Q&A: UGA’s Mark Richt, Christian Robinson talk up the 2011 football season

Georgia coach Mark Richt hopes more off-field accountability among the players could translate into more on-field victories this fall. (AJC photo)

Georgia coach Mark Richt hopes more off-field accountability among the players could translate into more on-field victories this fall. (AJC photo)

Q&A WITH MARK RICHT & PLAYERS

I had a bunch of in-office responsibilities yesterday and have been away from the blog today doing what us reporters do. So my apologies if you’ve been pining to read something UGA and have checked here only to find nothing. But while I was wiling away with clerical duties and in meetings yesterday, my hard-working colleagues Ken Sugiura and Meghan Rose were down in Macon soaking in the preseason football talk at the annual Peach State Pigskin Preview at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. And in addition to attending to the many teams and personalities represented there, they also were kind enough to listen in on the Bulldogs’ discussions. So in as raw a form as you can get it, here then is some of the Georgia stuff from that event. And don’t worry, I’m working on a few things here and there myself. Stay tuned. . . .

Q: Coach Mark Richt on becoming more willing to offer special teams players in recent years (the Bulldogs currently have five kicking/snapping specialists on scholarship and two recruits committed).

A: “If you can find guys that you know have incredible talent and the consistency that it takes to be great, you might as well give them a scholarship. Until the kickoff rule changes, you’d better have somebody who can kick it off high and deep. Punting is huge. Think about the return men in our league. If every time you have to hold your breath because you’re kicking it to some guy who can take it to the house, that’s a scary thought. But if you have someone who can kick it high and deep and force them to fair catch they can’t beat you if you can force a fair catch.”

Q: (To Richt) You haven’t had any players get into any serious trouble so far this year. Why do you think that is?

A: “I don’t know. I wish I had the answer to that. I think that they know that’s probably been part of our issue as to why maybe we haven’t had the success that we believe that we should have. Again, when we talk about player-driver and coach-driven situations, even those types of things have to be driven by the players and they do need to be accountable to each other and to their families and to the university. We know we could all wake up tomorrow and have a bad situation, but to this point, they’re doing a nice job.”

Q: (To Richt) Has that made for a more relaxing summer?

A: “So far. Vacation starts tomorrow, so give me 10 more days.”

Q: (To Richt) How is Bruce Figgins handing the transition from tight end to fullback?

A: “I like what Bruce is doing. He’s taken on the position change with a good attitude. Who knows? He’s still playing tight end. We’re not just playing him strictly as a fullback. he’ll be able to do both. It will give him an opportunity to be a starter or a greater chance to become a starter for us as a senior, a chance to lead for us. I like what’s going on with Bruce. I think he’s trimmed down a little bit. At one time, I think he got close up to 280 pounds. He’s closer to the 260 range can run, run routes, catch the ball.

Q: (To Richt) How can you compensate for the losses of A.J. Green and Kris Durham?

A: “Losing both those guys has left a void. a guy like Marlon Brown, Rantavious Wooten will now have a greater chance to prove what they can do. I think Tavarres [King] has made enough plays to let everybody know he’s ready to play for us. Orson Charles may get a few more balls, Aron White may get a few more balls. And then there’s a bunch of young players, freshmen and redshirt freshmen and Michael Bennett who I know have the talent base to make plays. The other thing, too, is the quarterback. It’s hard sometimes to have A.J. Green and not feel like you’ve got to throw the ball to him every time. Now he can read the full field and be more concerned about what the coverages are doing and throw the ball to the right guy at the right time.”

Q: (To Richt) We haven’t heard from you since the SEC presidents voted to reduce annual football signings to 25. Will that fix the problem of over-signing?

A: “All I’m saying is you can still over-sign with 25. If you only have room for 15 and you sign 25, you still sing more than you’ve got the question is everybody’s integrity. That’s the question. Are we all going to do things in the right way? and I think everybody’s trying to do that. It’s not an easy thing to manage. It’s really not. because on signing day, if you sign right to the 85 number, by the time august rolls around you might have only 79 because of the attrition that happens from the signing day until august and that’ what everybody’s trying to figure out. How can we start the season at 85 and not over-sign? It’s not as simple as maybe everybody want to make it.”

Q: (To linebacker Christian Robinson) How is the offseason strength and conditioning program different under new director Joe Tereshinski Jr.?

