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