Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dawgs Win!

FOOTBALL

Aron White tied a bowl record with two touchdown receptions to lead the Dawgs past Texas A&M, 44-20, in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl on Monday at Independence Stadium in front of a crowd of 49,653.

After the Aggies tied the game at 14-14 early in the third quarter, the Dawgs scored 30 unanswered points en route to posting its national-leading 13th-straight eight-win season at 8-5. The 44 points were a bowl record for the Dawgs eclipsing the previous high of 41 in the win over Hawaii in the 2008 Sugar Bowl, and the Dawg's six touchdowns matched the 1942 Orange Bowl champions who defeated Texas Christian, 40-26. The Dawgs improve to 2-0 in the Independence Bowl and move their all-time bowl record to 26-16-3 with their fourth-straight post-season victory. Texas A&M finishes its 2009 season at 6-7.

"I'm very, very proud of our team," said head coach Mark Richt, who improved to 7-2 in bowl games. "I'm very proud of our seniors. I'm very thankful for the job that they did. I'm so glad that we were able to send our seniors off with some true style. Also, I think we probably need to start out by saying what a fantastic job our defensive coaches did. Coach (Rodney) Garner leading the way with our young graduate assistant coaches Mitch Doolittle and Todd Hartley. Really, everybody on that side of the ball kind of moved up to the next level of coaching responsibility."

White was tabbed the Offensive Player of the Game as his two touchdown receptions, from 24 and two yards, matched a Dawg bowl record which had happened on three previous occasions, most recently by Fred Gibson in the 2004 Capital One Bowl. It also tied the Independence Bowl record for receiving touchdowns in game, which had also occurred three prior times.

Senior defensive tackle Geno Atkins was tabbed the Defensive Player of the Game. Atkins blocked a field goal with game scoreless in the second quarter, had three tackles including a six-yard sack and added a quarterback pressure.

Also a factor in the victory for the Dawgs was sophomore Brandon Boykin. While finishing the game third among the Dawgs with six tackles, Boykin's major impact came in the kick return game. In the second quarter after Texas A&M went up 7-0, Boykin provided an answer with an 81-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. It marked Boykin's third kickoff return for a score this season (two previous from 100 yards) which set a school-record and tied a Southeastern Conference record (Willie Gault, Tennessee, 1980).

For the second-straight game the Dawgs won the turnover battle with two interceptions versus Texas A&M's one interception. Senior quarterback Joe Cox, who completed 15-of-28 passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns, had one pass picked off in the second quarter that did not lead to any points by the Aggies. The two picks of Aggie quarterback Jerrod Johnson came on back-to-back Texas A&M drives in the third quarter. The first was by redshirt freshman Sanders Commings on a fourth-and-one play from the UGA 23-yard line and it led to a Dawg punt. The second pick was by junior Reshad Jones with under a minute left in the quarter. Jones returned the interception 59 yards to set up a six-play, 28 yard drive that was capped by White's second touchdown and put UGA up 31-14.

Earlier in the third quarter, sophomore placekicker Blair Walsh snapped the 14-14 tie with a 49-yard field goal, the third-longest in Independence Bowl history. Then on Texas A&M's ensuing drive, a bad snap on a punt attempt gave the Dawgs the ball at the Texas A&M 24-yard line, and three plays and 27 seconds later, Cox connected with White for the first time.

The Dawgs carried a 14-7 lead into the half behind strong special teams play with the kickoff return for a touchdown, Atkins' blocked field goal and a blocked punt from redshirt freshman Bacarri Rambo. Atkins block of Randy Bullock's 50-yard field goal attempt was the second blocked field goal of the season for the Bulldogs with sophomore A.J. Green blocking one against Arizona State.

Texas A&M did score the first points of the game on a 15-yard pass from Johnson to Jamie McCoy later in the quarter before Boykin answered on the kickoff return. Rambo then provided the blocked punt of the Aggies' Ryan Epperson, which was the second blocked punt of the year for UGA (Zach Renner at Tennessee), and it was recovered by junior Vance Cuff at the two-yard line. The Dawgs would just need one play, a run from redshirt sophomore Caleb King to put up another seven points for the halftime edge.

"Our special teams really came up big," Richt said. "On kickoff return, Boykin broke a school record with his third kickoff return for a touchdown, and the blocked kicks were huge. Those plays in the first half really got us going and got us charged up. In the second half the offense kicked into gear and kind of finished it off for us. I'm very thankful to get this eighth victory and finish this season in good fashion."

King finished the game with 16 carries for 60 yards and two scores including a fourth-quarter touchdown that pushed the lead to 38-14. King's rushing effort was supported by freshman Washaun Ealey, who gained 78 yards on 13 carries, and junior fullback Shaun Chapas, who added 43 yards and five-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown on five carries.

Supporting White on the receiving front, sophomore flanker A.J. Green led the team with six receptions for 57 yards while senior split end Michael Moore and freshman tight end Orson Charles recorded two receptions each.

Aiding the Dawg's defensive effort, sophomore Marcus Dowtin recorded a team-best nine tackles and junior Rennie Curran posted eight stops. Jones and senior Prince Miller finished with five tackles each.

Texas A&M added the final points of the game in the final two minutes on a five-yard pass from Johnson to Howard Morrow

Friday, December 25, 2009

Dawgs Arrive In Shreveport

FOOTBALL

All the Dawgs arrived safely in Shreveport Thursday as the team reconvened for their upcoming Advocare V100 Independence Bowl game against Texas A&M.

Coach Mark Richt said he was pleased that everyone made it, and he was looking forward to spending the holidays with his family and the team here.

“We’re all here, actually everybody checked in about 30 minutes ahead of schedule so that’s good,” said Richt. “We’ll be focused when it’s time to practice and we’re looking forward to visiting Barksdale Air Force Base and thanking the men and women for their service to our country.”

The Dawgs and Aggies were treated to a welcome party at the military base. Brigadier General Rich Clark, who played in the Independence Bowl 25 years ago for the Air Force Academy and now is stationed at Barksdale, spoke briefly to the Dawgs. Several pilots showed the teams the various airplanes at the base. Then, the teams visited the players’ gift suite where they could choose their bowl gifts. Finally, the afternoon concluded with dinner and ice cream before returning to the hotel for meetings.

Quarterback Joe Cox selected a digital photo frame and an iPOD clock radio for his bowl gifts.

Senior cornerback Prince Miller chose a Sony surround system, and said he is looking forward to playing in the bowl game.

“We’re excited to be here and ready to represent for the SEC,” said Miller.

The Dawgs will return to practice on Friday. Christmas will begin with a morning visit to patients at the LSU Health Science Center followed by an afternoon practice at Independence Stadium.

There will be a team dinner at the team hotel.

The Dawgs will practice Saturday and hold a walk-through session Sunday before Monday's game with Texas A&M.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dawgs Ready To Hit The Road

FOOTBALL

The Dawgs wrapped up preparations in Athens for their upcoming bowl game in Louisiana by conducting a 75-minute workout today.

Coach Richt said that the Dawgs have had productive workouts here and now will have a travel day Wednesday before the team reconvenes Thursday by 3:30 p.m. ET in Shreveport, site of the Advocare V100 Independence Bowl.

“It was a pretty good last day, everybody did a nice job and we finished up with some conditioning that was cut in half thanks to Brandon Boykin,” said Richt.

It has become customary during the final bowl practice for Richt to ask if any member of the team is willing to sing a holiday tune to cut down on the number of sprints the team has to run at the end of practice. Former offensive lineman Chester Adams was known for his ability to carry a tune and was always the first to step up for the squad.

“Brandon Boykin jumped up and sang something about a mistletoe, and I know everybody appreciated that,” said Richt. “He saved his teammates over 500 yards of running.”

Richt also announced that everybody on the team is eligible for the bowl game and that 43 players posted a grade point average of at least a 3.0.

“We don’t have any issues, it was a very successful semester academically, and that’s a great job by our players and academic support staff,” said Richt.

The Dawgs (7-5) are slated to arrive on their own Thursday and then depart for a team activity at Barksdale Air Force Base. They will return to practice on Friday.

Christmas will begin with a morning visit to patients at a local hospital followed by an afternoon practice at Independence Stadium and then dinner at the team hotel.

The Dawgs will practice Saturday and hold a walk-through session Sunday before Monday’s game with Texas A&M.

BASKETBALL

Jasmine James has been tabbed SEC Freshman of the Week for women's basketball, the third time in six weeks that the Memphis native has been honored as such this season.

On Sunday, James recorded team highs of 17 points, 10 rebounds and three steals to lead THE No. 11 Dawgs to a decisive 69-53 victory over No. 19 Virginia in the Lady Dawgs only game last week. She notched career-high tallies in rebounds, steals and minutes played (37) and posted her first career double-double.

James scored 11 points in the first half and her three-pointer with 8:29 left in the opening period gave the Dawgs the lead for good and sparked a 13-1 surge that turned a two-point deficit into a 10-point lead.

James, a 5-9, guard, also was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Nov. 16 and Nov. 30. She was honored initially after scoring a team-high 15 points in an upset of No. 13 Oklahoma in the season opener and was selected again after averaging 19.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists in a trio of victories over Alabama State, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Southern Miss.

The Lady Dawgs improved to 10-0 with the victory over Virginia, the third ranked opponent the Dawgs have defeated this season. The Lady Dawgs complete their pre-Christmas slate tonight when they host Detroit at Stegeman Coliseum at 7:00 p.m.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dawgs Complete Final Two-A-Day Bowl Practice

FOOTBALL

The Dawgs completed an hour and 15-minute practice this afternoon to wrap up the team’s final two-a-day of the season.

The Dawgs started the day with a 45-minute special teams practice this morning in frigid conditions as the team continues to prepare for its matchup versus Texas A&M in the Advocare 100 Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., on Dec. 28. The team will practice once more on Tuesday before leaving for the bowl site.

