Richt experiencing the upside of low expectations

Mark Richt looks a little more relaxed these days. Gee. Wonder why?

Mark Richt looks more relaxed these days. Gee. Wonder why?

HOOVER, Ala. — The two stars were pictured on the cover of last year’s media guide. The dog is on this year’s cover. The logical assumption is that nobody doubts that Uga will live up to expectations.

Georgia is here and Mark Richt is here and it’s a lot different from a year ago. No questions about a pre-season No. 1 ranking or championship aspirations. No Matthew Stafford swoon parade walking through the lobby. No circus. Barely a buzz.

“It’s been different in a lot of ways this summer,” Richt said Thursday morning. “It’s been a blessing.”

If the Bulldogs aren’t an afterthought at these SEC meetings, they at least are having an easier time blending into the scenery. They’re south of LSU but north of Vanderbilt. If you’re Richt, you’re experiencing the head coach’s dream. Yes, there were injuries last season. Those injuries affected not only the team’s depth but the surviving players’ mindset.

But most of all there were distractions that the Bulldogs just didn’t deal with well. There were eight arrests in the off-season and returning seniors now believe players weren’t accountable to each other enough. The residual was an undisciplined football team that led the SEC in penalties and, unofficially, dumb decisions. And feeding into all that: meteoric expectations.

Not a problem this season. If something goes wrong, nobody will say it was because Lindy’s ranked Georgia 17th in July.

Last year: Stars

Last year: Stars

This year: Uga.

This year: Uga.

“I’m sure people are not expecting a lot,” Richt said before his formal news conference at SEC media days. “A year ago, when you have what people would consider stars – Knowshon [Moreno], Matthew — people think: ‘They have stars. Certainly they’re going to win the national championship.’ And conversely: ‘They’re gone now so they don’t have much of a chance.’ But we know football takes more than two guys. It’s a team sport.”

You’ll hear the same themes over and over again in the coming weeks. Teamwork. Leadership. Focus. Toughness. All that stuff that deteriorated so early last season.

Richt has coached in this situation before. Players leave for the NFL. Everybody else looks around and thinks, “Tombstone, Arizona: The day after.”

But that doesn’t preclude success.

“It has to do with what you truly believe,” he said. “The more you hear about how great Knowshon is and how Matt is and how great Mohammed [Massaquoi] is, whether you like it or not, it seeps into your subconscious and you think ‘You know what, we’ve got these guys. We’re going to be OK.’ When they’re gone, it’s more like, ‘It’s up to me. It’s up to us.’”

They’re projected as no better than the fifth best team in the SEC. Ahead of them: Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and LSU.

The Dogs aren’t devoid of talent. They’re just devoid of cover boys. But they’ll need to excel in areas they failed so miserably at a year ago, notably mental and physical toughness. Richt accepts some of the blame for that. When the team began to get hit by injuries in the pre-season, the coach backed off in practices, concerned that a backup-turned-starter would be the next to get hurt.

“We backed off the way we’ve practiced every year since we’ve been at Georgia,” he said. “In scrimmage No. 2, we decided not to tackle. When the practice was over, I almost got sick. I almost threw up. I knew that wasn’t going to get us ready to play.”

He can’t control injuries. But there are so many other things he won’t have to deal with, and one of them is a white hot spotlight. And on Thursday, nobody asked: What’s it like to be No. 1?

198 comments Add your comment

Pete

July 23rd, 2009
12:03 pm

Flying under the radar is right up the Dawg’s ally. They’ll lose 2-3 but they’ll suprise alot of people along the way… the season can’t get here soon enough.

Saint Simons

July 23rd, 2009
12:07 pm

((((( 45 42 ))))) hahahahahahahahahahaha

Big Al

July 23rd, 2009
12:08 pm

Great stuff. I can’t wait for this season. Our schedule is ridiculous, but we always seem to play better as underdogs. Go Dawgs!!!

