Richt on travel, Jax, Cox, and more

   Columbus -– Caught up with Mark Richt’s speaking tour Thursday night.  His visit with the Columbus Bulldog Club was interesting and lively.

   He expressed some serious reservations about long road trips, such as Georgia’s to Arizona State last fall.  He scoffed at the notion that Jacksonville is a neutral site for the Georgia-Florida game. And he quantified the extent to which the Georgia players see Joe Cox as the team’s leader.

    Here’s Richt, responding to questions from the gathering:

   On Cox’s leadership:  “We had exit meetings where one of the things we asked the players on their exit-meeting sheet, I guess, was: Who do you think are the leaders of this football team? I think it was 110 guys who wrote down different names. And 107 times, Joe got his name mentioned. . . . So here’s a guy voted the No. 1 leader on the team who really hasn’t started a game in three years and only started one in his whole career.”

   On how the team is recovering from last year’s injury epidemic: “I think in about two or three weeks, about 95 percent of our football team will be ready to rock and roll.”

    On DT Jeff Owens’ comeback from knee surgery: “Jeffrey looks wonderful. I think he’s trimmer today than the day he got hurt. He really got serious about getting in the best shape he could. That’s hard to do when you’re rehabbing a knee.”

   On whether the Georgia-Florida game should be played in Georgia sometimes: “I don’t know what’s going to happen. But when people ask me the question, ‘Do you really think [Jacksonville] is a neutral site?’, I say, ‘No, it’s not neutral.’ When you play in the state of Florida every year –- we fly, they drive; it’s hotter for us, it’s cooler for them.  It’s played in a stadium that [used to be called] the Gator Bowl. But what the heck? If nothing else, we’ll make Jacksonville pay more to keep it there. . . . I wouldn’t feel bad having a ‘neutral site’ game in Georgia – in the Georgia Dome.”

   On who’ll start at tight end: “Right now, I would say Aron White. Aron had a great spring. He did drop a ball or two in the spring game, but he did not drop many balls all spring long. And since he’s been here, he has had really good hands. Maybe the big [G-Day] crowd got him, I don’t know, but I’m glad he got it out of his system.”

  On long road trips, such as last year’s to Arizona State, this year’s to Oklahoma State and next year’s to Colorado: “What we learned is, it’s tough travel. That Arizona State game was just prior to the Alabama game. I’m not making excuses, but . . . I saw Stafford and Moreno laying there [on the flight home] trying to get some sleep, flying through the night. It’s just tough travel. I don’t know if we really want to do a whole lot more of that.”

   On Oklahoma State, this year’s opening opponent: “I think they’re going to look at that as one of the biggest games in the history of their football program, so we better get ready.”

   On Georgia’s new basketball coaching staff: “Those guys are class people. . . . I like their approach already. They’re not making some wild promises. They understand it’s going to take work. And just hearing how they go about preparing players — in all, I just see really good things from that staff.”

  (Richt told me before the meeting that the two most common questions he’s gotten on the Bulldog Club tour — last night was stop No. 6 —  have been about the tailbacks and the defensive ends.   Sure enough, he got them again. His answers, somewhat condensed:)

  On the tailback position, post-Moreno:  “We’ve been averaging a little bit over 2,000 yards a season rushing.  Some years, it’s been [one guy]  getting most of it. Some years, it’s been by committee. …  You know what, I don’t really care if it’s one guy or two guys or three guys. I think whoever is running the ball is going to benefit from a more mature line than we’ve had in quite some time. … Right now, no one has really separated themselves [at tailback].  Caleb [King], I would say, would still be the No. 1 guy going into camp, but by the first game someone else may win that job. I don’t know.” 

  And on the defensive ends:  “We just need to get them healthy.  [RoderickBattle, I think, can play well for us. [Demarcus] Dobbs can play well. [Justin] Houston is coming along. We’ve got a kid, Cornelius Washington, who has been hurt ever since he got here, but the kid is long, he’s lean, he’s fast and he’s very talented. We’ll see how he does. . . . And we got some Sam linebackers — [Darryl] Gamble, [Marcus] Washington, [Darius] Dewberry –- who leave the game when we get into our nickel defense  and tend to be in more of  a pass-rushing mode. So what we want is to use those Sam linebackers to rush the pass, too, because they are a little bit more athletic, a little more agile, faster by nature. They don’t hold up against the run as well, but you don’t see as much run on third-and-long.”

