Mark Richt excited, nervous about annual game in Jacksonville

Mark Richt's calm and cool exterior belies the fierce competitor within. (AP photo)

Mark Richt's calm and cool exterior belies the fierce competitor within. (AP photo)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Greetings from EverBank Field. That’s what they’re calling this stadium next to the St. Johns River this year. Most recently it was Alltel Stadium. I still think of it as the Gator Bowl, but I’m old.

As we prepare for today’s slobberknocker between the Bulldogs and Gators, let’s talk about Georgia coach Mark Richt

Richt’s reputation is as a super calm, unemotional football coach. It’s a trait that originally endeared him to the Georgia people and frustrates more than a few of them now. But it doesn’t take long in hearing him talk about the annual Georgia-Florida game here realize it’s a game that is extremely important to him and one he wants to win in the worst way.

“It makes an impression, no doubt, when you come over the hill over that bridge and see everything,” he said of the drive over Matthews Bridge on the team bus each year. “You see the stadium, you see the water, you see the RVs and the tents and the colors. When you get closer you see the people. You see their faces, you see their emotion. It’s very easy to tell who’s happy to see you and who’s not. It’s just what college football is all about.

“Then when you get inside of the stadium and it’s full, it’s very definite who’s cheering for who. There’s not many spots on either side that’s not red and black or blue and orange. It’s a straight line, buddy; there’s not any zig-zagging where they sit side-by-side. So you can tell who’s for who.”

Save for an occasional BCS bowl, Richt had never encountered such an atmosphere when he was offensive coordinator at Florida State. In terms of the fan makeup and in-game participation, he said only the SEC Championship Game in the Georgia Dome compares.

“That was new for me,” Richt said. “I’d never been to a neutral-site game like that and it is special. It’s electric; it stays electric. There’s no down time. It’s always loud because there’s enough fan base on both sides to create that noise and there’s a lot of electricity when something happens. It’s always buzzing. The excitement never stops.”

Say what you will, but the outcome of today’s game probably means more to Richt than anybody else. Win it and the Bulldogs can continue their roll toward a possible SEC Eastern Division Championship. Lose it and all the hot-seat talk will come back with a vengeance.

Behind that calm and cool exterior, Richt is as anxious and uptight as any other human being would be in this situation.

“I don’t thnk it’s nervous, but I think there’s definitely adrenalin flowing,” he said. “It wouldn’t be unusual for me to be pacing around and anxious for it to get started. Everybody’s that way. There’s probably a difference between nervous and scared. I think some people think if you say you’re nervous you’re scared. It’s not that. But you are on edge a little bit. . .

“You’re not exactly sure how it’s going to go. I don’t know if anybody really settles into a game until it gets started. So, yeah, I have a lot of emotions going into it. My goal has always been to temper it to a certain degree to try to think straight and try to make good decisions.”

Richt has made some interesting decisions in this game in year’s past. And it could be argued that his team hasn’t made many good ones during its currently three-game losing streak to the Gators. The Bulldogs have committed 12 turnovers to Florida’s one in that span, including nine interceptions.

Break it down all you want but that’s the key to the game right there.

65 comments Add your comment

The Zooker

October 29th, 2011
11:35 am

I own Mark Richt.

TGT

October 29th, 2011
11:35 am

Let’s go Dogs!

Tim Tebow

October 29th, 2011
11:42 am

Joey

October 29th, 2011
11:49 am

I’m on your case a lot, but good luck today Mark Richt.

Go Dawgs!

drbasic

October 29th, 2011
11:49 am

The waiting is almost over……….now lets just do it……….GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!!

Brucerugby79

October 29th, 2011
11:49 am

Dogs Roll Today !!!

Joey

October 29th, 2011
11:51 am

And, nice quickie interview, Chip. Good stuff.

Lhop

October 29th, 2011
11:53 am

It’s time to GATA

War Dang Dawg

October 29th, 2011
11:58 am

Let’s face it, if Richt loses today there’s probably little if anything he can do to save his job. And that’s the way it should be; if he falls to 2-9 against UF, he’s simply not the right man for the UGA job. This would be yet another mediocre Florida team that he has lost to.

But I’m pulling for him to win today and finish the season strong. Go Dawgs!

oakisland

October 29th, 2011
11:58 am

Please Dawgs, kick the living crap out of em. Make Muschamp scream and go crazy the whole game. Make us proud and GATA.

bucket

October 29th, 2011
11:58 am

I think the keys for UGA are a 100 yard rusher, no turnovers, and no dumb mistakes on special teams. Go Dawgs!!!

Mark Richt

October 29th, 2011
11:59 am

Hey Zooker, last time we met, you were congratulating me.

Will Muschamp

October 29th, 2011
12:00 pm

bucket

October 29th, 2011
12:01 pm

@ War Dang Dawg – I think you are correct. A win today doesn’t settle the issue of CMR’s tenure, but a loss would. Here’s hoping we continue the march to 10-2!

JB

October 29th, 2011
12:01 pm

Not sure I like my head coach in year 10 using the word scared. I feel like we ought to win big today, but how could all this talent limp out of Vandy against 1&2 star players with the game still in doubt with 10 seconds left vs having fun watching the second team play from the middle of 3rd quarter on. We’ll see.

JAWJeRDAWG

October 29th, 2011
12:02 pm

What I hope we’ll see the Dawgs do today:

Stay focused;

Execute a well-though-out game plan;

Eliminate the penalities, especially the personal foul ones;

Eliminate the turnovers on offense, and create them on defense;

Block on both the O and D lines; tackle and cover on D;

Execute on special team play like it should be played;

Be accurate on PAT’s and FG’s when we have to kick one;

Score when we get in the red zone; and

Coach like your job depends on it!

Play with class for four complete quarters like this, and we win the game!

Not a lot to ask, is it? Just hope we see UGA do this today!

Go Dawgs! and Beat those Gators!

azdawg

October 29th, 2011
12:03 pm

CMR might want to play this close to the chalkboard. Take control of the play calling if there is any doubt in what Bobo is doing. AL and LSU defense held FL’s speed in check as well as FL QB’s. CTG and his defense must do likewise w/less talented personnel and that will be a challenge. No mistakes and watch out for FL’s trickery. Come home w/a win dawgs.

Macclenny_dawg

October 29th, 2011
12:05 pm

Student Athlete

October 29th, 2011
12:07 pm

Murray will be sacked at least six times with 3 picks. Demps, Rainey and Burton over 200 yards. Another loss. Yawnnnnn.

Joey

October 29th, 2011
12:10 pm

Been a long time since we played a complete, four-quarter game, JAW.

Maybe Sugar Bowl (1/08)?

Mostly because of Richt’s, get-a-two-score-lead-and-sit-on-it, philosophy.

It has made close games out of what shoulda been blowouts. He does it today, and UF will win.

Gator CHOMP Champ

October 29th, 2011
12:10 pm

I would be nervous about 2-9 too. He is probably going to get caught looking ahead to 2-10.

Daytona Dawg

October 29th, 2011
12:10 pm

I say screw it…..go out there swinging:
- Have a surprise “Blackout”
- Go for it on 4th and short
- Play aggressively
- Give CTG 4 hours of coffee (a la Matt Foley)
- Have Mike Bobo shave his head
Don’t worry about Florida being in your head…Most of these guys have only played Florida once or twice.
I say get inside of THEIR heads.

The only way to deal with fear and negative thinking is to punch it in the mouth!!

Make'em Fart Blood UGA

October 29th, 2011
12:13 pm

Flatulence with blood for the Gator nation!

Kauai DAWG

October 29th, 2011
12:16 pm

HUGE game! We need the space eaters in the middle of the D line to shover the gator line around and let our LB’s make plays. Cut out the legs of what will probably be a day of screens and motion trapping etc…

Getting Kwame back at half as well as SW could be a blessing if we can withstand the initial emotion of the game. We need to protect the ball and force some TO’s and we can come home with a big W.

Go DAWGS!

27-13

Joey

October 29th, 2011
12:17 pm

JB wouldn’t you like to see Grantham on the sideline looking like this before the kickoff?

http://www.sportsmasterpieces.com/popup_showimage.php?image1=2888-erk-russell-bloody-erk.jpg&image2=&image3=

Kauai DAWG

October 29th, 2011
12:19 pm

Back in 07 we were coming off of a last minute win at Vandy and Richt was upset with the players and then a bye week. Very, very similar to this year except… No KNOWSHON.

Hopefully IC will come ready to run, run, and run some more to open up the passing game.

If D can control line that would be GREAT. We don’t have the talent of bama and lsu but hopefully our team speed is similar and slows the gators speed game down.

Go DAWGS!

Steven T.

October 29th, 2011
12:22 pm

If Georgia wins, that might mean Richt gets a 5-year extension, so good for the rest of the SEC bahahaha, then georgia will never be more than pretty good. So go dogs!!

Roll Tide

October 29th, 2011
12:24 pm

The key to the game is Crowell… the guy is very talented and if he gets the blocking he’ll give Georgia the balance they need to win. Hope Georgia pulls this one out, I like their coach.

Brian

October 29th, 2011
12:30 pm

Keys to the game for Georgia:

1. Get pressure on Brantley.
2. Limit the mental mistakes.
3. Balance on offense

Joey

October 29th, 2011
12:33 pm

4. And a little unpredictability on offense as well, Brian. If Bobo just calls the plays like he did vs SC, he’ll be fine.

Joey

October 29th, 2011
12:35 pm

” I like their coach.”
*********************
You want to trade, Roll Tide?”

Brian

October 29th, 2011
12:36 pm

Joey, I agree. He should stick to the short passing game, it worked well against SC and against Vanderbilt.

Roll Tide

October 29th, 2011
12:38 pm

You want to trade, Roll Tide?”