Big Al

July 23rd, 2009
12:10 pm

Saint Simons,
As much of a pathetic loser as I think you are, you are persistent, and it is funny that people still get mad at that post. Keep it up, I don’t give a sh%t.

Huh?

July 23rd, 2009
12:15 pm

The expectations are about where they always are for Georgia, last year notwithstanding. About 10 wins and second in the SEC East. This is nothing new. Florida loses its entire defense in 2007 and is still the media favorite to win the SEC East. Georgia returns 18 starters from an 11-2 team in 2008 but the media once again picks Florida to win the SEC East. It doesn’t really seem to matter what Georgia does or does not do. The expectations are always the same. I’m not complaining though.

Speaking of last year, I think Richt new very early on that we were in serious trouble. Go back and watch the Alabama tape. Even before the game had gotten out of hand, heck before the game had even started really, there was this “oh crap we’re screwed” look on his face that I had honestly never seen before. I knew we would lose that game after watching Bama push Arkansas around like a pop warner team, but he probably knew there was a chance we could lose it as badly as we did. True story.

Dawgs73

July 23rd, 2009
12:17 pm

So we are supposed to believe that lowered expectations and rankings are better for our beloved Dawgs???? Is it safe to assume that Mark Richt cherishes the “underdog” role because he can’t handle the national spotlight (of being number 1)? I think it’s a bit of a slippery slope. If Mark continues to recruit on the same level of the elite, we should ALL expect greater things. If we don’t, that what’s the point.

Sandy Springs

July 23rd, 2009
12:19 pm

Saint Simons,
Enjoy the next few months, while Dawg fans enjoy the next 7 or 8 years.

Valdosta Dawg

July 23rd, 2009
12:21 pm

Saint Simons you are funny, you take the 1 victory y’all had in the last 8 years and harp on it. So in a little bit of fun towards you I will do the same. I will pick one of our 7 wins in the last 8 and follow your lead, 51 -7 do you remember that? 51- 7 hahahahahaha 51-7. 51-7

toga

July 23rd, 2009
12:21 pm

Richt is soft. Him and his wife will not be on the sideline much longer.

Brent Cunningham

July 23rd, 2009
12:22 pm

Sandy, didn’t a Florida fan just say that to you?

JM

July 23rd, 2009
12:22 pm

Georgia is better than most believe. They will win big this year. Just like Tee Martin did after Manning left UT.

big dawg 89

July 23rd, 2009
12:28 pm

you can’t talk to a techie, it’s kinda like trying to talk to a democrat, they simply don’t listen. i guess they go hand in hand. so i really wouldn’t waste much of your time here replying to saint simons, she enjoys it way too much..

JAX STATE ALUM

July 23rd, 2009
12:29 pm

Georgia will be ok if everyone shows up with a winning attitude. If the team plays with a chip on their shoulders and with swag as they did in 07 look at the results. Coach Richt can’t control injuries just the team focus and readiness to win a game. WE will be ok. Go Dawgs!!!

Dennis

July 23rd, 2009
12:29 pm

So- let me get this straight. UGA would rather have low expectations and end up just a little better year after year- or- do they wish to be one of the higher rated programs in the land with high expectations year after year? UF is growing in stature while UGA is shrinking. Run of the mill, good but not great.

Titletown, USA (valdosta,ga)

July 23rd, 2009
12:30 pm

Here we go again, the same mediocre excuses and reasons why Georgia can’t win. How about firing Mark Richt, I mean honestly he just doesn’t have what it takes to make Georgia an Elite team not only in the SEC but the entire NCAA. Nick Saban came into Alabama and made them a national powerhouse in less time that Richt has been at Georgia, Urban Meyer has won two national championships in less time, Les Miles keeps LSU one game away and now that Petrino is at Arkansas I look to see them jump over Georgia in rankings. People attack the problem at the root, its the COACH,Mark Richt can’t hang in the SEC, period point blank. But nobody wants to recognize that I wonder why??? Like I state before UGA fire Mark Richt, hire Charlie Strong from Florida and let’s see the difference in production. I mean Charlie Strong does have two national championships which were mainly won because of his Defensive Strategy. What do you think Jeff Schultz

Seriously?