 

    Around Bulldog Nation:  Stacey Palmore, a Virginia Tech assistant basketball coach, told the Roanoke Times that he’ll be joining new Georgia coach Mark Fox’s staff. Palmore said Fox pursued him because of his recruiting contacts in Georgia. . . . Fox got tied up on some recruiting business, so assistant Kwanza Johnson filled in for him at the Bulldog Club meeting in Columbus. . . . Georgia’s softball team lost to Kentucky 2-0 in the opening game of the single-elimination SEC tournament Thursday in Knoxville.  . . . Lots of action in Athens this weekend: NCAA men’s and women’s tennis first- and second-round matches at the Dan Magill Complex and, next door at Foley Field, the baseball team’s final home series of the regular season.  Here’s a story on two very impressive streaks the men’s tennis team is seeking to extend. 

 

157 comments Add your comment

Billy

May 8th, 2009
4:55 am

Wonderful update! Thank you. Go get them Coach Richt!

dawgJones

May 8th, 2009
6:33 am

Travel? “Im not gonna make excuses”…so I will..it was too far so we got crushed by Bama the next week Jacksonville is not a neutral site…how could it be if I had lost 6 of 8 there. I am just glad nobody asked about our performance against Tech…I would have been embarassed by that excuse. C’mon Richt…how will your team man up if you don’t!

Spike

May 8th, 2009
7:10 am

Good, informative column for the off season. But, I’ve got to call CMR out on this one. UGA looks weak and silly when we complain about playing the Gators in Jax. It is not the location that beats us. UGA plays great on the road. Look at the road record in CMR tenure. We used to kick the Gators collective arse in Jax when Dooley owned them when it really was the Gator Bowl. I know, I was there for them. The Dogs just need to man up when they play UF and stop being in another world when they suit up in Jax.

Tim

May 8th, 2009
7:15 am

Also graduation in Athens this weekend.

JB

May 8th, 2009
7:29 am

Gators have taken their program to another level….we have not kept up…..Just a fact, and i love my Dawgs….I tip my hat to them…..Don’t like them, but we’ve got to change it on the field, not on these blogs ! At the Augusta club meeting this year ( I’ve been to them all since Richt arrived) smaller crowd and a whole lot less enthusiastic. The blow outs to Fla/Bama and the loss to Tech could be felt in the room. Richt was not happy about those things also for what it’s worth.

UGASlobberknocker

May 8th, 2009
7:42 am

I love Coach Richt but he is flat wrong on two things:

1//Other top programs travel nationwide without complaint and do fine..e.g. USC, Tennessee, VA Tech, Ohio State; so to whine about the travel sounds lame to me, Finally we get some decent non conf opponents on the schedule; let’s keep em.and dont make excuses if we lose the next game.

2/The Florida game belongs in Jax..end of story. We werent whining about the site when we were winning 12 of Vince D.’s last 15 against Fla. It sounds like another lame excuse. Lets face it, for most of the past 20 years, Fla would have beat our butt in any city..so lets quit whining and start winning.

MiltonDawg

May 8th, 2009
7:56 am

Great info. I think we’ll be fine w/ Cox as the leader. The players trust him and with a healthy team..hopefully we will surpass expectations. I’m all for having the GA/FLA game back on each other’s campuses. I think it’s better for the fans. Still think Samuel/Thomas will be our backs w/ King taking goalline/3rd & 1 carries. OK ST will be a great game. GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ceph

May 8th, 2009
8:00 am

I remember when we played Florida on a home and home basis when they were rennovating the stadium in Jax. it didn’t help us toooooo much when Fla. hung half a hundred on us at Athens. So much for home field advantage!!!!!! Plus, they did the numbers a couple of months ago and it only showed that the SEC won 51% at home and 49% on the road so it was no big advantage to play at home pct. wise. Plus Richt is BIG on his road record so why is he complaining only about Fla.????? On second thought I know why, URBAN MYER, he couldn’t beat him if he played every year in Athens. The minute Myer walks on the field Richt nuts up, period.

Phil

May 8th, 2009
8:17 am

Mark Richt’s excuses are getting old. Losing to UF is getting old. Blowouts to some unexpected team every year is getting old. I’m afraid GT now has our number because PJ is an excellent HC – a throwback to an old fashioned football coach instead of a polished PR MAN WHO IS MORE OF AN OC THAN A HC.

Gen Neyland

May 8th, 2009
8:26 am

Jeopardy answer of the day : Figgins, Wilson and Houston…Question : What’s the name of the three guys on one moped going the wrong way on a one way street at 3 AM last Tuesday morning..?