Coach Mark Richt was pleased with his team’s effort following the afternoon practice considering this was the sixth straight day of practices. “It wasn’t quite as intense as (Sunday’s) practice, but still a good one,” Richt said. “There wasn’t quite the juice out there as there has been but we’ve been going every day for a while now so that’s expected. We’ll have one final practice tomorrow morning and after 10:30 or so in the morning, the guys will start getting out of town and heading towards Shreveport. We are looking forward to getting out there and getting to work.”

Following the morning session, Richt highlighted the play of redshirt sophomore defensive end Justin Houston. Houston returned from a two-game suspension at the beginning of the season to lead the Bulldogs with 7.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss. He is No. 2 in the Southeastern Conference averaging 0.83 sacks a game.

“His production per game has been outstanding,” said Richt. “If he had been with us the whole season, who knows what he could have done. I think he would have been up for postseason honors if he had played the whole year. I really believe the (defensive end) position is getting ready to take off with Justin, Demarcus (Dobbs) and Cornelius Washington.”

Junior Von Miller has led the Texas A&M defense through its 12 games. Lining up at the “Jack” position for the Aggies, Miller leads the nation with 17 sacks (1.42 per game) and has 21 tackles for loss.

“Von Miller really hasn’t been bull-rushing to get his sacks,” Richt said. “His performance is predicated on speed and a relentless attitude. A majority of his sacks come from third-and-long situations. When it’s a high-percentage shot at passing, he can get off on you quickly.”

Richt also mentioned that junior safety Quintin Banks sprained his neck during Sunday’s practice and was admitted and then discharged from a local hospital later that night. Banks is questionable for the bowl game.

BASKETBALL

Trey Thompkins, whose outstanding play led the Dawgs to a rousing victory over Big Ten foe Illinois, has been named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Week.

Thompkins, a 6-10 sophomore from Lithonia, scored a team-high 21 points and added seven rebounds as the Dawgs edged the Fighting Illini 70-67 at the Gwinnett Arena in Duluth. Most important, he sank four decisive free throws in the game's final 22 seconds to secure the victory. Thompkins did not start the Illinois game and played just 29 minutes. He had missed two practices during the week of final exams after having wisdom teeth extracted.

For the season, Thompkins leads the Dawgs in scoring at 15.0 points per game, rebounding (7.2/game), blocks (16), field goal attempts (113) and field goals made (49). Continuing the theme from the Illinois game, he has made 11 of 12 foul shots in the final five minutes of games this season.

Thompkins is also the leading career scorer among all current Dawgs with 489 points.

Thompkins becomes the first Dawg to win the SEC Player-of-the-Week award since Sundiata Gaines took home the honor during the week of Feb. 18, 2008.

The 5-4 Dawgs complete play in the 2009 calendar year with a pair of home games over the next nine days: Dec. 23 against Florida Atlantic and Dec. 30 against Pepperdine.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday Practice Notes

FOOTBALL

The Dawgs continued preparations for their upcoming bowl game with Texas A&M by conducting a 90-minute evening workout today.

Coach Mark Richt said that the Dawgs practiced with a lot of energy and enthusiasm.

“We had a fantastic practice, the scout team did a great job,” said Richt. “They played with a good tempo, forced us to get lined up, to move quickly and make calls. It was a great effort and attitude. There was a lot of hustle out there, it was the kind of practice you hope for.”

The Dawgs will contend with an Aggie offensive attack that averaged 33.9 points a game and 465.3 yards per game this season.

“They want as many plays as possible, they are fast, and they figure the more plays, the more yards and the more points, that’s what they want to do,” Richt added.

The Dawgs aim to establish a running game to help control the pace of the game, something they were able to do in their last contest, a 30-24 road win over seventh-ranked Georgia Tech. The Dawgs rushed for a season-high 339 yards against the Yellow Jackets.

Meanwhile, the Aggies played a fine game in their regular season finale, pushing third-ranked Texas to the limit, before falling short 49-39.

“It’s late in the year and you could see them at their best, and they looked pretty darn good against Texas who is playing for the national championship,” said Richt of the Aggies against the Longhorns. “We know it was a rivalry game and that brings the best out of you, and we have plenty of respect for Texas A&M.”

While bowl practices do provide time for younger players to make an impression with the coaches for next season, Richt said the team has spent 90 percent of this year’s workouts geared towards preparation for the Aggies. He mentioned a trio of freshmen who have looked good during the bowl practices, highlighting the play of defensive tackle Kwame Geathers and quarterbacks Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger.

BASKETBALL

The No. 11-ranked Lady Dawgs defeated the 19th-ranked Virginia Cavaliers 72-54 in Stegeman Coliseum this afternoon and remain undefeated with a record of 10-0.

The Lady Dogs united as a team, allowing nine players to score and out rebounded the Cavaliers 48-36 with 17 offensive rebounds. Porsha Phillips put on an all-star performance early in the second half, scoring 10 points in the first five minutes.

“Today was a great team effort," said head coach Andy Landers. "We had a lot of people play well."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dawgs Hold Long Practice

FOOTBALL

The Dawgs continued to fine tune their game plan for facing Texas A&M in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl by conducting a two hour practice this morning at the Woodruff Practice Fields.

The workout marked the fifth of eight bowl practice days in Athens. The Dawgs will practice each of the next three days in the Classic City before holding a travel day on Dec. 23 and reconvening in Shreveport, La., on Dec. 24.

"Much better weather today," head coach Mark Richt said of the Dawg's' practice with temperatures in the mid to upper 40's compared to colder and rainy weather on Friday. "I know the guys enjoyed some sunshine. It was still a little breezy out there."

The original practiced schedule featured two practices for today, but a decision was made earlier in the week to combined the two into one.

"Today was a day that we were going to go two-a-days," Richt stated. "We were going to spend the first practice on special teams and the second practice on offensive-defensive but decided to combine the two into one longer practice to get on the road the last day that coaches get on the road before a quite period tomorrow. The dead period starts Monday. They had to grind it out a little bit, but they did a good job."

Richt also noted that the scout team has showed improved play and tempo and is being lined up by student assistants Jonathan DeLay and Stephen Crowson.

Richt went on to discuss Texas A&M's offense compared to that of Auburn's.

"We hear that the tempo is even faster than what Auburn is doing," Richt explained. "When you watch film and you'll see a play where the defense is scrambling to get line up and the ball is snapped, you know they're going fast. Most defenses can get lined up on a pretty good pace, but they're doing some things where they are going so fast that defenses are having a very difficult time to get lined up quickly."

Head coach Mark Richt met with the media Wednesday during the Bulldogs Bowl Media Day. He offered the following comments:

On Georgias offensive philosophy:

As always you are going to take the talent base you have and try to get the best players on the field and guys who are most productive and try to get the ball to them. You are going to try to do it without self-inflicted wounds that we've had. That's going to be the biggest issue is to continue to improve in all areas but also not setting ourselves back through the penalty and turnover issues. If you can turn around the penalty and turnover issue it will be a tremendous improvement.

On whether A.J. Green will play in the bowl game:

Unless he has a setback between now and then. He practiced the last time we practiced. I'm losing track of what day that was that we practiced, but he's going to practice today. He'll be in some non-contact probably most of the bowl practice, but as we get closer to the game, we are going to let him get a little block and full-speed and some things that might let him know he's confident that it feels fine.

On whether Montez Robinson will make the trip:

No, he will not.

On his involvement with the defense:

I've enjoyed it. I'm not trying to re-invent anything defensively. My greatest role is to set some parameters and make sure that everything is being covered and that everybody not only has a plan schematically, but a plan to implement strategy. There are some special teams things that we had to visit as far as how we are going to handle those. Then I'll also be keeping a very close eye on how things are progressing as far as how players are responding to the coaching and all those kind of things. That's the biggest part of my role, which is not altogether different than what I normally do, but a little bit more intensive in that area.

On special teams coaching responsibilities:

We are going to have Mitch Doolittle and Todd Hartley work on the kickoff coverage team. Coach (John) Lilly will handle punt return and block.

On whether he has talked to Logan Gray about switching positions:

Have we talked to Logan? Yes. Logan wants to play. Logan is the one who is going to decide what he wants to do this spring. If he wants to stay strictly at quarterback and compete in that area, I'm all for it. If he wants to try another position to see if he could get more playing time in that role, I'm fine with that. I know that Logan is not going to forget what to do at quarterback, so even if he does something in the spring at another position, it doesn't mean he won't be back at quarterback in the fall. It's really going to be putting the ball in his hands. We love Logan. We think he's a heck of a player. We think he's a heck of a Dawg, and we want him to feel like he's getting his best opportunity to make a contribution to the team, so it's really going to be up to him. At this point nothing is changing. He's not going to slip out there and try to play another position during the bowl practice time. It will be a decision that he'll reach after this bowl game is over.

On whether he would feel comfortable with Aaron Murray or Zach Mettenberger starting at quarterback in 2010:

I don't want to get into hypothetical things, but I will say that we think they are outstanding quarterback prospects.

On whether he has talked to Richard Samuel about switching positions:

I have not.

On Joe Cox:

He's a first-class guy. He's very tough physically and mentally. He has persevered. He has persisted. I have a lot of admiration for that. He's been a leader of this team in a tough season, but he has not ever shied away from that responsibility or done anything that would even come close to resembling throwing in the towel or anything like that. He's had some really outstanding moments. He's had some very good days and some things that maybe aren't exactly what he wanted, but I have a lot of respect for what he's done. I think he's handled it well.

On having A.J. Green back:

It will be exciting no doubt. That guy is special. We all know it. It's going to give A&M something else to think about besides trying to stop the run, so that's what you want. You want a threat to score anytime somebody tries to single cover him and I think A.J has that ability, so they have to decide what they want to do as far as how they are going to stop the run and still manage A.J., so it'll create a problem for them.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Dawgs Prep For Independence Bowl

FOOTBALL

The Dawgs practiced for 45 minutes in preparation for the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl during cold and rainy conditions this morning.

Today's practice marked the third day of practice in a string of seven straight days. The Dawgs have a travel day on Dec. 23 before reconvening in Shreveport, La., on Dec. 24.

