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

Lowcountry Bulldawg

September 15th, 2010
3:04 pm

Things to be positive over:

1) Pressure we have created thus far.

2) Murray has shown very good maturity

3) Walsh is a stud

4) Penalty’s seem to be under control

5) Turnovers seem to be under control

6) No one has been arrested in over a week

7) CMR can do a wonderful dive off the diving board

8) We have a Top 10 recruiting class for ‘11

9) We may have a Top 10 recruiting class for ‘12

10) I can’t think of anything else

Roll Tide

September 15th, 2010
3:05 pm

Since all the UF fans love to troll this blog and talk smack instead of acknowledging their daddy, I’ll come to them.

I’m going to really enjoy watching the whining and excuse making when Bama utterly kicks in your teeth again this year in a few weeks. Mark my words, it will be a blood bath, and we will dominate every aspect of the game.

And if you manage to get to Atlanta again, we’ll enjoy beating the crap out of you a second time. We have the better players, better coaches, and better program. You better obey your daddy, or suffer the consequences.

76-DAWG

September 15th, 2010
3:07 pm

When great coordinators leave for head coaching jobs the team that they leave will suffer. Florida will struggle at least this year with Strong no longer there. A perfect time for UGA to take control of the East and gain a lot of confidence. If we don’t someone will.What’s it going to be CMR ?

tim

September 15th, 2010
3:10 pm

roll tide you’re a funny guy……..at least UF players have teeth to kick in….most of you backwoods necks wouldn’t know a tooth if it bit your ass

DawginLex

September 15th, 2010
3:12 pm

17-3,

Looks like somebody can’t take the same crap you dish out all the time.

Roll Tide

September 15th, 2010
3:15 pm

Ah little Timmy, at least you aren’t disputing the fact that UF is now and will continue to be our b1tch. It’s going to be fun watching the complete and total beat down in a few weeks, and the subsequent realization that UF’s run is over not only nationally, but in the SEC.

By the way, north Florida probably has more toothless rednecks then the entire states of Alabama and Mississippi combined.

wildbill

September 15th, 2010
3:16 pm

That stand-in Russ is a wimp, just like the dawgs this year.

Scooter

September 15th, 2010
3:18 pm

So I still haven’t had anyone tell me why next year should be a better year after two rebuilding years…

I really am starting to think that as long as MR is at the helm..this team is going to be a “Perfect Storm” kind of team…meaning that maybe one year out of 10 or so he will have managed the team well enough that there won’t always be one part of it that’s not up to snuff.

So that basically makes UGA a midmajor conference team…not even as consistent as a Utah or Boise State…just hoping to get lucky one year and compete. Personally I don’t think it makes you part of the lunatic fringe to think that’s not enough for a team with the resources of UGA.

George P.

September 15th, 2010
3:19 pm

A team like Georgia can not possibly have a must win game.

AceDawg

September 15th, 2010
3:22 pm

I thought UGA played hard, but they were outperformed. Maybe a few plays with lack of effort, but perhaps fatigue was a factor because the USC offense shredded the Dawgs for four long quarters. Both sides of the ball need to be better, but considering that Murray played well, I’m thinking Mike Bozo is the guy who deserves a little extra criticism above the rest for the offense. Of course, Ealey is at fault for the fumble, but still, uncage the offense a bit because if preventing Murray from losing the game is worth losing a game… then, uh… hmm… not so much.

ga gator

September 15th, 2010
3:25 pm

Dont be an a hole toilet roll, you had better worry about the bad dallas start, cause if they dont go deep in the playoffs, saban will leave you like a cheating wife and go sleep with jerry in big d and then you will go back to irrelevance.

ga gator

September 15th, 2010
3:25 pm

Oh yea and rednecks in north florida, especially north west florida, well thats why they call it LA.

76-DAWG

September 15th, 2010
3:28 pm

Roll Tide
I saw Saban in a few interviews this last weekend and I’ve got to admit he really has it together. Very business like and knows exactly what he want’s and may I stress what HE wants. There is no doubt who is in charge in Tusaloosa. I never really followed his philosophy and hard nose way before but now I know why he had so much success at LSU and why Alabama wanted him. This guy doesn’t put up with any sh## from anybody, fans, players, coaches , nobody. Very impressive.

saban

September 15th, 2010
3:29 pm

Richt should bring his purse to the game to hit the Arkansas coach if they are timid.

