Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tuesday Press Conference

Georgia head football coach Mark Richt, along with several players, addressed the media on Tuesday ahead of Saturday's game against Southern University in Athens. They offered the following comments:

Coach Mark Richt:

Opening statement…

“Alright, I got a chance to say hello to big Kyle, got to meet him. He is a star. We are going to wear our Coaches Curing MD patches, and we have Kyle Eggleston. Just so glad he is here. He is 10 years old. He is an MD (muscular dystrophy) patient. He and his family are here, and I welcome them.

“Getting ready to play Southern here. Coach Dawson Odums does a great job with his team. A year ago, they had eight wins, 8-1 in league play, and they are 2-0 in league play today. They are scoring a bunch of points. I’ll start off offensively. They are impressive, score 38 points per game. They are passing for about 275 yards and rushing for about 170 yards per game — so very good balance there. They are right at 44 percent of their third-down conversions, which is keeping drives going and allowing them to control the clock and put those points on the board. They have a tremendous running back in Lenard Tillery, No. 21, he’s averaging 95 yards a game. He has five touchdowns already. Their number two back, Malcom Crockett, has 83 yards per game and already has a couple of scores himself. Their quarterback Austin Howard — I am very impressed with him. He is averaging over 200 yards per game passing and already has 70 yards rushing. He is a dual-threat guy hitting over 65 percent of his passes. He is an impressive, fundamental quarterback who does a great job. His top receivers — a couple of guys have over 10 catches. Randall Menard, No. 87, and Willie Quinn, No. 25, both have 10 catches. While I’m at Quinn, I want to mention him in particular, he is a 5-foot-5, 145 pound senior, but he is a stick of dynamite right now as an athlete. Their tackles are big men, averaging about 6-foot-5, 300 pounds, and are impressive athletes upfront.

“On defense they have six returning starters. They line up mostly in a 4-3 alignment. Last year, they showed a little bit more 3-4, so we are not exactly sure what we will get. Their leading tackler is linebacker Kentavious Preston. He is a guy who has 19 tackles and also leads the team in tackles for loss with 2.5… They have two really big men inside doing a great job. Their down linemen have a lot of tackles, which usually means they are athletic. They can get off blocks and make plays all the way across the board.

“That gives you a little bit to where we are at with Southern. We are looking forward to playing the game. I am excited about being at home again. I thought our fans were phenomenal, I thought our band and student body were great, and I’m just looking for more energy. We feed off our fans and, like I have been saying for years, nobody does it better than Georgia, so I am excited about playing between the hedges again.”

On Southern wide receiver Willie Quinn’s 5-foot-5 stature posing a problem for Georgia’s defense…

“He is so quick, fast, (and has) good ball skills. He really is a dynamic player. He’s just not a big player, but he plays big. When you see him you’ll be like ‘that guy is a special talent.’ I think you’ve just got to guard him like anybody else, or at least try to. Morgan State had a back one year who was not very tall at all, and they started running zone plays and you literally could not see him in the gap, from what people would say, and I could see that. But he’s more on the edge, more on the perimeter, so I don’t think that will be an issue.”

On where non-conference games fall on the schedule…

“I’ll be honest with you, I think the SEC decides who we are going to play and when we are going to play, and then we just kind of fill in from there, so I don’t know if we have much of a choice on that. We would love to have as many home games as possible. There are certain years where in league play we might only have three home games because of the year where our home game is in Jacksonville we lose a home game there. We would like to have as many home games as possible for our fans and for our team, and sometimes that means getting out of conference people to come play us.”

On the amount of freshmen who have played so far this season…

“We’ll play freshmen, and I think we have played 21 true freshmen. I think they are learning how to play. They play with a lot of energy, enthusiasm and athleticism. All of those things are great, but we talked about it today as a staff. Fundamentally and technique wise, we have to get better — those guys in particular. The group that struggled the most was probably our kickoff coverage team. We were offsides. We had one called against us, but we could have had four called against us. There were a couple of creases that came out where they had one return at the end, where our kicker had to twice make a tackle, and some of that is how you place the ball — it’s not all those guys. But when you have nine true freshmen running down the field, or whatever it was, you have them all learning at the same time and that is not really healthy. If you are sprinkling two or three and you have a bunch of veterans to show the way it is not so bad, but we’ve got a bunch of puppies in there right now. We know we are coaching the right guys. They just need more work.”

On the balanced attack against South Carolina in contrast to the previous weeks on offense…

“I think that what you saw against South Carolina is the type of balance we’re looking for, the type of run-pass ratio on first down. We absolutely don’t want to get away from running the football. We’re good at it, we’ve got good backs, but the better you run the football the better your play-action pass can be. The term we use is RPO, it’s a run-pass-option, people are doing it all across the country. Like I said last night, we didn’t invent it by any means. It’s a running play but there’s a pass tied into it. A quarterback may stick the ball in the back’s belly in the gun, and if the defender totally sells out to the run then it creates a little passing lane, a throwing seam to someone. So you pull the ball and get a quick passing game. So some of those throws were run-pass options where if the defender would have stayed at home a little bit better we would’ve run the ball. So you call those 10 times a game, sometimes nine times out of 10 you run it, sometimes nine times out of 10 you throw it. That’s part of the game, too.”

On taking two instant-impact transfers in Greyson Lambert and Jake Ganus…

"Part of the attraction is that they were able to be immediately eligible. We’ve taken junior college transfers obviously that can play right away, but a true transfer from a four-year institution to another four-year institution, we haven’t done much of that at all. But because these guys were eligible immediately, and in Ganus’ case could come in in the spring when we needed more people. We saw the potential that he had and we said let’s get him in here and see what he could do. We thought for sure he’d help us on (special teams), and we thought maybe help us on scrimmage downs. Sure enough he’s doing that for us. The thing with Greyson, we only had three (quarterbacks) on scholarship. That’s really under the number. We’d like to have four on scholarship, so just to get that number corrected was important to us. When you are in a QB competition, maybe in this day and age more than in other times, there’s maybe more of a chance someone will go when it’s all over at the end of the spring, so you certainly don’t want to be sitting there with two. It just so happened that there were a few QB transfers around the country that were at least available to look at and try to recruit, and it worked out for us and Greyson.”

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