No, I’m more than happy with Saban haha. I just think he’s a good guy and if he can get it together today, he’ll be in good shape. I also like that he beat Auburn 4 years in a row. I agree though if he can’t beat this Florida team he should be fired.

CHDawg

October 29th, 2011
12:39 pm

I think the key is how well the O line protects Murray against this talented D line for UF. If we protect him well, we will be hard to beat. We have been very mistake prone in the last few games, but so have the Gators, so mistakes may be the deciding factor. It could be a serious defensive battle if Brantley is not 100% and our O line doesn’t do a great job. IMHO, this is one of CMR’s biggest games ever. If we get spanked, I suspect UGA will be looking for a new coach later this year. Maybe Smart or Petersen? I think CMR knows the stakes, but another loss in Jax will be hard for people like me, who support CMR, to make an argument for another year. This is a big one for UGA, but it is huge for CMR. On the other side, a loss for CWM puts the Gators at four straight SEC losses capped by a loss to the hated Dawgs. It won’t be good for him either, to say the least. The head coaches might seem nervous on this one for good reason. Let’s hope for a good and clean game, where Georgia wins by about 30! Go Dawgs.

JAWJeRDAWG

October 29th, 2011
12:40 pm

Joey

I agree.

IF we can execute that same SC mix of play calling, get our defense to play like they did in that game, and play focused and error-free on special teams, we should win this game.

Go Dawgs! and Beat those Gators!

Spike 80DF

October 29th, 2011
12:43 pm

How about some payback for those beatings we got in ‘08 and ‘09….Let’s hammer them 41-14 for a change.

Joey

October 29th, 2011
12:45 pm

What kills me most with Bobo is on 3rd and 6. He calls a crossing pattern or something downfield, which takes tremendous timing. Seems like a pass just over the stripe to a stationary target (Charles or White) would be almost unstoppable.

Joey

October 29th, 2011
12:56 pm

Spike, Richt just isn’t built that way. He didn’t try to run it up in ‘07. Knowshon, Stafford, and Mo Mass were just having their way.

I would be happy if I didn’t have to put off a bathroom break for the last 2 minutes, but would even take that if it is Murray taking a knee as the clock ticks to 0 . . .

Will Muschamp

October 29th, 2011
1:09 pm

!@#&* ALL OF YOU BLANKETY BLANKERS!!

GO GATORS BEAT GEORGIA!!

GGRRRRRRRR!!! CHOMP CHOMP!!!

Fire CMR?......

October 29th, 2011
1:10 pm

I believe we win and “Duh nu nu nu nuh go geeters get up and go” will be held to a minumum which will be good for sanity….

Limer Rick

October 29th, 2011
1:34 pm

The Big Game Is Looming Ahead
Filling Dawg Fans With Ripples Of Dread
The Gators Will Win
And We’ll Lose Again
Because Our Dear UGA Is Dead

Yes, Because Our Dear UGA Is Dead
And We’ve Let It Get Into Our Head
The Coaches Are Great
The Players Can’t Wait
But Alas… Our Dear UGA Is Dead

Now Russ Does His Best To Fill In
And He Wins Us A Game Now And Then
But He Balked On The Taters
And When Faced With The Gators
I’m Afraid He’ll Just Blow It Again

Limer Rick©

dog fan sitting on rocky top

October 29th, 2011
1:35 pm

GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!! And for this saturday, Go VOLS!!!!

c.hill

October 29th, 2011
1:38 pm

We have Brantley and Demps back 2day Gators roll over them Dawgs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pago Pago DAWG

October 29th, 2011
1:44 pm

The coaches/team uptight…not good.
But wait, UGA always recruits 6****** players, no problem.

Desert Dawg

October 29th, 2011
1:53 pm

If not now then when? Go Dawgs, Beat the Gators!!

Larry

October 29th, 2011
1:58 pm

“The Bulldogs have committed 12 turnovers to Florida’s one in that span, including nine interceptions. Break it down all you want but that’s the key to the game right there.”

That’s it…nothing more.

Florida gets 3-4 points for an in-state games only a bus ride away, while UGA probably gets 3-4 points for only a slightly better team, especially at QB.

Whoever wins the turnover battle wins the game…it’s almost automatic!

JAWJeRDAWG

October 29th, 2011
2:01 pm

This, I posted on Bradley’s blog, perhaps a bit persumptious but:

A bold prediction post; which I don’t usually do:

UGA – 34
UF – 13

I just feel it this year, though I’d take and be happy with a 1-point win.

Stay safe fans (and players) of both schools.

Go Dawgs! and Beat those Gators!

Larry

October 29th, 2011
2:03 pm

Limer Rick,

Cute…but utterly meaningless. Very creative, however, so I’ll give you an “A”

larry munson

October 29th, 2011
2:04 pm

hunker down is all i am asking …….

bbcsickdawg

October 29th, 2011
2:07 pm

gooooo!!!! dawgsss!!!!