Here’s some quick quotes from Georgia coach Mark Richt and several players from Tuesday’s press conference. Dozens of media gathered at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall to hear what Richt and a handful of players had to say about Saturday’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game matchup between the No. 19 Bulldogs and No. 5-ranked Boise State.
On the big buildup for the opening game in the Georgia Dome:
“Well, it is as big of a buildup for an opening game as we’ve had, because of who we’re playing and where we’re playing and maybe a little bit of the uniform issue and all that kind of thing. There is an awful lot of hype going into this ballgame compared to maybe some other opening games.
“I don’t personally think the season is riding on this one game. It’s really not. It’s a game that we absolutely want to win. It’s a game that we expect to win. We talk a lot about winning the Eastern Division because that is the one thing we can control. This really doesn’t have a bearing on the Southeastern Conference race, so it really doesn’t get in the way of that goal. But what I do think it’s going to do is give us a pretty good feel of what we’re made of right away. I think it’s also going to be great teacher of what it’s going to take to win in our league down the road. So I think it’s very positive that we’re playing the game. I certainly want to win it. I thnk it could create some really good momentum from that. But I don’t think everything is riding in the balance.”
Compare and contrast this game to 2005 when Boise State came to Athens and lost 48-13:
“At that time I know that was the upset special. That was kind of the game that a lot of people were pointing to to say that was going to be the upset of the week of the opening weekend of the season. A lot of people were picking Boise State to win that game. And I didn’t blame them. I looked at the film and they had quite a few pros on that team. We did get them here, we did get them on a blistering hot and humid day and I think that was a factor. And we just started well. We grabbed momentum early and never looked back. They never really got a chance to get it going.
“On any given day, if we had gotten the ball first and thrown a pick on the first play, who know what would have happened to us that day. The score that day wasn’t indicative, I don’t think, odf the difference in the teams as much as the momentum that was taken early and was never relinquished.”
What it has meant having Boise State transfer Michael Tamburo at Georgia:
“You’d have to ask Coach Grantham. I don’t know that he really spent that much time with him. We have everybody’s film. We can study everybody’s film. We talk to other coaches who have played them in the league. That’s where we get our information. Todd might have spent time with him but I really don’t know.”
Tamburo’s future prospects at UGA:
“It’s so early for him. He’s got ability. The one think he did where I got a taste of his abilities was in a practice game where he was one of the quarterbacks that played that day. you could see that he has some nerve standing in the pocket. The pocket wasn’t all that great at times and he stood in there and made some really fine throws and seemed to be very accurate. He hasn’t gotten an awful lot of reps at all with our offensive units. I’ve seen him throw a few passes here and there with our receivers. But at this point the guys that are getting the most work are the ones that are going to play right now.”
What other coaches have told Georgia about playing Boise State:
“I’d say opposing coaches say get ready. They say these guys know how to play the game of football. They’re going to get after you so you better be prepared. They’re relentless in their play and they’re well-coached. They believe. Lately they’ve started fast and furious on both sides of the ball.”
At least 10 true freshmen are on two-deep and others could be slated for special team. Which ones might make significant contribution?
“Hopefully all of them that get in, whether it’s special teams or offense or defense, will make some contributions. Malcolm Mitchell has made some plays for us. He’ll play. Will he do something spectacular this week? I don’t know. But he’s a young guy that’s done well. Damian Swann has gotten an awful lot of practice time, especially these last few days with Branden Smith’s setback. Ray Drew is going to get to play. There’s a few guys who are going to be able to play some snaps on offense and defense and a lot of guys will play on special teams.”
What do you think might be going to Isaiah Crowell’s mind getting ready to play a significant role in a game of this magnitude?
“He’ll play for sure. What I hope is going through his mind is his assignments and just knowing what to do on every play. We do have quite a few plays and he’s like any other true freshman. He’s trying to learn it, he’s trying to master it, trying to get comfortable with it. It is nice to have Aaron Murray in the backfield with him, who can guide him a little bit here and there, just to give him a little reassurance that he’s lined up in the right spot.
“But I’m sure he’s every excited. He did grow up wanting to be a Georgia Bulldog. He grew up wanting to play tailback for us. Through the recruiting process we pointed to this game as a game he’d get an opportunity to show what he can do, to show the college football world what he’s got. Since he’s gotten here he’s quickly understood it’s not about Isaiah Crowell; it’s about Georgia. I like even reading some of the quotes. Hes’ been very mindful of his teammates and he knows that he’s got a lot to learn and he does want to do whatever he can to help the team win. time will tell how much that will be as we go. He’s a very good football player. He’s a good kid and he’s had a good camp.”
A lot of things had to happen for him to be in this position.
