Richt: ‘We’re playing Florida; we’re playing for a shot to go to Atlanta; that’s huge’

THEY SAID IT

Following are comments from Georgia coaches and players at Tuesday’s weekly news conference previewing Saturday’s game between the No. 10-ranked Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1 SEC) and the No. 2-ranked Florida Gators (7-0, 6-0) at EverBank Field in Jacksonville.

COACH MARK RICHT

Opening statement . . .

“It’s Georgia-Florida. Looking forward to going to Jacksonville. It’s a big game for us and for them to decide who is going to take the lead in the SEC East. That’s what’s at stake. They’re an outstanding football team, obviously. They’re undefeated and No. 2 in the BCS and really have earned it the hard way, starting out the season at A&M and at Tennessee – two very tough places to play to start the season. I believe they got behind in both games and came back and won both. That kind of set the tone for their season. They’ve played outstanding defense. They are a very solid running football team, and their special teams have been off the chain, and that’s been their recipe for victory. They play tough, hard-nosed football and don’t turn the ball over much. They are No. 9 in the country in the turnover ratio, so that’s been their formula for success. Coach (Will) Muschamp has done a great job in year two.”

On Georgia’s running game the last two games . . .

“The defenses are definitely trying to gear to stop us in the running game on first and second down especially, maybe a little bit more. We were getting a lot more two-safety looks and a lot more one-safety looks on the early downs rushing the ball. We still need to run the ball better than we have been. Of course to say that against one of the best rush defenses in America, you may run for less yards than you are averaging and still have a heck of a day running the ball when you’re rushing the ball against a team like Florida. We definitely don’t want to abort the run by any means. We have to make sure that we run it well and run it to the point where they have some respect for it and it helps you reduce yardage on third down and helps you have some decent play action opportunities as well.”

On what it will take to beat the mighty Gators . .

“First of all, you’ve got to be just very fundamentally sound. We’ve got to block well and tackle well. We’ve got to be disciplined in our gaps and assignments, and we’ve got to do a good job of protecting the football. We can’t allow them to continue the trend of winning the turnover ratio. If they win that battle, it’s going to be tough to win the game. It’s been historically true in this match-up especially, so we’ve got to do a god job of that and do what we do best. We need to execute well. It’s certainly going to be a game that’s going to take one of our better efforts to have a chance to win it.”

On the importance of QB Aaron Murray’s play in this game . . .

“I think just about everybody’s quarterback has to play pretty good to win a game like this, but Aaron in particular. He’s just been so valuable to us to get us into the right play as many times as possible in games. We do give him options at the line of scrimmage to try to give us the best chance of success, so that’s huge for him, and I think that the way he studies the game and just historically he’s done a very good job of that at this point in his career. I think that he’s got to do a good job of just making decisions back there when he drops back and reads coverage. He’s got to stay with his progression and not try to go off the beaten path in any way. You know, there’s going to be some situations with a defense like this that somebody’s not going to be open or the protection may not be as good as you want, but how are you going to manage that? Are you going to manage it by throwing it away and not taking a sack, or do you have to take a sack, or are you going to wrap it up where the ball doesn’t come out? That’s really what it comes down to.”

On the possibility of assigning a special teams coordinator in the off season . . . .

“First of all, you can assign somebody within your staff to do it, or if you don’t, that means that if there’s no attrition, you’re going to fire somebody to hire a special teams coordinator. So, I don’t know if I’m interested in doing that, but I think one thing that I can do as head coach is at least spend time learning the kicking and punting fundamentals well enough to be their coach. Which right this minute I wouldn’t say that I have enough expertise to do that, but I think this off season it would be wise for me to do something like that because I am freed up enough to do that, and if that’s my contribution to special teams in the future, I think it’d be valuable. But we’ve had some pretty good punters and kickers over the years since I’ve been here. We’re not doing anything any differently than we’ve done before really. But,

On the importance of special teams play in this game . . .

