Sunday, July 23, 2017

Class of 2017 Circle of Honor

Softball All-American Nicole Barber, three-time national diving champion Chris Colwill, football All-American Thomas Davis and All-America shot putter Reese Hoffa will comprise the Class of 2017 for induction into the University of Georgia's Circle of Honor.

Barber, Colwill, Davis and Hoffa will be inducted formally during the Circle of Honor Gala on Feb. 12, 2018 at the UGA Fine Arts Theater.

The Circle of Honor is designed to pay tribute to extraordinary student-athletes and coaches who by their performance and conduct have brought honor to the university and themselves, and who by their actions have contributed to the tradition of the Georgia Bulldogs. The criteria also stipulate that each recipient has earned his or her academic degree.

Nicole Barber
It seems entirely fitting that Barber is the first softball-playing Circle of Honor inductee.  A four-year letter winner from 2001-04, she became the first great player in the young program’s history.   Her outstanding play helped turn Georgia from an ascendant program to the national fixture it is today.

The Oregon City, Ore., native earned All-America honors in each of her final three seasons, starting in 2002, when she batted .420 and led the Bulldogs to a 59-17 record.  Their NCAA Tournament appearance that year became the first in a current string of 16 consecutive seasons for the program.

Barber, who also won All-SEC honors four straight years, is the all-time leader in career stolen bases (257) and consecutive error-free games played (219) in the UGA, SEC and NCAA record books.  She also ranks fourth in NCAA history — first in both UGA and the SEC — in hits with 379.  Barber remains the only player in UGA history to collect at least 100 hits in a single season, reaching that mark in 2002 and 2004.

Barber earned her degree in consumer economics from UGA in 2005.

Chris Colwill
Colwill earned four letters for Georgia (2004-06, 2008) and is the greatest, most accomplished diver in school history.  The Brandon, Fla., native should also be regarded as one of the top divers in the history of the NCAA and Southeastern Conference.

Colwill won three NCAA individual diving titles during his time with the Bulldogs and earned the maximum of 12 All-America honors.  He won the 1- and 3-meter springboard crowns in 2006 and added another 1-meter championship in 2008, becoming the first male student-athlete in UGA history to win three individual NCAA championships.  Colwill was also a five-time SEC individual champion, taking the 1-meter in 2005 and 2006, the 3-meter in 2005 and 2006, and the platform in 2006. In 2005, he became Georgia’s first double winner since 1967. He was chosen as the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2004, the SEC Diver of the Year in 2005, 2006 and 2008.

Colwill earned his degree in Speech Communication from UGA in 2008, the same year in which he made his first U.S. Olympic Team.  He earned another Olympic Team berth in 2012, when he took first place on the 3-meter board at the U.S. Olympic Trials.  His victory at the U.S. trials marked the last of his 10 national championships, a collection that began when he took first place in the platform competition at the U.S. Junior Nationals as a 10-year-old in 1994.

Thomas Davis
A native of Shellman, Ga., Davis was a three-year letterman at free safety for the Bulldogs from 2002-04.  After his sophomore season in 2003, he earned second-team All-Southeastern Conference honors. He was recognized as a first-team All-SEC selection and a first-team All-American after his junior season in 2004. In 39 career games, Davis recorded 272 tackles, 17 for a loss, 10.5 sacks, three interceptions, six forced fumbles, and four fumble recoveries.

While at Georgia, Davis was a vital member of three Georgia teams that posted at least 10 wins each and also brought home winners’ trophies from the Sugar Bowl, Capital One Bowl and Outback Bowl in succession.  After his junior season, Davis made himself available for the 2005 NFL Draft and was taken by the Carolina Panthers in the first round.  Six years later he returned to UGA and completed his undergraduate degree in Consumer Economics.

Davis has put together a remarkable career in the NFL.  In addition to his stellar defensive play (All-Pro in 2016 at age 33), he has distinguished himself in two major areas.  First, he has overcome significant injuries multiple times, thrice recovering from reconstructive knee surgery, an unprecedented feat in pro football.  Additionally, in 2016 he suffered a broken arm in the Panthers’ NFC Championship win over Arizona.  He underwent surgery the next day and kept a vow to play in the Super Bowl 13 days later.  Second, Davis has won many honors for his philanthropic work, most notably the 2014 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.

