad, I definitely misread the dropping off sequence.

But I will say, getting dropped off at EVC doesn't mean they lived there. It could be they were visiting someone who lives there and their night just wasn't finished yet.

I'm just digging for every possible scenario that makes them NOT football players....

SIC' EM said...

Even if the punishment doesn't help with discipline, it is preparing them for the next time they get burnt.

Stop, drop and roll. Silver lining if you will.

Anonymous said...

These off campus incident shit has got to go. Our team does not need to stoop down to level of Flordia

Anonymous said...

Taxi cab incident...
The couple was picked up @ 2 am---- The couple was dropped off @ their resident @ 3 am.

That sounds more like joy riding. You can get to ATL in less time.