A: “I’d say we’re working more efficiently right now and we have a mindset that we’re not just lifting weights. We’re lifting weights to win a game on Saturday. Coach T and his staff have done a great job of providing that vision for us to where the leaders can reinforce it. We don’t have to worry about not knowing where we’re going. We know what’s ahead of us and the weight room has been the first step to this season. It’s a team effort. if your weakest link isn’t doing well, your team’s not going to do well. We finish together as a team. We do every drill together as a team. If one guy doesn’t do it right, everybody does it over. That’s the way we’re going to behave.

Last week's visit by and workout with UGA legend Herschel Walker was a thrill -- and a pain -- for the current Bulldogs. (UGA photo by Steve Colquitt)

Last week's visit by and workout with UGA legend Herschel Walker was a thrill -- and a pain -- for the current Bulldogs. (UGA photo by Steve Colquitt)

Q: (To Robinson) What was it like working out with Herschel Walker last week?

A: “My abs still hurt. He can work. Everything you see on TV, he’s in that type of shape. He could probably beat every one of us. He really just challenged us. It wasn’t about the workout; it was about how you do it. It was about having the right mental attitude. He had the quote: ‘My body’s the army, my mind’s the general.’ I think a lot of guys took that seriously and said, ‘there’s going to be times I’m not going to want to do a workout, I’m not going to want to put in the extra time, but if I tell myself I’m going to do it, I can do it.’ It’s kind of cliché, but it’s really the truth.”

Q: (To Robinson) Is there a greater accountablity and sense of accountablity with this year’s team?

A: “It just came from wanting to be successful. I think a lot of the guys came together, I know right after the bowl game, we were all on the bus going back to the hotel. After the bowl game, we were all talking to each other, texting each other saying we didn’t like the way we felt. It was the first time we lost a bowl game since I’ve been here. We didn’t want to go out on that note and the way the season went as well just taking the necessary steps as well and holding everybody accountable. If I’m not working, I expect somebody to call me out and I’m going to do the same for my teammates. Not because I’m taking that on them; it’s because I want to win this fall. I want to win games. I want to be successful and I know everybody out here that came here to Georgia wants to do the same.”

86 comments Add your comment

Shepdawg

June 15th, 2011
4:51 pm

First……that is all

honolulu dawg

June 15th, 2011
4:52 pm

JAWJeRDAWG

June 15th, 2011
4:52 pm

I like the mindset of our players in regards to getting ready for the upcoming season. Working hard with a positive attitude towards success.. Go Dawgs!

dawgerbrown

June 15th, 2011
4:52 pm

Can’t wait for kick-off. Win the first two, and we have a great season. Go Dawgs!

DawginLex

June 15th, 2011
4:53 pm

If the players are holding each other accountable, that will help this team a lot. I still say the improvement in the S&C program will pay big dividends but more so in 2012 than 2011. It will help though.

There has always been talent in Athens but the lack of team focus and the lack of discipline has cost us ballgames.

We all have to be encouraged by what is being said but until it translates to more wins, there will be a lot of doubters among the fanbase.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

June 15th, 2011
4:55 pm

Good Stuff Chip- i’d bet Walker’s workout was intense. Glad to see the off-field issues are quite these days.

Spivedog

June 15th, 2011
5:06 pm

Jealous tech fans chime in in 3.2.1..

Chip Towers

June 15th, 2011
5:24 pm

That’s all that’s needed, Shepdawg. Good job.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

June 15th, 2011
5:25 pm

Q: Coach Richt, do you plan to beat FL this year or do you plan to play conservative and hope they give you a win?

Q: Coach Richt, did you take any notes on how you should work your players from Herschel

Chip Towers

June 15th, 2011
5:25 pm

Aloha, honolulu dawg!

lanier

June 15th, 2011
5:30 pm

8-4 if they get lucky

ToccoaDawg

June 15th, 2011
5:40 pm

Offense wins games, Defense wins Championships! Im worried about defensive backfield. Maybe QB wont have chance to throw it!! Ask Nick Satan

Spanky

June 15th, 2011
5:47 pm

Oh wow! They worked out with Herschel?! Consider how great he looks now because of the MMA work-outs!! LOL,..our guys probably thought it a breeze to hang with this old man! LOL!! Go get’em Herschel, and GO DAWGS!!

DOGGIE IN NC

June 15th, 2011
5:49 pm

Play full speed, under control, watch the back side, keep your head in the game, and tackle to the ground. You get winded, get out and let some fresh legs go at it. Avoid stupid penalities and celebrations! Know your assignment, as well as the assignment of the guys next to you. Play TEAM BALL! Gang tackle. Punish them, but in a legal way. This team can do it! GO DOGGIES!