“It was pretty cold, rainy and windy,” said head coach Mark Richt. “Justin Anderson said it was the coldest he’s ever been at a practice in his entire life. All those seniors who graduated today were doubly blessed because usually they don’t practice and today’s practice was a good one to not be at.”

Twelve football players missed practice due to today’s commencement.

The list includes defensive end Rod Battle of Atlanta; free safety Stephen Braue of Alpharetta; quarterback Joe Cox of Charlotte, N.C.; defensive tackle Ricardo Crawford of Fair Bluff, N.C.; free safety Bryan Evans of Jacksonville, Fla.; placekicker Andrew Jensen of Lawrenceville; cornerback Prince Miller of Duncan, S.C.; split end Mike Moore of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; defensive tackle Jeff Owens of Sunrise, Fla.; offensive tackle Vincent Vance of Hinesville, Ga.; linebacker Marcus Washington of Keysville; and defensive tackle Kade Weston of Red Bank, N.J.

“I was asked if (graduation) is as exciting as winning an SEC championship, and in a lot of ways it is,” Richt said. “An SEC championship, people will remember that, but events like that tend to fade a little bit over time. When you have your degree it really blesses those guys for their entire lives.”

Also graduating will be former All-SEC linebacker and 12-year NFL veteran Randall Godfrey of Valdosta and football (1994-95), baseball (1994-96) letterman and former Bulldog football player Erik Robinson of Orlando, Fla., and former wide receiver Tony Wilson of Daytona Beach, Fla.

Coach Mark Richt met with the media Wednesday during the Dawg's Bowl Media Day. He offered the following comments:

On juggling bowl preparation, recruiting and hiring coaches:

It's busy. It's busy for sure. First of all in recruiting we have a good number of commitments. At this point all the young men are holding firm. Who knows what any recruiting class will bring as you go down the stretch whether you have a situation with staff or not, you just never know what will happen down the stretch. I think everybody has done a pretty good job of covering those areas and getting on the phone and getting in person. I think we've done a good job there.

The preparation for the bowl has been interesting on the defensive side of course with a couple of graduate assistants working with coach (Rodney) Garner and myself. I've really been encouraged by what they've put together, and I think the players are, I think their spirit is going to be right to be cooperative and take it as a challenge that they have to step up to, so I don't see any issues in that regard. As far as the search, we all know its a very important hire and one that I'm doing the due diligence I think that it takes, but I'm working towards that end.

On when he will hire the three coaches:

I would say the safest bet, and I don't want to put a time table on it, but I would hate to think it goes much past the first week of January. You have to get back on the road recruiting. I'm not sure exactly when you are allowed to get back on the ground after this second dead period. There is a dead period for the coaches convention. You'd like to hit the ground running at that point with your new staff. Even then I'm not going to say 100 percent because I'm not 100 percent sure when it will happen. I wouldn't imagine it going past that if that.

On whether he will hire coaches before the bowl game:

I just don't know. I think I'll know when the time is right. It's just so hard to predict.

On the Dawg's travel itinerary and whether the team spent Christmas in a hotel for the 2001 Music City Bowl:

I don't think we did. It seems like it was a three-day trip. We might have had to report Christmas day, but it seemed like we reported the day after, but I'm not sure.

On the teams plans for Christmas:

We are going to have a nice meal, and we are trying to put together a Christmas program. We might even get our own players involved in seeing what kind of talents they have. We're working on that, but I think that would be something that everybody would enjoy. I would imagine most things are going to be closed that day, so we'll have to provide our own entertainment. Hopefully the guys will get into the spirit of that.

On who will call the defense in the bowl game:

My answer to that from this point forward is it will be a group effort, and it will be.

On the process of hiring coaches:

I'm just going to say that its a private search. The bottom line is I'm going to be the one making the final decision on it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bowl Media Day Press Conference

FOOTBALL

Head coach Mark Richt and several football players met with the media Wednesday during the Bulldogs Bowl Media Day. They offered the following comments:

Coach Mark Richt

Opening statement:

Texas A&M is an outstanding football team with a great football tradition. Coach [Mike] Sherman has their team on the rise and playing extremely well late in the year. It will be a tremendous challenge for us.

To start out with their offense, they are No. 1 in [the Big 12] offensively in total yards and in the top three in just about every offensive category. That all starts with No. 1, [quarterback] Jerrod Johnson. Hes 6-5, a 240-pounder, and throws the ball extremely well. Hes hit over 61 percent of his passes, has 28 touchdowns and only six interceptions that ratio is tremendous. He has close to 700 yards rushing and over 3,200 yards passing, so hes really been the guy, absolutely the catalyst of that offensive football team.

They love to spread it out, go fast-paced, go with three-receiver sets, four-receiver sets, a no-back, five-receiver look. They get into certain personnel groups and give you every formation known to mankind and do it in a very quick manner, so itll be a challenge just to recognize whats happening and get lined up properly. Well try to get after it.

Up front theyve got three senior linemen really in the best spots you can hope for as a coach. Both tackles and the center are seniors and have done an outstanding job of paving the way for [Cyrus] Gray and [Christine] Michael, their top two runners. They both have run for over 750 yards apiece and are very much alike, really their statures are pretty close, 5-10, 5-11, and around 200 pounds, give or take a few.

Their running styles are very similar. Receiving-wise, [Ryan] Tannehill is their leading receiver. I dont see him on this depth chart, so I dont know if he got hurt or not. I dont have that figured out yet. Then [Howard] Morrow, and [Uzoma Nwachukwu] is a freshman receiver, very fast and talented. [Jeff] Fuller is their fourth-leading receiver. They throw the ball around a lot. They like to spread it out to throw and so they can get you thinned out and run their running game. Its mostly a tailback running game, with some quarterback running, as you can see in the amount of yards that Johnson has as a quarterback rusher.

Defensively, they have a young man by the name of Von Miller, No. 40, who has 17 sacks and leads their league in forced fumbles and tackles for loss and is one of the better rush hands in the country, Id have to say. As far as leading tackles are concerned, their safeties are their top two tacklers, [Trent Hunter and Jordan Pugh] with 87 and 75 tackles, respectively.

Then their linebackers, [Garrick] Williams, [Kyle] Mangan, and [Michael] Hodges are their next three tacklers all pretty close, and about where it ought to be.

The special teams I havent really spent a lot of time studying yet, so I dont want to start spouting off things that I havent looked closely at. Its been a little different from a normal week. I havent had a chance to sit down with the staff and talk about anything. We gathered today to get ready for todays practice.

Well practice today all the way through to the 22nd, then on the 23rd it will be a travel day. The 24th we are to report around 2 p.m., and will not practice the day we get there. Well practice the 25th and 26th, then the 27th the day before the game do our normal walk-through and meeting routine. We could practice, but more than likely itll just be a normal day-before-game. Christmas day we will treat like a normal Tuesday and the 26th we will treat like a normal Wednesday.

We kind of miss that Thursday practice, but well get plenty of things done and because of the multiple practices I dont see a problem. If I feel like we need a practice day before the game, we may do that. Thats the plan right now, where were sitting. We did have practice yesterday between our class and exam schedule. It was a very spirited practice. We designed it in hopes that it would be short, sweet, and high-tempo, high-competition. Everybody responded really well.

Our players are excited about the challenge and looking forward to working really hard and getting after A&M. From what I hear, the travel time from Texas A&M to Shreveport is about three or four hours, so they should have a strong contingent of fans. We anticipate crowd noise as an issue so well be practicing with that.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dawgs Resume Bowl Practice

FOOTBALL

After three days of final exams, the Dawgs resumed preparations for their Independence Bowl matchup against Texas A&M with a two-hour workout today.

It was the second bowl practice for the Dawgs, who are slated to hold five more practices in Athens before the team reconvenes in Shreveport, La., on Dec. 24.

"I was very encouraged with today's practice," Richt said. "I thought the guys showed great focus and energy. It was one of the best practices we've had."

Earlier Richt met with the media during UGA's Bowl Media Day and discussed the challenges Texas A&M will pose to the Dawgs, particularly on offense.

"Texas A&M is an outstanding football team with a great football tradition," Richt said. "Coach [Mike] Sherman has their team on the rise and playing extremely well late in the year. They love to spread it out, go fast-paced, go with three-receiver sets, four-receiver sets, a no-back, five-receiver look. They get into certain personnel groups and give you every formation known to mankind and do it in a very quick manner, so it'll be a challenge just to recognize what's happening and get lined up properly. We'll try to get after it."

Richt also said injured sophomore receiver A.J. Green is expected to play in the bowl game after missing the final two games of the regular season.

"He'll be in some non-contact probably most of the bowl practice, but as we get closer to the game, we are going to let him get in a little blocking and full-speed and some things that might let him know he's confident that it feels fine," Richt said.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dawgs Hold First Bowl Practice

FOOTBALL

The Dawgs began preparations for the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl by working out for approximately an hour and 45 minutes on Saturday at the Woodruff Practice Fields.

In the first practice since concluding the regular season with a win over Georgia Tech, the Dawgs worked out in full pads to start preparing for the Texas A&M Aggies (6-6). It was also the Dawg's first practice with head coach Mark Richt, assistant head coach Rodney Garner and graduate assistants Mitch Doolittle and Todd Hartley spearheading the defense.

"Obviously, it's different," Garner said. "I know it's different for the players also, but like I told them, the only thing they can control is what happens between the lines no matter what you feel about. I know it's been a lot of emotions that everybody has been going through the last week. I coached with coach (Willie) Martinez and coach (Jon) Fabris for nine years and coach (John) Jancek for five, so there are a lot of different emotions out there. But what we've got to do is to be challenged to get these guys prepared to go to Shreveport and play probably one of the most prolific offenses we've faced all year."

Junior linebacker Rennie Curran added that Richt took a more "hands-on" approach with the defense in Saturday's practice, and that before the workout started Garner addressed the team urging them to "have fun" and be "business-like and professional." Curran also discussed the two week break from being on the football field.