July 23rd, 2009
12:31 pm

Dawg73 – just because you recruit good every year doesn’t mean that you will play for titles…USC? Top three class every year, sometime the cards do not go your way.
If you are disappointed in what the Dogs have done as of late that is sad. Most teams would LOVE to have the wins we have enjoyed over the last nine years.
Yes the expectations were high last year, it was a disappointment. Does that mean fire the coach? Does that mean “we recruit the best we should be the best year in and year out”? Yes it does in a way and look at how UGA ranks in wins this decade NUMBER 2 team in the country!

I’M NOT COMPLAINING! GO DAWGS!

snapshot

July 23rd, 2009
12:32 pm

You can’t talk to a mutt fan, they just don’t have the education to understand?????? The honey moon is over at muttville.

Seriously?

July 23rd, 2009
12:33 pm

Titletown – ignorant

White Boy

July 23rd, 2009
12:36 pm

Titletown what are smoking?

coach smith

July 23rd, 2009
12:36 pm

the last time everybody freaked out about a upcoming season like this was 2005 when we had lost GREENE, POLLOCK, R. BROWN, GIBSON, THURMAN, T. DAVIS, etc… and Georgia came in and WON THE SEC CHAMPIONSHIP!

this year the DAWGS RETURN 18 STARTERS, the get OWNES and Sturdivant back, and they have some outstanding players who will get some quick playing time AND all those backups got game experience last year

When the Dawgs go out and beat OSU Cowboys, everyone’s tune will change

Dawgs 10-2 this season

Lu

July 23rd, 2009
12:37 pm

I love it ! ! ! Lets face it. UGA is the Mouth of the South. Tech sucks just because they do. I mean, you SHOULD win once in a while…You do know that a dead clock is still right twice a day. ( Only Techies would try to find the derivatives to prove that theory wrong) and UF, regardless of how hated seems to always have our number ( except for 2 yrs ago…God I want that feeling again….) So all in all, I am for 2 schools…UGA and any school playing teams that UGA plays ! ! ! GO DAWGS ! ! SIC’EM ! ! ! ! LOL

big dawg 89

July 23rd, 2009
12:37 pm

you’re right slapshot, we typically have an education in english, not ebonics, so yes, you’re right, we don’t understand. thanx for clearing that up for everyone.

tech will find out soon enough what it’s like to have a target on your back. and i can’t wait to see what happens when they don’t live up to expectations. 7-5, 8-4 at best.

Super Recruiter

July 23rd, 2009
12:39 pm

Saint Simons…… I have never written on one of these before, but every column I see the score and you have to be one of THE biggest idiots out there and even an embarassment to GA Tech fans as well. One score one victory one year. Congrats act like you’ve been there before. I am embarassed for you.

coach smith

July 23rd, 2009
12:39 pm

Don’t forget that Richt and UGA are second ONLY to Southern Cal an dPete Carroll in WINS over the last 9 years!!!!!!!!!

dap01

July 23rd, 2009
12:40 pm

Saint Simons: Your life would be better if you had a girl friend.

Pitbull

July 23rd, 2009
12:41 pm

The hope of exceeding low expectations is an annual goal at tech.

We expect great things out of UGA this year and every year.

The AJC sports writers may not expect much (and we expect so little of them).

But the Dawg players, coaches, and fans expect yet another excellent year from a Coach Richt program that has won 82 games over the past 8 years. Go Dawgs!!!!!

big dawg 89

July 23rd, 2009
12:41 pm

titletown has seriously lost his mind. i’m at a loss of words with what he said.

Doggoneit

July 23rd, 2009
12:44 pm

Mark Richt needs to stay. He has produced 10 win seasons year after year. I despise Florida. I think it is so unfair to play them on there home turf every year. Joe Cox will lead us to another 10 win season . I would love for the Dogs to whoop on timmy tebows butt. Georgia Tech faithful St. Simon, Your a coward.