Bo

June 15th, 2011
5:51 pm

Chip,

Like these kind of articles, most blogs don’t have interviews, they can’t get them.

Comments:
1- It will be interesting to see if the s & c has truly been designed with each position in mind, for actual on thye field situations. And if the plan works, which most of Richt’s plans last few years don’t work, so I’m doubtful. Not hard to put on weight, just eat a lot.
2- Figgins won’t be used as a TE this season, only has 9 passes in 3 seasons. Just Richt trying to keep Figgins happy.
3- Charles & White won’t be thrown to as TE’s much, Richt doesn’t use TE’s, scheme wise, it’s not there. Charles is perhaps a top 3 TE in the NCAA, and only caught less than 3 passes a game. I don’t know if Murray throws too many int’s across the middle, or what, but it’s just not going to happen.
4- If accountability/leadership/discipline led to wins, Air Force or Navy or Army would win the Natl Champ every year, and they never do.
5- Punting isn’t huge, Auburn ranked 12th in punting, and went 14-0.

SD Dawg

June 15th, 2011
5:52 pm

Wanna be optimistic, but just don’t see this team winning more than 8 games. I don’t know how we are better this year than last unless the coaching gets better. The one unknown is the apparent bad attitude that has existed amongst certain players in the last few years. Hopefully, this team really does have a better attitude and that this will result in 3 or 4 more wins. If I am predicting. 7-5.

Bo

June 15th, 2011
6:12 pm

Richt rarely uses Figgins (9 passes over 3 seasons) and White (1 pass a game), only against lousy teams.

Charles is only used 2 passes per game.

This is surprising, whichever TE plays better, wins the Ga/Fla game over 80% in Richt era.

But don’t em’ enough.

Waste of talent.

Bad scheme.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

June 15th, 2011
6:14 pm

Bo

What you posted is why I havent sipped on the current DREAM TEAM kool-aid

We always underutilize our talent. Heck we blew Marlon Browns redshirt and none of the coaches new he was on the field

LakeDawg

June 15th, 2011
6:21 pm

UGA has the talent. Its all about attitude. If the players have the right attitude, they will prepare like they should and be successful. Its up to the coaches to set the standard and guide the players along the way. If the coaches are leading and the players are buying in this could be a very successful season. I like that the coaches have seemingly gone back to old fashioned hard work in their approach and ditched the modern work out gimmicks of the day. Everything I’m hearing out of Athens is encouraging, but I’ve heard encouraging comments out of UGA before during the summer and we all know how that has worked out. We’ll know for sure after the first two weeks.

Bo

June 15th, 2011
6:23 pm

The waste of talent of Charles & Tavarres last season was hideous. Tavarres averaged almost 20 yards per pass. Charles is uncoverable. Branden Smith was barely used on offense.

Alabama’s S & C guy, Cochran, big protein guy, likes players listening to player’s fav music, loud, and then if they don’t bring it, he has quotes to get them jacked up. Lets each player come up with lines/quotes to tell him, when they feel like quitting.

Bo

June 15th, 2011
6:30 pm

Loss of receivers is the best thing to ever happen to Richt.

Now it’s figure out how to run the football, or go 6-6 again.

With AJ & Durham gone, Richt has no choice.

The running game has to be the best in the SEC East, or he’s probably done at Georgia.

Tide Roll

June 15th, 2011
6:40 pm

Why don’t you ask Richt/Bobo why they moved Richard Samuel, a 17 yr. old Running Back with “out of this world” upside and committed instead to Caleb King?! This ranks right up there with “Cam Newton would be a tight end in our system”.Those two are a trip,I’m telling you!. Samuel needs to get out of that nut house, sit a year, and after that, line up for Butch Davis and UNC as a 6′2″ 230 lb tailback STUD. After that, on to the NFL. Who’s advising Samuel? Can’t he see his whole future is at risk with those two? Get the heck out of there!

LakeDawg

June 15th, 2011
6:56 pm

Tide Roll

They gave Samual a chance at RB. He performed just like high school——straight ahead runner with great speed and zero moves. He was a great HS LB and I figure he will shine there. Thought he would be a starter there this year, but Ogletree beat him out. Hope that means Ogletree is a beast. I think it probably does.