GATOR FAN

May 8th, 2009
8:29 am

Well My favorite color is pink, but I am forced to like orange and blue. My favorite position is the tight end. I liked wide receiver, but I kept getting pounded so I switched. Every time I go to the locker room I get as5 raped by some huge guy with a flat top. I didn’t like it the first year, but after he became the ESPN poster boy I thought it would be great for my image. Our coach has the best name….It reminds me of hotdogs and I love the way hotdogs fee…err i mean taste. Well I hope we beat them dirty ole dogs this year. They sure are some big ole hairy mens…. mmm mmm mmmm.

Goooo Gators

follow the money trail

May 8th, 2009
8:29 am

FLA is in UGA’s head. There really is no reason why we shouldn’t beat them more. We have beaten higher ranked teams in the past, like LSU, AUBURN, and TEN. I do think every other year in Atlanta would make it interesting. Also, the team that has had an extra week off prior usually seems to benefit.

UGA Belle

May 8th, 2009
8:31 am

Wow! Did some of us wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Coach Richt was asked a question regarding the UGA/UF game, and he responded. He stated his opinion which is that Jacksonville is NOT a neutral site, and he offered support for that opinion. How is that complaining???

tim

May 8th, 2009
8:38 am

there is one and only one reason the puppies can’t beat the gators…there not good enough

JB

May 8th, 2009
8:47 am

tim………….”there” is a place, They’re is what you meant to say ? You are, a Florida grad all right.

Huh?

May 8th, 2009
8:48 am

Do you really not get it. CMR was asked a trip about the game and responded. If you do not think playing in FLorida every year makes a difference, then play the game in Atlanta for the next 20 years and see if it makes a difference to the Gators. I would imagine no Florida coach would like to play a “neautral game” for the next twenty years 60 miles from UGA campus. Oh, lets also make it fair and have both teams either play or have an off week before the game, since UF has had a week off before the game 9 out of 10 years. UF may win every year in the state of GA but I doubt it. UGA fans who won’t accept change or possibly having the game in Atlanta every other year care more about drinking tradition than the actual game. Also, fact is UGA traveled across three time zones after playing Arizona State on a Sunday morning before the next weeks game. It is great to play across country but all other teams (USC, Ohio State, etc) either have a cream puff game the next week or are off the next game. CMR is not whining he is just telling the truth.

LSU

May 8th, 2009
8:50 am

Mark Richt King of the Whiney B!thces known as uga fans.

Excuses are like @ssholes everyone has got one. The “whoa is georgia we have it so hard” excuses that richt keeps trying to thorw out is getting old..

WTF???

May 8th, 2009
8:53 am

Dude, OSU doesn’t Travel. UT get’s their buttholes dominated when they do travel. And if USC travels they don’t play anyone. USC’s schedule shouldn’t be set until the preseason poll comes out. With the recruiting classes they get they should have to play every preseason top 10 team in the country. Hell, every kid they got is a 5 star recruit. Give me a break

WTF???

May 8th, 2009
8:54 am

LSU – What is the Bayou “Bobby Bouche” Bengals record against UGA since Richt came to town?

Georgia News - 5/8/09 | MrSEC.com

May 8th, 2009
9:08 am

[...] Richt also opened up to a fan group about long road trips, the leadership ability of Joe Cox and on whether or not Jacksonville is a “neutral” site for the annual UGA-Florida game.  (He says it’s not.  And he’s [...]

DawgGirl32

May 8th, 2009
9:41 am

Yeah Mark Richt has owned LSU. Is losing to Georgia every time you play them also getting old? I would hope so.

I don’t see where Mark Richt is making excuses at all. Playing the game in Jacksonville is not a neutral site. That’s just a fact. Steve Spurrier during the time that he was head coach at Florida is quoted as saying that we’re stupid for playing Florida in Jax. Uhhh if their own coach is saying that maybe we should think about it a little more.

As for traveling, look at the other SEC teams. You can talk all you want about how Richt wines about traveling but the truth is he does it more than just about any other team in the conference and wins…a lot. It seems to me that he has the right to say whatever he wants about it. Bottom line, he was asked these questions and he gave his answers. It’s not like he brought it up himself.

Ben

May 8th, 2009
9:47 am

Yeah, I don’t get why anyone should complain about Richt. We’ve been one of the most consistent teams in the SEC for the past eight years. If he wins a national championship he’ll likely have half the campus named after him.

And I’m not in favor of moving the UGA/UF game, but JAX is not a neutral site. Anyone who claims it is is a gator fan.