BufordDawg

September 15th, 2010
3:31 pm

An old saying, if you can’t say anything nice – don’t say anything at all. Done being critical of the coaches… Just watching the rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic that the UGA football program has become – since about 2005.

SEC FAN

September 15th, 2010
3:35 pm

If Richt doesn’t win this one, it will be the first nail in his coaching-career coffin. He could get by with 1 loss to start out with but two would start the ball rolling. Also, don’t take MS. State for granted. Richt may very well be 1 in 3 the first month.

Roll Tide

September 15th, 2010
3:37 pm

ga gator-
I’m just simply returning the treatment in kind to the UF fans that troll this blog. It’s not necessarily directed at you, but at your other bretheren that infiltrate this blog on a daily basis for the sole purpose of talking smack. Posters such as SSI and 17-3 to name a couple. If you have a problem with it, then why don’t you call out your fellow UF supporters and tell them to grow up.

Until then, I will continue to come here and rub UF’s face in it since we are your undisputed daddy now.

BTW, Saban isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so you can get that fantasy out of your head. I know you want him to leave since as long as he’s at Bama will will be the supreme dominant force in this league, and will continue treat UF and Meyer like an abused step children that they are. Which by the way, has been UF’s rightful place and role for the overwhelming history of this conference. Saban tried the NFL, decided that he hated it and it wasn’t for him, and has no desire to go back down that road again.

Gatorbait 17-3

September 15th, 2010
3:38 pm

Roll Tide

September 15th, 2010
3:05

Hey, slow down big fella, congulations on your win last year, but is your memory so short you forgot
that the Gators won that game in 2008.

You may be interested in the fact that Florida and Alabama have played each other in 10 SEC Championship games. You may feel badly when you realize Florida is 8-2 in those games.

The Gators won in “91,93,94,95,96,99,06,08. Big Red won the 92 game and last year. Ya’ll got a great team, but we will show up for the game. Frankly, I would prefer you win the regular season game, cause you won’t beat the Gators twice in one year–See you in Atlanta.

That's going to leave a Mark

September 15th, 2010
3:38 pm

Ouch, looks like someone has a running back. All those top defensive players, and one S. Carolina player got 182 rushing yards. Did I mention one player did that. It all started when CMR decided to be CEO instead of coach. He has not showed any emotion since he made that decision. He has also started losing control of the team since he let the team charge the field during the FL game. All I can say is ouch. He needs to have control of his players off the field 1st, so that he can actually have players on the field to control.

Gatorbait 17-3

September 15th, 2010
3:39 pm

What’s your problem with me, I don’t trash Bama?

DawginLex

September 15th, 2010
3:41 pm

Wesley Saunders done at SC

More to the hotel story than meets the eye?

Forfeit wins?

Wouldn’t that be a scream.

Since he didn’t play, they might get out of jail. There were others that DID play and don’t think the NCAA sniffing around is a good thing.

ga gator

September 15th, 2010
3:41 pm

I have and will continue; I even posted about loser Rainey at 7:57 am yesterday. So if you are gonna call out people be specific. SSI is obnoxious. Don’t believe it will be a blow out though I think you will win. Guess you struck a nerve with your tone; sorry.

Gatorbait 17-3

September 15th, 2010
3:41 pm

Just finished reading the rest of you post, you’ve got a lot of nerve saying who’s your Daddy when you are 8-2 against the Gators. Maybe you ought to growup.

Richt has double or triple trouble now

September 15th, 2010
3:41 pm

Double trouble? How?

1.) Big recruiting weekend ………they will see the tight lips, the grim faces on coaches and their wives, the seriousness of the staff and of one or two players. The recruits will get a first hand look at the usual game day at UGA ……..anxiety riddled day it will be. Locker room will be grim. Very tight.
2.) The recruits will see how the staff gets more uptight as Mallet’s arm ruins the UGA D. They will hear the anger and the banterring between the O coaches and the D coaches. It will not be pretty.
3.) The recruits will also hear the Boo Birds ………….. this will not be good. They will possibly see in the early 4th qtr ……….UGA fans streaming out. Not a pretty sight it could be if Arkansas is like 38-10 or 35-16.

Richt would ask “why do that …..we have raw recruits here”. My answer is: You should have thought about all of this last week, when you all simply laid down and got pounded, coach.

The kids that were in Athens for that Alabama night pounding a couple of years ago did not then sign with UGA just because of this ………….UGA staff not being ready. LSU game last year we had tons of kids that did not ultimately sign with UGA …………after AJ celebrated his TD and UGA was flagged and then Charles Scott ran over lil Rennie Curran for the winning TD. Recruits are staying away because of the UGA staff and our lack of preparation …………. Mental and physical.