“They (Florida) have done a very good job on their special teams, and there’s no doubt about that. But there are some people in the country who do a good on special teams and need a special teams coach, and there’s some that do it and split the responsibilities. Some people say they have a special teams coordinator, but he may just be coordinating the practice time, or he may be coordinating the meeting time. So there are a lot of people who have a special teams coordinator and he’s coordinating what happens, but he doesn’t necessarily coach every single team on every single kick. There are a lot of people that are still dividing up responsibilities, but they (Florida) are certainly outstanding at it this year.”

On Florida’s improvement from last year to this year . . .

“They played a lot of young guys last year. When you have eight returning starters on offense and nine returning starters on defense, that’s a lot of playing time. They got a lot of valuable experience and another year within Coach Muschamp’s way of doing things and strength and conditioning. So, they’re one year more experienced and one year just bigger, stronger and faster. We talked about this before, but year two in a lot of coaches’ tenures, there is a lot more of a big jump from year one to year two. Everybody has bought in and everybody understands what the coaches are looking for. In this particular case, they did play a very young football team last year, and there aren’t a lot of players that they lost.”

On the performance of the defense this season . . .

“We want to play championship defense, there’s no doubt about that. Part of that is being able to stop the run or at least slow it down and force people into some situations where they’ve got to throw the football and force them into situations where they can’t just comfortably do what they do. Whatever they do, we have to find out what they do and make them do something different, and we just haven’t been able to do that enough. So that’s been frustrating for everybody.”

On Jarvis Jones . . .

“He practiced yesterday, and we think he will be able to play in the game.”

On freshman offensive tackle John Theus . . .

“The thing about John now is that he’s played for seven games. That’s a lot of plays and a lot of them in the SEC, so he’s not quite just a pure rookie anymore. He’s been trying to protect some pretty good football players, so he just has a better gauge of what it’s all about. But he’s still a rookie. One year from now, he’ll be stronger and more experienced, and he’ll have a little bit more confidence in knowing what’s coming at him. So he’ll certainly be a better player a year from now than he is today but he’s a better player today than he was a month ago or six weeks ago.”

On motivation the team for this week’s game . . .

“Let’s think about it. Number one, we’re playing Florida. Number two, we’re playing for a shot to go to Atlanta. That’s huge. Even if we weren’t playing for that opportunity, it’s still a big game and a game that those guys like to play. It’s a game that there’s just so much tradition to it. People know about this game across the country, and it’s a game that people look forward to. People say it’s one of the better rivalry games in the country year after year, so players see that growing up in high school and they want to be part of that game.”

On Florida’s offensive changes under new coordinator Brent Pease . . .

“I think knowing that they have some veteran offensive lineman, and that (their running back Mike) Gillislee and their quarterback have some great run in them, I think they’ll diversify more in their passing game. But right now, by playing great specials, defense, and running the ball well without turning it over, it’s a very good formula for victory. It’s worked for them. I think Coach (Pease) is a very smart coach, and he understands as a coordinator that it’s not always what you might like to do best, but it’s what your players can do best. That’s what you have to evaluate year in and year out and play to the strengths of your personnel.”

QUARTERBACK AARON MURRAY

On keys to beating Florida . . .

“These games really have been decided by turnovers. So we have to do a good job offensively of making sure we protect the ball when we’re running and I do a good job of not carelessly throwing the ball for interceptions. But you can’t go into the game thinking about that too much. You have to go in there and react and have fun. If you are timid or you are scared as a quarterback making a throw, that’s when you’re going to be inaccurate and not give your guys a chance to make a play. So you have to go in there and know that and trust your fundamentals and trust everything you’ve done all week in practice and let it loose some game time.”

On difficulties of late running the football . . .

“We’re not going everything we can do. I think we’ve made some improvements. As an offense we need to get better in the running game because we do want to be balanced. We want to be balanced when it comes to running and passing and being able to use the play-action. We don’t want to get away from that. So we always want to establish the run. The key against Florida is establishing the running game early.”

On trying to win a ’signature game’ on the road . . .

“I just ignore it. I don’t even think about it really. It’s a team game. I’m not playing Florida or any top team myself. I’ve just got to go out there and execute and have fun and play ball. . . . I don’t care if they’re No. 2 or what. I just think it would be satisfying if we could go out there and win this game to be able to get to Atlanta. That’s the only I’m really worried about it.”