"I definitely think it was good to where we had the long break to get our minds right mentally refocusing and to kind of let that time pass where we were still down about coaches being gone," Curran said. "We were able to just get away from football a little bit, just relax, get our bodies back right and get back into the weight room. I think all of that helps to where when we get back on the field we're more relaxed and we're not too worried about the coaching changes because that time of mourning has already passed. It wasn't easy to get back on the field, but it was little bit better because we hadn't been out there for a while, so that excitement of just playing the game again took over. We had a lot of fun out there today."

Saturday's practice comes in the middle of a busy week for the Dawgs. Final exams got underway on Thursday, and the team held it's 12th-Annual Senior Awards Banquet/Silent Auction/Gala at the Athens Classic Center Saturday night.

Exams resume on Monday and continue through Wednesday, when the Dawgs will hold bowl media day and resume practicing each day until Dec. 22nd.

Butler Named Top Punter In Nation

FOOTBALL

All-American Drew Butler has been named the winner of the 2009 Ray Guy Award, which is presented annually to college football’s top punter by the Greater Augusta Sports Council.

Butler, a 6-2, 203-pound sophomore native of Duluth, Ga., received the award Thursday during The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show televised live on ESPN.

“I didn’t play a whole lot last year and knew that I had to come in and compete since I was following a great punter in Brian Mimbs,” said Butler. “We had a good punt team last year and I wanted to make sure we took a leap forward this year rather than a step backwards. The credit for this award goes to the team, all of the guys on the punt team. We call ourselves the ‘Pride’ team.”

Butler said much of his success comes from coaching and his hard work. “I want to thank Coach (John) Lilly and all of the coaches, I tried to be consistent this whole season and it has paid off.”

Butler is leading the nation in punting with a 48.8 average on 50 punts and leads the NCAA in Net Punting at 42.8.

Along with Butler, the other finalists were Michigan senior Zoltan Mesko and Florida junior Chas Henry. A national committee of sportswriters, sportscasters, football coaches, professional football punters and previous winners annually select the winner. The award is named after the legendary NFL punter Ray Guy.

This is the 10th year for the award, and Butler is the first winner from the Southeastern Conference.

Butler has also been named to the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) All-America Team. The FWAA All-America team is the second-longest continuously-published team in major college football.

Butler is the 23rd Bulldog to be named to the team and first since David Pollack in 2004. He is among seven SEC players named to the All-America team.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Butler Named A Walter Camp All-American

FOOTBALL

Punter Drew Butler has been named to the 2009 Walter Camp All-America First Team, according to an announcement on Thursday.

Butler, who was also recently named to the 2009 American Football Coaches’ (AFCA) All-America Team, is the first Dawg to be named to the Walter Camp All-American team since Max Jean-Gilles in 2005.

Butler’s honor marks the 31st Walter Camp All-America certificate given to a Dawg.

Butler, a 6-2, 203-pound sophomore native of Duluth, Ga., is leading the nation in punting with a 48.8 average on 50 punts. He is one of three finalists for the Ray Guy Award, which is presented annually to college football’s top punter later tonight at the Home Depot/ESPNU College Football Awards show. Butler and the Dawgs also lead the NCAA in Net Punting at 42.8.

Butler is on pace to become only the third Dawg in school history to lead the NCAA in punting (Zeke Bratkowski, 42.6 in 1953; Bobby Walden, 45.3 in 1958). He is also on target to break the school’s single season punting average record. The current mark is 45.4 by Chip Andrews in 1984 while the SEC mark is within reach at 48.2 (Ricky Anderson, Vanderbilt in 1984).

This season, Butler has boomed 24 punts of 50+ yards and placed 17 inside the 20-yard line.

Butler is the first Dawg punter to be named an All-American in the modern era.

The Dawgs have had a handful of players who earned All-America recognition at their primary position and were skillful punters too. These Dawg All-Americans include end Chick Shiver (1927) offensive backs Bill Hartman (1937), Frank Sinkwich (1941-42), Charley Trippi (1946) and quarterback Zeke Bratkowski (1952).

Butler’s father, Kevin, was also a Walter Camp All-American place-kicker in 1984 for the Dawgs and was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001.

The 2009 Walter Camp All-America First Team is made up of 16 seniors, six juniors and only three sophomores. The Walter Camp Foundation has selected an All-America team since 1889. For more information on the Walter Camp Foundation including the 2009 All-America team, log on to the Walter Camp website at www.waltercamp.org.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Phil Steele Postseason Honors

FOOTBALL

The Dawgs placed 11 players among Phil Steele’s four All-Southeastern Conference teams including three first-team selections in junior linebacker Rennie Curran of Snellville, sophomore flanker A.J. Green of Summerville, S.C., and sophomore punter Drew Butler of Duluth.

Earning All-SEC Second-Team honors were junior offensive tackle Clint Boling of Alpharetta, junior safety Reshad Jones of Atlanta, redshirt sophomore defensive end Justin Houston of Statesboro and sophomore placekicker Blair Walsh of Boca Raton, Fla.

Senior defensive tackle Geno Atkins of Pembroke Pines, Fla., was the only selection on the third team while fellow senior defensive tackle Kade Weston of Red Bank, N.J., was named to the fourth team along with kickoff return specialist Brandon Boykin of Fayetteville and freshman tailback Washaun Ealey of Stillmore.

Also receiving recognition from Phil Steele, tight end Orson Charles of Tampa, Fla., was named to the All-Freshman First Team. Charles also garnered CollegeFootballNews.com Freshman All-America First Team accolades on Tuesday.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

All SEC Team Announced

FOOTBALL

SEC Champion Alabama and SEC Eastern Champion Florida each had a league-high nine representatives on the 2009 All-Southeastern Conference Coaches’ Football Team, the league office announced today. Alabama had eight members on the first team, while Florida had seven.

Eleven of the 12 SEC schools had a member on the first-team All-SEC squad. The Dawgs had three players on the first team, with Ole Miss claiming two.

The Dawgs had seven total representatives on the annual list. The Dawgs, Tennessee and Vanderbilt had a league-high four players on the second unit followed by Arkansas, Kentucky and LSU with three each.

Every SEC squad had at least two players represented on the first and second teams.

There were only three unanimous selections to this year’s All-SEC squad - Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, Alabama running back Mark Ingram and Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain. Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own players, thus a unanimous selection earns 11 of 12 first-team votes.

The All-SEC squad had 15 first-team seniors, eight juniors and four sophomores. There were no freshmen on the first team. Return specialist Warren Norman of Vanderbilt was recognized on the second team and was the only freshmen listed. Alabama senior Javier Arenas made the first team twice - once as a return specialist and once as a defensive back.

The SEC individual award winners will be released on Wednesday and the SEC All-Freshman Team will be announced on Thursday.

All SEC Dawgs:

First Team - Offense

A.J. Green, So., Wide Receiver

First Team - Defense

Rennie Curran, Jr., Linebacker

Second Team - Offense

Ben Jones - So., Center

Second Team - Defense

Geno Atkins, Sr., Defensive Tackle

Justin Houston, So., Defensive End

First Team - Special Teams

Drew Butler, So., Punter

Second Team - Special Teams

Blair Walsh, So., Kicker

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dawgs Accept Bowl Bid

FOOTBALL

The Dawgs (7-5) were extended, and accepted, an AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl invitation today to face Texas A&M from the Big Twelve in Shreveport, La., on Dec. 28, 2009.

Kickoff is set for 5:00 p.m. ET and will be televised nationally on ESPN2.

The Dawgs have made one previous trip to the Shreveport bowl in 1991. Led by quarterback Eric Zeier, Ray Goff’s Dawgs defeated Arkansas, 24-15, in the Razorbacks’ final game as a member of the Southwest Conference. Arkansas joined the Southeastern Conference in 1992.

This will also mark the fifth meeting between Georgia and Texas A&M, the last coming in the Dawg's undefeated 1980 season. The Dawgs defeated the Aggies, 42-0, in Athens behind freshman sensation Herschel Walker. The 1980 game was Georgia’s only victory over A&M. The Aggies won all three previous meetings: 6-0 in 1954 in Athens; 14-12 in 1953 in Dallas; and 40-20 in the 1950 Presidential Cup bowl game in College Park, Md.

“We are delighted with the selection of our team to represent the Southeastern Conference in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl,” said Director of Athletics Damon Evans who played wide receiver in the Dawgs only other trip to Shreveport. “It’s an opportunity to return to Shreveport after 18 years and play a team with great football history and tradition in Texas A&M. We are greatly appreciative of the Independence Bowl for the invitation and look forward to bringing our team and fans to Shreveport over the holidays.”

“I'm really happy for our team and especially our seniors to have this opportunity to not only play another game but also visit a destination that will be new to most of our people,” said head coach Mark Richt. “I know our team and coaches will prepare well to represent the Southeastern Conference against Texas A&M, a team with great football tradition who I’m sure will be at its best.”

This will be the Dawg's 45rd bowl game―sixth most of any team in the country. The Dawg's bowl record is 25-16-3.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Butler Named All American By AFCA

FOOTBALL

Punter Drew Butler has been named to the 2009 American Football Coaches’ All-America Team.

Butler, a 6-2, 203-pound sophomore native of Duluth, Ga., is leading the nation in punting with a 48.8 average on 50 punts. He is one of three finalists for the Ray Guy Award, which is presented annually to college football’s top punter. Butler and the Dawgs also lead the NCAA in Net Punting at 42.8.

Butler is on pace to become only the third Dawg in school history to lead the NCAA in punting (Zeke Bratkowski, 42.6 in 1953; Bobby Walden, 45.3 in 1958). He is also on target to break the school’s single season punting average record. The current mark is 45.4 by Chip Andrews in 1984 while the SEC mark is within reach at 48.2 (Ricky Anderson, Vanderbilt in 1984). This season, Butler has boomed 24 punts of 50+ yards and placed 17 inside the 20-yard line.

