Following are some of the highlights from today’s news conference with Georgia head coach Mark Richt and some of the Bulldogs’ players:
GEORGIA COACH MARK RICHT
On whether Malcolm Mitchell will remain on defense …
“Malcolm will definitely stay with the defense as far as being ready to play. I imagine he will still play. His offensive reps will increase, and he’ll probably start to spend some meeting time with the offense as well. I’m thinking about trying to find a way to split time with him if he can manage it. We think it can work for us. He’s a guy who I think is in good enough condition. I know he’s smart enough to understand what’s going on on both sides of the ball with the experience he’s had. We need him on special teams too. He’s going to play offense, defense and special teams off and on for the rest of the year I would think.”
On Vandy’s two-quarterback situation with Austyn Carta-Samuels and Jordan Rodgers . . .
“I don’t know if Coach Grantham got to watch any Wyoming tape or not. We did watch what happened in the Presbyterian game, and he played well. He didn’t have to really run the ball that often and wasn’t pressured much. He did drop back and throw the ball well. It looked like he ran the system well. Everything was pretty smooth while he was running the show, and I can only assume that he’ll start but we don’t know that either. They didn’t change what they would have been done schematically a lot. As a matter of fact, they probably did a little bit less in this game than they had done in the others, probably due to the fact that the first play of the game they took off for a touchdown and the score got out of hand quickly. I don’t think they needed to show much.”
On Georgia’s punt return specialists . . .
“The main thing is that we’re looking for a guy who will field the ball and communicate well. So I think we’re still searching for that, but it’s a tough job. You’re back there and guys are flying down the field getting ready to pop you as soon as you touch it, and sometimes it’s hard to decide whether to catch it, to let it roll, to fair catch it or to return it. It’s a tough job, and we’re trying to get someone who will go back there and just take the bull by the horns and make good decisions and communicate well to everybody and wrap up the ball.”
On playing a night game for the third consecutive week . . .
“I do like playing under the lights. I don’t like waiting for it to get dark, but it’s nice. I think it’s nice for our recruits because they easily have an opportunity to come, especially if kids need to come from some distance. I think there’s more energy at night, and the weather’s beautiful at night this time of year. From what I see, it’s supposed to be another great weather day in that regard. But nothing has really changed for me. The night before the game, I travel with the team to the hotel and spend time with them. I come back a little bit earlier, usually when the rest of the coaching staff comes in to work on offense and defense, I’m making my way back for some recruiting and that type of thing. But not much has changed. I know when you play at night, it normally means you’re having a good season, so I’m glad we’re playing at night.”
On the fiery reputation of defensive coordinator Todd Grantham . . .
“I knew he had a lot of fire. Sean Jones played for him in Cleveland and Sean said that about him. Brad Johnson, who is my brother-in-law, was on the team playing quarterback at the time, so he got to observe the type of coach he was in practice. I wanted that. That was one of the things I wanted in the guy who was going to lead the way for us on defense. Defenses play a lot on emotion. You certainly had to have good schemes, and Todd had a great reputation for that, understanding not only how to pressure people, but also how to play the back end in coverage and all that. I heard just great things about him in that regard. It’s an emotional game. It’s about playing hard and getting after it. When the guy in charge of that group is that type of personality, it tends to bleed over into the way his players play.”
On Vanderbilt’s high-risk special teams philosophy . . .
“With the 20 hour rule you can’t change much, because if you add one spot, you are pulling from another. Everything we do we think is important down to the very minute. I don’t know how much more we could do it. You get a negative return on your investment sometimes if you overdo something. I think we have the right amount of time to get the job done in our special teams, and I think we’ve improved. We’ve only had three games, and we are going to be challenged this week on special teams more than any game this season. We’ll get a little better gauge of where we’re at because I know they have a lot of returning players, and they’ve already proved this year they are back on track from where they were a year ago.”
On look of offensive line with injury issues . . .
