Mark Richt knows a big game when he sees one coming

Mark Richt wants some help Saturday from the normally laid-back Sanford Stadium crowd. (Associated Press)

Mark Richt wants some help Saturday from the normally laid-back Sanford Stadium crowd. (Associated Press)

Some college football observers, including ESPN’s Chris Low, see Saturday’s game against Arkansas as approaching “must-win” status for Georgia. “Football seasons aren’t made to be over by the third week,” Low says. “But if Georgia can’t hold serve at home Saturday against Arkansas, the Bulldogs are looking at the grim likelihood that the 2010 season is over before it ever had a chance to begin.”

Nothing like a bit of “sky is falling” talk in the third week of the season. But I frankly don’t think that’s the case because I believe both South Carolina and Florida will be beatable more than once within conference play this season.

Still, Mark Richt recognizes the magnitude of the game. And then some.

In his Tuesday press conference, Richt put it like this:

“We have a very big game this week. I don’t know how big a game can get, but this is big. We know that and our coaches know it, our players know it, I think the Bulldog nation knows it. It’s big.”

Aside from reminding me of one of Don Knotts’ Barney Fife bits, it was clear Richt appreciates the task that awaits his team this week.

His assessment of the Razorbacks offense is pretty much on the money: “They have a lot of returning starters on both sides of the ball. They are a very, very dangerous offensive football team, it’s very obvious that they are that. They have probably the No. 1 pro prospect at quarterback of anybody in the nation in Ryan Mallett. They have three great receivers coming back. They were all sophomores last year, and I thought they were fantastic last year. They have four returning offensive linemen who are seniors. They are doing that running back by committee right now. Their tight end, D.J. Williams, is a fantastic player, a senior who is very versatile. That is going to be a challenge.”

And he was diplomatic by noting that Arkansas’ defense currently is highly ranked nationally without mentioning that they haven’t really played anybody yet. Closer to the mark was this comment: “They have a bunch of young men who have something to prove, I’m sure, in a Southeastern Conference game.”

Of course, the same applies to Georgia’s defense after what happened in Columbia.

Richt’s bottom line on Saturday: “They are a team that believes they can challenge for the Western Division title, and have very good reason to believe that. It’s going to be a heck of a ballgame. Our fans, we need you if you’re listening. We need you at this game. We need you to be extremely loud when they have the ball, because if we could just get one offensive lineman to jump offsides one time, that might be the difference in a drive continuing or it being stopped. We need all the help we can get in that regard, and it’s going to take everybody to beat this team. They are a really fine team.”

I’d like to believe Richt’s call to arms for the Bulldog fans at Sanford Stadium will produce a wall of sound, but I’m not sure it really will. The students will be loud, but beyond that? This is Arkansas, after all, not one of the traditional rivals that gets the alums’ blood boiling, and other than roaring on key third downs Sanford crowds tend to be a bit laid-back. Still, one can hope.

A couple of other Tuesday comments by Richt caught my eye.

On the development of Aaron Murray as a quarterback: “Coach [Mike] Bobo and I are kind of double-teaming him. We watch everything he does, and he knows that. We’ve tried to not strangle him and not let him do anything. We just basically want him to create some habits that will carry him throughout his entire career, the ball handling, the footwork. … Watching his demeanor and watching him operate and listening to him talk in between series about what did you see and what didn’t you see, he’s very sharp. He’s very aware of what’s going on around him and I think he’s handled it well. It gives us more confidence to allow him to have more plays where the onus is on him to make a play or make a good decision and make a good throw. We’re gaining confidence in Aaron Murray’s ability to really function well in this type of game.”

Does that mean the wraps come off this week?

“I didn’t know if it would be week three or not. If you give a guy too much too soon and then if he fails miserably in his own mind even, if he makes a mistake that costs you the game, sometimes for a brand new guy that’s hard to overcome, the pressure of that. … It’s hard to lose the confidence and then build it back up. It’s better to kind of take it slow and gradually get to the point where you can handle it. Is he ready for everything that can come down the pipe? Probably not. And will he make mistakes as we go? There is no doubt that he will. But I think he’ll be able to handle the fact that, ‘Hey I made a mistake. I’m going to be able to shake it off and let’s go play and do better.’ I think that’s really kind of where we are at with Aaron.”

I also thought it was notable that while Richt agreed the offense had too many three-out-outs last Saturday, he said the defense didn’t cause enough of them for the Gamecocks.

