Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pre Season Press Conference


Coach Mark Richt

CSC_6367I’m glad it’s time for football, glad we’re practicing today. It’ll be hot and I know you’ll have some questions about that. We’ll try to cover those as you ask them. It’s certainly smokin’ hot out there right now. I’m just thankful we’ve now got real grass out there that we can practice on and there’s actually a breeze up top there. So I think that’s gonna help us. There are some other things we’ll be doing to pay attention to the heat.

Yesterday morning we did a test of guys running. Overall, we did very well there. We’re still dealing with summer school classes today and tomorrow with final exams. We’ve actually had to get them up at 6 o’clock in the morning and spend a little time with them. I think this is the 2nd time this has happened in the 11 years I’ve been at Georgia, where we’ve had to try and work around final exams of summer school, and still try and get your acclimation days in at the same time. It’s been a little bit tough to manage, but we’ve worked really well with our academic advisers. This morning we also had a walk-through before guys had exams, and we’ll be back this afternoon for acclimation practice #1, which will be in shorts and helmets.

On how the heat has changed plans for preseason.

Well, here’s what we’re going to do. First of all, the first two practices will be in the afternoon. The good news is that, because of the acclimation, the first couple of days need to be in shorts and helmets. I think that’s going to help them, just because they’re not in full pads. We’re adding an extra break or two. We always have water breaks in the middle of practice, but we’re adding another couple of breaks, get them
under some shade, get them where they can hydrate.

The other thing is, if a kid’s in a drill, and this is all the time at Georgia. If a guy is in a drill­ let’s say there are five guys in a drill, and each guy is taking his turn doing the drill. If the first guy gets his rep in and he’s waiting in the back of the line for another minute or so, we have student trainers right there with water, PowerAde all day long. So, they can hydrate during the entire practice, but there will be four times in the middle of practice when we’ll stop, get some shade and make sure they’re hydrating.

The other thing is, starting Saturday we’re actually going to practice in the morning. We’re doing that because of the heat and also because of the cycle of rain. Normally the thunderstorms happen in the afternoon, and if it happens in the middle of a practice, it’s just hard to recover, or try to re-schedule a practice in the middle of the night. So, we’re going to practice in the morning because of the weather patterns and also because it’s going to be 10 to 15 degrees cooler.

Sometimes we concern ourselves with not practicing in the heat. You might play a game in the heat, but we also know that once school begins, we have to practice in the afternoon, so we’ll have two weeks of practicing in the afternoon before Game 1. And we all know that Game 1 is in the Dome, so that won’t be much of a factor. We’ll play Game 2 at 4:30, so we think three weeks will be enough time to practice in the afternoon.

The fact that we’re on grass now and not on the Field Turf will be good. It’ll be cooler than we’re used to. There is a breeze up there, a lot better than it is on the Field Turf now. Even during a break, if we need to dip inside our big indoor area, we can actually hydrate and cool down for a couple of minutes. I think all of those things will really help us a lot.

On being ranked in the first Coaches’ Top 25 poll.

It’s nice to be mentioned without any doubt. It’s more important where you are at the end. I think it’s a good sign for the program. It’s a good sign of respect if coaches feel like Georgia is a Top 25 team.

On the difference in preparing now versus preparing for the 2002 season,
when it had been 20 years since Georgia’s previous SEC championship.

We were in this room last night and I referred to the 2002 season, the preseason, and some of the things we had talked about. There are some similarities. It hadn’t been 20 years since our last championship, more like five or six, which is too long in my mind. But we talked a little about the mindset of the team and the program, going into 2002, and we did mention that it had been 20 years. We talked about some of the reasons why it had been 20 years.

Are we preparing any differently?

I think, as far as practice schedules and that type of thing, it’s certainly different because some of the NCAA rules have changed. But the mentality has got to be different. We need to make sure our mentality is right.

On depth concerns dictating the way preseason practice is run

Right now we've scheduled 11 days in full pads, three of which are scrimmages, one is a special teams practice, and two others are just for scout-team purposes. So there are really just going to be five of what I call competition days’ in full pads. There will be 11 practices in shells and approximately six or seven in shorts. So I think we have a
good mix of making sure we do things we need to do to get better at blocking and tackling.

One thing I like about coach Todd Grantham is that he’s so used to playing with a 53-man roster. When you look at a college depth chart, you’re thinking, man, we might be thin. And he says, coach, I’m used to playing with 53 guys. 

He’s right.

There are some spots where we can’t afford many injury issues. I say that, but then someone could step up and do something great. This is a story from way back, but I recall when Kentrell Curry had some type of pre-season leg injury and I was thinking, we just don’t have enough safeties. What in the world are we going to do? So we said, well, let’s just take Thomas Davis and move him to safety. It might have been the best thing we ever did. He was one of the greatest safeties I’ve seen in college football. Sometimes, it just forces a guy into a different situation and it becomes a great thing for him.

Addressing the heat again.

We didn’t have any precautions back in my day. No worries about that. But it is very hot. If you took 90 degree temperatures last year on the Field Turf, and then take a 100 degree temperature on the grass, we’re probably better off on the grass because it is cooler on the grass. And with the breeze we’re getting, I think it’s going to help us. No matter what precautions you take, you've got to keep a really close eye on your players. You hope you know them well enough to see if they begin to show any signs of heat problems.

On keeping freshmen’s expectations in check.

I told all of them, your goal is to learn what to do. Most of them have been here during the summer, working out. They've realized that there are some pretty good players on this team. Now that we’re installing things and we’re going at a veteran pace and not a rookie pace, their heads are swimming already. And they’re realizing they have a lot to learn, a lot to prove before they’re ready to play.

So all I’m asking them to do is learn what to do, and to do your very best to get yourself in position to compete. I want all of them to contribute; I hope they do. I hope a lot of them contribute in a big way. As far as skill sets, there’s no question that, either sooner or later, they will really be productive for us. It’s just going to be when they figure it out and, maybe, the depth situation at their position may dictate some things. But I don’t want them to feel pressure to carry the team on their backs.

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