Reese Hoffa
Hoffa will become the second shot putter to join the Circle of Honor, following Brent Noon’s induction in 2009.  The Augusta native enjoyed a successful career as a collegiate thrower from 1998-2001, but he really shined in his later competitive years on the international stage.

Hoffa showed steady progress during his career at UGA.  He advanced to the 1998 and 1999 NCAA Outdoor Championships and took 11th both years.  He wrapped up his final two years by becoming a three-time First-Team All-American indoors and outdoors, topping out at third at the 2001 NCAA outdoor meet.  Hoffa also clinched the 2001 SEC outdoor title in his final season sporting the Red and Black.

Remaining in Athens after completing his degree in Health and Physical Education in 2002, Hoffa rose to the No. 1 world shot put ranking in four different years.  He finished among the world’s top three shot putters for 10 straight years, an unsurpassed feat among throwers.  He was a three-time USA Outdoor champion (2007-08, 2012), twice a world champion (2006 Indoor and 2007 Outdoor) and three times an Olympic Games competitor (2004, 2008, 2012).  Hoffa capped his Olympic experience by winning the bronze medal at the London games in 2012.​

Friday, July 14, 2017

Fan Day Schedule Announced

The University of Georgia Football Fan Day presented by United Healthcare will be held Saturday, August 5, at Sanford Stadium.  For the second year in a row, the Bulldog football team will hold an open practice at the stadium from 3:30-5:30 p.m.  Players and head coach Kirby Smart will be available for autographs immediately following the practice on the field at approximately 5:45 p.m. and admission is free.

Fans will also have an opportunity to take photos with UGA X beginning at 3 p.m.  Special ticket coupons are required for access to the location for Uga X and those tickets will be distributed to the first 150 fans at 12 p.m. from the East End ticket windows on East Campus Road.  Ticket holders who want to see Uga X must be in line by 3:30 p.m.  Only those with a ticket are guaranteed a photo and no stand by tickets will be issued. 

Fans may enter the stadium through Gates 2, 4, 6 and 9 beginning at 2:30 p.m. and can sit in the 100 and 200 levels.  The West End Zone will be closed due to construction for entry and seating.  The open practice, which is scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m. will last approximately two hours.  At the conclusion of practice, fans wishing to participate in Fan Day will enter the field through specific gates.  Fans can start lining up at 5 p.m. 

Following practice, the Georgia football team and Coach Smart will be available for autographs for 45 minutes.  The gates to the field will open once the autograph session has been set up.  In an effort to facilitate as many autographs in the time allowed, fans are limited to two posters per person and fans will only be allowed to have the 2017 Georgia football schedule poster signed. The poster will be available as fans enter the field for the autograph session.  No other items will be permitted for autographs and no posed photographs with players and Coach Smart will be permitted. 

Parking is available in any lots along East Campus Road, Psychology-Journalism, Legion Field, Tate Center parking deck, Hull Street parking deck and North Campus parking deck.

Concessions will be available in specific areas on the 100 and 200 levels.  Coca-Cola products, hot dogs and assorted snacks will be available at the concession stands.   Fans can purchase UGA merchandise at the UGA Bookstore, located in the Tate Center and open from 10:00 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., or inside Sanford Stadium’s Gate 6 Plaza and Reed Plaza.

In case of inclement weather, the Fan Day portion of the afternoon would be cancelled.  Please check for more details on the day of the event.

Fan Day Schedule – Saturday, August 5, 2017
Noon                             Ticket distribution for photos with Uga X
2:30 p.m.                      Gates Open – Gates 2, 4, 6 and 9
3 p.m.                           Uga photos in Athletic Box on North Side
                                     (Ticket holders must by in line by 3:30 p.m.) 

3:30-5:30 p.m.             Open Practice

5:45 p.m.                      Player autographs on the field (45 minutes)
     Defense – South sideline
     Offense – North sideline
     Coach Smart in East End Zone

6:30 p.m.                       Event Concludes

The Georgia Way

By John Frierson
UGAAA Staff Writer

Leigh Futch asks Georgia student-athletes a simple, three-word question again and again: "What's the dream?"

If the dream is to play running back in the NFL, Futch, the UGA Athletics Director of Student Development, wants them to fulfill that dream and also be prepared for life when their NFL career comes to an end. The work she does on a daily basis is critical to making sure the players maximize their off-the-field opportunities at the University of Georgia.

If the dream is something like becoming a financial advisor, running a dairy farm or becoming a neurosurgeon — whatever Bulldogs long to see themselves doing once their playing careers are done — she helps those dreams become a reality.