“Some people say the offense has to do more to get the defense off the field and there is some truth to that, but the defense always has the right to stop them on third down if they want to get off the field. It’s everybody’s responsibility to rest the defense. Get a three-and-out and you can rest all you want. If the offense gets three-and-out, you can get another three-and-out. The last thing I’m going to do is start trying to say, this side of the ball has to do better because of that side of the ball. That’s a bunch of junk. What’s important is we are a team and we believe in each other and we know no matter what the situation is, we have to do enough to win the ball game.”

On the tackling problem, he didn’t mince words: “We have got to do a better job of just sticking our face on that runner and wrapping him up and running our feet. In our perimeter, our defensive backs, in my opinion, were not doing that. They were deciding to try to go low on the guy or they were trying to knock the guy down and not really face that issue and get right down the middle of him and wrap him up. You watch games, there are a lot of DBs that are doing the very same thing. We have to have the confidence to go face him up. Once a defender begins to wrap up a guy, then the other guys can come along and strip the ball or join the posse and knock him back or whatever it is.”

As for some of Georgia’s players saying they thought maybe there was a lack of effort against South Carolina, Richt said: “I think they don’t know what to say. They have to think of something. I don’t know if they really know what to say. They just know we didn’t do a very good job and that we have to get better. They are frustrated. … I don’t think there was a lack of effort. If anything, a guy might have gotten tired from the heat and maybe not subbing as freely as we wanted to or should have in a couple of instances, but nothing real flagrant in that area. We got knocked back. That was the biggest problem, we got knocked back.”

Overall, Richt said, “There were a lot of things that we have to do better. Everything is correctable, and I think our guys will be very anxious to play again and do a better job.”

Saturday would be a good time to do that. Because, in case you haven’t heard, this game with Arkansas? It’s big!

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390 comments Add your comment

tim

September 15th, 2010
12:30 pm

the puppies will not only lose to Ark by about 17, but the following week Miss St with a head coach who has plenty of experience whippin UGA will eke out another win….Puppies start 1 and 3 and are now in desperate straits to become bowl eligible..so you can go to the twinkie bowl on Dec 7th in Ludowici…..

Lowcountry Bulldawg

September 15th, 2010
12:31 pm

Question AR- Was that the game last year where Mallet and Petrino kept running downfield crossing routes and we could not stop them? If thats the case then those take 5 step drops to develop right? This could be the matchup to see just how much pressure this 3-4 can create.

DScottGT91

September 15th, 2010
12:32 pm

I am a Tech alumni who pulls for UGA except, you know, the weekend after Thanksgiving. I typically like reading all these blogs; they usually really make me laugh, with plenty of idiots on all sides to prevent any fan base from feeling too superior.

But I admit that I am AMAZED at the UF trolls sticking their heads up today. Have you no shame? Your program has yet to dismiss someone who threatened to KILL his girlfriend. “Time to Die” – does that make you proud. This has nothing to do with competition on the field; this is a fundamental lack of perspective in your lives. If you really have the chutzpah to come on here and belittle another program on a day where your own institution has sunk to its lowest point ever, I don’t think there’s any saving you. God help you all if the gators return to your mid-80’s form (and as Alabama fans if it can’t happen; David Shula, anyone?). You will have nothing else.

I can’t believe how disgusted I am….

Bama Fan

September 15th, 2010
12:32 pm

SSIgator

September 15th, 2010
11:44 am

“Mark Richt knows a big game when he sees one coming”

Yep. He knew Alabama was big in 2008 and look how that turned out. 1980 – so long ago.

Was the SEC Championship game a big game last year, SSIgator?

Sweat Socks

September 15th, 2010
12:33 pm

Go DScottGT91!

Mobile Dawg

September 15th, 2010
12:35 pm

Lowcountry, I believe this one will be won or lost due to the pressure we are able to generate on Mallett. If we can put a few good licks on him and keep him running I like our chances. If not he will pick us apart and put some points on the board. I think our Offense will be somewhat better, and even though stats show them to have some D don’t think it will be comparable to SC. We don’t win a scoring contest. Kicking game goes to the Dawgs.

Concrete Pete

September 15th, 2010
12:35 pm

WE NEED A NEW STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING COACH, OR AT THE VERY LEAST UP TO DATE TRAINING METHODS. UNTIL THAT HAPPENS, UGA WILL BE A .500 SEC TEAM. YOU OK WITH THAT?

