Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tuesday Press Conference – Part 1


Coach Mark Richt

Opening Statement

DSC_0259 We have two teams in very similar situations. Both are coming off heartbreaking losses. Both of them are looking for a Southeastern Conference victory. Both of them are teams that have tremendous fan bases and tremendous tradition and history of playing winning football so we are both, I would say, pretty desperate for a victory right now. Of course I don’t want to speak for Tennessee.

Coach Derek Dooley is heading up the team as we all know. I would think it would have to be an emotional homecoming for him of some sorts, being in Athens so long. I think he’s doing a fine job. He’s a heck of a coach.

I would think it’s going to be a highly-emotional game, a highly-charged game with two teams really fighting like mad for a victory and fighting like mad for the ability to show people that we can play football. It ought to be a good one.

Tennessee-Georgia, enough said I guess.

On the suggestion made during his radio show of leading the team out onto the field:

When the team runs on the field some coaches go first and some coaches carry up the rear. I’ve always let the boys go first.

First of all, I don’t want to get run over. For the most part I feel like it’s their day, it’s their game. Let’s go get it. The caller made a good point. You’re the leader of the pack, why don’t you lead the pack? That makes good sense to me. I think we’ll try that. I’ve been stretching and I’m a little concerned about puling a hamstring if I go too hard. I hope somebody reminds me to do it because old habits die hard. It’s been 10 years and I haven’t done it. I have to get out front and lead the pack, so I think it will be good.

On whether Aaron Murray is the bright spot for the Georgia offense:

DSC_1090Aaron has done well. I think he’s thrown for over 60 percent. I don’t know exactly how many TD’s he’s thrown but his touchdown-interception ratio is very good. He’s making decisions that are very wise so far. He just hasn’t thrown the ball up for grabs. Even the pick last week, it was a situation where he might have held the ball a hair or two too long, but he was getting hit as he released it and didn’t see the guy coming. Overall he’s made very good decisions on not throwing the ball up for grabs. I think his ability to run, his ability to avoid trouble and to actually cross the line of scrimmage and get some first downs, that’s been even better than I thought it would be. I knew he was a good athlete, but I didn’t know he would be able to make that many plays. There are times when he needs to get to his second receiver a little bit quicker, and he needs to be a little more accurate here and there like most guys. To wrap up what he’s done, considering he’s a first-year starter and a freshman, he has done very well. I’ve been pretty proud of him.

On whether he would take an active role in the play calling:

Right now that’s not the plan. I have to be more assertive to let Mike (Bobo) know certain situations. Sometimes if a coach knows he has three downs to get two yards instead of two downs to get two yards, he may call that a little bit different. Or there may be times I’ll say, Let’s run this thing or whatever it might be. I need to be a little more assertive in that way just to give him direction and help him know how to approach it. The bottom line is if we score enough points to win, we don’t have to worry about that.

On practicing the ones vs. ones and twos vs. twos in full pads on Monday:

I’ve never done that. Monday is usually a day in shorts and we do a little running and lifting and meeting. We install a little bit just from a mental standpoint, almost a glorified walk-through just to kind of mend up on all that. I decided that we just needed to put the pads on and we needed to go have a little spring ball, which is No. 1 vs. No. 1.

We had a team run drill where each group had eight plays apiece and the team that won didn’t have to run and the team that lost had to run after practice. Then we had an 11-on-11, which is more of anything goes, 1st-and-10 type scrimmage where you can run or pass with the same criteria, winners and losers. Then we put the ball on the four-yard line and got in a goal line situation and said you have four downs to score a touchdown, but you have to stay in your goal line offense and defense and you can’t throw the ball. It has to be a physical confrontation.

We did that and I thought the players responded beautifully. I thought it pumped some life into those guys. I think they had fun playing football and blocking and tackling. We haven’t been blocking and tackling good enough.

I’m going back to my original philosophy when I came to Georgia and that’s when I would say it’s hard to get better blocking without blocking and tackling, so I went back to that philosophy.

What got me off that philosophy?

A lot of it had to do with the one season when we had 32 guys hurt going into the year. You start out with camp and another one goes and another one goes. There are different schools of thought. One is you have to block and tackle to block and tackle well. The other one is let’s get everybody to the gate healthy and let’s kind of play our way into this game and pick our shots when we do those types of things. We did the least amount of that in camp than we’ve ever done.

Is it biting us in the rear end right now? Probably so.

That’s a decision I made based on what I just told you. The only thing I know how to do is go back to the basics of blocking and tackling and make sure we do that well.

On whether he will carry that philosophy going forward:

Yes I will. It’s hard not to flinch sometimes when you have your red cross looking pretty rough, but it’s part of football.

On whether he has talked to Vince Dooley about the Tennessee game:

Once or twice. He did mention to me basically what he said publicly in that I think he said he was going to stay at home and watch this one. I’m sure he’ll probably see (Derek Dooley) the night before the game. I’m assuming he would. I don’t know what he’ll do, that’s their business. Coach (Vince) Dooley absolutely loves the University of Georgia. There is no doubt about that. It’s such a big part of his life, but I think he loves Derek more, which he should.

On how his spiritual side keeps him going:

The bottom line is I have faith in the Lord. I basically submitted my life to Christ in 1986. From that day forward my goal was to, on a daily basis, try to love Him and obey Him and try to do things that will please Him. That’s been my motivation and my focus, so that hasn’t changed. God is the No. 1 focus of my life, period. I just happen to coach football. If I did something else then my relationship to the Lord wouldn’t change. I’m true to myself, I’m true to who I am, and if that’s attractive to anybody that’s good. If not, that’s OK too.

On whether the head coaching job is always fun:

Is it always fun? Head coaching isn’t always fun. I can tell you that, even when you are winning. Anybody who has head coached long enough knows that everything you do in your job is not fun. The purest form of fun in coaching is coaching. Coaching your position and getting to know those kids really good and just being there to show them the way. To be able to focus just on the art of coaching the game and the strategy and all the things it entails, that’s the most fun.

Head coaching, you have all kinds of stuff you get to do. I get to hang out with you guys a lot, that’s fun. That’s one of the fun parts.

Is it as fun as it has always been?

If you said as fun, yeah it’s as fun. I can’t say it’s off-the-chain fun, but it’s a responsibility that I enjoy and I know that I’m where God wants me to be and that’s very important to me, so that’s what gives me the peace.

On being a 13-point favorite against Tennessee:

Are you kidding me?

I hope they are right.

I don’t look at those things, but wow.

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