Reaction to Shawn Williams’ comments and what, if any, effect it might have in the locker room . . .

“I don’t think anyone is going to get upset at him or there will be a fight going on at practice today or anythng like that. We know we need to play harder, not just on defense, but everywhere. Offense, defense, special teams, all three facets. If we want to win this week we’ve got to play hard and be ready to go.”

LINEBACKER AMARLO HERRERA

On preparing for Florida . . .

“We’re working hard and getting after it in practice this week. We have more hitting and full contact periods every day, and we have more live periods for us to practice game time situations.”

On the atmosphere in the locker room . . .

“We’re all pumped up. It’s now or never for us. We have to get everything together and play a complete game for this week and for the rest of the season or else we won’t be able to accomplish our goals.”

On stopping the run against Florida . . .

“They’re a great rushing team. Obviously we’re going to have to stop the run, and we’re going to try and make them do what they don’t do a lot of, which is pass the ball. We’re going to try and give them a longer field. Anytime you give a team a longer field to work with, it’s harder to score. We have to do a better job of containing the quarterback and getting pressure on him.”

LINEBACKER CHRISTIAN ROBINSON

On preparing for Florida . . .

“Today is going to be a physical practice. We’re going to have a few extra periods of first team defense vs. first team offense. It’s going to be a very physical game and if we want to win we have to prepare that way. Emphasis will be on first and second down situations; that’s where they’re most successful. We want to stop the run and make them throw deep and try and be in the right place at the right time.”

On containing Florida QB Jeff Driskel . . .

“He’s definitely a running quarterback. He’s the second leading rusher on the team so he’s definitely a threat. It’s going to be all about containing him and taking away running lanes. We want to pressure him to make sure he feels like he doesn’t have time to find lanes and if we can do that then that will be a big help for us.”

On the atmosphere of the locker room…

“It’s the biggest game of the year for us so far, at this point. We have to try and keep our emotions in check because all of the fans are already down there getting ready for the game and we really have to just focus on what we have to do. We want to try and keep everybody positive because if we go in at halftime and things aren’t going the way you want them to, you have to be able to adjust and come back out and win the game.”

55 comments Add your comment

KBP

October 23rd, 2012
4:00 pm

Williams spoke the truth but should not have called teammates out publically.

marty watson

October 23rd, 2012
4:02 pm

GEORGIA IS ABOUT AS READY TO PLAY AS OBAMA WAS FOR HIS FIRST DEBATE!!!PATHETIC AND EMBARRASING!!!!

Matt

October 23rd, 2012
4:21 pm

18 of 22 and counting – Go Gators

Guy Fieri

October 23rd, 2012
4:25 pm

The Gators have a new cookbook called: 50 ways to wok a dawg.

Dboy

October 23rd, 2012
4:29 pm

No Marty Watson that was the game against SC. This game will be like the 2nd and 3rd debate where OBAMA scored a knock down and then a knock out!

rickINcali

October 23rd, 2012
4:47 pm

are Georgia fans ready for their yearly spanking???

Texas Dawg

October 23rd, 2012
4:48 pm

I definitely think Florida will win the game, unfortunately. We just don’t have the firepower, even if we were playing well. But a couple of other notes just watching the Dawgs this year:

1. Is it just me or does anyone else think Malcolm Mitchell is one or two steps slower this season. He does a lot of juking and dancing, but he seems to lack that pull-away explosiveness he had last year.
2. Speaking of speed, it seems the defense lacks overall speed. When we see them, they’re ALWAYS chasing someone. Great defenses (Alabamba, LSU, Florida) all run right with offensive guys.
3. Is anyone else concerned that our freshman kicker, though his leg is strong, is so inconsistent with his extra points? You wonder why they haven’t been able to get that corrected by now. Those are points he’s giving up and by missing an extra point, at some point in the game it forces us to have to try and go for two and that just leads to other issues. No one seems to be making a big deal about it, but sooner or later, I think his inconsistency is going to bite us.

Dawg1

October 23rd, 2012
4:53 pm

Guys, I read these blogs to get away from politics. I know who I’m voting for and I know who lost the battle and won the war last night…

To football…

It’s real simple. The kids do not find a way to bow up and stop the run – we lose. If they do – we win. South Carolina played an oustanding game against Georgia and had to guys coming off the edge that our line could not handle. Florida does not have those types of players. It a strong defensive line – but they wil lnot be able to pressure off the edge the same way. This gives us a little time.

They’ll put up 30 to 35 this weekend. The question is can they keep UF from putting up 35 to 42?

AltamahaDawg

October 23rd, 2012
5:06 pm

It’s all about our defense. Special teams is an interesting topic, but where this idea that UF is playing lights out, I do not see. Their punt team is pretty solid, but on the whole they are middle of the conference. (which is where we are in most squads) That’s not the story Saturday. The story is: can we stop thier running game. They are dead last in the SEC in passing, and if we can make the game about that, I like our chances. Big if.

WestOfAthens

October 23rd, 2012
5:18 pm

Murray’s 3rd UGA/UF game, Driskel’s 1st. Murray has played the Gators Tough both games. 1-1 record, 1st loss in OT. The emotions of this game run deep, historically, records/rankings mean nada. How cool and calm will Driskel be?

Advantage UGA
Go Dawgs

observer

October 23rd, 2012
5:20 pm

UGA’s season and CMR’s legacy is on the line. UF already has National Champs as well as other SEC teams. Even currently pitiful AU and UT have their BCS trophies. UGA has one last shot for a BCS NC. Next year won’t be the year (loss of players, schedule and UF & co will be better). This is it. Beat UF put it together against Bama and you go to the dance. Otherwise, it’s just another “nice” season beating teams of no consequence and loosing to the good ones. Like last year. Actually like every year going back to 2007.

GatorsforRicht

October 23rd, 2012
5:25 pm

Richt is doing the best he can dogs, get off his back. He and Bobo will be there for years to come so relax, you may get there someday.

gomdawg

October 23rd, 2012
5:25 pm

I don’t know if our players read these comments but i’m talking to the whole team play with your heads up high and remember this is the time for us to show how good we are , each of you I have not seen a team that when you play together as a team you are unbeatable . this is not a one for one its a team playing together you do that and Florida will go home 7-1 GO DAWGS

SEC Football

October 23rd, 2012
5:37 pm

WE PLAY DEFENSE AND WE WIN!!!!!!

Vampire Bill

October 23rd, 2012
5:38 pm

Are the gators having any problems? Any issues on their team?

Vampire Bill

October 23rd, 2012
5:38 pm

Making an extra point would be nice !

Sammy

October 23rd, 2012
5:41 pm

Murray does NOT have to have a A or B level game to win this.

Murray went 15 for 34 last year, 1 td.

And UGA won 24-20.

Key is limit turnovers, and make key plays when needed, like the 4th down conversions last year for td’s, and the 3rd down conversion tp put the game away at the end.

Florida’s offense is NOT good enough to win without turnovers.

They rank 108th in total offense, 54th in scoring.

They need turnovers and special teams td to win games.

Take those 2 away, and a Fresh QB has to pass to beat you.

Not going to happen.

Sammy

October 23rd, 2012
5:45 pm

Turnover margin is a key to this game over the last 5 years.

Whoever wins the turnover margin is 5-0 since 2007.

Bob

October 23rd, 2012
5:55 pm

Nobody wants us to win this game more than me; however, I haven’t seen anything from us in the first six games to give me much hope. Mr. Shawn Williams’ comments mean more to me than all the bs and coach-speak we hear from Richt & Co. We have the talent to win by three TDs…let’s see some coaching to go with it. Just my opinion.

B'dawg

October 23rd, 2012
5:57 pm

Im so sick of hearing Richt say for the last 2 years he is free to spend time helping here or there.If he actually cared about special teams we would have a special teams coach like every other team.

lol

October 23rd, 2012
5:59 pm

really richt? how huge was the south Carolina game again? You probably just go talk to baby Jesus like you always do.

