Here’s a somewhat raw transcription of Sunday night’s media teleconference call with Georgia coach Mark Richt:
How does it feel to control your own destiny and how excited is the team?
“Well I haven’t talked to the players yet. This is their day off. I didn’t really get a lot of text messages or anything like that from the guys. But I know they understand what’s at stake and the fact that we are in a better position now. We do control our own destiny. We’ve been fighting like mad for that ever since the moment South Carolina beat us. But the thing that’s gotten us this far on a weekly basis is just trying to take care of business. Again, that’s got to be our focus, for every man to do their job, starting tomorrow and not waiting until Saturday. Everybody’s got a job to do, scout teamers and special teamers and coaches. So we’ve got to focus on that and just focus on the process and we feel like good things will happen if we do.”
Where he watched the game and what was the scene when Arkansas won:
“My wife and I were just kind of sitting side-by-side on the couch. It was just us. I think we both were kind of tired. We were awake and we were interested and we were excited, no doubt. But we didn’t jump up and dance or anything like that. But we were happy no doubt
Watch any of Alabama-LSU?
“When there was a commercial break I was checking it out. Then when the [Arkansas-South Carolina] game was over, I finished up watching that game.”
What happens with the return of tailbacks Isaiah Crowell, Ken Malcome and Carlton Thomas?
“I think they’ll be very thankful to play. All last week — and y’all saw just a taste of it — they did a lot of extra work. They did some extra work early in the morning, they did a lot of extra work during practice and they were pulling the sleds and sprinting and lifting more weights this past week. Maybe in some sense they’ll be in better condition and be even more ready to play because they missed an opportunity. I don’t think they’ll take anything for granted. I think they’ll be hungry to prove to everybody — well, maybe not prove anything — but maybe try to make up for what they’ve done by trying to play hard this week. I hope that will be the case.
Will Crowell return to starter?
“We haven’t thought about it. If Richard [Samuel] was not injured it certainly would have been a good competition. Right now I would have to say everything’s a little competitive, but I’d say the first snap we take Isaiah would be the No. 1 tailback. In practice I’m saying.”
More playing time for Harton?
“We liked what he did. There’s no doubt about that. We would definitely, with Richard out, I’m not going to say with certainty he would be at worst the No. 3 back but he’ll certainly be battling for that spot if not a No. 2 guy. We’re just going to have to play it out this week in practice real hard and see who we think is best suited to play. We also used our Brandons and they both had big plays, which was great. I’m sure we’ll have a way to get the ball to those guys again, too.”
Auburn-Georgia not only an old rivalry but a fierce one. Any concerns of spill-over from last year’s game?
“A lot of people have been asking me about that and I guess I just have a short memory. I don’t think about those things much. I’m just so focused on this season and what’s important right now, I haven’t even thought about last year and what might have happened. I think one thing that may have helped us a lot this year is we’ve had very few issues with personal fouls. We just haven’t had much extracurricular stuff after snaps or kicks. The Vanderbilt game certainly was an exception to that, but other than that we’ve had very, very few personal foul penalties. As I watched our guys recently, this game and the Florida game, in particular, we had none of that. That was a point of emphasis. We wanted to be very disciplined in that way. We want to play as physical as we can during the snap but, when it’s over, get off the field or get back to the huddle. That’s what we want to continue to do. We don’t want anything to take our focus off the game or do anything that could hurt us as far as penalties or worse like an ejection or something like that. We don’t want anything like that.”
What’s up with WR Israel Troupe?
“I think the lack of playing time and balls coming to him has been a combination of injuries and the competition level. I think the young guys have come in and really competed well. I think that Israel’s injuries here and there, whether it’s missing practice time or not being 100 percent for games and stuff like that, has certainly hurt him. I just hope he’ll continue to practice hard and, if he’s called upon, he’ll make something big happen. He certainly helped us in a game or two. Last time we were at home against Auburn, A.J. got hurt and he made a big play. So he’s had his moments and hopefully he’ll have another one or two before it’s over.”
Do you think Malcolm Mitchell will be able to play against Auburn?
“We do, we do. [Monday] is a very light practice. I think he’ll be practicing at the tempo we go with tomorrow. We don’t really go break-neck speed. Tuesday will be more of competition day. We’ll have our two-on-two drill where he pulled a muscle last time and we’ll have one-on-one routes and 11-on-11 stuff. We may or may not let him go in those. We probably on Tuesday, I’m just guessing, have him just do the scout-team work, which is competitive but not nearly as full speed as one on one. The tempo will be just a little less and it will be safer for him. Wednesday we’ll see how he’s doing and we may let him go full speed by then and let him compete in some 11-on-11 and some one-on-ones.
Championships always seem to go through Auburn or Georgia
“There’s no doubt it’s because of where it’s placed on the schedule. Usually you have to win in November to get into a championship game or to win a championship. I know, historically, listening to people who know a lot about the series, how many times Georgia didn’t make it because of Auburn and how many times Auburn didn’t make it because of Georgia. So there’s a spoiler element to this series over the years.”
Impressions of Auburn RB Michael Dyer:
“You know what, I’m very impressed with him. I really am. He’s very strong, his lower body strength is different than most guys. A lot of guys you hit them low and he’s going down. He breaks tackles just out of sheer power of the legs that he’s got. He’s more elusive than I think some people want to give him credit for and he’s got more speed than most want to give him credit for. He’s one of the best backs if not the best back in the league right now. I think a year ago as a freshman a lot of people thought he was benefiting from having Cam [Newton] back there in the backfield because that’s where the focal point was. But he’s been the focal point this year and he’s been producing in a big way. I’ve been very impressed with him.”
How’s offensive line playing?
“It really was a clean day in the pocket for [Murray against New Mexico State]. Our line created a lot of space for Aaron. There were no issues with the protection. There was one time where we had a quick-game protection and our back kind of got knocked into his lap a little bit. He certainly had to feel that, but it certainly didn’t affect his throw. . . . The line did a really good job, the number one line. I tell you what, the second-team lime in the second half did a very good job. I think we had one sack in the second half.”
What was the strategy on special teams.
“We were trying to mentally erase anything that had happened, especially anything negative. We wanted to go back to fundamentals and being aggressive with what we want to do. For me personally, I think it was about just allowing our teams to just go play ball, whether it was kicking it deep or whatever we do on our punt return or whatever. I didn’t want to to call the game any different because of anything we’d done this year. I wanted to call the game as if it was the first game of the year and see what we’ve got and try to build momentum for the future. Because we knew we had to improve. I think we took a step in the right direction both fundamentally and I think we changed some things around a bit that’s going to help us, too.”
On Missouri joining the conference:
“I think it’s great. I think it’s great because I have an awful lot of faith in our leadership in this league to make the best decisions for our league. So I’m all for it.
Will it be strange having Missouri in East?
“I think it makes the most since because we’ve already got 12 teams and 6 traditional rivalry games. If you start taking one from the West to the East or the from the 12, then all of the sudden everything gets blown up. so it probably made the most sense for scheduling and for traditional rivalries not to get messed with. I thin it makes good sense. Nowadays the travel is not going to be that big of a deal.
“Up until about a year ago, we’d bus to Atlanta and fly out of Atlanta. Nowadays we can probably get to Missouri quicker than we could get to Nashville going through Atlanta and through security and all that stuff. Travels pretty quick and it won’t be that big of a burden at all.”
– Chip Towers