That's the mission of The Georgia Way and its career development program, believed to be the only four-year mandatory program of its kind in collegiate athletics.

"It's not just life after football," Georgia football coach Kirby Smart said, "it's what you're doing while you're here to prepare for life after football.

Futch was Georgia's Director of Compliance before being recruited by Georgia's administration to build The Georgia Way from the ground up. One of the first areas she tackled in her new position was figuring out how to better prepare student-athletes for what's next after the final whistle has blown — whether that's right after they graduate or after a 15-year pro career.

"Historically with athletic departments, career development has been one of those things that has looked good on paper, but really doesn't happen," she said. "In most cases, there has been no formal or structured programming in place designed specifically for student-athletes and their high demand lives; it has just been more piggybacking on what's being done through campus career centers."

There's most definitely a structured program in place now. All Georgia student-athletes go through it, beginning soon after they arrive on campus with personality-based assessments that tap into their interests and strengths.

"Life after athletics sometimes happens a little sooner than we would like," Futch said, "so we wanted to make sure that from the time they hit the door at Georgia, we are exposing them to resources that will help them for the rest of their lives.

"It might not seem important to you on day one," Smart said, "but by the time you get to the end of your college career and you've seen two or three of your buddies who were good players go off to the NFL and not make it, what's your plan now? You'll start caring a whole lot more about those handshakes and meetings and the different business environments we're going to put you in.

Former Georgia football All-American and current UGA Athletic Board member Jon Stinchcomb said comparing what Georgia had in place for student and career development when he was a senior 15 years ago to what's in place now, "It's like comparing a guppy to a blue whale.

The program consists of four years of small steps — "It's not drinking from a fire hose," Stinchcomb said — from picking a major and building a resume, to networking events and internships. On Monday, The Georgia Way hosted a financial literacy program for all student-athletes enrolled in summer school; later this month the program will host a dining and clothing etiquette event. At the the end of the month, the football team will travel to Atlanta for an exclusive career networking event with nearly 40 companies and agencies.

Another benefit of the program is all student-athletes are given business cards, which can seem like a novelty at first.

"Those are awesome," said senior tight end Jeb Blazevich. "I hand those out to anybody.

A risk management and insurance major, Blazevich has bought in totally to The Georgia Way and what the career development program has to offer. Blazevich has never met a stranger, so networking functions are about as fun for him as running onto the field at Sanford Stadium.

And those business cards? Not too long ago he met someone at a local restaurant that's in the insurance business.

"I was able to whip that bad boy out of my wallet and go, 'Here you go', and we were then able to email back and forth," he said. "I think that's an extremely useful thing.

Plan, prepare and pursue now, so that whether it's one or 1,000 miles down the road you're not asking yourself, "So, what now?"

Student-athletes' schedules make regular internships tough to do, even in the off-season, but one-day shadowing opportunities and short-term internships are common. In May, senior defensive back Aaron Davis and junior wide receiver Steven Van Tiflin participated in a week-long internship with the NFL Players Association in Washington, D.C.

"We were able to shadow people, but the main thing we did was just visit with all these different employees there, all these positions," said Davis, who already has earned a finance degree. "It was all definitely way more sophisticated a place than I expected. ... Once we got there we learned about all the different branches that they have: marketing branch, legal team, player development and a lot more."

Other internships happening this summer include several in the fields of finance and wealth management, and at the other end of the spectrum is offensive lineman Aulden Bynum who this month is interning with Northeast Georgia Livestock.

"The way they try to accommodate the athletes is so impressive, because it's not like one size fits all," said Stinchcomb, who played eight seasons in the NFL (winning a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints in 2010) and is now the Director of Operations for the Atlanta-area non-profit NG3. "The breadth and the scope of the resources and the opportunities is one of the most impressive things about it."

Just last week, Futch said she spoke to a swimmer interested in biostatistics, another athlete wants to own a farm and another she talked to about working in aerospace engineering.

"The Georgia Way is a broad based program, but we are very intentional about individualizing the process for our players," Futch said. "Where are you in your process right now and how can I help you get to the next stage?

"So much of what I do is, let's talk to people who are successful in this industry and then figure out where you need to start. Our players are highly competitive individuals and they want to be the best in whatever they choose to do; their careers after athletics are no different."

