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.
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.”