Fats G

October 23rd, 2012
6:51 pm

This is the biggest game of the year. Always has been a mighty big game for both teams. Fight to the very end on this one Dawgs,as this ain’t Georgia State youse guys are playing. They could drop 50 on your girlie man defense if you don’t take this personal. Just take it from the stinkin Gators :)

On our way back to the dome

October 23rd, 2012
7:21 pm

I really, really hate Florida. If our defense comes together & plays like they should we shock the world. Getting Jarvis back will be huge as he had a great game against uf last year. The main thing that concerns me is how soft John Jenkins has played all year. Its like he’s just waiting for the N F L to come calling. We have the players to get it done folks, they just have to play with fire & be mistake free. Go Dawgs & to hell with Florida no matter what the outcome is.

ZinoDawg

October 23rd, 2012
7:22 pm

Keep slurping the Kool-aid boys, but this team is not legit.
Gators 48
Dawgs 6
Though I pray I am wrong!

Lonnie

October 23rd, 2012
7:29 pm

We are ready and we will win. Go Dawgs!!!!!!!!

superDawg

October 23rd, 2012
7:35 pm

Well he said it!Its now or never and GO DAWGS!!!

LakeDawg

October 23rd, 2012
7:35 pm

Yadda yadda yadda yadda blah blah blah blah

Enough talk. Show me something on the field.

Pj

October 23rd, 2012
7:39 pm

Make extra points. Don’t fumble. Convert 3rd downs. Sack their QB at least 3 times. Boom – uga wins.

mike addington

October 23rd, 2012
7:40 pm

Poor coaching lost the SC game. not giving blocking help with tight ends was stupid as was not using shuttle passes to take off some pressure. otherwise, offense has been okay in every game, including Murray. he was beat up in that game but didn’t ever look rattled, as is (hopefully “was”) his usually custom in big games. If the middle of the defense will tackle and don’t let them run up the middle of us (big if since teams have been doing it all year) we will win.. That said, it will take many more games than this one, if we win, to make me a believer again. I’m very sad and PO’d that I feel this way ,but since Shockley’s year, it’s been onething after another. This team should have won the NC with the studs we have on defense and the way the offense has performed. I appreciate Shawn Williams having the courage to speak out. C’mon guys. Play like you’re Junkyard Dawgs and get yourselves and us a NC. You’ve got the talent. Have you got the you know whats?

Sorry, Dboy ...

October 23rd, 2012
7:42 pm

…but Obama is still waiting to make his FIRST connection to Romney re: the debate forum…

yankee

October 23rd, 2012
7:54 pm

Georgia rednecks just HAVE to bring President Obama into a story on football – stupid!…GO DAWGS….DROP DEAD REDNECKS!

Dawg Fan

October 23rd, 2012
8:00 pm

Will everyone quit with the NC talk. Don’t you think that was part of the problem to begin with. Fans put too much pressure on kids. Ever noticed that UGA’s breakout seasons (2002,2005,2007) begun with next to NO EXPECTATIONS.
Let’s just let the kids play and you might be surprised.
By the way: GO DAWGS! Big Win this weekend

Dawgs

October 23rd, 2012
8:49 pm

Dawgs lead series 49 to 40.

CMR is a softy

October 23rd, 2012
9:00 pm

i wonder if mitt knows any minorities.

The Truth

October 23rd, 2012
9:44 pm

Last year UGA came from behind to beat the worst UF team since 1989 that started a QB who was virtually 1 legged. UGA has great offensive stats against a weak schedule. The only good D that UGA played against shut them down. UF has played one of the nations toughest schedule and shut down A&M and UT in the second half because they were a tougher and more physical team. Muschamp WILL NOT allow the Gators to take UGA lightly. UF is better conditioned, better special teams, better O line, better D line except for Jarvis, better linebackers and secondary. Where it counts most a superior coaching staff. Prediction: UF 27 UGA 20.

SEC East Spokesman

October 23rd, 2012
9:48 pm

Give Richt a lifetime contract Mr. McGarrity please.

DOGGIE IN NC

October 23rd, 2012
10:17 pm

yankee – just what in Dboy’s email told you he was from Georgia?

DOGGIE IN NC

October 23rd, 2012
10:19 pm

and just how many Ga. rednecks back Obama by the way?

