Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bowl Press Conference – Part 1


Coach Mark Richt

DSC_0013Opening statement:

I’ve been running around the Southeast and around the country recruiting. I actually just got off a plane and got here just in time for this press conference. I have been watching film of UCF on my own. I videotaped their championship game. UCF is a very, very good football team. Coach George O’Leary, as we all know, is an outstanding coach. He’s done a beautiful job with their program. 

When you are 6-6 and playing in a bowl, you kind of hope you are playing a 6-6 team. We are playing a 10-3 team. We are playing a championship team. It is going to be a great challenge for us. The good news is they are a top-25 ranked team. They are a championship team and we are going to have a chance to beat a very good football team.

Were looking forward to going to Memphis to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. I’ve heard nothing but great things about it. Anybody I’ve talked to who has been there says the hospitality is tremendous. I think where we are staying is a great place, a very unique place. Its very close to all the activities the players need to get to, so I’m not even sure we are even going to need a car or bus ride when we get out there, which is nice. Were going to practice today and finish the morning of the 21st. Right around 10:00 or so everybody will go home for Christmas, then well meet up at the bowl site on the 26th.

On the comparison of Aaron Murray to David Greene:

Aaron Murray and David Greene are very similar in their approach to the game. I’d say that’s the thing they are most similar. When Coach Mike Bobo and I started meeting with our quarterbacks 10 years ago when David was in the room with the others, he just was very proficient at listening, at writing down all the information, and then you could see him go through the progressions that you teach him. You could see him going exactly the way you say to progress. You could just tell he was creating some very good habits. That was one of the greatest emphasis we had this fall was for these young quarterbacks to create a lot of great habits that would serve them well for their entire careers at Georgia, not just this season. Habits of just the QB-center exchange, the ball-handling, you remember how David was such a good ball-handler and he would do a great job faking the ball. I think Aaron has taken that very seriously. Just your footwork in the pocket, knowing when to move up in the pocket and as you move up in the pocket to keep your focus downfield. Just not feeling like you have to throw the ball into coverage all the time or make some type of fantastic play, just learning to throw the ball away is OK. Very few turnovers Aaron has had this year, and David didn’t have a lot of turnovers either. Just the approach to the game I think is the thing that is the most similar about them. I think another thing is they had the respect of their teammates at a very young age, which is very good to have. I think both of them have that. They have a little bit different style, a little different stature. Sorry David, but Murray is a little more athletic than David was, but David has the 6-4 height advantage and that type of thing. Just great guys, guys that you as a coach have a lot of confidence to allow them to be the leader of your team.

Statistically Aaron has had a better season. Aaron could have one of the best if not the best statistical seasons of all QBs at Georgia, so just from a statistical point of view, you’d have to say Aaron did have a better first season. Greene certainly had some real quality wins in there and a little bit better record overall, but I think they both did their jobs extremely well as freshmen.

On whether he thought UGA would have been 6-6 given Aaron Murray's performance, fewer penalties and fewer turnovers:

No, I wouldn’t have. If we had known he would have been as efficient as he was, turnovers got in the right direction in a positive way, our penalty situation was much improved. To think that you would be 6-6, I’d say no. But when we did turn it over, there were some very inopportune times for those to happen. That cost us. But no, I never would have dreamed that. 

On whether passing efficiency is the No. 1 statistic for a quarterback:

It’s a pretty good guide as to how the guy is playing the game. It really is. I think the pass efficiency is a pretty good way to be able to take a snapshot of what the guy is getting done, but there are so many other things. You could also say how many games are we winning with him. How many championships has he won? I know a lot of people will talk about that when it comes to quarterbacks. I think when you talk about the course of a career, I think that’s probably something you want to measure. Right now Aaron has done just about everything we could have asked him to do at this point.

On Garrison Smith:

Garrison, we think he is a young man who is strong enough to compete at the Southeastern Conference level this season. He has great punch, we call it. When he runs into a guy, he can use his hands well. He has a low center of gravity. He has a great change of direction. He’s still learning his trade, but we think he’s had a nice freshman year. We don’t think there is any question he’ll be a lot better next year with the experience he’s gained and with the offseason we believe he’ll have. Of course you have DeMarcus Dobbs moving out of there, Brandon Wood moving out of there, Kiante Tripp moving out of there, so its just going to automatically create more playing time for guys like Garrison, but we’re really proud of what he did and we think he is going to be an outstanding football player.

On how Florida's hiring of Will Muschamp impacts Georgia:

I think one thing about Florida, Florida State and Miami, UCF and South Florida, they have a big state. There are a lot of players in that state. They are going to have plenty of guys to recruit in their state no doubt. But they are dipping into Georgia and we are dipping into Florida. I don’t think that is going to change at all. I think Will is a very fine coach. I don’t know if he’ll admit it to anybody, but he’s still a Georgia man in a lot of ways. I think he’ll do well. He’s a good coach and a good person.