“I guess you’re talking about Washaun Ealey and Caleb King and even Richard to this point, hasn’t practiced a lot lately. So the stage is getting set up for him certainly to get opportunities. I’m not made that he’s going to get opportunities. After watching him practice, you can see that he’s got a lot of ability. But he hasn’t gotten hit super hard yet either. We’ve had some scrimmages and he’s been hit. But somewhere along the line somebody’s going to get a real good shot on him and we’re going to see if he holds onto the ball and how he handles that. But I think he’ll be fine.”
Can you compare Aaron Murray to Kellen Moore?
“I wouldn’t put Murray in his category yet. Kellen has done so much. He will end up being the winningest quarterback I the history of college football. It’s not a slight against Aaron. But Aaron hasn’t played in as many games and won any championships or anything like that. This guy right now I would say is deadly accurate. There’s a difference between completions and hitting a guy dead on the run and hitting a guy exactly where they need to be hit. He’s throws it so accurately that he allows his receivers to really get some yards after the catch. I have not seen him use his wheels like Aaron has, but part of the reason why Aaron ran last year was maybe not being 100 percent sure he wanted to throw into a certain coverage, so he took off. He actually did a pretty good job of it. I think Kellen would be less likely to cross the line of scrimmage, although he’s mnobile and can make plays moving around. He’s a little bit more mature than Aaron in his play. I think Aaron is a heck of a player, and I think Aaron is going to play extremely well for us this season. Kellen is the leading passer in the country returning as far as QB rating and things of that nature. I think he hit 70 percent of his passes. Aaron is getting there, but I don’t know if here’s there year.”
We know Carlton Thomas is suspended for the first game. Are there any other players who are going to miss the first game for reasons other than injuries?
On the defense and the 3-4 going into a second season:
“I feel so much better about our defense than a year ago. I knew our guys weren’t sure what do a year ago 100-percent. You’re putting it in from scratch. Everybody’s trying to figure it out. Even the assistant coaches other than Coach Grantham were learning it as we went along. There’s absolutely nothing to draw from experience wise, but our guys understand it at a much greater depth. They are much better technicians than they were a year ago. Coaches have been able to spend more time emphasizing the technique on how to do your job well. There’s no doubt in my mind that we are better than we were a year ago. But we’re also playing one of the most prolific offenses in college football game one, so we’ll see how that translates but there’s no doubt that we are better than we were a year ago.”
On the wide receiver position:
“I love the camp that Rantavious Wooten had. I love the camp that Marlon (Brown) had. Tavarres King started out extremely well and got nicked up a little bit that slowed him down a little bit but he’s come on strong of late. Malcolm (Mitchell) has made some plays. Michael Bennett had a very good camp. Michael proved to be one of the toughest receivers that we got and showed up to work every day and he got better. (Israel) Troupe had a good camp. So we’ve got enough guys in my opinion to go out there and roll them around and let them all play and see who makes the most plays. At the tight end position, which we also consider receivers for us, I thought Aron White and Orson Charles had a great camp. I think Artie (Arthur) Lynch improved drastically. Of course we took Bruce (Figgins) and moved him from tight end to full back. Bruce got a whole lot better at fullback early on in camp especially. In the spring, we were still opitimistic about how Bruce would begin to perform as a fullback, but then as we got into camp and began to hit he really made a big, drastic jump from being a guy that maybe knows his assignment and get to and breakdown a little bit try to fit up on a guy to a guy that just started to run through people and really hit people on the run and do things that a fullback needs to do. Zander (Alexander Ogletree) is a pretty good fullback too. So we feel pretty good about skill.”
On the pass protecting abilities of the tailbacks:
“They’re getting there. Richard’s never had a problem with that, but everybody else after him is fairly inexperienced in that regard. Pass protection is a skill or an art or whatever you want to call it, and like everything else it takes time to learn it. It’s a matter of learning who to block and how to get it done properly. And you got to have an attitude. Those linebackers that are 220 to 250 pounds come barreling down on you and they’re looking to sack your quarterback and you got to get nasty some times. It just takes reps. I’m not disappointed in anybody’s progress, but I wouldn’t say they’re just totally polished at it right now.”
On being able to use both Richard Samuel and Isaiah Crowell provided Samuel is healthy enough to play:
“I don’t think there is any doubt that we would hope for them to split the time, to share the load. Most everybody in college and pro football would much prefer having two guys that could get it done. I think that Richard’s style and Isaiah’s style contrast enough to where that would be really good for us too. If no one got hurt all camp, I don’t think there’s much doubt Richard would start and Isaiah would be number two but with both of them getting playing time.”
WR Tavarres King:
QB Aaron Murray:
DE Abry Jones:
FS Sanders Cummings: