Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tuesday Press Conference – Part 2


Coach Mark Richt

DSC_4031 I was impressed with Carlton Thomas. Even Wednesday last week, to me, I thought it was iffy whether he’d play. Thursday he did everything and said he felt good, so I had a little more peace and a little more confidence. I was thinking we might have to play Ken Malcome, and I didn’t think Ken was ready, but we were getting close to having to do that. But it was good for him to hold onto it.

Another guy I’m just going to mention because I’ve had people ask about him, a young guy who is doing good things. Blake Sailors has been just stellar. He’s just been a tremendous special teams player.

On that kickoff team, he’s part of the reason we are ranked No. 1. It’s more than him, but he’s the first guy down every time and now he’s got to the point where he’s the guy they are trying to double team and harass and knock the heck out of. He’s on a couple of the special teams where when we punt the ball, we have our gunners going down there trying to make those guys force the fair catch. He’s doing a great job of being in their face and forcing that.

Of course he was right there against Tennessee where the punt returner bobbled it and I think it was him who caught it in mid-air because he was standing there ready to get it. He’s having a heck of a go here at the special teams.

On the importance of Washaun Ealey’s performance against Vanderbilt:

CSC_4466 Very important. I think for him as much as for us. We know Washaun hasn’t tried to fumble. We know Washaun has actually had pretty good fundamentals in securing the ball at times when the balls come out. The one shot, I guess it was Mississippi State, when he caught the ball down the middle, both safeties blasted him at the same time and the ball came out. He was securing the ball well. He wasn’t trying to reach it out. He wasn’t trying to hold it out where it was dangerous.

The one, I think Tennessee, where he was along the sideline, from what I could see he had it high and tight. He was doing what he was supposed to do. Even though you have good fundamentals, if it comes out a lot you just aren’t going to play as much, but I don’t think I was sitting there going, ‘This kid doesn’t even listen to what we say.’ He was just a victim of some pretty good shots. He also maybe had to learn to squeeze it just a little bit harder. So I was glad for him.

On whether Carlton Thomas is the change of pace back:

He’s not a situational back. We don’t say, ‘Hey, he’s in there third-and-medium, third-and-long.’ He’s in there first, second and third down. We substitute more by series than we do situation, or if a guy is just gassed. Washaun had one long run, he went right, cut back, had a 50-something yard run and he was a little bit blown up and tired so we threw Carlton in there.

I remember having Warrick Dunn, and everybody was like, ‘You can’t feed the guy that many. He can’t run between the tackles.’ That wasn’t true. He was getting probably 17-25 carries and at least 25 touches a game, sometimes receiving the ball. It never bothered him, and he did it in the NFL a good bit too. I think Carlton is probably as tough as Warrick Dunn was.

On whether Aaron Murray’s ball security has been surprising:

The surprising things from Aaron for me was how many plays he has made running the ball. I knew he was mobile and I thought he would bide time moving around the pocket. I thought he would run for a first down every once in a while, but I didn’t think he would be able to make the kinds of plays he’s been making. His speed has actually been impressive. Not that he’s running away from everybody, but he’s not getting run down in a hurry either.

The other thing is his ability to take some shots. He’s taken, I thought, some pretty brutal licks, and he’s stood up to that pretty good.” He’s thrown very few balls in a dangerous spot. He’s thrown very few balls that could have gotten intercepted. And I think his accuracy is improving. It’s one thing to complete balls, it’s another thing to hit people on the move. I think he’s begun to really hit people on the move a whole lot better.”

On defenses changing what they do to stop A.J. Green:

CSC_4491 I don’t think there’s much doubt that he’s drawn the most attention of anybody I’ve coached. There has definitely been an A.J. Green plan so far. He changes everything. Just like last week, we’ve never seen Vanderbilt play a cover two to the flanker position or to where A.J. was, and invert their safety weak side into the running game, play more of a single coverage type situation on the ‘X’ receiver.

