Mark Richt didn’t hang around long at Tuesday night’s Touchdown Club of Athens meeting, showing up late and leaving immediately after some brief comments and taking a couple of questions from the floor. But he didn’t skip the fan gathering, as some had speculated he would, and when he took the microphone he didn’t duck the issue of Georgia’s 0-3 conference start, either.
“We are where we are,” the coach said to the full-house crowd assembled to hear his mentor, Bobby Bowden. “We’re going to have to get better or it’s gonna get worse. It’s not going to stay the same. I told the players, you think it’s bad now; it could get worse.”
But no matter what, Richt said, “we’re not gonna lose our poise, we’re not gonna lose our integrity. We don’t want to take our frustrations out on anyone, except maybe Colorado. … We just have to keep working hard and keep together. We must stay together.”
Generally, Richt’s update for the club echoed what he’d said earlier in the day at his weekly news conference: The coaches need to work on helping the players correct their mistakes and teach them how to handle adversity while maintaining a positive outlook.
“That’s all we can do right now is keep grinding and keep it positive,” the coach said.
Richt didn’t get into a lot of specifics about the Dogs’ problems, but he did note that in the Mississippi State game it seemed that every time Georgia made a big, positive play, something happened to negate it, whether a turnover or “the penalties got us again.”
On the bright side, he said that the return of A.J. Green to the lineup is bound to open up the middle some for the Dogs’ tight ends as defenses double-up the celebrated wide receiver. “It’s nice to see No. 8 out at practice again and know that you might actually be able to use him this week.”
Even without Green, Richt said, the Dogs have been close to breaking several long touchdown passes with Kris Durham if only quarterback Aaron Murray had been able to hit Durham in stride. The problem, Richt said, has been Murray overadjusting after tending to overthrow receivers in the spring game. “We told him to keep it in play and give the guy a chance to catch it,” which is better than overthrowing, but “if he had hit Kris on the run I think he would have scored four or five times.” Richt also singled out receiver Tavares King for praise.
Durham, Richt said, was able to practice Tuesday in a noncontact jersey after suffering a stinger to the neck in Starkville, and “We hope he’ll be able to play” against Colorado.
Asked by a fan about dealing with the higher altitude the Dogs will face in Boulder, Richt said, “There’s not much we can do about it.” He said he consulted with UGA director of sports medicine Ron Courson and asked if getting out there 24 hours earlier would make any difference and Courson said no. Richt said Georgia will have oxygen available on the sideline but “we’re not going to make a big deal out of it.”
At that point Bowden interjected that Richt should just ignore the altitude and later during his own comments the former FSU coach said his teams’ experience playing at Colorado was that the only difference the altitude made was “the ball goes further,” which helps kickers. “They want you to think it’s a big problem and they try to psych you out,” Bowden said, but his advice on the subject is: “Don’t pay any attention to it.”
As for Georgia’s undersized defensive line, Richt was asked about additional playing time for redshirt freshman Kwame Geathers, the biggest of the Dogs’ nose tackles. The coach said that part of the problem has been Georgia’s opponents haven’t been playing two-receiver sets, which means the nose guards haven’t played much. Geathers, he said, “is coming,” though he’s still tending to favor the hand on which he had offseason surgery. “He’s not, in Coach [Rodney] Garner’s opinion, as ready to get as many reps as the other guys.”
After Richt left, Bowden, who regaled the crowd with amusing stories from his long career, assured the Touchdown Club, “I feel sure Georgia’s gonna pull this thing out” and said that frequently it just takes one player to make the difference. “It’s not like they need to replace all 30 players.”
HOPEFUL SIGNAL ON OFFENSE?
I thought it was interesting that in his news conference Tuesday, Richt talked about Georgia still wanting to run the ball and keep the play-action passing game that hasn’t had much success so far this season, but he also said, “We do have ways to get the ball to our receivers quickly on quick screens. We have screens to our backs. We have ways of throwing quick game if we feel like they have outnumbered the run and we want to get some one-on-one situations. We are still very multiple in what we do.”
Sounds like the head coach wants offensive coordinator Mike Bobo to mix it up a bit more. At least, I hope that’s what that means.
Find me on Facebook.
Follow me on Twitter.