Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Richt On 2011


DSC_2939Coach Mark Richt spoke to the national media last week at SEC Media Days in Birmingham.

He was asked what it means to the program to be able to play in the Chick-Fil-A kickoff game.

Coach Richt: Well, I'll say this: when we we’re making the decision, should we play this Chick-Fil-A game, should we play against Boise State, a lot of things went through my mind personally.

Where we were at that time was a decline in our record, a decline in how people perceived our program, a place that I didn't really like, I wasn't very comfortable in, wasn't used to. I said, ‘What better way to send a surge of energy into this program than to schedule a game like that?’

So now to play Boise State, as I mentioned earlier, opening game, in the Georgia Dome, with hopefully a bunch of wild and crazy rabid Dawg fans giving us energy, it's going to be great for us. But there's risk in playing a team that can whip your tail because they might whip your tail. But in order for us to get back where we want to be, which is highly ranked and highly thought of, we need to play this game.

How much pressure and how important are freshmen such as Isaiah Crowell, Malcolm Mitchell, Ray Drew and John Jenkins?

Coach Richt: Well, we don't really expect a freshman to come in and carry our program. We expect him to come in and compete. We expect him to learn what to do. If they have the talent base, they're mature enough to be prepared to play, we'll play them.

When it comes to junior college guys like Jenkins, we expect a junior college guy to come in and play. We don't expect him to redshirt. We don't expect him to be hanging around a while. We know he's two years older, more mature, playing at a high level of football in the junior college ranks. We're expecting Jenkins to come in and play right now and maybe become a starter for us if he can beat out Kwame Geathers.

But there is question we will need help from our freshman class to become a championship team, I don't have any doubt about that.

I don't know if you guys get a chance to talk to our other players, asking Aaron Murray, Brandon Boykin, Ben Jones about those young guys, they've seen them more than we have. They're running those summer workouts. But I think they've got some high expectations from some of the guys that are coming in, and a few that you

Most coaches talk about taking one game at a time. You said you were looking forward to your opening 'games,' plural. How good do you think South Carolina is?

Coach Richt: I think they're a great football team. I think they have tasted what it's like to be a champion. They've tasted what it's like to play in the dome for the Southeastern Conference championship. They have a lot of guys returning in the middle of all that. They have a head coach who understands how to win, who understands how to win championships. I think the players are beginning to understand it, too.

That's part of the problem, is when teams believe. That's one of the biggest issues with Boise State. All they do is win. They don't know anything else. They don't know how to lose, so to speak. When you play teams that really get in the habit of winning and are talented and well-coached, it's very, very problematic.

But that's where we want to be, too.

Coming off a seven-loss season, why do you think expectations are so high?

Coach Richt: Why?

Because of a few thing. Number one, we know we've got an outstanding bunch of football players and some outstanding coaches. We know we have a great fan base. We know that six of our losses were within a touchdown in the fourth quarter. If we just finished better, we'll have a better season. We're not getting blown out of the water, we just didn't win. We know that.

We had a tremendous recruiting class. There's tremendous momentum that was gained by the young men who decided to become a Dawg. I can't talk about names or whatever, but we're getting guys that are committing to us not only for the 2012 class, but 2013 and even 2014. So people have faith in our program and our leadership.

There's a lot of reasons to be very optimistic about what's going on.

This is your 11th year, how difficult is it being at a school in the SEC for over a decade?

Coach Richt: It's not difficult if you win (laughter).

It's not difficult if you win 9, 10, 11 a year, win the Eastern Division every other year, win the SEC every three or four years. It's not a problem at all.

It's when you go 6-7, that's when it's a problem.

But greater days are coming. The best is yet to come.

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