When we’re in pro-I that’s kind of been the coverage people are turning to to give themselves the best chance and not just letting him run free. A lot of the route concepts that we do, usually people don’t play their softest corner to the wide side of the field because it’s the farthest throw, and there is more time to react. But when you play soft corner out there, whether it’s a quarters coverage or coverage three or even man coverage, you are, in essence, in man coverage. In that space of the field there is one guy against your guy, and a lot of the route concepts we run, the cover threes, the quarters coverage, the man coverage, we run a lot of those concepts whether it’s A.J. or not.

When it’s A.J., it’s more of a dangerous thing to be involved in, so they are tying to double him, but they are also trying to keep us from throwing certain concepts that aren’t quite as good into cover two. By doing that it’s one less guy in the running game and they are more vulnerable to things on the weak side of the field. When he becomes a slot receiver things change.

We’re down in the red zone against Vanderbilt and we’re seeing coverages we’ve never seen before down in that area. A lot of times teams are more reluctant to change in the red zone because there’s not as much space, but people are now, as I see it, are trying to find him and they are trying to make sure if he’s here do this, if he’s here do that. When you start seeing coverages you’ve not seen before, then you know it’s because of A.J.

As you’re planning, you’re seeing what they are doing all the last five games, and you know if they do what they’ve been doing, these are good things to run against it. In the back of your mind, what if they do something completely different, and what’s it going to be and how are we going to react then? I thought we adjusted well to getting those other guys involved. That’s part of the reason why those other guys are getting more involved. A.J., he probably could have had three or four more catches.

#30- Tailback Carlton Thomas

On the team getting through the hard times this season:

CSC_4153 We had to stick together no matter what, like a family. We knew what we had since back in the summer, and when things weren’t going our way we weren’t doing what we knew we could do. We pulled together and took a stand – that’s what we did. Everything’s getting better and we pulled out some wins.

On the team leaders:

They’ve played a big role. We have some very good leaders on this team in guys like Akeem Dent, Clint Boling and those guys. They just know how to talk to us and when it’s time to stand up and lead. We all want to go out there and win for those guys. When we weren’t going too well, they stood up and everyone followed behind. They make sure we’re doing it right every day.

On the approach to Kentucky:

We learned this season that you need to take everyone seriously. Every team could be the one that upsets you, so we know not to take any team lightly. Kentucky has been in a lot of close games. We need to execute our game plan like we did the last two weeks.

#11 Quarterback Aaron Murray

On last year’s loss to Kentucky and limiting turnovers:

DSC_4428 It was turnovers and penalties. They are costly and lately we aren’t shooting ourselves in the foot like we did in some of those losses. Some of those plays set us back to kicking field goals or not getting as many points as we wanted, and that’s helped in the last two weeks. We have to continue to do what Coach Richt says with protecting the football and not committing those costly turnovers. Hopefully that trend keeps going.

On the SEC East race:

You never know each week who is going to win – we witnessed that the last couple weeks in the SEC, especially the East. It’s been a whirlwind for everybody. All you can do is focus on yourself and keep winning and see how it all unfolds.

On Kentucky:

They are a great team. We have to work hard this week. Kentucky is a great team that will play all 60 minutes. You can’t go out there and expect to play three quarters because they will put up some late touchdowns on you. It’s a big game for us and we need to keep on our streak right now.

#16 Split End Kris Durham

On the team’s road struggles:

DSC_4169It’s not really a mindset thing, we just weren’t finishing. We weren’t playing to our caliber and it’s not like we couldn’t have won – we didn’t finish. We put ourselves in a position to win and then didn’t finish. We’ve worked on that and have been able to do that the last couple weeks.

On the team’s recent confidence:

Regardless of who you are playing, we believe we have the capability of winning. We’re confident. Unfortunately this year we haven’t played as well as we should have. A couple of wins does carry over because we see the playmaking abilities that we have. We’ve played close games before and have confidence in ourselves in those situations. We’ve seen that the game can change with just one play.

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