On new Florida head coach Will Muschamp coaching against Georgia:

For me personally, the first time I was at Florida State coaching against Miami, my alma mater, all the preparation, the offseason, even the week of the game, I didn’t think much of it. You watch the film, look at what they are doing and get a plan, and you are just working. I will say when we got to the game, I remember the Miami team hitting the field, knowing a good many of those players and coaches. Those were my colors at one time. So it was a little bit weird to get started, but once we started playing the game it kind of got back to business. It was kind of similar to when we played in the Sugar Bowl against Florida State here at Georgia. There was a little bit of emotion as the thing got rolling, but then once you start playing you just want to win the game maybe even more so because its your alma mater or where you worked for a long time.

On Aron White speaking at the UGA commencement on Friday:

That’s tremendous. I was really excited for him. As some people know and some don’t know, Aron White will be speaking and represent the students at the commencement Friday. He is taking it very, very seriously. He has come by and talked to me about it. He emailed me a copy of it, I haven’t had a chance to look at it yet, but he has it down pretty good. He knows it’s a tremendous honor. He’s taking it very seriously and he just wants to do a good job. I’m really proud of that, and I’m hoping we can get some good pictures of that. That belongs in all our recruiting materials and things you want to start bragging about. Aron is a highlight, no doubt.

It will definitely be a positive thing for Georgia football, for Aron personally, for the University of Georgia. I know he wants to represent the student body well, and as he said, our program well. I think it is a very positive thing for us.

On Aron White wanting to become an athletic director:

He is very capable, very intelligent, very outgoing. He communicates extremely well with people and I think that is a big part of that job. I think he’s smart enough to get the big picture. I think with the right training, he could make an outstanding athletic director.

On Darryl Gamble's career:

I think his career has been very solid. I think the NFL people really like him. They see that he can play inside linebacker, outside linebacker, special teams, he’s been outstanding in that regard. He’s been healthy most all of his career. He just has a big frame, and he’s a good instinctive football player. When it comes to linebacker play, some guys never have a good day like he had against LSU in 2008 with the two pick sixes. That’s what gets everybody’s attention, more so than a 15-tackle ballgame. It’s not surprising that he didn’t have another game that would outshine that, but he’s played a lot of really good football for us. There are some senior all-star games that are interested in him, and we are hoping to nail something down with him too.

On other Georgia seniors participating in all star games:

Clint Boling has been offered the opportunity to go to the Senior Bowl, and Akeem Dent has been offered the opportunity to go to the East-West, Kris Durham has been offered the opportunity to be at the Texas vs. the Nation game. There are other seniors we are working on right now. What happens sometimes is a guy will bump from the East-West to the Senior and that opens an opportunity for the East-West. So there are a lot of things that happen between now and then, but we have a lot of guys sitting up on there waiting lists who hopefully will get those opportunities.

Tightend Aron White

DSC_5664On speaking at UGA graduation this Friday:

I thought about it and it sounded like a good idea, so I wrote a speech, filled out an application, had an interview and got called back and they chose me. It was surprising at first but I’m excited about it. I don’t have a specific theme, but I touch on the University of Georgia and what it means to me, the value of the degree you get from here when you graduate. I talk about the rich traditions that we have and our graduating class and the things we’ve seen since we’ve been here. I’ve given speeches in class but never as big as this one.

On the differences between playing football and giving a speech:

To me its easier to play in front of 90,000 people because it’s what I’ve always done I’ve played since the fifth grade and it’s my comfort zone. I think I’ll be out of my comfort zone on Friday, but at the same time I feel like I’m a pretty personable guy and I think I am a pretty eloquent speaker. Hopefully I’ll do alright.

On representing the football team:

I feel like I am. I think there’s only been two student-athletes who have spoken at graduation and I’m very much a reflection of the football team and Georgia athletics. I want to come away from the speech with people having a positive opinion of us. I think our reputation has suffered the last couple of years and we haven’t had the best showing to the public. I want people to know the good things we do and show the positive headlines. That’s one of my goals, to be proactive instead of reactive as far as the perception of our team. It’s important for us to combat that and take a more positive approach to what were doing here.

On what finals week is like for the players:

It’s really pretty hectic. We finish the season and everyone thinks were done, but during the season you fall behind in your schoolwork and a lot of us are playing catch-up now and cramming for finals. Beyond that we still have workouts and runs and lifts to stay in shape, so when finals are over we can hit the ground running. It’s a struggle. We’ll have to shake the rust off. We have our first practice today and hopefully hit it full swing. We don’t want to be slowed down. It’s tough but for the older players we are used to it and know what it takes. We know bowl practice is tough because it’s an all-day affair kind of like preseason is. We need to rise to the occasion.

On the bowl game:

I haven’t lost a bowl game here and I want to keep that going against UCF. They are a great team. They won their conference, which is something we didn’t accomplish, so hopefully we can show that the SEC is a dominant conference.

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