For more information on The Georgia Way and its career development program, visit

Monday, December 7, 2015

Kirby Smart Introduced As Head Coach

Kirby Smart was introduced as the new head football coach at the University of Georgia during a press conference held Monday at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education. He offered the following comments:

Photo By David Rogers
Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statement…
“I don’t think words can express how honored and privileged I am to stand before you as the head coach at the University of Georgia. I’d like to first thank President (Jere W.) Morehead, Greg McGarity and the athletic board. I also want to express how much I
appreciate the last nine years I spent at the University of Alabama. Coach (Nick) Saban has been a great mentor during that time and I would not be before you today were it not for him.

“I’ve thought about this day all of my life. As the son of a high school coach and the best English teacher in the world, I've always aspired to be a head coach. Thanks, mom, thanks, dad, for the example you set for me and for so many others. As most of you know, I spent five of the greatest years of my life here in Athens as a student-athlete. As I look throughout this very storied program, there are several coaches that had a great impact on my life here.

“Coach (Vince) Dooley has meant a lot to me in this community and a great man. Coach (Ray) Goff, who, God bless him, brought me here. I wasn't a very good player. Probably the reason he's not here is because I wasn't a very good player. And Coach (Jim) Donnan has been a great asset to me as I've grown as a coach.

“I'd also like to thank Coach (Mark) Richt for the opportunity he gave me as an assistant here in 2005, and also for laying a foundation of integrity at this university.

“But the most important thanks goes to my best friend, my teammate and partner for life, my wife. She is my rock, and as a coach's wife, she plays the role of both parents a great deal of time at our home. And the best part, she's a born and bred Bulldog. From the time I met her, she's been a Bulldog. We met here in Athens, Georgia, married here in Athens, Georgia, so it is in a sense a homecoming for our family.

“Her father Paul is here helping with our three wonderful children, Weston, Julia and Andrew. Without you, MB, none of this would be possible.

“Now, a little bit about my vision for the University and our football program. Our student-athletes will represent the University with class and integrity. We will demand that. The greatest satisfaction I've received as a coach is going into a 17, 18-year-old's home and, recruiting that young man, and then watching them walk out the door as a graduate five years later.

“We'll do everything in our power to help these kids be successful as true student-athletes. That student comes first. Although we know these young men will not be perfect, they'll be held to a higher standard of behavior. Our ultimate goal is to educate students, and we'll do this the right way, which is the Georgia way. Now about our football team and our brand of football. Our teams will display great mental and physical toughness. We'll play with great confidence and pride on the field. We'll work toward this with relentless energy and passion, and I will demand that everyone in the organization does that.

“In closing, I'd like to issue a call to action of sorts to the Georgia people. We need to channel our faith, trust, and energy in the same direction to support this team and this university. Thanks again. It's an honor and privilege to be here before you, and I'll now take any questions.”

On his family…
“It's a special moment for me being able to see them and see what Mary Beth has been through. The coaching profession is tough on the wives, and she's done a great job with our children, raised them in a Christian home and that makes me proud. It makes me proud to be back in Athens and be part of this great community.”

On his staff at Georgia…
“We don't put a timetable when we make those decisions. It's a very fluid situation, constantly moving and changing. I won't put any timetables on anything. Right now we're worried about getting on the road, getting recruiting, and trying to assemble staff and talking to as many people as we can.”

On coaching Alabama in the College Football Playoff…
“First off, both President Morehead and Greg were very supportive of me doing this the right way. It's very important to me that I finish things the right way over there. A lot of these young men playing for the University of Alabama I sat in their homes three, four, five years ago and convinced them to come to the University of Alabama. And I don't think it would be doing justice to turn and walk away from those kids.

“I think that President Morehead and Greg both supported me fully, continuing to finish that, I'll at the same time honor my duties here. Regulating your time will be very critical in the next probably month while we get ready for this game, and also recruiting is in an active period right now. So it will be a challenge, but a challenge I'm up to.”

On when he felt prepared and ready to be a head coach and on any challenges of stepping into that role…
“I think the growth you get from working at a place like Alabama and with a program under Nick Saban, it helps me immensely. A lot of people have said why not take a smaller school head job? I honestly feel my growth was better being in a large program, being around Coach Saban and learning how to manage a lot of the tough situations you deal with in the media. So for me, the most difficult thing for me is the timing of this and trying to move forward and grow and get the recruiting going.

“But as far as the challenges they present, it's there for every head coach in the country. It's no different for anybody hitting the ground running. Put your nose to the grindstone and deal with one issue at a time. That's what we plan to do here as a staff.”