TrueDawg

September 15th, 2010
12:37 pm

Ok Lowcountry. I will conceed the fact that with 4 national titles in a row in the SEC i would like to see the dawgs compete for one. I do get tired of seeing them come up short. However, if you look at Alabama who won last year…how many dismal seasons did they have before they have risen again to national prominence? Or, how about Florida, they don’t have the record of consistency that UGA does over the past decade. They were just mediocre after spurrier left until little timmy “i cry all the time” tebow came along. i guess it’s which would you rather have most, several 8 and 4 seasons and then win a couple titles then go back to mediocrity (fla looks to be on the way, i don’t know about Bama they are still pretty good)I for one will take 8 and 4 for a couple of years and then get back to the 10 win seasons. I mean let’s be realistic Under Richt we are what 90 something and 30? a 3 to 1 win to loss ratio? i’ll take the odds that at somepoint he gets is right and we go all the way. Be careful when you cry for a new coah look at TN they hired Lane Kiffin, we all saw how that turned out.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

September 15th, 2010
12:37 pm

Second Sweaty Socks! As nasty as that sounds! :)

SSIgator

September 15th, 2010
12:37 pm

The Humane Society called. They wanted to know if UGA wants to press charges against SC for cruelty to animals.

ARdawg

September 15th, 2010
12:38 pm

Low Country
That is the game. It will be very interesting to see the differences in Willies prevent and TG’s 3-4. We could not slow Mallet down last year. Thankfully their defense was worse than ours. That was incidentally Joe Cox’s best game. I was at that game

Mallet is going to score. They have some demm good receivers and he is highly capable of threading the needle. The defensive backs will be tested all night. Complete opposite from last Sat. They will try to run just to keep the GA Def honest but they “shouldn’t” be able too. Think Petrino at Louisville. He’s trying his best to get it at AR

ga gator

September 15th, 2010
12:39 pm

UGA could still win with a loss as we play Bama as does South Carolina. They also play Auburn (who is for real) and UF in the Swamp. So mathematically it is still doable. However the psycological impact of losing at home and going 0-2 and the heat that it will bring, probably makes this CMR’s biggest game in a couple of years.

We will hear them on Saturday

September 15th, 2010
12:39 pm

If Arkansas QB Ryan Mallet come in to Sanford and hums two or three TD bombs to jump up on UGA like 21-3 or 24-3 and only in the first half ………it will be very,very ugly. I recall in Goff’s era, how UGA dropped the opening kick off on Homecoming and then they scored a quick TD and it went south from there and we LOST to Vandy and some lil bitty running back that they had ……….from state of Georgia. They ate UGA alive that day and UGA had about 6 or 8 men that did play in the NFL. Sound familiar????

If this scenario takes place …………Richt will simply not believe the boo birds that will come out. He simply will not appreciate it. Oh really? UGA grads and the students ( if they have been at UGA for 2 or 3 years) will not tolerate another debacle like that game with Vandy, or last year’s KY game. No way ……….. it could be shocking to the Coaching staff. The birds will be flying all over Sanford Stadium. It will turn ugly IF Ark jumps all over UGA.

Todd Granthom will wonder where it went south for them all ……………he can point back to SC and the LAZINESS of the UGA D. Such is life in big boy ball in the SEC.

Go Dogs ……………………… Win ……………..changes will be in the works, otherwise. Y’all brought it on yourselves.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

September 15th, 2010
12:41 pm

True- Again was not crying about firing CMR. Notice how I started and ended the post. I simply can see where the argument comes from.

Also read the blog that Erica posted on her sight. She put together the argument as to why much better than I did.

This is a hyper paced world and fans want to win NOW! So when blogs and information that we have now, coaches are expected to win fast. CMR is simply a victim of his first 5 years on the job at this point.