Butler is the first Dawg punter to be named an All-American in the modern era. The Dawgs have had a handful of players who earned All-America recognition at their primary position and were skillful punters too. These Dawg All-Americans include end Chick Shiver (1927) offensive backs Bill Hartman (1937), Frank Sinkwich (1941-42), Charley Trippi (1946) and quarterback Zeke Bratkowski (1952). Butler’s father, Kevin, was an All-American place-kicker in 1983 and 1984 for the Dawgs and was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001.

The 2009 AFCA Coaches’ All-America Team is made up of 14 seniors, eight juniors and three sophomores. The AFCA has selected an All-America team since 1945. For more information on the AFCA including the 2009 All-America team, log on to the AFCA’s website at www.afca.com.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Defensive Staff Changes

FOOTBALL

Contracts of three Georgia assistant football coaches will not be renewed following the 2009 season according to an announcement Wednesday by UGA head football coach Mark Richt.

Defensive coordinator and secondary coach Willie Martinez, defensive co-coordinator and linebacker coach John Jancek, and defensive ends coach Jon Fabris will not return in 2010 according to Richt; however, he indicated that all three have been asked to coach through the bowl game.

“I cannot express enough my thanks to all three for their contributions to our program,” said Richt. “However, in the final analysis I’m charged with providing the leadership and direction for the Georgia program and sometimes that means making difficult decisions. This was one of them.”

Martinez and Fabris are members of Richt’s original staff that came in 2001. Jancek joined the Georgia staff in 2005.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Ealey Named Freshman of the Week

FOOTBALL

Freshman tailback Washaun Ealey has been named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week for the second time this season, according to a league announcement on Monday.

Ealey, a 5-11, 205-pound native of Stillmore, Ga., exploded for a career-high 183 yards on 20 carries (9.1 average) to help knock off #7 Georgia Tech 30-24 on the road. He lost no yardage on any of his carries versus the Yellow Jackets and had a long run of 35 yards. Ealey and the Dawg offense were able to shred Georgia Tech’s defense for 339 yards rushing. This was the highest total for the Bulldogs since they accumulated 372 in a win over William & Mary in 1988.

Ealey’s performance was the first 100-yard game of his career.

He teamed with redshirt sophomore Caleb King (166 yards) to give the Dawgs their first pair of 100-yard rushers in a single game since 2004. The Dawgs have tallied a combined 1,008 yards rushing over their last four games and have gone 3-1 during that stretch.

Ealey leads Georgia with 639 yards on the ground this season after only playing in eight games and starting two of those.

This is Ealey’s second weekly conference award in the last three weeks. He last won the award after leading Georgia with 98 yards and a score during the Bulldogs’ 31-24 win over #25 Auburn.

This is the Bulldogs’ ninth SEC weekly award this season.

Dawgs Reclaim State Championship

FOOTBALL

The Dawg's concluded the regular season this past Saturday night with a thrilling 30-24 victory over seventh-ranked Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

On Sunday, a handful of Dawgs reflected on their latest win in the rivalry and said they were looking forward to playing one more time this year. Senior quarterback Joe Cox, junior offensive tackle Clint Boling, junior linebacker Rennie Curran and senior defensive tackle Jeff Owens took part in the regular Sunday conference call that Dawg head coach Mark Richt usually does with the media.

The Dawgs will know their bowl destination no later than Sunday, Dec. 6.

The main topic Sunday was the Dawg’s successful rushing attack against the Yellow Jackets as they tallied 339 yards on the ground. It was the most rushing yards by a Dawg squad since a 1988 win over William & Mary when the Dawgs registered 372 yards on 53 attempts.

“We wanted to help our defense out by keeping their offense off the field, and we knew we had to run it to have a chance to win, and we did that,” said Boling. “We felt like we could handle them up front, and we were going to run it until they stopped us, and they didn’t,” Cox added.

Freshman running back Washaun Ealey (183 yards) and sophomore Caleb King (166 yards) set career highs to lead the Bulldog offense. Meanwhile, Georgia Tech’s vaunted option attack was limited to 228 rushing yards on 51 attempts and star running back Jonathan Dwyer managed just 44 yards on 14 carries.

“Our main goal if we were going to beat Tech was that we had to stop the run, that’s their offense, and we focused on that the entire week,” said Curran. “Our offense was playing well, and we were able to rest a bit. It was good to see the offense doing well, and we fed off of that.”

“My job was to stop the dive, and that’s what we did last night,” Owens added. “We played fundamental football, you have to beat your man at all times and stop the dive."

With the victory, the Dawgs finished the regular season 7-5, and the media asked the Dawgs if they left the field last night wondering what the season would’ve been like had they played like that the entire year.

“You would drive yourself crazy thinking about that, you can always look back and wish you would’ve played better here and there, I’m just glad we showed up for this one,” said Cox. “This was the biggest game of year, it’s another year of bragging rights. It’s tough knowing we could’ve done better but it would be a waste of time to do that now.”

“We definitely have been working hard the entire season, and things haven’t gone the way we wanted, and it’s been frustrating,” Curran added. “I wish we had more games, but we’ve stayed competitive and we’re not pointing any fingers.”

The Dawgs did not indicate any specific bowl game they were hoping to play in and will wait to find out their destination later this week.

“It doesn’t matter, we get one more chance to play, and we’re looking forward to playing one more time,” said Boling.

“I’m for anywhere we’re going, I want to go out with a bang like last night. It will be a good opportunity to step out on the field and play again,” said Owens.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rivalry Week

FOOTBALL

The Dawg's practiced for two and a half hours in full pads this afternoon, their most physical workout of the week as they prepare for Saturday's game with intrastate rival Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

"We had very good tempo today," head coach Mark Richt said. "It's obviously difficult to simulate what they do, but I thought the scout team did as good of a job as they could. We had a good upbeat practice."

Richt also announced that fullback Shaun Chapas, linebacker Rennie Curran, defensive end Demarcus Dobbs and center Ben Jones will serve as the Dawg's captains against Tech.

Earlier on Tuesday afternoon, Richt met with the media during UGA's weekly press conference and talked about the importance of the matchup.

"It's a big week for everybody in the state," Richt said. "We are playing a team that has just been outstanding. They're 10-1, won their division and playing for the ACC title...and just really playing fantastic right now.

It's the in-state rival. It's Georgia Tech, so it's a game we're all going to be excited about coaching and playing in, and I'm sure our fans will be excited about watching it too."

Richt also gave an update on the status of injured safety Bacarri Rambo and receiver A.J. Green, who missed last week's game with Kentucky.

Bacarri won't go full speed today," Richt said. "We hope by tomorrow he will. A.J. is less likely than Bacarri right now. We are pretty confident Bacarri will. We are a little less confident that A.J. will. We're not counting him out yet. (Director of Sports Medicine) Ron (Courson) has to feel like he can go. Right now we're still working on the strength and getting the soreness out. He doesn't have full range of motion right now, but sometimes those things can change quickly and sometimes they dont.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Weekly Press Conference, Continued

FOOTBALL

Coach Mark Richt

On Ben Jones:

He loves to play. He loves the position of lineman. He is like a pig in slop out there. He loves it. He loves trying to grind somebody into the ground every play, and he's actually starting to play a little smarter, because with that enthusiasm and energy and the mindset of I want to finish every block, sometimes you grab on too tight and too long, and sometimes you maybe block past the whistle, which you are not allowed to do.

He's had a few penalties that aren't very bright in that regard, but you dont want to temper him where he doesn't play hard. But you have to get him where he plays smart. He does love it. He loves to see his boys get yards and touchdowns. He's a good one.

On scoring 31 points after A.J. Green was injured against Auburn:

It was a good sign for us, no doubt. That would probably be the No. 1 topic of discussion today if we really didn't get much going offensively after that point, so it was great for a guy like Israel Troupe to come in and get a chance and then come through. That's a great thing for him and a great thing for us. To be able to put the points on the board without your top receiver, it was good.

Now going into the game you have a defense that knows he's not going to be there, and that may change how they decide to play us. This defense here, they don't tend to want to change for anybody. I don't know if they would have changed for A.J. of not, but I'll be shocked if they do anything differently than what they've been doing all year long because they have really done a nice job.

On whether Joe Cox throws a better deep ball than a short ball:

He throws a great deep ball. He throws a ball thats very catchable. If you can even remember back earlier in his career, the pass he threw to Martrez Milner (against Colorado in 2006), that was beautiful touch pass over a defender who was playing pretty tight. Even last years Florida game, he got in the game late and lofted one beautifully to Aron White and he's been doing it throughout the season. He gets good air on it. It drops down over that defender and he keeps it in play.

He can overthrow a bomb. He can throw it as far as he can and overthrow it, but it doesn't do him any good. He at least understands that its important to keep it in play, keep it outside and if nothing else, keep it short rather than long because the receiver almost always has an advantage on a short ball thats outside, so we've had a lot of balls either hit the hands of our receivers or where they've always had a chance to catch a deep ball. This last game was a little bit uncharacteristic with the shorter throws. He's a pretty accurate guy all the way around, but he certainly threw the deep ball better this last game.

On the last three games of the season:

I'll say this, and it's definitely good policy for me. It's not the answer you want, but my main focus is Kentucky. That's where I have to keep my mind. That's what I have to focus on. Focusing on anything too far down the road is not healthy for me or the team, so my goal is to really make sure we are ready to play against Kentucky right now.

On Orson Charles:

We knew Orson was talented when we went after him. Everybody in the country was trying to get that kid. We were fortunate to get him at the end, way at the end. We're asking a tight end to run routes like a receiver, catch like a receiver, block like a lineman and being just that one same person is not that easy to do, especially for a freshman.

Like I'm talking about freshman tailbacks, they naturally can run, but sometimes they have trouble pass protecting and running routes. I'd say Orsons forte would have been as a route-runner and a pass-receiver, but you still have to learn what to do in those areas. Not that he wasn't a good blocker in high school, he was and was very tenacious, but his size is not one that you would say he's going to match up and maul some of these defensive ends in our league. It's all he can do to get after them and get the job done, but the better technique he has and the better understanding of where these players are trying to go, he can do it.