On opportunities over the years to become a head coach…
“I don't think I need to validate the opportunities. To me, the biggest thing is I've had opportunities to go places, stayed at Alabama because I thought it was a good place. I waited on a great opportunity which is here at the University of Georgia right now. No better place in the country to be, one of the top programs in the country, top storied programs, very fertile recruiting ground, very supportive administration. So I'm so excited to be here right now and be here before you guys.”

On what his days will be like preparing for the College Football Playoff and his message to Georgia’s recruits…
“I'll be honest with them, that's the first thing. Be honest with recruits, be up front. There is change going on and change is inevitable. I think it's really important they understand that, and it's important they get to know me.

“You ask what I'm going to be doing, I'm going to be real busy. I've been real busy and I'm going to continue to be busy. But that's the relentless energy and passion. That's the reason I am where I am today. I'm going to do that recruiting, I'm going to do it coaching. I'm going to work for the playoff game with the same energy and passion. That's what I hope to achieve.”

On things he might implement at Georgia from his time at Alabama…
“The process is hard work, that's what it is. It's hard work through commitment and doing things the right way. A commitment to excellence on the field, off the field, in the classroom, and every social aspect we have for our players. The only way you achieve that is by getting a great organization, a great support staff, surrounding yourself with great people and great coaches. That's what I hope to do here at the University of Georgia.”

On his message to the Georgia team on Sunday night…
“I spoke to the team last night. I talked to them about the same things I just talked about here, having a commitment to excellence off the field, especially right now studying for finals and making sure they stay committed to the classroom. Finishing this season the right way with a chance to win 10 games, which helps in recruiting.

“I spoke to those guys about doing the right things off the field. If they can continue to do that, they can be successful. But I talk to them about change. I told them, I guess it was 20 years ago, I sat in the same place they were and had a new coach coming in. The uneasiness about having to prove yourself again and start over sometimes as an upperclassman is tough. I want to be here for them for that. We're going to challenge them and demand toughness and effort out of every person and every aspect of their life. We're going to push them harder than they've ever been pushed. But I think to be excellent, they have to do that.”

On instilling confidence in the Georgia fans that the team will move forward and be in a better place fairly quickly…
“The only thing I can do is look forward. I've tried to assemble the best staff possible to go out and get as much depth and good players as we can in recruiting. Make sure those are the right kind of student-athletes that will make right choices and decisions when they get here. Then to get back here in January and get back to the grind assembling this team and making this team the best it can be.

“I firmly believe that you can take and develop players and you can show improvement within a team, and we need to do that here.”

On how close Georgia is to competing for national championships…
“That's not a question that I like to answer, hypotheticals. To answer that would be really difficult to say to put a pinpoint on a time on that. We want to develop a really tough, physical team. We want to get great recruits in here and do it the right way. That's what's important to me. Continuing on the foundation of integrity is utmost importance for us here at the University of Georgia.”

On the single most important element he wants to instill in the program right away…
“Character, toughness, determination, a lot of those factors, relentless effort. That's what we talk about all the time. That's what we're going to sell this program on. Making sure every kid is buying into the team aspect of that. Once you get that, you can achieve every goal you want.”

On Nick Saban’s reaction to Smart getting the Georgia job…
“He was great. His reaction was he's excited for me. He and I have a great relationship. We spent 11 years together, nine consecutively there at the University of Alabama. He's been a great mentor for me, and he was very supportive. Said he'll do anything he can to help me and continue that development. He's always been supportive. He's got a lot of guys he's worked with out there in this profession.”

On whether he will be more hands on with the defense, not leaving it to assistants…
“Oh, no, I'm hands on with the whole program. I'm going to be involved with everything. I mean, for me, that's one of the biggest strengths I think I have as a coach is managing the whole thing, being involved in special teams, being involved in the offensive and defensive sides and being involved with coaches. The big thing is making sure everybody's on the same page. Demand excellence out of everybody and make sure you get that. If you don't, you've got to make a change.

“That's what being a head coach is about, and those are the hard, tough decisions you've got to make, and that's what I'm ready to do.”

On how to get people to believe that Georgia can win big games and compete for titles…
“I think you do that day-by-day. W-I-N, what is important now? You build that faith, trust and confidence in your program by what you do with your players. I think first and foremost these players at the University of Georgia have to believe in themselves. We've got to do a good job of instilling them with that as a staff.