TrueDawg

September 15th, 2010
12:41 pm

excellent point lowcountry. i agree. victim of his own success and the win now mentality.

tim

September 15th, 2010
12:42 pm

DScottGT91 a little dramatic wouldn’t you say…at the end of the day all charges against Rainey will be dropped because there will be no victem. This was a minor deal that will always get blown out of proportion because of the notoriety of all involved. Fundemental lack of perspective, indeed. Love to see holier than thou aholes pontificate on blogs about other folks and how they should act….you’re a Tech grad…act like you have some sense

ga gator

September 15th, 2010
12:42 pm

Lowcountry Bulldawg good post. CMR is a victim as are most other coaches to the expectations that enormous salaries bring. Kind of hard to feel sorry for any of them; including Urban.

dawgster

September 15th, 2010
12:43 pm

SSlgator….why don’t you find a gator blog to make your classless remarks on and that is what you usually do is spout off classless remarks…You might want to be concern with some of the gators problems on and off the field..why worry about the dawgs…You probably never played a down of football in your life or coached on any level…i know that just by some of your stupid remarks…of course your not the only one..we have a lot of dawg fans that seem only interested in bashing this team..its one game dawg fans, its over, we got beat, lets move on…If the season does not turn out as well as it should then alot of other problems should be addressed, i agree with that, but lets let the new AD look at the results at the end of the season…As for the gators and any other dawg basher worry about your on team…Everyone that wants to bash the dawgs Coaching, or wants them fired…ask yourself ;this quiestion..Do you really want to start over again and rebuild the program, can you be that patient…We have outstanding recruits coming in for a visit this weekend and we need many of them, especially one talented RB…If the dawg nation continues to bash our current team, why in the heck would these recruits want to come here with all the negativity they here…Dawg fans please wake up…

Lowcountry Bulldawg

September 15th, 2010
12:43 pm

Crap we are so worried about the passing game, watch Petrino come out and run trap drwas or some crap likethat just to mess with us! LOL!

DamntheButcher

September 15th, 2010
12:44 pm

If GA gets beat by AR on Saturday then CMR needs to be fired at the post game press conf. His stupid lazy staff doese this crap every year. “Oh we we beat so we need to play better”. Why care after the loss. Why don’t you do something like Nick Saben at AL. CMR should have been fired last year. You idiots keep saying wait til next year.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

September 15th, 2010
12:44 pm

Draws- Rather

DawginLex

September 15th, 2010
12:45 pm

Let Murray play and lead this team. He is ready.

Bobo needs to let him play or get out of the way.

ga gator

September 15th, 2010
12:46 pm

dawgster, didn’t realize that this was a big recruit visit weekend; makes it even more important. I agree with most of your post though. I try not to be negative about someone else’s team only observations since I attend UGA home games with lady friend.

ga gator

September 15th, 2010
12:47 pm

Lex we agree as we do 95% of the time. The kid is a leader and is as advertised by my Tampa friends who said he has Tebow-like leadership qualities and play making ability. People need to lay off him about his size.

Itsover

September 15th, 2010
12:48 pm

Well, here we are again! The season is over! I do not see the talent on the dawgs side to pull it out. We have small backs, receivers who can not catch the ball, and a QB we have to protect from success. I think I am done with the dawgs. The NCAA rules and others trying to make football like golf. Maybe we can have a JACKS team.
c

TnDawg

September 15th, 2010
12:49 pm

Oh wait! Those red panties did not belong to the young woman in Damon’s car, they were football equipment…

Gatorbait 17-3

September 15th, 2010
12:49 pm

DScottGT91

I’ve already said that if true (and that appears case) I will join all those who call for him to be dismissed from the team. He has not been suspended, but an assistant coach said the morning,
“he is no longer on the team as of now”. I can assure you he is not going to Knoxville.

How could any of you believe that one would condone such behavior, regardless of the team affillation.

Dawg Tell

September 15th, 2010
12:50 pm

Richt knows a big game when he sees one coming! Are you sure about that? I thought S.C. was a big game.That was said by the staff over the summer.Now we are at another big game. I like coach Richt,however my outlook is very low with his coaching and Bobo play calling.Over the last five years Richt has become the CEO of the program and let the day to day coaching to his coordinators and Asst.coaches.This is great if you are winning,not so great if losing. I hope for UGA and Richt they will perform and win Saturday. If not; Richt will be on the Hot seat. To much has happened over the last six months. Supporters are watching and money will be a big issue this year.Money talks. Period!!!

DawginLex

September 15th, 2010
12:51 pm

Thank God Tennessee is horrible or Meyer would delay the suspension until the Vandy game.

