ATHENS — Sorry for the relative lack of presence on the blog today. I had to tune into the SEC Coaches teleconference, videotape a segment for ESPN’s College GameDay and go get my knee worked on at my orthopedist’s office. But I’m saddled up here at practice now and will bring you updates the rest of the day.
As for the SEC teleconferecne, Georgia coach Mark Richt continued to get peppered with thinly-veiled queries insinuating that is job may be on this line this week or this year or whatever. For him, that’s pretty much four days in a row of that line of questioning and you can tell that’s it’s starting to wear on him a little bit.
I’ll just quickly share some of his answers from his 10-minute or so session and you’ll get an idea what I mean:
Does Saturday’s game feel like a must-win?
“I wouldn’t say that. It’s a very important game for us, very crucial for the Eastern Division race. It’s not a must win mathematically for the race or not a must win in any other way I know of. But is it crucially important? There’s no doubt about that. But we look at every game like it’s a must-win game, so however you want to spin it, you can spin it. You guys spin it anyway you want anyway. So do with that what you want.”
What’s the general feeling on the team about having to face No. 12 South Carolina coming off such a disappointing loss to Boise State?
“I’d say excitement right now. These guys are really excited about playing this ballgame. They’re getting a chance to play between the hedges for the first time this year, getting play SEC competition for the first time. Maybe they’ll get some form of redemption for last week as far as how we played overall. So everybody’s got a good attitude. They showed up ready to work.”
What about keeping up team morale?
“We don’t have that issue right now. Everybody out there might think that, but nobody had to push anybody yesterday. Everybody’s in, everybody’s working hard, the scout teamers know that Tuesdays and Wednesdays are their game days basically . They’ve got to go great job to simulate what’s going on and I thought they did their part. We were in full pads going live football and competing. There’s no motivational issue right now. There’s no need for anybody to pick anybody up. We’re just going to contuinue to work hard and prepare.”
What are you doing to insulate your team from crictism?
“We’re just coaching ball, OK? You guys want to make things bigger than they are. The bottom line is like anything in life, you’ve got to control what you can, and that is my attitude and my effort and our team’s attitude and effort. That’s true every season. Today’s no different than a year ago or two years ago going into Game two in my mind. Everybody’s locked in, everybody’s working hard and everybody’s confident we’re going to have a good ballgame.”
How do you keep from focusing on the big picture job of getting the program turned around but having to get ready for a tough opponent?
“You answered your own question. You just go to work every day. What can I do today that’s going to help us in Game 9, not much other than getting better at fundamentals, get better at tackling and those kinds of things, and that’s going to help me on Saturday. The goal is to get ready for South Carolina and that’s what we’re going.”
With all the fan forums and blogs and Internet coverage, how do you filter out the noise?
“Well, just what I’ve been saying all along: We get in our meetings, we focus on our jobs, we practice, we compete well, we use the type of energy it takes to have a good day. We can control certain things and that’s what we focus on. And that’s when you’re winning, too, and you’ve got people saying how great you are. You’ve got to be insulated from that, too. If anybody gets to involved in anything that’s swirling around good or bad it doesn’t help you win. So I think you’ve got to manage that.”
Do you address it with the team?
“We don’t talk about it, quite franlkly. We’;e going to work. It’s Game Two, it’s Game One in league play. I don’t see what the issue is as far as any kind of reality,. I don’t even know what’s swirling around. Everybody says there’s stuff swirling around. I usually find about it if my mom calls or I go to church and everybody says they’re praying extra hard for me. That’s when I know it’s out there.”
OK, that’s enough about that. Here’s what some of the SEC coach — including Richt — had to say about the eventual addition of Texas A&M to the SEC.
Real quickly, practice is ongoing. Georgia is in full pads for the second consecutive day. Very unusual. . . . Wide receiver Marlon Brown was wearing a green jersey. His left ankle was heavily wrapped but not sure if that’s the reason. . . . Nose guard Kwame Geathers, who suffered a neck injury (aka stinger) was nowhere to be found for the second straight day.”