It's when he's a little uncertain where he gets thrown around a little bit or gets knocked into the hole or whatever it is from time to time. With another offseason of strength and knowledge, he's going to be a heck of a player and I don't want to discount what Aron's done either.

Aron has really come a long way, but Aron showed up at 212 pounds. It took him a while to get in position to play like he's playing now. I'll say this too, I'm very optimistic about what big Arty Lynch is going to do for us too. We're really sitting good at tight end right now.

On whether he had doubts that Orson Charles could have an impact as a freshman:

We were counting on him to come and make an impact for us as a freshman, at least wanting to put him in position to do that and figured from what we'd seen on film that he would be able to make an impact. We try to put them all in position to do that. Some are able and some aren't quite ready, but we had a pretty good feeling the he could do it.

On who will get the snaps to replace Bacarri Rambo:

More than likely its going to be Reshad (Jones) and Bryan Evans. I would think they'll get more. I'm not saying there's going to be a third guy plugged in to rotate. I'm not saying it couldn't happen, but Quintin Banks, I think would be the first guy to do that. Mikiri Pugh is also coming on at safety. It could be either one of those guys, but will it be the same reps that Rambo was getting? Probably not.

On Bacarri Rambo:

All the testing he did was fine. He's out this week, and we're just going to hope he'll stay symptom-free for the rest of the week.

On the status of Bacarri Rambo and A.J. Green for the Georgia Tech game:

I'd say we just don't know, but we haven't counted it out. We haven't counted either one of them out. These are kind of day-to-day type situations. With one you have a pain issue and a healing issue, and you have the other young man Rambo with just wanting to make sure all the symptoms are clear and he's safe.

On Georgias three senior defensive tackles Geno Atkins, Jeff Owens and Kade Weston:

We honor all of our seniors as captains, so every senior will have a C on his jersey. But there are only four who can come out. We pick offense, defense and special teams; usually one or two offense and if there are two offense, it's one defense and one special teamer. We go to deciding who are the captains to walk up for the coin toss, and I say we I'm talking about the staff.

Joe Cox on offense and defense you have Kade, Jeffrey and Geno. On the special teams it could have been Justin Fields or Prince (Miller), and we decided to go with Prince. Then you have those three guys. You can't have five; you can only have four, so there are only two spots left. We pretty much had to flip a coin. It ended up being Jeffrey and Kade as the guys who would walk out. I almost thought about not doing a special teams guy or just saying can we throw five guys out there, because all three of those guys deserve to walk out there. I think they've done very, very well.

I think the guy who made the most improvement from his junior year to his senior year was Kade Weston. Kade went from a guy who was a pretty good football player, a good, solid football player to a guy who really started to dominate. It all started with his offseason. That guy trimmed his body. That guy got in the best shape of his life and he changed his physique and his changed his quickness and the ability to change direction and his ability to play hard every down without the fatigue factor. Jeffrey and Geno kind of had those kind of productive years prior to this one, but Kade I think made the biggest jump from last year to this year.

On Prince Miller:

Prince did a great job for us in his career, and he actually this year took on more of a leadership role in a verbal way with the young corners that he's trying to help mold. Even the secondary in general, he's being a little more demanding of his teammates in practice that I've seen. Just to play as many snaps as that guy plays, punt return, gunner.

That gunner, he's one of the best, and he's almost playing every snap on defense. He's probably played more plays than anybody on our team this season. He hasn't complained one time. Early in the season when it's hot it is tough. It's cooled down a little bit and I think it's been a little easier on him. Prince has been very solid in a lot of areas and has been a great Bulldog for us.

On Georgias bowl scenarios:

It seems like there is a big wad. You have two guys over here, one kind of over here and then there is a big wad. Were in the middle of that wad, and I'd like to separate from that group if we could and convince the bowl people that weve done that. It's going to be interesting.

Quarterback Joe Cox

On playing in night games:

I like night games. I think it gives you a chance to get good sleep and to really just be able to relax on the way up to the game. It's tough having early games because you wake up at like seven or eight, you eat and then it seems like you are on the way to the stadium and you're ready to go. You don't really have a chance to think about anything or calm down or be able to relax. You really just don't have a chance. I think everybody really enjoys night games being able to kind of sit around all day and think about what we have to do and get relaxed about it.

On if it is motivating to know that if Georgia wins against Kentucky it will be 5-3 in the SEC and finish second in the Eastern Division behind Florida:

Absolutely. That's the best we can do now, and we definitely want finish up that way. It's not what we wanted, but I would still be proud of finishing up this year strong and being right behind Florida in the east. That's definitely what we are shooting for at this point.

On throwing a deep pass compared to a short pass:

A lot of times on shorter routes you are dealing with people in your face, you got to have a lot quicker feet, its placement and people are breaking in and out. On a deep ball, you kind of just get to take a good drop and you don't have to worry about anybody knocking it down. You kind of just get to throw it out there for somebody to run under, and if you've practiced it enough, it's something you've been doing as long as you've been playing quarterback.

I do enjoy throwing the deep ball, and I always have. It's something I got used to high school with Mohamed Massaquoi. As long as we can keep hitting them, I think that's really helping out because big plays produce momentum.

Weekly Press Conference

FOOTBALL

Coach Mark Richt

Opening statement…

“This Kentucky team is hot. They are very talented and well-coached. Coach (Rich) Brooks has done a fantastic job with them. It’s a big game for us, no doubt. It’s our last game between the hedges for 2009. It’s senior day. It means a lot to me, it means a lot to the seniors and I think it means a lot to their underclassmen to play the best they could possibly play to let these seniors leave our field with a great memory.

It’s going to be good memories no matter what because the pregame ceremony is awesome. I love how we line the field with our underclassmen, and the seniors get to run through them and see the faces of their teammates and kind of have the flashbacks of all the great memories with their teammates. At the end of the gauntlet are their families waiting on them proudly, and I get to be right in the middle of it. I get to take the picture with the family. I get to watch the players hand their ball to one of their family members. It’s a proud moment, no doubt. It’s an emotional moment, and I enjoy it quite a bit. I’m sure it’s going to be good.

I also want to say to any of the fans who are reading this, please get there on time to honor those guys. There is nothing like hearing the crowd roar one more time when their name gets called. It makes for a great ceremony when the fans are ready to go. That will be within just a few minutes after pregame warmup, so if y’all could get there that would be awesome.”

On finishing second in the SEC East…

“I think the guys would take great pride at this point finishing second in the Eastern division. It’s certainly something we can obtain and something we can control. I think that is meaningful. I definitely will mention it to them. I think I might have already mentioned it to them Sunday; I’m not certain if I did or not. That’s certainly one thing I would bring up to their attention for some motivation.”

On Washaun Ealey’s pass blocking…

“He’s improving. I’m really not trying to beat him down anyway, but when you ask the question how things are going, I want to obviously say that he is progressing in that area, but I also want to make a strong point how important that job is. Some young guys want to fancy themselves as a running specialist and the passing is not quite as important or the route-running is not quite as important, but it really is important. He’s gotten better no doubt about it."

"While we’re talking about pass protection, our first touchdown of the game Caleb King threw a beautiful block that really set up the opportunity for Joe (Cox) to have the pump fake and still have time to throw the ball. Just to give you an example of why I emphasize it so much, if Caleb doesn’t do the job he does on that play, we don’t score and maybe we don’t win the game. That’s how crucial it is, but he is coming right along. Every time we have blitz pickup on Tuesday and Wednesday we get our scout teamers to go as hard as they can go and we make sure Washaun is getting a good bit of that action. He’s definitely getting better.”

On whether Caleb King’s improvement in pass blocking served as a template for Washaun Ealey…

“They are going to get it. If a guy wants to get it, he’ll get it. And if a guy wants to play, he’ll get it. I don’t see any issue at all with him not wanting to get better at it, but it’s a skill. It’s not an easy one. You’re out there in space with the linebacker who is sometimes big enough like right now I’m talking about 260 pound linebackers. They are big enough to run you over, but they are also agile enough to make you miss and you’re out there with a lot of space."

"You have to learn to take away the inside rush and if he does anything, he beats you outside, but we don’t want him to beat you but he’ll take the outside rush and you have to run him past the quarterback. Or if he decides he is going to try to run your little rear end over, you better be ready to hunker down and strike a blow, because good ones will lift a back out of his shoes and just plant him on the quarterback, so it’s not an easy thing to do. It’s something that they rarely do a lot of in high school and it’s just the one skill that usually holds a young man back from really getting a lot of playing time.”

On Georgia’s running game…

“I think when we made a change in the lineup up front it really helped us. We wanted Cordy (Glenn) at guard all year long, but Trinton Sturdivant got hurt again, so we had to move Cordy, who is a tremendous power guard run-game blocker, we felt like we needed to move him outside. Josh Davis wasn’t healthy yet. He was still coming off his shoulder surgery, so we were kind of figuring if we move Cordy out there we are going to be better at tackle."

"If we move him inside we are going to be better at guard, so finally once Josh came through with his health, we just decided to get him out there and see what he could do alongside of Chris Davis and put Cordy back at guard, leaving (Clint) Boling at tackle and Ben (Jones) has always been the center."

"That combination, I just think it clicked better. That group as a whole is playing better. They are communicating well. They have very few missed assignments, and they are blocking with some tenacity, which it takes. Sometimes it’s not the biggest man who blocks the best; it’s knowing what to do and where to put your hat, where to put your hands and fighting."

"Then I think our backs have matured too. I think they’ve learned to run the ball better. They’ve learned to see where these schemes are putting them, learning to press the line of scrimmage a little bit farther before they try to cut back and not give up on the front side of a run too quickly. All those little nuances that take time and experience are coming together and I hope it will continue."