“I think we would start with [Mark Beard at left tackle and Kanarious Gates at left guard] if Dallas Lee can’t play. We’re not certain of that yet. I don’t know how much he’ll go today. He may not go at all today; we’ll just have to wait and see what he does.”
On whether Todd Gurley should be getting more carries at tailback . . .
“I’m pleased with Todd (Gurley), Keith (Marshall) and (Ken) Malcome. I think we have a good battery of backs. Everybody is staying healthy, everybody is being productive, everybody is staying fresh. That’s a good thing. I’m not saying any given day one of those three might get a bunch of carries. It could happen, but I like how we are rotating them right now.”
WR MICHAEL BENNETT
On his skill set . . .
“As a receiver you need be fast – it’s important to get open and use your speed. I need to show [those who think I can’t run] that I can do everything. I’ve gotta show them differently.”
On his first career 100-yard game . . .
“It was a goal of mine going into the year. I wanted to be a 100-yard receiver – it’s cool to do it. I know that’s a threshold that, as soon as you get to it, you know you can do it. I want to continue to do well and get yards for my team.”
On three different 100-yard receiving games by three different players…
“It makes it tough for opposing teams because they can’t key in on one guy. We give them three or four different receivers to look after. And with Artie [Lynch] having a great game on Saturday, there’s a tight end that they’ve got to look after. It’s a lot for a defense to focus on.”
QB AARON MURRAY
On the offense’s performance . . .
“We’re comfortable as an offense. Coach [Mike] Bobo has put a lot of trust in me and in the receivers to run great routs and get open and make plays. We feel great with our progress. There’s still work to be done and guys who still need to get comfortable in the four-receiver set, but we’re doing well.”
On Michael Bennett . . .
“Since day one he’s been a kid who has worked his tail off. He’s a very physical receiver – as a quarterback you love a big, strong receiver who can get off a jam and crate space, and he’s able to do that. He’s out there every day in practice working hard, and in the film room watching film making sure he’s ready.”
On Vanderbilt . . .
“They’re strong [in the secondary], they’re strong everywhere. The thing that jumps out about them on film is how hard they play, every single snap. Whether it’s a two-yard run you have defensive backs running up the field, or on a 30-yard pass you have linemen sprinting to get involved in the play – they have a lot of intensity and they don’t give up.”
DB DAMIAN SWANN
On defending against the Vanderbilt quarterbacks . . .
“We haven’t really gotten into their two quarterbacks too much yet. We’ve watched a little bit of tape from last year, which was [Jordan] Rodgers, but we haven’t really gotten into their other guy who could be their starter for this week.”
On the feel of the clubhouse through week four . . .
“There isn’t really any extra motivation going around. We all have the same mindset and that’s just to play hard. We just want to play hard and execute our game plan so that we can get to where we’re trying to go. It’s the fourth game and we’re about to hit a big SEC stretch that starts this week.”
On playing against Vanderbilt after last season’s heated match-up . . .
“Some of those feelings and emotions might carry over from last year, but also it might not. A lot of teams like to dwell on the past but we aren’t one of them. We’re going to go into the game with the mindset that what happened last year in the past, is in the past. This is a new game, we’re both new teams and we’re both just trying to win the game.”
LB AMARLO HERRERA
On last week’s interception return for a touchdown…
“It felt great. It was the first time I’ve scored in my college career and it was a great feeling. I had my eyes on the pylon the whole way. I recognized the play action right off the bat and played underneath the receiver and was able to turn my hips and pick the ball off. I’m working really hard on getting better at defending the pass and the run, but this was a big play for me.”
On the play of the defense thus far . . .
“I’m not worried that we haven’t played up to people’s expectations so far, it’s only the beginning of the year. We’re on a roll now and I think there are better things to come. Suspensions and injuries may play a factor in our performance, but like I said before. We didn’t have the same starting line up in every game last year so you can’t really say that we aren’t playing as well because certain guys are missing.”