Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Game Week Media Conference


DSC_0259Head Coach Mark Richt

Opening Statement...

“It’s finally here – game week. It’s been a long time waiting for this ballgame. The minute we announced we were playing this game, I think it created a buzz. I know it created a buzz here in the Butts-Mehre building with our players. I remember when we first announced it to the team, looking at the excitement on some of the guys’ eyes and even the disappointment on some of the seniors’ eyes that they weren’t going to be able to be a part of it. It’s been a big deal to us to know that we are going to play Boise State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. So it’s here. I can remember when it was 104 days away, and now it’s four days away. It’s moving right along.

“Boise State, as we all know, is the winningest team in college football since 1997. Coach Chris Peterson has done a tremendous job of getting those guys to believe, getting those guys to play with confidence, swagger and intensity. They are great fundamentally. They just play so hard. They know what they are doing, and they believe in what they are doing, and for good reason. Because they are a team that wins, they will be a very difficult team to beat. Teams that are in the habit of winning are hard to beat, there is no doubt about that.

“Offensively, they were No. 2 in the country in total offense last year. Over the last few years they have been in the top five in scoring nationally. They are just in the habit of doing that. When you look at their scores it’s 51 points, 57 points, 49 points, 42 points. Every once in a while they will play a game in the 30s. Every time they play they just rack it up. They are used to doing that. One of the big reasons for that is their quarterback Kellen Moore, who we know is a senior. He is an extremely accurate passer. He is a guy that you can tell understands the system extremely well, and he has all the confidence in his skill people to make plays. He is complimented by Doug Martin, their great running back. D.J. Harper also plays a good bit. I was sorry to hear about the No. 3 back who is injured. I know what it’s like to have one of your players to have an ACL for the second or third time and cost a guy another season. That’s tough on those guys.

“Doug is very, very physical back. He is a guy who always gets positive yards after contact. I’ve seen him break big runs. He has good speed. I’m sure he loves his fullback, Dan Paul. He’s a real physical guy, another senior who is a big part of what they do in their offense. He may not have a lot of yards, but of course they use their fullback similar to what we do as far as being a big-time blocker and a guy who sets the tone physically.

“Up front, Thomas Byrd, their center, and Nate Potter, their left tackle, are probably their two finest. They are breaking in a couple of guys on the right side, and I’m sure they will be just as good as the ones who played a year ago. Their tight end is back. Tyler Shoemaker, more of a slot receiver, is back. I’m assuming that’s the role he is going to continue to play for them.

“Defensively, it’s just as impressive if not more impressive what they’ve done. Last year they led the nation in sacks and led the nation in red zone defense. They were No. 2 in the nation in total defense and had a few shutouts along the way. The thing that is interesting about this defense, as far as we’re concerned, is they are returning just about everybody. They are going to have nine or 10 seniors starting on that defense and one or two juniors starting on that defense, guys who have played a lot of football and played a lot together.

“Billy Winn is a beast inside. He is a certain first round draft pick in my opinion and in most everybody’s opinion. Really across the board, their front is super physical. They all have a bunch of sacks and tackles for loss. I think they might have been first or second in the nation in tackles for loss. Their front seven is very tough.

“The 4-3 is their base defense, but they will get into a 3-4 look when they begin to play more of the spread set. It’s a lot like what other people do across the country. They have an outstanding linebacking corps. I know Tommy Smith is a Georgia boy from North Atlanta High School. He is going to get an opportunity to possibly start. Either he or Byron Hout will start at the “mike linebacker.” Their safety is George Iloka, he led the team in tackles last year with 63 on the perimeter and does a great job.

“From what I understand they aren’t sure who is going to be their place kicker yet, but they do an outstanding job on special teams as well, so we know it’s going to be a challenge there.

“Again, they are a great football team, a team that we have to get ready to do battle with. We are excited about it, and we’re thankful to be in this game. We’re glad that the Georgia Bulldog fans have risen to the occasion as far as getting ready to show up and cheer on the Dogs.”