Russ, the Temporary Mascot

June 15th, 2011
7:01 pm

This should be a better season with a full-time temporary mascot. Some might call me the Dream Mascot. Signing me for the whole season should avoid disruptions like having your mascot’s heart explode while he’s eating a plate of bacon.

jbd

June 15th, 2011
7:08 pm

Bo,

Murray threw for 3,000+ yards last year. Obviously someone was catching the rock… it just didn’t happen to be King or Charles all the time.

Texas Baller

June 15th, 2011
7:25 pm

Did Herschel teach Robinson how to increase his 3 tackles per game?

Black Mountain Bulldog

June 15th, 2011
7:34 pm

I hope that UGA turns it around. I would hate to see Coach Richt forced out.
He is a class act, but I do believe he did put it, on autopilot. And in the SEC if you do that; you get ran over, by the bus.

Exley Dawg

June 15th, 2011
7:36 pm

Once again theres a few kool-aid drinkers present here today. Richt obviously grew comfortable in his early success and lost his touch the last couple years. Bottom line is he has made some changes this year that I think has addressed the issues. This team will improve this year, bank on it.

scdawg

June 15th, 2011
7:48 pm

Tide Roll, I am just the opposite on Samuels. I can’t figure out the burning redshirt idea and seeing that he was a LB all the way. The coaching staff does some really stupid things that makes me think they are not as in touch with the game or team as they need to be. Still wondering what the thought was when Carlton Thomas was given a scholarship???? Did they really think this kid was going to be a SEC rb? Look at how many scholarships are being used in the kicking game. Compare the last 10 MNC’s and see how many they have on scholarship. Richt is running this team very similar to Tommy Bowden’s Clemson teams. The 3 TE set will be interesting to see, Lord knows we have the talent. I just don’t think Richt’s staff is very creative. I have asked this before, name a game that Mark Richt has won with less talent in the last 10 years? They have been underdogs, but were they really outmatched in talent? Richt’s stuff works with superior talent, like most folks. The true measure of a coach is what he can do with less (e.g. Dan Mullin).

RabidDawgFan

June 15th, 2011
7:48 pm

If our front 7 is as good as I think it’ll be then our secondary won’t have to be “stellar”. If the QB is rushed, and doesn’t have time to throw then it makes the job for the secondary a lot easier. I know we don’t have the big name corners like a Patrick Peterson or a big time safety like a Eric Berry, but we have a good group of guys that I feel can get the job done. I really and truly seeing this defense being 10x better than it was last season.

Poopdawg

June 15th, 2011
8:00 pm

Amen , SCDawg

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Big D

June 15th, 2011
8:29 pm

I did a search on Richard Samuel because I thought he touted higher as a linebacker but with his speed wanted to be a running back. The second post from Scout.com says “Samuel “Missed” Playing Linebacker ATHENS – Richard Samuel never could get comfortable lining up in the Georgia backfield. -by DawgPost.com Feb 10, 2010 …recruiting.scout.com/a.z?s=73&p=8&c=1&nid=2877456″
Try using Google Tide Roll before you run your mouth…it might make you look smarter than you are.

Skater

June 15th, 2011
8:39 pm

Tavarres King & Charles both played big against Florida, yards wern’t gained against weak competition, like Aaron White’s. King & Charles got bout a 1000 combined, then another 1500 came form Durham & AJ. We’ll miss AJ & Durham. Tavarres King is impressive, he plays big against big teams, best three games were against MSU, Ark & Florida. Charles went for over 100 against Florida but we couldn’t get the rushing game going and the turnovers killed us. I don’t have any idea who can be the No. 3 receiver, Brown, Wooten? No, I don’t see that happning.

Skater

June 15th, 2011
8:42 pm

Michael Bennett might work out, hope so. really need him, don’t think Brown or Wooten will suddenly get great. I think Bennett’s got to be the No. 3.

Skater

June 15th, 2011
8:44 pm

Figgins blew it when he got thrown to last year, 6 yards a catch/ Come on.

DawgDays

June 15th, 2011
8:54 pm

Looking at the espn 150 in Georgia, FSU, Alabama and Auburn are Cherry picking the best out of the state. Out of the states top 10 players this year, UGA will get a lot less. I believe everyone is capitalizing on our last season. This season is make or break for Richt.

Last Hooray

June 15th, 2011
8:55 pm

Just Think…. these next 10 days will be Richts last vacation as the HC at UGA before his permanent one come late November early December.

