Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesday Press Conference–Part 1


DSC_0015Coach Mark Richt

Opening Statement…

“We are getting ready for South Carolina – the first Southeastern Conference game of the year. It’s definitely a great challenge. Of course Coach Spurrier has been coaching a long time and is doing a great job. Over the years he’s got South Carolina going the way he wants it. So we know we have our work cut out for us.

“Their offensive line is big. They are kind of a downhill running team. They kind of maul you a little bit; that’s what their goal is. Of course when you have a back like Marcus Lattimore, who can run as physical as he does at 230 pounds now, they are doing the right thing with those linemen, just kind of zoning you up and getting the big bodies on you and pushing the pile and creating some seams for Lattimore. They’ve been protecting well so far. Marcus is a great player, not a good player. He proved to be a great freshman. Of course a year ago he broke out with 37 carries and 182 yards, so it’s not like we can forget about that. He will get spotted a little bit with Kenny Miles and Shon Carson. Mainly it’s his show in the backfield.

“Stephen Garcia, I would have to guess, would be their starting quarterback. He is a veteran, a senior. He has been through a bunch – good and bad. He is also the quarterback who led his team to the Eastern Division championship a year ago, so he is a heck of a football player. He throws it well. He has a great big target in Alshon Jeffery. All of the receivers are big actually, but not as big as him – 6-4, 230, a guy who can go deep and a guy who can catch a screen and run people over for four, five or six yards after contact. He’s really a great player.

“Garcia is also a threat to run the ball as he’s done from time to time. The only receiver who is not a big guy is Ace Sanders. He’s more of a slot guy, more of a jitterbug type of guy. He also took a punt return back for a touchdown 69 yards last week, so he’s a guy we have to keep an eye on. They do a good job of using his skills.

“Defensively they are a team that takes their front four and basically plays eight people there. They rotate just about everybody in and out of there. Melvin Ingram is an outstanding player who plays inside and out. He’s big, he’s physical. He showed up very big, we thought, in the last ballgame. We thought he played extremely well.

“Devin Taylor is also a great player, preseason All-SEC. Of course everyone wants to talk about their freshman Jadeveon Clowney for good reason. You can see he’s destined to be a great football player. He’s already a very good football player, but I can’t imagine what will happen once he gets an offseason under his belt. He’s going to be a special football player.

“As far as their linebackers are concerned, they play everyone, about six of their linebackers. They rotated them around and kept everybody fresh. Antonio Allen played the spur, or what we call a nickel linebacker, and had 16 tackles in the game. DeVonte Holloman, I don’t think he played the last game. I don’t know what the reason was, but he played safety last year. I think he’s been moved to that spur position too. It will be interesting to see who plays there.

“Stephon Gilmore, the corner, is a preseason All-SEC player and a great football player. On the other side, C.C. Whitlock is a returning starter at corner also, but then you have Akeem Auguste, who did not play in this last ballgame. I’m sure he will play this week, or we’re hearing he’s going to play. I’m not sure if he’s going to line up as a corner or a safety; he’s played both over his career.

“Their safeties are kind of twin safeties. Some teams will have a safety that plays the deep-middle, and one guy is always in the box, but these guys share the load both ways. They are very well coached defensively.

“As far as their special teams are concerned, Jay Wooten didn’t play against us last year, but he is the kickoff man. The majority of his kicks have been returnable, or were at least a year ago. We’ll see how that goes, but we expect that we’ll have some kicks that will be returnable. They usually have a twin-safety look at their kickoff return. It looked like Bruce Ellington is the guy they are trying to get the ball directed to, but he also played some wildcat for them. He’s a very multitalented kid.

“I mentioned earlier that Ace Sanders returned a punt for a touchdown. Gilmore started out and muffed one, then Ace got a chance and took it to the house, so my guess is Ace will be the guy. Their punter, Joey Scribner-Howard, is a senior and he’ll be handling their punting duties. I don’t know if they’ll do any rugby kicks or not. I don’t think they did it game one. We’ll have to wait and see and prepare for that.

“That’s South Carolina. We have got to really play a physical game. I think the game is going to be won in the trenches. I think whosever offensive and defensive line plays the best will have the best chance of winning the game. It will be a great challenge for us - our players and our staff. Today we are going to have a good, physical Tuesday practice and competition day. I think Coach Vince Dooley called them bloody Tuesdays, and I think we’ll call it that today too. We’ll be ready to go.”

On correcting Georgia’s mistakes on the offensive line…

“Everything is correctable. The thing that was most disappointing to me was the pass protection, especially third down. Protection belongs to the running back, protection belongs to the offensive line, protection belongs to the tight end at times, and it belongs to the quarterback too. There are times when the quarterback can certainly get rid of the ball and not take the sack. Six sacks is way too many. The majority of the issues were on third down. We’ve already spent a lot of time making corrections of this last ballgame as far as pass protection is concerned. Also, you have a whole new set of blitzes and schemes and things of that nature, so a little bit different scheme, a little bit different blitz package. We’ll have a little bit better idea of who is going to line up where and where they are going to bring their pressure from, but we can only go by what we saw last year and a little bit this last ballgame. We do need to improve, but we can. Kenarious Gates, right now, won’t practice today. It will be as we finished the game, with Chris Burnette and Dallas Lee at guard. Everybody else is in the same spot.”

On the recruitment of Jadeveon Clowney…

“We weren’t really in it. It was pretty early that we knew we didn’t have much of a shot at that kid.”

On whether South Carolina has been better at keeping top players in state…

“As of late they have. Of course the most notable was last year Marcus Lattimore, then this year Jadeveon Clowney. Those kids just happened to be two of the best in the country at their position also, not just in their state. That was huge for them. I’ve heard Coach Spurrier mention how important that has been for them to nail down those kinds of guys, because there has been some history of them losing them. Also, with the success that Lattimore had individually and South Carolina had as a team, I’m sure helped them get Jadeveon in the house too. Success usually breads success. But we won’t quit recruiting South Carolina guys, that’s for sure.”

On the Georgia-South Carolina rivalry…

“I know that for us - the coaches and players look at them as the most important rival, especially this week. Historically, ever since I’ve been here, it’s been the first Southeastern Conference game. I think that’s going to change in a year or two; I think we play Vanderbilt before them one time pretty soon. That will be kind of different, but that game has been huge for both teams. It’s kind of set the tone for what’s going to happen the rest of the year. I think it’s a really big rival game.”

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