JB

May 8th, 2009
9:49 am

Truth be known this is a Georgia paper read by mostly
Georgia fans and Fans from other teams come on here
and attack Richt and the Dawgs. If there was a site like this
for Bama, LSU, Fla. etc other than Rivals Message boards, We would find them and wear them out.
The number ONE reason we catch grief from them because THEY KNOW Georgia is capable of beating anyone when we play them. ANYONE ! There are only 4 or 5 teams in the SEC that you can say that about, and we are one of them. We beat Florida in 2007. Trust me, they looked at that as a automatic win. They will this year also. That’s why you play the game, and Richt and company do it very well and often !

LSU

May 8th, 2009
9:51 am

Really richt’s record against LSU is 2-3 doesn’t look like being owned to me.

LSU

May 8th, 2009
9:52 am

JB

Take a look at http://www.tigerdroppings.com

Try and come wear out some LSU fans..

JB

May 8th, 2009
9:56 am

LSU, I can’t Say ANYTHING bad about ya’ll for a year because ya’ll Hung Tech out to dry in the Chick fil a bowl and I enjoyed that look on Paul Johnson face more than you’ll ever know. Thanks. We gave ya’ll a pretty good game last year didn’t we ?

Saint Simons

May 8th, 2009
10:21 am

3 players suspended for violating team rules!!!!! hahahahahhhahahaha 45-42!!hahahhahahahahah

LSU

May 8th, 2009
10:27 am

JB

Jarrett Lee was UGA’s best players that game lol.

Looking forward to the game in Athens this October.

richbrave

May 8th, 2009
10:30 am

MARK FOX signs up a VIRGINIA TECH assistant for his staff. He’s a solid recruiter in your area. Should be effective for the UNIVERSITY of GEORGIA.

Boss Hogg

May 8th, 2009
10:42 am

Huh?: It didn’t make a difference for Dooley. He was 17-7-1 vs UF. Richt is UF’s b!@ch.

Huh?

May 8th, 2009
10:44 am

LSU, Richt is 3-2 vs LSU, including the last three in a row. This is not owning LSU but certainly we are not afraid of LSU.

Jeff D

May 8th, 2009
10:50 am

Did anyone see what color panties CMR was wearing? *hic*

JB

May 8th, 2009
10:50 am

come on LSU, the world is full of coulda, woulda, shoulda’s…… We might not have lost a game last year with 18-20 players out with injuries, and playing THREE freshman OL. Who’s fault is it that Jarrett Lee wasn’t ready. Certainly not ours.

Garrett

May 8th, 2009
10:57 am

I don’t know where Coach Richt got this idea about how Jacksonville isn’t neautral. The weather? Come on Coach, it is probably just as hot in Athens or hotter on that same day. There are as many Georgia fans, if not more, in Jacksonville on that day that Gators. That stadium in split right down the middle, no advantage to either side. This is what Bulldog fans look forward to every fall,driving down to St. Simmons, having a good weekend, then going to the game Saturday.

I have said this and will keep saying it. The reason why so many Georgia fans think it is not neutral is because we keep losing. During the 70 and 80s we dominated Florida taking 13 out of 16 from the Gators starting in 1974. No Bulldog then was complaining about neutrality. That is what it is, just start winning. Go Dawgs!

DawgGirl32

May 8th, 2009
11:57 am

When we dominated Florida in the 70s and 80s it was because they barely even had a football program. They were horrible. Now they finally gotten their act together. Both teams are on a very even playing field right now and ANY advantage can make a difference in the game. There’s no doubt that there’s some sort of psychological block when it comes to playing them. I mean think about it. These players weren’t even alive when we were beating them consistently. That’s not something they can use and relate to. If you asked any other team if they wanted to take our place and start playing Florida in Jax every year I think they would respectfully decline.

LSU

May 8th, 2009
12:04 pm

JB

The lol at the end of that meant for it to be a joke.. As in I was joking with you, You know poking fun at LSU and Jarrett Lee…

Huh?

May 8th, 2009
12:12 pm

LSU is currently a horribly overrated football program. Miles is a bad gameday coach that routinely gets schooled by the better football minds in the game. Their talent is overrated. They have reached that point where their recruits get 4 and 5 stars simply because LSU is recruiting them, not because of anything they’ve done on a football field (For what its worth, I think Georgia has a similar problem on defense but to a much lesser degree). Plus, all this uncertainty and upheaval in the coaching staff will eventually take its toll. Think Auburn. I think LSU is in for a bumpy ride in the next 4-5 years. Last year’s 8-5 campaign was just the beginning.

jimmy

May 8th, 2009
12:24 pm

great info,GREAT reporting.please more articles like this one.thanks TIM

LSU

May 8th, 2009
12:25 pm

Huh?

