It’s the postseason, so fans and columnists are naturally devoting a lot of energy to parsing Mark Richt’s intriguing but typically vague comments at his season-end press conference.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whole lot of substance there, and what there was isn’t likely to make folks feel any better about the direction of the Georgia football program.
In other words, a typical Richt press conference.
The most interesting revelation was that UGA athletic director Greg McGarity, who was notable in his presence at the press gathering, has taken some of the administrative duties off Richt’s plate, which the coach says is “going to help free me up to [spend] more time doing the things I love the most, which is study the game of football and be an expert and be on the cutting edge.”
Richt didn’t spell out what that meant, but he indicated he was “not making any plans” to take back the playcalling from offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. He said he would meet with his offensive staff to “just look at what we’re doing and why we’re doing it and making sure we’re on the right path.”
Some wondered if he is contemplating revamping or opening up the offense, perhaps installing more spread option elements to take advantage of quarterback Aaron Murray being a dual threat.
But then Richt noted that when you make a lot of changes, it’s tough on the players. “If you just change for the sake of changing, then all of a sudden you’ve got to relearn something all over again. Do I want to confuse Aaron Murray right now? Heck, no. That guy knows what he’s doing, and he’s going to have a lot more confidence going into next season.”
So it doesn’t seem likely that he’s talking about installing the fun ’n’ gun.
Richt’s comments that Bobo and offensive line coach/running game coordinator Stacy Searels “have done a great job — not a good job but a great job” raised a lot of eyebrows and drew the expected hoots of derision. But, really, what did you expect him to say? It’s too late in the game for Richt to be reshuffling his offensive staff. He has to play the hand he dealt himself.
Perhaps a clue to what Richt will be doing with all this extra football time came when he said, “One of the biggest things I am going to be looking for is effort in the team and everyone around here. We need to do what we do well and do it full-speed. As a head coach, that’s the number one point of emphasis that I am going to watch for.”
Coupled with the installation of “old school” Joe Tereshinski in charge of the strength and conditioning program, you might take that to mean that Richt will be taking names and kicking butts during the offseason to try and light a fire under his team.
But then you remember this is Richt we’re talking about, the man mentor Bobby Bowden once joked was so calm and cool you needed to take his pulse to make sure he was still alive. It’s hard to imagine Richt summoning up any inner Nick Saban.
So the bottom line is that Richt says “we’re not looking to blow anything up.”
No wholesale changes, in other words. Which is not surprising. Sure, the Dogs just concluded a poor season in a lethargic manner that makes a good case for major change being needed, but the fact is that Richt only has the one season to turn things around and, as he noted, change confuses players. So whatever change we see on the field in 2011 is likely to be incremental and more of the attitude adjustment variety.
Richt tried to buck up the Bulldog Nation by declaring, “In my opinion we’re very close.”
He meant that the elements are there in his program for success.
But the reality is that if the head coach doesn’t manage to get more out of those elements in the coming season, we’re likely to be very close to the end of the Mark Richt era at UGA.
Were you disappointed by what Richt had to say or was it pretty much what you expected? And what “cutting edge” changes would you hope his football studies produce for the 2011 season?
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