"I will say this, these guys (Kentucky) are outstanding at stopping the run. There are some statistics of them maybe having some people running the ball against them relatively well, but most people that have hurt them running the ball have hurt them with the option game. The more traditional zone, power, sprint draw, the things that we do the most, they’ve been much more tougher and physical against those types of runs. It makes you want to put some option in, doesn’t it?"

Wide Receiver Israel Troupe

On addressing his limited amount of playing time throughout first part of the season…

“I kept my head up the whole time. I knew that sooner or later my chance would come around, so I went out and practiced hard every week and practice pays off.”

On his touchdown catch against Auburn…

“I just couldn’t believe it was coming to me actually. I just blocked everything out and just concentrated on the ball, and when I caught it and saw the end zone I was just like ‘get there as fast as I can.’ I kind of stumbled getting in there, but I made it.”

On having a big game against Auburn…

“I went out and worked hard everyday. I knew that one day, and you don’t want it to happen the way it did with A.J. (Green) going down, but I knew that one day my opportunity would come. It came, and I made the best of it.”

On his perspective looking forward for the rest of the season…

“I’m just trying to be level-headed and work hard like I do at practice. I’m not really worried about starting this week. We’ll see what happens when game day comes along, but I’m pretty sure I’ll get my snaps as the day goes along. We’re just working on preparing to beat a real good Kentucky team. We watched them on film. They are a real physical team. Their defense has played well and they actually held Auburn to less points than we did, so they are going to come out ready to play. We got to be on our ‘A’ game to play them this weekend.”

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dawgs Upset Auburn 31-24

FOOTBALL

What a great night between the hedges, the Dawgs played a complete game for the first time this season and outlasted Auburn 31-24, in doing so the Dawgs became bowl eligible. This was the Dawgs fourth victory in a row over the Tigers, something they had not done since 1948.

A.J. Green went down in the second quarter with a sprained AC in his left shoulder and will be out for the Kentucky game.

Bacarri Rambo used every ounce of himself in dislodging the ball from an Auburn receiver at the goal line to deny a game tying touchdown, he woke up just in time to hear the Rambo chants thunder down on him as he was carted away. Luckly he's ok but did get a concussion out of the collision.

Israel Troupe caught his first pass of the season, a fifty yard touchdown from Joe Cox after coming in for Green, he added a beautiful twelve yard reception in the third quarter that kept a drive alive too.

Next up, Kentucky

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Auburn Kickoff Set

FOOTBALL

The Dawgs and Auburn on November 14th will kickoff at 7 pm.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Weekly Press Conference

FOOTBALL

Coach Mark Richt

Opening statement:

We have Florida this week. They are No. 1 in the nation, 17-game winning streak. No ones had a lot of success versus Florida lately. Coach (Urban) Meyer has done a great job with that program, no doubt.

On changes on the offensive line:

We really don't have a lot of choices, so I don't see a lot of change there. The guys that have been playing will continue to play. We may move them around a little bit, but Im not even sure of that. But the same guys will play that are playing the two Davises (Josh and Chris), Cordy (Glenn), (Vince) Vance, (Clint) Boling, Ben Jones and (Justin Anderson). They will all play.

On Florida's defensive line:

They are outstanding. It's probably not a one-man job to block those guys. We will do what we do against a lot of the great pass rushers and try to get some help from backs, get some help from tight ends, get some help by just sliding a protection toward a certain guy and know that if a tackle gets beat inside there will be a guard there hopefully waiting to help out. All those types of things will have to be considered. Then we just hope we dont get into too many situations where we just flat out have to throw the ball. We hope to be in downs and distances that will afford us not to get into that type of situation.

On playing in the warm weather on Saturday:

The heat and humidity can certainly become a factor in the game. We know early in the season it does become a factor, so we have to make sure we are ready to substitute, no doubt.

On the comparison of Tim Tebow to Herschel Walker:

I think they are both legends. One is still playing and the other one of course hasn't played in quite some time. There is no question that Tim Tebow has made his mark on Florida football, on Southeastern Conference football and on the entire nation. He'll be one of those guys who will be remembered as long as people care about college football. Herschel is the same way.

On Herschel Walker:

He was the man. You'd see him running guys over and diving over the top. He was just such a big, strong man to be able to do some of the things that he could do physically. I do recall him getting interviewed some where along the way and thinking that he was very, very humble and pretty country. He just looked like a Georgia boy. He was something special.

On whether there is carryover from the 2007 and 2008 games into the game on Saturday:

I don't know. I think every season has its own issues. We certainly have ours and they don't have many. Any issues they have, they've been able to solve with victories. I think we are most concerned about what its going to take to win the ballgame more than anything else.

On whether the era of big, fast tailbacks like Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson is ending:

I just think one day another guy will come along that fits that description and somebody will probably decide not to let him play linebacker in high school and let him run the ball. I think Herschel was one of a kind. Not to say Bo Jackson wasn't special, because he was. They were a little bit different in their type. I wouldn't be surprised to see another big, giant guy become the thing again. They just don't come along that often period, I don't think.

On whether Mike Bobo will coach from the field again:

I didn't even ask him, but Im assuming yes.

On whether the team made strides against Vanderbilt:

We did. We definitely got better. I thought we got better as a team in general. We ran the ball better than we've been running it offensively. We didn't have the big turnover issues. Defensively I thought we played very sound really all but one drive. I thought they played dominating football other than the first drive of the second half. I thought our special teams overall played very well that day. I think if you look and see what everyone has done against Vanderbilt this season, we performed pretty well against them when you look at what other people have done. Vanderbilt, I know their record isn't all that great right now, but they're in just about every ballgame they play.

On Joe being a first-time starter in the Georgia-Florida game:

The only thing that is really unique about it and it doesn't really affect the quarterback as much because he's only in there half the time, but it is live the whole game. When you have half-and-half as far as the fan base, you have enough people to create enough noise to cause problems. When we have the ball we know Florida is making all the noise they can, and when Florida has the ball we know Georgia fans are making as much noise as they can. What's different about it is the constant volume of the noise throughout the entire ballgame, where if you were playing at Alabama, they are going to be loud, LSU is going to be loud, but when they have the ball they are going to be quiet. There is really no quiet time, maybe on a punt or something or at the commercial breaks, but the fans will definitely get a workout.

Tightend Aron White

On making his first-career touchdown reception against Florida last year
It's definitely bittersweet to score a touchdown like that. I hadn't got a whole lot of playing time up to that point in the season, and to get put in with about two minutes left you want to go in there and play hard. At the same time, its hard to come in and have a lot of fire and fight when you already feel the game is beyond your control and you can't do a whole lot. Luckily, I got a chance to get in there. Joe (Cox) put a great ball up and I made a play. To catch that ball meant a lot to me.

Safety Bryan Evans

On playing Florida after Urban Meyer called two timeouts with one minute to go last year:

It is a big motivating factor. We have it hanging up in the locker room and every time we see his hands in that time out position it reminds us of what happened last year and hopefully that can drive us as a team. We will never forget that image and that is something that we don't want to experience again.

On the game being in Jacksonville, Evans hometown:

I do like it. I wouldn't say its a neutral site on both sides just because of the distance, but I think its a good atmosphere for the game and its big down there.

On the constant stadium noise:

It is never quiet at this game. It is a game that just has so much emotion in the crowd and on the field at the same time. It is just a different atmosphere and it is something that we can't experience at any other game but this one.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Green Semifinalists For Biletnikoff Award

FOOTBALL

Sophomore flanker A.J. Green has been named one of 10 semifinalists for the 2009 Biletnikoff Award, according to an announcement from the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation.

The Biletnikoff Award is presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate receiver.

The award is named for Fred Biletnikoff, who was an All-American receiver at Florida State before becoming a member the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame.

The next vote for the top three finalists will take place Nov. 16 and close on Nov. 19. A third vote starting on Dec. 4 will determine this year’s winner.

Green, a 6-4, 207-pound native of Summerville, S.C., is leading the Southeastern Conference in total receiving yards (682), receiving yards per game (97.4) and receptions per game (5.9) through the Dawgs first seven games. Green is tied for the league lead with six receiving touchdowns. He has a pair of 100-yard receiving games this season (137-Arkansas, 153-Arizona State) and has four career games with more than 100 yards receiving.

In addition, Green blocked his first career field goal late in the fourth quarter against the Arizona State to help secure the Dawg’s win.

Green is the only player from the SEC picked as a semifinalist.

The other nine semfinalists are: Freddie Barnes (Bowling Green), Dezmon Briscoe (Kansas), Vincent Brown (San Diego State), Eric Decker (Minnesota), Marshwan Gilyard (Cincinnati), Jordan Shipley (Texas), Demaryius Thomas (Georgia Tech), Golden Tate (Notre Dame) and Mike Williams (Syracuse).

Friday, October 16, 2009

Dawgs Ready For Commodores

FOOTBALL

Saturday's contest is the second of three consecutive road games for the Dawgs. They fell to Tennessee in Knoxville, 45-19, on Oct. 10 to open the road swing. After this week's game against Vanderbilt, the Dawgs will have a bye on Oct. 24 before meeting top-ranked Florida in Jacksonville on Oct. 31. The Dawgs will have gone 35 days without playing a game at Sanford Stadium when they return home to face Tennessee Tech on Nov. 7.

"We need momentum," coach Mark Richt said in regards to the importance of the game against Vanderbilt prior to the bye week. "You gain momentum by executing well and by ultimately winning the ball game. It's like I said Sunday to the team – priority one. There's no priority but to focus on the preparation of this football game. The best thing that can happen to us right now is to win this game, but we got to earn it. This game is crucial. It's big."

Richt named this week's team captains. Three of the four captains will be tackles -- Geno Atkins and Kade Weston on defense and Clint Boling on offense. Redshirt freshman Sanders Commings earned the first captain's "C" of his career to represent the special teams.

The last time the Dawgs played in Nashville was in 2007, they defeated the Commodores, 20-17, with a Brandon Coutu field goal as time expired. Last year, UGA won its second-straight game over VU by a score of 24-14 in Athens. Vanderbilt's only win against UGA during the Richt era came in 2006 in Sanford Stadium by a 24-22 margin. In the all-time series between the schools, the Dawgs lead 49-18-2 overall including a 22-7-1 mark in Vanderbilt Stadium.