Wow Miles is overrated, His National Championship says otherwise..He is also the only coach to beat bama, the barn, and UF all in the same season, and he has done that twice..

JB

May 8th, 2009
12:29 pm

Ok LSU, back from lunch…….I still want to thank you again for what you did to Tech….. I mean 35-24 would not mean as much, but 38-3 and them looking as lost as a puppy on the interstate. Priceless !

Huh?

May 8th, 2009
12:48 pm

Miles national championship says that he had a four leaf clover surgically implanted in his rectal cavity before the 2007 season. It was the biggest fluke of national title in the history of college football. You’ve probably got a better chance of getting struck by lightning than seeing the chain of events that led to that title ever again in college football.

But I’m not talking about the past my friend. I’m talking about the future. It doesn’t look good for LSU in my opinion.

BugKiller

May 8th, 2009
12:58 pm

Any person who claims to be a fan of the Dawgs, yet keeps insisting that Jax is a neutral site game that should be changed over their dead bodies is a selfish a-hole who only cares about getting drunk in St. Simons Island, and NOT a true fan of the team.

If you moved the game to Atlanta, which is EXACTLY one mile closer to Athens as Jacksonville is to Gainesville, for EVERY OTHER YEAR, you do realize, you selfish a-holes, that you’d still be able to party at St. Simons EVERY OTHER YEAR, don’t you?

Or are you people too selfish to even think of that?

You morons who keep on pointing to the 70’s and 80’s, when Florida didn’t even have a football team worthy of the SEC, and says if we could beat them then, then we should be able to beat them now are just that… MORONS. Florida has a better coaching staff than us now (any team that continues to employ Willie Martinez is doomed) and they have equal talent. ANY advantage, such as playing a de facto home game, EVERY YEAR, against your main rival, is an ADVANTAGE for them, idiots!!!

You make them travel every other year, and you will see this even out. Why do you think Foley and Meyer are so against a change?

Are you old farts really this selfish? Are you morons really this a-hole-ish?

I am sick and tired of you people not only ruining the atmosphere at games (you Southsiders know who you are!!!), I am sick and tired of you standing in the way of making the Georgia-Florida Game FAIR for the damn Bulldogs!!!

When will you selfish a-holes get it through your grey heads, and stop only thinking about yourselves?

K-Town Dawg

May 8th, 2009
1:03 pm

Saint Simons

Are you ducking the question?

Where did you go to school?

LSU

May 8th, 2009
1:07 pm

Huh?

Good thing no one gives two sh!ts about your opinion. We just brought in a top 3 recruiting class and have tons of talent, so please tell me how you don’t think the future is bright? Les has been out recruiting your butt-buddy mark right since he got to LSU.

LSU

May 8th, 2009
1:08 pm

*should be richt*

Reality Check

May 8th, 2009
1:24 pm

LSU, you have a great program but you would have to admit that your last national championship was as freakish as Haley’s Comet. You do have great recruiting classes however so does Alabama, UGA, Florida, etc. It is also a fact that LSU (specifically Les Miles) has gotten a beatdown from UGA both times since he was the coach, including the 2005 SEC championship game. UGA has had consistent top 5 recruiting classes over the last 5 years so I don’t think CMR is taking a backseat to Les Miles in that avenue. Our problem is defensive coaching when they get there, but we at least hung about 50 on you in your place last year.

See ya next year in Athens!

Huh?

May 8th, 2009
1:29 pm

I disagree. I think you very much care about my opinion. Image is everything to LSU fans. You idiots are alot like Georgia Tech fans, but in a different kind of way. At any rate, you can have your overrated recruiting classes. Mark Richt has been out coaching Les Miles since he got to LSU to the tune of two double digit beatdowns in which UGA accumulated an eye popping 86 points against the big bad Bayou Bengals. Mark Richt craps bigger than Les Miles.

DawgsOnline » It’s too darn hot

May 8th, 2009
1:32 pm

[...] Tim Tucker interviewed Mark Richt in Columbus about a number of topics, but most seem to be latching on to this one quote about the WLOCP: [...]

Pago Flyer

May 8th, 2009
1:32 pm

We were in Athens when FL scored a couple hundred points on the DAWGS.
So much for home field advantage!

UGA VI

May 8th, 2009
1:40 pm

Bugkiller,
I agree 110%…you nailed it.

Pago Flyer,
The FL trip to Athens was against a bad UGA team with a scout team qb at the helm (Brian Smith)…it is not relevant to the current situation.