Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tuesday Press Conference


DSC_6836Coach Mark Richt and a delegation of football players addressed the media during the Dawgs’ weekly press luncheon on Tuesday. They offered the following comments:

Coach Mark Richt

Opening Statement…

“We’re getting back into conference play at home and looking forward to that with Vanderbilt. We have a lot of respect for them. Of course last year’s game was a wild one that went right down to the wire. I can’t imagine it being anything but a battle. Vanderbilt has 17 returning starters, and their offensive line has four of five starters back. They’re just very good at what they do. They ran for over 200 yards against us a year ago. Also, their special teams has just been great. They’re very aggressive as a football team. I think Coach James Franklin is doing a wonderful job of coaching that football team. It’s big for us, and we’re looking forward to it. We think the weather’s going to be nice, and it’s another game under the lights and ‘Between the Hedges’, so we’re looking forward to that.”

On playing a third consecutive night game this week…

“I do like playing under the lights. I don’t like waiting for it to get dark, but it’s nice. I think it’s nice for our recruits because they easily have an opportunity to come, especially if kids need to come from some distance. I think there’s more energy at night, and the weather’s beautiful at night this time of year. From what I see, it’s supposed to be another great weather day in that regard. But nothing has really changed for me. The night before the game, I travel with the team to the hotel and spend time with them. I come back a little bit earlier, usually when the rest of the coaching staff comes in to work on offense and defense, I’m making my way back for some recruiting and that type of thing. But not much has changed. I know when you play at night, it normally means you’re having a good season, so I’m glad we’re playing at night.”

On Vanderbilt coach James Franklin…

“I think any coach that comes into a new program, most of the time unless you are replacing someone who retired, you are there for a reason. You are there because the culture probably needs to be changed in some way, shape or form. It’s not that uncommon to feel like you have to change the culture of the program when you get there. You have to put your stamp on it. You have to be who you are and let your players know who you are and try to motivate and rally people to become special. I think Coach Franklin has definitely done that, and you see it week to week. It’s not just one game here and there. They play hard every game. They get after it every game. They take calculated risks every game and they play to win.”

On any carryover from last year’s game against Vanderbilt…

“I don’t know how everybody is going to feel. I can only try to get the focus on what I think is important, and right now, Tuesday is our practice day. It’s our preparation, it’s our fundamentals, it’s learning the scheme and practicing with the kind of effort that you hope will carry on to the game. Those are the things that I am focusing on with our staff and with our players. I don’t know how everybody is going to feel deep down and how everybody is going to react the closer we get to the game.”

On motivating his team…

“I do think that when I first started as a head coach I would have rather practiced five more minutes than give some kind of rousing speech. I think that emotions do only last so long, then you have to settle down into a game where you have to rely on the habits you’ve created throughout the week of practice, your offseason, two-a-days and that type of thing. Emotion is important, and guys, when they play with their blood hot, they tend to play better. We try to find ways to motivate either by words or motivational tapes. Anything that we can grab that we think will get them revved up and ready to go, we’ll try to use. I think you can give them a little something that might give them a little extra motivation to practice that day, but usually most of that type of thing we save for Friday night and Saturday before we go to the Dawg Walk.”

On strengths and weaknesses of the team

“I just like being 3-0. The Missouri game was a game that was hard fought. It was a game that went well into the third and fourth quarter before it was settled, and it could have gone either way. We had a game where we needed to win the fourth quarter and we did. That was probably the thing I’m most proud of. In a very hostile environment against an outstanding team we found a way to win it. We found a way to make plays when it counted the most in crunch time, which is one of the things I have talked about. People were asking about our defense and how great I thought they would be. I said I don’t know what we are going to look like statistically, but my guess is we are going to have to make plays when it counts the most, and we did do that. That’s one game that we did that. The other two were pretty much settled early in the second half. I’m still concerned that too many balls have ended up on the ground. It hasn’t been that one guy is doing it a bunch, but we’ve had each one of our tailbacks in the last game the ball came out. Malcolm Mitchell tried to be a hero on a punt and ended up fumbling the ball there. We just have to secure the ball better. We’ve had a pretty decent number of penalties, but a large majority of it was young freshmen jumping when they were stemming late and the crowd noise of the Missouri game, that was a mass amount of them. We haven’t had many issues with the personal fouls, and that’s a good thing. A few missed assignments here and there, but overall I’m pretty pleased where we are. I’m glad we are 3-0 and still have room to improve.”

On preparing for Vanderbilt’s special teams this week…

“With the 20 hour rule you can’t change much, because if you add one spot, you are pulling from another. Everything we do we think is important down to the very minute. I don’t know how much more we could do it. You get a negative return on your investment sometimes if you overdo something. I think we have the right amount of time to get the job done in our special teams, and I think we’ve improved. We’ve only had three games, and we are going to be challenged this week on special teams more than any game this season. We’ll get a little better gauge of where we’re at because I know they have a lot of returning players, and they’ve already proved this year they are back on track from where they were a year ago.”

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