Christian Robinson quotes

June 15th, 2011
8:57 pm

Red Panty Brigade

June 15th, 2011
9:00 pm

1 st year anniversary coming up soon in a few weeks! June 30th Red Panty day in Athens!

ugab

June 15th, 2011
9:08 pm

College Football Live had the Gators new coach on the show today. The 1st thing Muschamp said is you have to run the ball in the SEC in order to be successful. MR!!!!

Hammered!

June 15th, 2011
9:09 pm

Dawg89

June 15th, 2011
9:47 pm

Herschel is a stud, period.

Gotta Go

June 15th, 2011
9:51 pm

every player, every year, has a great attitude about the upcoming season. This year will be no different.

Eassyy

June 15th, 2011
10:17 pm

Chip, I know it’s late but how about that Norman kid from Gwinnett? Does stand a chance for any legit playing time? Watching the Spring game coverage he looked like the type of player that is always in the right place, understands the schemes, and makes the play.

Our DB’s have been lost on the field for several years now. Surely he can’t be worse?

It Ain't Rocket Science

June 15th, 2011
10:20 pm

Sometimes all the 5 star players in the world don’t make a good team, because of one factor or another. It seems UGA rb’s were examples of this, so I hope Crowell is different. If all these guys work as a team, UGA will be fairly good this year, and possibly real good next year. Don’t be so quick to dismiss CMR and the staff because they might just surprise you. I believe the offense will show a little more variety this year in play selection. I think we have a good QB, but our lack of experience at RB and on the line id going to dictate that we run more of a ball control type offense, and folks will of course be looking for big gainers every other play. I think our defense will give the ball back to the offense a whole lot more than last year, so they will have to be a ball control team, so the D can get a little rest on the sidelines as well. The defense will give the offense a chance to win the game so I hope they are able to take advantage of the situations.

GO DAWGS

Dr. Phil

June 15th, 2011
10:35 pm

Russ, they are going to use you, then dump you for the next pretty buttocks. Richt might find you a job at a junior college in Mississippi if you stay out of trouble.

trueUGAfan

June 15th, 2011
10:50 pm

@tide roll, WHO THE FLUCK ARE YOU DUDE??? YOU ALWAYS HAVE SOME B/S TO SAY AS IF YOU KNOW WHAT THE FLUCK YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT…WHATEVER YOU HAVE TO SAY IS POINTLESS AND USELESS WHEN IT COMES TO UGA…BE HAPPY FOR YOUR PROGRAM AND WHAT IT DOES…BE HAPPY FOR THE TALENT THAT YOUR PROGRAM CAN COME TO GEORGIA AND GET, BECAUSE UGA NOR GT CAN GET IT ALL…BE THANKFUL THAT GA IS A NEIGHBORING STATE AND THAT KIDS THAT LEAVE GA PARENTS DONT HAVE FAR TO DRIVE TO COME SEE THEM PLAY IN WEST GA (BAMA)…JUST LIKE THE TWO OR THREE GOOD PLAYERS THAT COMES OUTTA BAMA THAT ARE BRED TO GO TO BAMA OR AUBURN, KIDS HERE BRED TO BE DAWGS TO SIR, SO WHO THE FLUCK ARE YOU TO SAY WHAT A KID FROM GA SHOULD DO???GO DAWGS

Dawg '94

June 15th, 2011
10:56 pm

Everyone who has ever coached knows your team will be as good as your seniors. Or at least your leaders. Georgia has suffered through alot of “me” players the past couple of years. It sounds to me that the Dawgs have bought into the “team” attitude. I LOVE it. Dawgs keep their head on straight & we win the SEC east. The title game against LSU is a “pick-um”. GO DAWGS!!!

Tide Roll

June 15th, 2011
11:18 pm

Look Uga fans: Use Samuel in direct snap formations like the Dolphins do with Ronnie Brown, and Arkansas did with Darin McFadden. I’m telling you, the kid’s a stud. If he is a north/south runner then good for him That’s exactly what you need. He’s explosive too. 80 yd. TD run vs. Ark. as a freshman ! Move him back. Can you imagine this kid blasting away in a direct snap scenario or behind Figgins/Ogeltree,and Bean Anderson, Kenarious Gates, and Cordy Glenn (aka The Georgia Power Co.). It’s a no Brainer. Plus, this kid Armarlo Herrera is a Ray Lewis clone, so moving Samuel back won’t hurt depth. Otherwise, you guys are wasting yet another stud. 6′2″ 230 lbs. of speed and power. Needs to dot the ” i “, and be a “WILDDAWG” !!