Go Dogs

UGA class of 71 & 73

ga gator

September 15th, 2010
3:42 pm

Dont even remember SSI trashing Bama; Dawg fans are quick enough to shut him up on their own.

Texas Dawg

September 15th, 2010
3:42 pm

I agree with Mean Machine! We recruit as well as Florida and Alabama so why can’t our program have five or six years competing for NC’s! I know it won’t last forever but I think Richt has petterd out. Look at what Saban has done for Alabama….the only varible is coaching! I like Richt as much as the next dawg fan and I am a die hard dog fan and as such I want the best for our team! Yea I know it’s not Richts style but I would just once like to see him get emotional on the sideline…let get Muschamp back to Ga…he’ll fire um up!

Ed

September 15th, 2010
3:43 pm

Coach Urban Meyer: “We will only recruit the top one percent of the one percent.”

The competition in Alachua County Correctional must be fierce…

Gatorbait 17-3

September 15th, 2010
3:44 pm

Roll Tide

September 15th, 2010
3:37 pm

Bama will will be the supreme dominant force in this league, and will continue treat UF and Meyer like an abused step children that they are. Which by the way, has been UF’s rightful place and role for the overwhelming history of this conference.

For someone who is 2-8 against the Gators you must be delusional, take a pill.

76-DAWG

September 15th, 2010
3:47 pm

Roll Tide
. My dad was from north Florida . There isn’t a better group of people in the country. They will give you the shirt off their back. I lived down their for 2 weeks every year. There isn’t a region in Florida with more loyal fans of the Gators . They even put up with me when I was going to school at UGA and drove my red and black mustang down . Maybe that was because they had so much respect for my dad. Can’t cut down Florida . Go DAWGS.

ga gator

September 15th, 2010
3:47 pm

Enter your comments here

That's going to leave a Mark

September 15th, 2010
3:48 pm

We do not need Saunders. We did just fine without him.

Ed

September 15th, 2010
3:49 pm

“Again, not saying fire MR, but I think it’s past time for these questions to be asked.”

Then let me say it, Scooter. Richt should be fired after this year, it’s obvious he’s not getting the job done.

Your post was right on the money.

DawginLex

September 15th, 2010
3:49 pm

Absolutely you did fine without saunders. But what if the NCAA rules against his teammates that did play the first 2 games?

ga gator

September 15th, 2010
3:49 pm

Nice comment 76-Dawg. Most Gator fans our age respect UGA because of the yearly butt whooping from Dooley. Only the younger ones are a little on the obnoxious side.

Gatorbait 17-3

September 15th, 2010
3:51 pm

Just wanted to let you know the latest. I’m sure you will find fault with something, but I don’t think any coach would do more at this stage and some a lot less.

Florida coach Urban Meyer said wide receiver Chris Rainey’s status with the team is yet to be decided.

“It’s just further evaluation as we go,” Meyer said during the SEC teleconference Wednesday. “As of the immediacy of it, he’s not with us.”

Rainey was suspended indefinitely Tuesday following his arrest. He was charged with aggravated stalking, a third-degree felony, for allegedly sending a sometimes girlfriend a threatening text message.

Meyer says Omarius Hines will start in Rainey’s place Saturday at Tennessee.

Rainey has just six catches for 34 yards and a touchdown this season, and Meyer says his team can fill that void.

ARdawg

September 15th, 2010
3:51 pm

Acedawg

Fumbles are a part of the game. Ealey’s fumble was bad but “IT” didn’t cost us that game. Congratulations on trying to make the boy feel bad. That fumble was at the end of the 3rd quarter while down 8 points and out of time outs. With your logic Durham lost the game when he dropped that pass at the goal line or Murray’s fault because he didn’t scramble and run it in for a score.

We lost that game because we couldn’t stop Lattimore and get their offense off the field in the 4th. IMO, you could also heavily attribute it to the little girls panties offensive play calling. Ealey didn’t lose the game by himself no more than he would have won the game if he had two late breakaway TDs

DawginLex

September 15th, 2010
3:51 pm

17-3,

You saying that florida owns Bama based on the head to head record since 1990 is what is delusional.

That is like you saying the UF basketball program is better than UK because of the 2 titles Donovan won.

I’m pretty sure the Tide dude is talking about the fact that Bama is the most dominant school in the history of the SEC.