“There are good players here, we've got to do a good job with them. We've got to improve the depth. We've got to improve the quality of the depth throughout the team. Both offensive and defensive lines, skill areas, there is no area here that doesn't need improvement and depth. But that can be done, and I think it will be done.”

On the 2005 season at Georgia and what he took from that season…
“That's a unique question because that year I was the running backs coach. It was a unique year for me because I was coaching on the opposite side of the ball. I still think that was one of the greatest learning experiences for me. To this day, I still use thoughts on defense that I learned from being with Mike Bobo and the offensive staff, Neil Callaway here at the University of Georgia that helped me become a better coach.

“So I advise every young coach, you can spin over to the other side of the ball as a graduate assistant or another position coach, you do that, because that helped me grow in 2005 to be on that side of the ball. There were a lot of great players here that year, and it was a fun group to coach at running back. We had a lot of good players in there.”

On how to handle the dynamics of getting out to the recruits he wants to see this week…
“I'm going from here to go out and start recruiting and use every minute I have of this contact period, in fact I'm ready to go right now to see some guys. I've got to go see them. I've only got so long to go see them and then it gets dead again and we go back to work on our bowl games and bowl preps. So we have a detailed list of people we're going to see and attack and see them one last time before it goes quiet again.”

On how long he will work in Athens before returning to Tuscaloosa…
“It's not set yet. It's probably until Monday, Tuesday of next week when we start bowl practice. I think Georgia starts around the same time Alabama does. So I'll head back over to Tuscaloosa to start bowl prep with them. Even while I'm over there, I've got a lot of good mentors in this business, and one guy I want to thank is Dan Quinn of the Falcons. He called and said, hey, look, if there is anyway I can help you, I went through a similar process when he was with the Seahawks and also trying to take over the Falcons. He talked about time management and managing your time the right way. Spending every free moment you have and having people help you. I've got a great organization and support structure here in place to help me time-wise to have calls set up and ways for me to manage it better and utilize that time to be fair to both places.”

On his offensive philosophy…
“I think a lot of offenses, we've tried to defend have been difficult. The media would say that the spread teams are Alabama Kryptonite, but I would argue it could go either way. I think offensively, you have to have balance. You want to be able to run the football and throw the football. It's proven overtime that if you're one dimensional, you'll eventually get stopped.

“So to have balance, you've got to have good depth on the offensive line, especially in this conference. You have to have big, grown men that need lots of depth, because it's hard to get through it without having injuries. But we want to make explosive plays on offense, which means you have to have good skill people.

“To me, you have to recruit great skill people. They're here in the state. They're here within a five-hour radius. You've got to go get them and get them in your program so you can make explosive plays. I think that was lacking in somewhat last year here on this team. The perimeter guys, you want to be able to make explosive guys.

“So to do that, you've got to be great on third down on offense. So those three target areas you have to have. Now to say are you going to be spread or are you going to be pro? I don't think you can pigeon hole yourself into that. I like to think you've got to be both in both situations. You've got to utilize the talent you have on your team. What kind of players do you have on your team? What does it set up to be successful? Do you have a lot of good tight ends? Do you have a lot of good backs how about using those guys? You get the best players the ball. I've learned that from the coaches I've worked for. They've been the most successful when the good players got the ball. So you need to go get good practice players and get them the ball. That's what we plan to do.”

On his interactions with Mike Bobo and Will Muschamp…
“Obviously Mike, I guess it was announced yesterday, texted me and called me. We're close friends, family friends, kind of grew up together. His dad's a high school coach as well as mine. Mike's been very supportive of me. Been very helpful talking to and bouncing ideas off of. It was the same way last year with him. He used me as a resource, and we used each other because we both have different networks.

“Will, I've talked to Will. We're good friends, I'm happy for Will and happy for his family.”

On the trend of five coaches in the SEC East now with defensive backgrounds…
“For me it's just how it happened. It's what kind of people you are, what kind of person you are. It just so happened that way. It could change in four years and go back the other way. Obviously there's been a large trend towards offensive coaches as well. It goes highs and lows, ebbs and flows, who is stopping who and who is doing well.

“For the most part I've always thought of the SEC as a defensive league. The highest ranked offensive statistical group might be 33rd in the country out of our conference where there are a lot of tough defenses. It's a tough, physical league. So you want to play good defense. Historically, the teams with the best defense have been near the top of the conference. So I think that's important to a trademark to have a good program in an SEC Championship is good defense.”