Titletown, USA (valdosta,ga)

July 23rd, 2009
12:45 pm

What am I smoking? When was the last time UGA even been to a SEC Championship??….My point exactly, this game isnt played to get the most wins or set winning records. The game is played to win CHAMPIONSHIPS..who cares if you have 10 plus win season but you have no hardware to show for it?? Obviously none of you didn’t play sports, because if you did then you would understand the severity of the problem at UGA. Until they get a better coach THEY WILL NEVER BE BETTER THAN LSU, FLORIDA, ALABAMA, AND I DARE SAY SOUTH CAROLINA…Im not using last season as a reason to fire him, I’m using Mrk Richt’s entire body of work since he has been at UGA.College football is about making money an winning championships and he is not helping the cause… Who has football practice without tackling?? because you afraid of an injury?? are you SERIOUS?? You might as well not even suit up on saturday if you are afraid of injuries. I wouldnt dare play for a coach like that to be honest. One of the most penalized teams last season in the SEC. All of that is a result of poor coaching.

DawginLex

July 23rd, 2009
12:46 pm

Only an idiot wants to remove Richt as coach. An idiot or fans of our opponents. Some are one in the same…………

Huh?

July 23rd, 2009
12:47 pm

Hey Brent, I’m still waiting on some additional info on Georgia Tech’s “character standards” for its football players. I’m sure you didn’t just pull that out of your bunghole or anything like that, so please educate us all. Thanks.

TampaGator

July 23rd, 2009
12:47 pm

Say what you want and think what you will about Urban Meyer, but he would never get up and say he was happy with lowever expectations from Gator Nation. Now, Bullpups, you know the difference between Meyer and Richt and why Meyer has been more successful with basically the same level of talent. Richt is OK with lower expectations. Meyer would be miserably unhappy with the same. I am sorry, why would these five star players want to go play for someone who is happy with lower expectations. Come to Florida, guys, the expectation every year is SEC and National Championships. Boo ya!

DawginLex

July 23rd, 2009
12:47 pm

ttown,

That would be 2002 and 2005. The SEC title before that goes back to 1982. That’s why Richt is the best coach WE HAVE EVER HAD, including Dooley.

reasonable

July 23rd, 2009
12:48 pm

Richt ain’t going anywhere.
Georgia (under CMR) has won more games this decade than any other SEC school. No reasonable fan thinks he is the problem.

Willy Martinez….now that’s a different story.

We shall see.

SAVANNAH DAWG

July 23rd, 2009
12:49 pm

Hey Simons……maybe if you ask, coach J will let you wear one of those super-nice rings they got for finally winning a UGA/Tech game………That’s why Tech will always be 2nd class…….just don’t get the big picture do ya Simon? You are a lonely one I’ll bet! Say hi to Rosey for me!

Titletown, USA (valdosta,ga)

July 23rd, 2009
12:49 pm

big dawg 89..I see why the lost for words, because everything I state is true, you can’t deny it.

DawginLex

July 23rd, 2009
12:50 pm

The spin on here is amazing. Do ya’ll really think Richt doesn’t want to win this year? He is enjoying the lack of preseason hype, that’s all. I guarantee you his expectation is to go 14-0 as is his team’s. The sportswriters are just not saying it and he is enjoying letting someone else waste their time justifying preseason hype.

Seriously?

July 23rd, 2009
12:51 pm

titletown – 2005

We’ve been to SEC champ game as many times as LSU and FLA since Richt has been there so…

yes, what are you smoking??

Huh?

July 23rd, 2009
12:51 pm

TampaGator, when has Meyer ever had to deal with low expectations? Even in his first year on the job the media voted Florida a preseason top 10 team. Florida was overrated that year and even more overrated in 2007, when they were ranked as high as #3 in the land preseason. So how do we know what Meyer thinks about low expectations?

Chris

July 23rd, 2009
12:54 pm

Title Town….your and idiot.

I know what Nick Saban did at LSU but to say what he has done at Alabama in two years, and to say he has done more in less time there than Richt has at Georgia obviously shows that you don’t have a clue.