David

September 15th, 2010
3:52 pm

Richt is putting on some weight. Look at those cheeks!

Gatorbait 17-3

September 15th, 2010
3:53 pm

76-DAWG

September 15th, 2010
3:47 pm

And a tip of the hat to you—nice comment, I have some friends in Live Oak and they great people.

Jim Donnan and Ray Goff

September 15th, 2010
3:54 pm

Break out the pitchforks and let’s rush the Butts Mehre building and demand a coaching change. This is even unacceptable to us!

That's going to leave a Mark

September 15th, 2010
3:55 pm

We don’t need any of them. We only needed one player to man handle ya’ll.

YANKEEDAWG

September 15th, 2010
3:56 pm

Last year the officials cost us a game and gave 2 games to Florida and 1 to Alabama.Until they change rules on over ruling bad calls by officials no true champion will be named. Just my thoughts.

Gatorbait 17-3

September 15th, 2010
3:57 pm

DawginLex

Ok pal, Bama won last year the Gators won in 08 and 06-what’s his point now?

DawginLex

September 15th, 2010
3:59 pm

He is talking about the history of the SEC.

The SEC played football prior to 1990.

Bama has more conference titles and more national titles than any other SEC team.

That is what he meant.

Scooter

September 15th, 2010
3:59 pm

Apparently my comment got caught in the filter..sorry if it appears twice:

It sounds sad because I’m only 33 years old, but I’m really starting to wonder how old I’m going to be before I see this team even compete for a National Championship. Yesss, I know that sounds lunatic fringy..but I’ve actually been a pretty big MR supporter since he’s been here.

But now it seems he’s gotten fat and happy, and is just playing the string out. I actually am wondering if he’s not more calculating than people give him credit for.

He holds onto Willie for as long as he can b/c that’s a built in excuse, then hires a guy with a whole new scheme that has to be learned…another built in excuse. He doesn’t play any of the guys that will have to start at QB this year even though last year was lost. Once he’s finally forced to hire a real OC he’ll have another scheme to learn and another couple of years of excuses…seems like he can keep things mediocre and still be in a job for a few more years yet easily…

Throw on top of that his reputation as a good christian guy..even though his players can’t stay out of jail…and I could be 40 before we see any results or a new coach..pretty depressing.

Reminds me of Clemson with Tommy Bowden, down to the FSU buddy system and great recruiting with few results…

That's going to leave a Mark

September 15th, 2010
4:00 pm

Welcome to college football. We have been playing against the officals for ever. Hate to say it but it will not change.

Ed

September 15th, 2010
4:01 pm

Roll Tide said: “Bama will will be the supreme dominant force in this league, and will continue treat UF and Meyer like an abused step children that they are. Which by the way, has been UF’s rightful place and role for the overwhelming history of this conference.”

Gatorbait replied: “For someone who is 2-8 against the Gators you must be delusional, take a pill.”

Come on Gatorbait, I understand that you are a fiercely loyal Gator, but you have to admit his point. Florida has been a member of the SEC for 78 years and was irrelevant for the first 59 of those years. At one point only Florida and one other pre-expansion SEC school (can’t remember, either Vandy or Miss. St.) had ZERO SEC titles, and this was as recently as 1990.

I’m no Alabama fan, but they were going to major bowls and winning SEC Championships during the Great Depression, and they’ve been winning them off and on ever since. They still have more than twice as many SEC titles as does Florida, and despite Florida’s 1990s-2000s success, it still isn’t close.

I understand why Gators act like SEC football was invented 19 years ago, but there is actually a long and rich history that predates UF’s winning ways by many decades.

If it makes you feel any better, Georgia has assumed Florida’s former role as perennial underachiever and talented conference head-case.

ryan

September 15th, 2010
4:02 pm

Arkansas no running game no defense they are going to throw on every down. There are no excuses why UGA can win this maybe we get AJ back by the MSU game .

how2fish

September 15th, 2010
4:02 pm

Jesus, Joesph and Mary I came to a UGA blog and lo and behold a knife fight starts between Bama and Gator fans…please DOWN IN FRONT and pass me the popcorn !

Gatorbait 17-3

September 15th, 2010
4:03 pm

DawginLex

September 15th, 2010
3:51 pm
17-3,

You saying that florida owns Bama based on the head to head record since 1990 is what is delusional.

Please show me where I said the Gators “OWED” Bama, all I did is point out the record in Championship games that began in 92, I was wrong about the 91 game, the Championship games started in 92. So the Gators are 7-2 not 8-2, unintentional.