On whether he has been given limitations on his staff…
“Absolutely not. They've been totally supportive of any decision I want to make, and that's the way it should be. I also want to mention I see (UGA basketball coach) Mark Fox out there. I appreciate him reaching out to me today. He's been a great asset to me already. I look forward to meeting him and visiting with him.”

On retaining current members of the current UGA staff…
“I don't want to put a timetable or any speculation. That's really unfair to those coaches and their families. There will be consideration there, obviously, but I do think it's very important that I hire my staff and put my staff in place.”

On whether he feels a certain pressure to deliver a higher level of expectation right away?

“No greater pressure than I put on my self, I can promise you that. That's the way it should be. You put pressure on yourself and you demand excellence from everybody in your organization. We're going to go out there and have the intent to win in every game we play.”

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Tuesday Press Conference - Defense

Georgia head football coach Mark Richt, along with several players, addressed the media on Tuesday ahead of Saturday's game against Southern University in Athens. They offered the following comments:

Coach Mark Richt:

On senior linebacker Jake Ganus’ marriage proposal following the South Carolina game…

“Jake did ask his girlfriend to be his wife, so she is now his fiancee officially. He said it worked out really good. I didn’t get to witness it but he said it went as good as he could have hoped. A lot of his teammates were out there with him to enjoy the moment.”

On Jake Ganus’ performance so far this season…

“For a guy to come in on such short notice and play significant time and be able to get out there and make some calls, get people lined up and all that kind of thing, it is impressive. He is a seasoned football player. I guess he led the team in tackles maybe the last two years at UAB, so it was not like he was a mystery as far as a football player. He has done very well. Glad we got him”

On the process of getting Jake Ganus to come to Georgia…

“When they (UAB) dropped football, obviously everybody was eligible to play immediately. So, we got film — just like you would a high school tape — and just started looking at tape and trying to see was there anybody we thought could help us, and Jake was definitely one of them. To be quite honest, I don’t know who made the initial contact. I can’t remember how all that went, but I know his film went through the process of any other recruit, basically. Get the position coach, the coordinator to take a look and make a decision. The fact that he could play right away, and he was here all spring, so it just worked out good for us. Was I surprised? I don’t know. I don’t remember him out of high school, so I don’t know what he looked like the day he left high school. He might have been a guy who was not all that big and was skinny and developed and proved to be a great player, so I have no idea how he looked at the end of high school.”

On freshman safety Johnathan Abram’s playing time against South Carolina…

“He’s just very eager to strike people. He plays hard. He’s very coachable, teachable, but young. He still makes mistakes that freshmen make. But he’s in there with a bunch of veterans compared to the kickoff coverage team where we've got eight or nine of them that are true freshmen. When you have too many of them at a time that’s when it gets a little scary, but it was great experience for him. You learn through making mistakes sometimes. You learn by doing it right and reinforcing that. It’s just like when you start riding a bike – how many times do you fall down before you start learning? It’s just like riding a bike, you fall down before you start learning.”

On the overall play of the defense through three games…

“I think our defense is playing well. Very few big plays, plays of 20 yards on the pass or 15 yards on the run, very little of that. Our red zone defense has been close to spectacular, denying people touchdowns. We’ve done a good job of getting turnovers. I think most of the balls that could’ve been picked have been picked. There have been a few balls that have been dropped but we’ve been very opportunistic in that way. Tackling has been pretty good. Part of the reason that you tackle well is that guys are pursuing the ball and gang tackling. People have been respecting their gaps in the run game. I think they’ve done a nice job."
Senior Linebacker Jordan Jenkins

On freshman DT Trenton Thompson’s hit vs. South Carolina...

“If he keeps working and listening to the coaches the sky is the limit for him. You see how big he is now and he’s a heck of a player. I really enjoyed seeing that and I know the whole sideline did. If he keeps his head on right, the future is bright for him.”

On how film works for the defense...

“Every Monday on the first day back we sit and watch the good, the bad and the ugly as Coach Pruitt likes to call it. We watch certain parts of the game and then break off and watch it with our segment.”

On keeping focus towards Southern...

With the way last season happened with the Florida game and everything, I feel like that was a learning experience for us. With the guys we have this year, I feel like that’s not going to be a problem this year. We’re going to make sure that we take this one game at a time and treat every opponent the same.”