ARdawg

September 15th, 2010
12:51 pm

LowCountry
All the “Fire” hot seat hype does absolutely nothing for the program but negativity. There are recruits this minute looking to commit to Georgia but won’t with such chatter. My thing is, let the season play out. If we wind up back in Shreveport I’ll be on the fire bandwagon too but, not after next season starts

Nick Gerz

September 15th, 2010
12:52 pm

Fascinating article Mr. Ewok….. who picks your article subjects.. your grandbaby ewoks?

Gatorbait 17-3

September 15th, 2010
12:53 pm

Can you read, he has not been suspended, he is off the team. Get it?????????????????

Sweat Socks

September 15th, 2010
12:53 pm

After the SC game (and many other instances) I’m wondering if Mark Richt actually does know a big game when he sees one…

Gatorbait 17-3

September 15th, 2010
12:53 pm

the last post was for DawginLex

got to try this

September 15th, 2010
12:56 pm

Sweat Socks

September 15th, 2010
12:57 pm

Recruits aren’t going to other schools because of “chatter” on blogs. They’re going elsewhere because of the direction of the UGA Football program–”coached” by Mark Richt.

DawginLex

September 15th, 2010
12:57 pm

It would have been delayed a week if the next game was at Tuscaloosa

Bama Fan

September 15th, 2010
12:59 pm

SSIgator

September 15th, 2010
12:37 pm

The Humane Society called. They wanted to know if UGA wants to press charges against SC for cruelty to animals.

Your silence to my question is deafening.

ARdawg

September 15th, 2010
12:59 pm

I have much more confidence in Murray’s ability than I do Bobo’s play calling

DawginLex

September 15th, 2010
1:00 pm

Amen ARdawg.

Richt needs to get nasty and tell Bobo he is taking over playcalling.

dawgster

September 15th, 2010
1:00 pm

Hey ga gator…thanks for the comments…i didn’t mean to mislead anyone that we have tons of recruits coming in this weekend. but we have several and one very talented RB coming in..thanks for the comments and i agree with you that having observations about another team is very fair even if we don’t agree, what gripes me though is the constant name-calling, bashing or just plain bad mouthing of these programs and their players…unfortunately, everyone and that includes many dawg fans, i hate to say, do not show the class that you seem to have…I just am saddened by the bashing of our program by our on fans…go dawgs..

ARdawg

September 15th, 2010
1:01 pm

Sweat Socks

I didn’t say they were going elsewhere and I didn’t say anything about blogs. Did your mother have any children that lived?

Dan Mullen

September 15th, 2010
1:02 pm

Gatorbait get off this blog cause Florida Sucks

Dan Mullen

September 15th, 2010
1:03 pm

Dawgster the bashing of the program only means one thing Georgia Sucks!

89Eagle

September 15th, 2010
1:05 pm

BIGDAWG thinks Van Gorder should be in the top 2 if there is a coaching change. Have at him. He is a train wreck as far as a HC. Funny

ARdawg

September 15th, 2010
1:08 pm

dawgsters…..those aren’t Georgia fans. They are Pretenders and bandwaggoneers. They are the Bama Stans of Georgia. First here when things are good to celebrate and first here when things are bad to denigrate. Most have never even bought a ticket. Sad but we do have those in the Bulldog nation too.

ga gator

September 15th, 2010
1:09 pm

Lex no program is without problems; did Richt immediately kick Mettenburger or Montez Robinson (who actually struck a girl) immediately? He waited until he had the facts. Meyer has a firm policy in affect; strike a female and you are gone. What makes this case odd and more complicated is the girl and her mom showed up in court and told the judge she never intended on him being arrested.

acdc1996

September 15th, 2010
1:10 pm

I think had Richt had made the change and replaced Bobo and Martinez, there would be a little grace shown to him this season and this would not be a must win.

The fact that he kept Bobo, has made this a must win. Keeping Bobo falls on him. I was at the game Saturday and the things that seemed to work early Bobo never went back to them. Spurrier’s approach is that we will keep running the same plays until you stop it. Very Smart.

Bobo has NO clue what to do and you can tell. The defense is much better as far as schemes, we just need to tackle better. I feel confident we have made the right choice in Grantham. The problem is that Richt kept Bobo and that was a huge mistake on his part.

Pago Pago Dawg

September 15th, 2010
1:11 pm

We’ll be just fine..UGA always recruits in the Top Ten and our “O” line is the best in the SEC…soooo calm down!

acdc1996

September 15th, 2010
1:12 pm

He will be on the hot seat if he starts 1-2 as a result of keeping Bobo.