Saban has been at Alabama two years. After two years he has been to two bowl games, won the SEC WEST once, and lost the Sugar Bowl to UTAH!!! In Richt’s first two years, he went to two bowl games, won the SEC EAST and SEC CHAMPIONSHIP in his second year, and won the Sugar Bowl that year fishing third in the county. Sound’s like Georgia was a national power house after just two years, and had more to show for it.

And Les Miles, are you kidding me???? He got to the national championship with 2 losses in 2007, the same that Georgia had that year. Everyone knows Georgia was the better team in 07, LSU just got lucky. Not to mention Les Miles is 0-2 against Mark Richt. Urban Meyer is a different story but he owns everyone in the SEC right now.

You are so out of touch with reality that it’s pathetic TITLETOWN.

JOHN

July 23rd, 2009
12:56 pm

TITLETOWN, YOU’RE NOT GONNA WIN A CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP EVERY YEAR (NOT IN THE SEC). RICHT WILL WIN OUR FAIR SHARE OT THEM. RELAX!

UGA '09

July 23rd, 2009
12:57 pm

Saint Simons does have a girl friend,it’s his right fist. You and all Tech nerds are LOSERS for life !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Georgia Dawg

July 23rd, 2009
12:59 pm

I hate to burst someone’s bubble here, but Georgia is usually overrated ever year. They are a great team, however the media always hyped this team up and we get let down every year. By “let down”, I mean that Georgia could go to better bowl games, but later in the season they lose games that matter. Georgia will be doing great in the first part of the season and then lose games that make a difference between a major bowl and minor bowl. That is the facts. I think that Richt is smart by agreeing the “less-hyped” expectations.

Blackberry Cobbler

July 23rd, 2009
12:59 pm

Players inherit toughness from their coaches. CMR and WM exhibit none of that.

CMR is a choir boy and WM is over his head.

Most UGA fans seem to be content with good recruiting but less than commensurate results. 10 win seasons sounds good but who has UGA really beat? Aside from beating UF when Tebow was injured, what really good team has UGA beat over the past 3-4 years.

As long as Bulldog Nation is content with this, that’s what we’ll get.

coach smith

July 23rd, 2009
12:59 pm

titletown

actually the Dawgs went to the SEC championship game in 2002, 2003, and 2005

they won agianst ARK in 2002

they lost to LSU in 2003

they won against LSU in 2005

just a reminder…UGA has the SECOND MOST WINS IN THE COUNTRY over the LAST 9 YEARS

bulldog38

July 23rd, 2009
1:00 pm

Anyone calling for Mark Richt to be fired must have completely forgotten the Goff and Donnan eras. I’m sure that there are tons of schools that would love to see UGA fire Richt, mostly because that is the only chance they have to hire him. Keep your ignorant comments to yourself.

FDawg

July 23rd, 2009
1:02 pm

TitleTown…Success in football, (and most other sports) is cyclical. Look no further than Valdosta for proof. Titletown my a$$. Talk about living in the past…

Athens Dawg

July 23rd, 2009
1:03 pm

Hey T-town,
What are Richt’s records against South Carolina, LSU and Alabama?
I’ll give you UF, but you lost any credibility with “Until they get a better coach THEY WILL NEVER BE BETTER THAN LSU, FLORIDA, ALABAMA, AND I DARE SAY SOUTH CAROLINA…”

LawDawg

July 23rd, 2009
1:03 pm

Titletown,

Do you even think before you post? You would see that UGA has won a couple SEC Championships the last 7 years and played for another. Also, “Alabama a national powerhouse”? They have not won any SEC titles or finished in the final Top 5 polls in any of Saban’s years. “Arkansas”? Give me a damn break. Why don’t you stick with the Valdosta State bogs, because you don’t know JACK about UGA!!!

Seriously?

July 23rd, 2009
1:04 pm

All of the Richt support is awesome to see!!

The people on the other side of not supporting him are ignorant!