Junior linebacker Rennie Curran has been named one of 12 semifinalists for the Rotary Lombardi Award, according to an announcement from the award’s committee late Wednesday.

Injury Report:

Starting fullback Shaun Chapas is doubtful due to “burners,” which are injuries to one or more nerves between your neck and shoulder and are common among athletes who play contact sports like football. If Chapas is unable to play, junior Fred Munzenmaier would be in line to make his first career start and senior Justin Fields would be the backup.

Gymnastics

Courtney Kupets received the Sportswoman of the Year Award for individual sport athletes Tuesday at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. She was honored at the Womens Sports Foundations 30th Annual Salute to Women In Sports Dinner.

As a senior in 2009, Kupets led the Dawgs to their fifth straight NCAA Championship title, and she won the all-around, bars, beam and floor individual competitions. She became the first gymnast ever to win a national title in all four events and received five First-Team All-America honors, making a total of 15 for her career, the maximum for only competing three years.

Kupets is the all-time NCAA leader with nine individual championships and was named SEC Athlete of the Year, as well as the AAI National, NCAA Southeast Regional and SEC Gymnast of the Year. Kupets became the third Gym Dawg ever to record a 10.0 in all four events, and she had seven 10.0s in 2009, including three at the NCAAs.

She was a National Honor Society member, was chosen as ESPN The Magazine First Team Academic All-American and was a recipient of NCAA and SEC postgraduate scholarships. She was also a member of the Blue Key Honor Society and a recipient of the Richard B. Russell Student Leadership Award. She won UGAs Marilyn Vincent Award as the senior female student-athlete with the highest GPA.

It was a great night and a great honor for Courtney and our program as a whole, head coach Jay Clark said. It was a who's who of female athletes and former female athletes in New York and it was great for her to be able to share the stage with them. It was a tremendous honor for her personally and we are awfully proud of her.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Weekly Press Conference, Part 3

FOOTBALL

Coach Mark Richt and several football players met with the media Tuesday during the Dawg's weekly press luncheon. They offered the following comments:

On his role in playcalling:

What I do, and again I think it's the way to do it right now, I will watch film separate from the staff because if you sit in there with the staff you are all kind of thinking on the same line sometimes. One guy might want to look at one thing and another guy might want to look at another thing. I have the ability to look at film without having to put all the nuts and bolts together of the run checks and the protections. I can just basically be a resource for Mike (Bobo) for ideas. If it's base or certain personnel groups or field positions or down-and-distance tendencies, if there is something I see that I like I will jot it down and hand to him and say if you like it, use it and if you don't, don't. I understand being in his position.

There are always good ideas but you have to decide how many of these ideas do we use in this game plan that we can execute properly. I don't want to get him off of the train of thought that he has too. I've had times when coach (Bobby) Bowden, especially game day, would want to insert this or that idea. It was difficult sometimes to keep my focus on where I was going. We laugh about it now and we'd laugh about it on Sunday, but there were a couple of times I went into the office and said, Coach, if you would like to take this thing back over I've got no problem or if you want this series or that series its fine with me. If we are going to have some of these suggestions, let's at least get them in between series. He would always say, I wasn't trying to mess you up, buddy. I can understand where Mike is in the heat of the game, he's in the heat of the battle. If I do make a game suggestion, I try to make it in between series.

There are many times where we are crossing the 50 and I'm saying, Mike you have four downs to get this thing or you have three downs to get this thing. He needs to know on third down if he has two plays to get this thing or one. A lot of things like that happen even to decide should we try to move the ball down the field on a two-minute drill before the half or should we just let the clock run or whatever it may be. I'm heavily involved in those types of things. I might say if its fourth and less than a yard we are going, if it's more than a yard we are punting, so I have to alert those guys too. Those are more of the decisions that Im making game day.

On the Dawg's defense:

I think when we get people in the third and long situations, the possession down, we need to nail it more often. We need to get off the field when we get them there. There are a lot of things we have to improve on all the way across the board with the entire football team. We've gotten ourselves in that position on enough occasions where if we could just finish it I think the outcome of a couple of our games would have been different too.

Safety Bryan Evans

On feelings after the loss on Saturday:

Kind of struck. We are 3-3 now, so we are 500. Last time I remember being 500, was in 06 when we went 4-0 then we lost four games straight. We had a pretty strong finish so that is just something that we have to get turned around.

Comparing the 06 season to this season:

In 06 it was worse than this. We lost 4 straight including losses to Vanderbilt and Kentucky. We just have to go out and win against Vanderbilt and try to get this win streak going.

On contributions that helped turn around the 06 season:

Just never giving up. There were a couple of days where you felt like throwing in the towel, but it's just not our nature to give up so anytime that we can go out and try to get a win and get our win streak up that's what we are going to do.

On not being a front runner in the SEC East:

It's very strange. This loss really set us back a lot. The way the SEC is played it can change at any minute, so you can never say it's not going to happen. Right now, it just feels very weird.

Linebacker Rennie Curran

On feelings after the loss in Knoxville:

Everybody is just ready to get back to work. We all realize what we need to do to get better. Getting in the film room more and doing everything that it takes. We realize as players that our time is limited being college students. At the same time, we have worked so hard this season, and in the off-season, so we can't just let that go for nothing. We just have to continue to fight hard and bounce back, and that is what everybody is doing. We are staying optimistic, not getting down and realize that there are going to be failures, but we just have to continue to fight hard.

On playing smarter and having less mental errors as a defense:

We all want to win, we are all fighting hard and playing our hearts out every single game, but at the same time we have to focus on playing smarter and that starts with our preparation. Coach Martinez could coach his heart out, but it's up to us to stay in the film room for an extra 30 minutes or whatever it may take to learn those formations and those tendencies that will help us on the field when the offense comes out and does something that you haven't seen before. That is only going to come with the time you put in as a player and being a student of the game.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Weekly Press Conference, Continued

FOOTBALL

Head coach Mark Richt and several football players met with the media Tuesday during the Dawg's weekly press luncheon. They offered the following comments:

Coach Mark Richt:

On the Dawg's running backs:

No one has really stood out. No one has really asserted himself to the point where he's our guy. Part of Caleb's issue has been messing around with injuries all the way throughout. Richard (Samuel) has been solid. I think they've all been kind of solid, nothing spectacular. No one really has made the offensive line look better than maybe they are blocking at times. We have pretty much been getting what we've been blocking for, which statistically hasn't been a whole heck of a lot.

I do see improvement. Guys don't get better until they get experience. I think there's improvement. Washaun (Ealey) has shown some sparks here and there. He's still learning what to do on all the little things. Carlton (Thomas) did a nice job this last ballgame. We may see a little bit more of him. It has been a situation where no one man has really separated himself.

On Damon Evans:

I think he said he had concerns about the season if I'm not mistaken. I have concerns about the season of course with the way we've played. As far as the program, we have a very strong program, finishing in the coaches poll No. 10 last year and No. 2 in the AP the year before and six out of seven years in the top 10, that's not bad. That's the past, I understand that. But when you start talking about a program I think you have to start looking at where we've been in the recent history here.

The other thing is the season is not over, its just not over. When some of your main goals not necessarily fall by the wayside, but become less attainable, it's tough on everybody. We are very concerned about how this season has gone, and we are battling as hard as you can possibly battle to get things moving in the right direction this year.

On Marlon Brown:

Marlon is smoothing out his game, I guess is the best way to put it. He is a very good worker, he has a very good attitude. He is a talent, he just needed to get more reps to become a smooth competitor, a smooth receiver. He has proved to be a pretty tenacious blocker. You can tell he wants it, you can tell he's getting better. He has earned a right to play more snaps for us and hopefully he'll get more opportunities to catch the ball because he has good hands.

He's big, he's strong, its just taking him just a little while to get used to college football. He came from a relatively small program. When I say that I'm not trying to demean where he came from because they've done a wonderful job, but I guess the competition level that he played against was an awful lot different from the Southeastern Conference. I think he's just learning how to play with the caliber of athletes on our team and in our league.

On drawing from the 2006 team and they way it finished the season:

It's hard to measure a team's ability to withstand pressure. I think a lot of teams fold under that kind of pressure. A lot of coaching staffs fold under that kind of pressure and we never did. We were very resilient. We were very persistent. We stayed the course. We didn't make a bunch of wholesale changes, whether it was players, coaches or anything like that. We just kept grinding, we kept banging away. You just never know how close you are to success until you live it out. I was pretty proud of that team considering what they went through and how we finished. Even that last ballgame I think we were down 15 or 18 at the half to the No. 1 defense in America. It didn't look like we had much of a chance, but we found a way and there is a lot to be said about that. I might be as proud of that team as I was any team at Georgia considering what everybody went through.

Quarterback Joe Cox:

On Vanderbilt:

They're a good team. You hear about them struggling and think they are having a down year, but they're not. You watch them on film, especially on defense, and they are a real hungry team that's really played well against everybody. They played LSU well, they played Ole Miss well, and they lost a couple of close games that could have gone the other way. They are a well-coached team, and they are every year. They're always disciplined and have really smart players. This year they're hungry. I know they are going to want to get a win versus us more than anything, and we need a win versus them. It's going to come down to who executes the game better and who really wants it more.

On the importance of big plays:

It's huge to have anybody make big plays. Big plays build momentum, and we didn't have any this past game. It's definitely something that we need in this weekend's game against Vanderbilt. Big plays turn the momentum for both sides of the ball, especially big plays in the running game. If you run the ball well, a play-action pass works out a lot better. It just helps out everything about your offense, so we know what needs to be done and we know we need to put a lot more big plays up this weekend.

On the running game:

That's probably been the most frustrating thing is that we know it's there but it hasn't been working. It's something that we got to just keep chipping away at. We know we have good backs, we know we have a good line and we just got to get it going so we know we can do it.