Hoover, Ala. – Georgia coach Mark Richt and three Bulldogs players met with the local beat writers and a few national reporters Thursday morning before their main session at here at SEC Media Days. As expected, UGA’s running back situation was the issue most discussed.
To his credit, Richt was not wishy-washy about his feelings on the position or what he expects to happen. So without further ado, here’s what he had to say about the tailbacks:
“All I’ll say on that is Carlton won’t play Game 1 and I’ll say ‘team rule’ and you guys can figure out whatever you want.” Asked if Thomas would be back for South Carolina, he stated flatly, “yes.”
“I’m just going to reserve my decision on whether or not we’re losing anything there or not. We may be gaining, OK? A year ago, I can’t sit here and say I was ever really at a point where I was saying, ‘man, our guys are being highly productive and kicking butt and they’re guys I can count on.’ That wasn’t happening. By the end of this year I might say, ‘these guys were kicking butt and guys I could count.’ So I wouldn’t sit here and say our running back situation is worse now than it was a year. We’ll see on that.”
“These are talented guys who are going to get an opportunity to make plays. I’ve seen so many young backs play well over the years, I’m not fretting right now. I don’t lay awake at night going, ‘oh my goodness, what are we going to do now.’ I just don’t. I know that we’ve got some guys on this team that can be highly productive offensively. Now will we find a back that carries the ball 20 times a game? I don’t know. Maybe we will, maybe we won’t.”
“I do think moving Richard Samuel back was very much needed. If anybody needed to be soothed a little bit, that should do it, because he’s a very physically mature man and he’s a mature man in the way he goes about his business. And he certainly has two years experience within our system and knows what to do. So it’s not like we’re wondering what he can do.
“He’ll be in those meetings and will be a great example of how to prepare and how to play the game and the position of tailback. I know he’ll hold onto the ball; I know he’ll secure it; I know he’ll strike you; I know he’s fast; I know he’s powerful; and I know he’ll play hard. He’s not really interested in dodging many people, but he is what he is. I’ve seen a lot of backs with that type of style who are going to hit you and drive their feet and make it tough on you to take them down. So there’s a lot of very positive things about Richard that are really going to help us.”
“Well, I’ll say this: If there’s anybody else we need to announce, we’ll announce it at the appropriate time, which is not today. We’ll see. But we’ll be ready to play on Sept. 3rd, I can promise you that.”
“He’s a freshman like the rest of them. He’s got to learn how to handle college, period. I think he’s doing well. I don’t know. You can’t get reports from your strength coach and you can’t go out and watch or coach those guys. You can talk to your players. You might want to ask [Aaron] Murray, you might want to ask [Ben] Jones or [Brandon] Boykin, who are here. They’re really leading our off-season program. They can tell you how they’re doing.
“But we don’t expect Isaiah to save the program. We don’t expect Isaiah to put the team on his back. We just want Isaiah to learn what to do, to do things the Georgia way and try to do anything he can to help the team win as a freshman. How far that goes, I don’t know.
“I’ve got a sense of anticipation. I’m excited to find out what’s going to happen when we put the pads on for the first time and get him in an inside drill or go live and see what he does. I want to see how he handles getting hit real hard and how he handles the speed of the Southeastern Conference. I’m like any other fan would be, just curious to see how it’s going to go. We won’t treat him a whole lot different than any other player who is talented, but we want to make sure that he has success.
“Was I anxious to see A.J. Green and what he could do? Yeah. I’m anxious to see these guys also. But, you know, you could have a missed assignment at receiver and not be nearly as devastating as a tailback missing an assignment when it comes to pass protection or going to wrong way on a run. When a running back makes a mistake it’s not good. When a wide receiver makes a mistake you can probably just line up and run another play or punt. There’s a buzz out there about him. Our veterans believe he’s a very talented guy.”
“I would start practice with Richard No. 1.”
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