On if he puts Georgia's Aaron Murray and Boise State's Kellen Moore in a similar mold…

"I wouldn't put Murray in his category yet. Kellen has done so much. He will end up being the winningest quarterback in the history of college football. It's not a slight against Aaron, but Aaron just hasn't played as many games and won any championships or anything like that. This guy right now I would say is deadly accurate. There's a difference between completions and hitting a guy on the dead run and hitting a guy exactly where they need to be hit. He throws it so accurately that he allows his receivers to really get some good yards after catch. I have not seen him use his wheels like Aaron has, but part of the reason why Aaron ran last year was maybe not being 100-percent sure he wanted to throw it into a certain coverage so he took off running. He actually did a pretty good job of it. I think Kellen would be less likely to cross the line of scrimmage, although he's mobile and can make plays moving around. He's a little bit more mature than Aaron in his play. I think Aaron is a heck of player, and I think Aaron is going to play extremely well for us this season. Kellen is the leading passer in the country returning as far as QB rating and things of that nature. I think he hit 70-percent of his passes. Aaron is getting there, but I don't know if he's there yet.

On the culture of change at Georgia, offseason training and having a 240 pound running back in Richard Samuel…

"We had a great offseason I believe. I have seen the results. I've seen guys bulked up pretty good. I've seen guys that have a lot of stamina in practice. I will say that when we did move our practices to the a.m. during came that it helped our guys. It was cooler in the morning, but we've had a couple weeks of the heat in the afternoon once school began and I still see guys that are holding up pretty darn good. Richard Samuel being 240 pounds is a very big physical, fast guy. He's not much for dodging people. He's an outstanding pass protector too. Every once and a while there will be a guy or two that will make the whole team look tough, and he's one of those type of guys. I think the offseason went extremely well. I think guys are in a really good frame of mind right now, and like everybody else in the nation ready to hit somebody besides their teammates."

On the physical factor in games last year…

"I personally think we just didn't finish well last year, so there are a lot of things that we could do better. We lost the close games. In years' past, we've won the close games. Is it because of the physical nature? Is it because guys didn't make a play here? Or the ball bounced the wrong way? Whatever it may be, the bottom line is we just didn't get the job done. So we are looking forward to turning that around and getting it done this season."

On the buildup for the Georgia-Boise State game and if it will determine how the rest of the season goes…

"It is a big build up for an opening game I think because of who we are playing, where we are playing and maybe a little bit of the uniform issue and all that kind of thing. So there's an awful lot of hype going into this ball game compared to some other opening games. I don't personally think that the season is riding on the one game. It's really not. It's a game that we absolutely want to win. It's a game that we expect to win. We talk a lot about winning the Eastern Division, and that is the one thing that we can control. It really has no bearing on the Southeastern Conference race, so it doesn't really get in the way of that goal or the goal of winning the Southeastern Conference. What I do think it's going to do is give us a pretty good feel of what we are made of right away. It's also going to be a great teacher of what it's going to take to win in our league down the road. I think it's very positive that we are playing the game, and I certainly would love to win it because we can create some really good momentum from that but I don't think the season is riding in the balance."

On contrasting now compared to when Georgia played Boise State in 2005…

"At that time, I know that that was kind of the upset special. That was kind of the game that a lot of people were pointing to say what's going to be the upset of the week or the opening game of the season. A lot of people were picking Boise State to win that game. But I didn't blame them. I looked at the film. They had quite a few pros on that team. We did them here (in Athens). We did get them on a really blistering hot day and humid day. I think that was a factor that day. We started well and grabbed momentum early and never looked back. They never really got a chance to get it going. On any given day, if we had got the ball first and thrown a pick on the first play of the game who knows what would have happened to us that day. You just never know. The score that day I don't think was indicative of the difference in the teams as much as the momentum that was taken early, and we never relinquished it so to speak.

On if Georgia has learned anything on Boise State from transfer Michael Tamburo…

"You would have to ask coach Todd Grantham on that. I don't know if he's really spent a lot of time with him on that. It's very obvious that we have everyone's film. We can study all the film. We can talk to other coaches that have played them. That's where we get all our information from. Todd might have spent time with him, but I really don't know. You'd have to ask Todd on that."

On Michael Tamburo's outlook…

"It's early for him, but he's got ability. The one thing he did get to do and that I got a taste for his abilities is in our practice games. He was one of the quarterbacks that played on that day, and you can see he has got some nerve staying in the pocket. The pocket wasn't all that great at times, but he stood in there and made some really fine throws and seemed to be very accurate. He hasn't got an awful lot of reps at all with our offensive units. I've seen him throw a few passes here and there when we throw with our receivers, but at this point, the guys who are getting the most work are the guys that are going to play right now."

On what other opposing coaches have said about Boise State…

"I'd say opposing coaches say 'get ready.' They say 'these guys know how to play the game of football.' They're going to get after you. You better be prepared. They are relentless in their play. They are well coached. They believe. Lately, they've started fast and furious on both sides of the ball."

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