Fats G

October 23rd, 2012
11:30 pm

Lets play da stinkin Gators on Wed. I am tired of this BS :)

toemeetsleather

October 24th, 2012
9:28 am

Better hope you beat the overrated Gators because ACC dominant jackets will whup yur tail tween the twigs in game 12…………..YELLOW FEVER and Coastal Division rules: 27-7 engineers

Jacob

October 24th, 2012
10:00 am

I love the way you Georgia fans are thinking. Florida has not given up more than 20 this year in a game, and it dang sure won’t be against an offense who can’t run against an above average defense. Georgia is terrible at stopping the run, and is lucky kentucky has 2 star players or they wouldnt even be in the east contention right now. Florida will ground and pound the Georgia D until they break, Murray will try to do to much and throw two interceptions. We blew a 17-3 lead last year, it will not happen this year. FL wins 27-17

Neutral

October 24th, 2012
10:16 am

Keep dreaming dude!

Jacob

October 24th, 2012
10:29 am

Not really a dream, “dude”. Florida is by far the better team, the ONLY reason Georgia only has one loss is because they have only played one ranked team.

NCDawg

October 24th, 2012
10:30 am

You “we don’t care about special teams” nay sayers… you do realize that we would have to fire a coach to hire a coach don’t you? The NCAA limits the number of coaches you can have… which is totally bogus. What brainiac set that number? Sure smaller schools may have trouble hiring an extra coach but… thems the breaks. Why should a team that chooses to have a separate ILB and OLB coach be prevented from hiring another coach to oversee special teams. Jeez… do some thinking before you spout off about this stuff. Blame the NCAA overlords not CMR.

NCDawg

October 24th, 2012
10:39 am

I sure hope CMR is being realistic with himself and understands that this game is a referendum on his tenure. Lose to UF and he will be canned. I hope his players realize this as well. Maybe somebody should tweet them… since that is how they get all their info. I have been saying this for 2 weeks now… lose to UF and the staff is gone.

Shane

October 24th, 2012
1:58 pm

Until Georgia gets serious and hires a coach that believes in discipline,has more intensity, and gets a REAL offensive coordinator, not Honey Bobo, we will never go farther. My six year old daughter can guess our offensive plays before we run them. It is sad all the talent that gets wasted on offense because of lack of play calling skills! If I were CMR, I would have shirts made and make all our football players wear them all week before we played Florida that read ” Florida’s B—h!”. Maybe then, they would find a little drive to finally man-up and play with some heart and guts!! Richt has to wear one to!!!

[...] Georgia players and coaches preview Florida game [...]

?

October 24th, 2012
4:17 pm

BE SURE AND VOTE THE MONKEYS OUT OF THE WHITE HOUSE. HE IS THE MOST PREJUDICED BLUE GUM I HAVE EVER KNOWN. GET RID OF THE DEUCE BAG COME ELECTION DAY. ALL YOU PEOPLE ON WELFARE LIKE HIM, YOU WANT TO SIT ON YOUR DEAD BEHIND AND DO NOTHING.

GatorsWaiting

October 25th, 2012
7:18 am

Richt is so full of crap when he talks about the Gators’ special teams coaching situation it’s comical. The special teams coach is also the linebackers coach, but he spends an enormous amount of time on special teams planning and practice. The team dedicates about half an hour several practices per week to special teams. The team’s best players fight for the honor of playing on the coverage units.

None of this is any secret. D.J. Durkin (the special teams coach) and the honor accorded to playing on the coverage units came in with Urban Meyer. Muschamp went out of his way to try to keep Durkin, who Meyer tried to lure to Ohio State. Naturally, people are thrilled about Brent Pease, but the two assistants who are hugely popular with fans this season are strength and conditioning coach Jeff Dillman and… D.J. Durkin for the success of the special teams.

DAWG WIFE

October 25th, 2012
10:06 am

I feel sorry for all the wives, including myself, if GA loses to FL. We will have to listen to our husbands rant and rave about every play that went wrong, calling for Richt and company to be fired, etc, etc. But being the good DAWG wives that we are…we will listen and say “yes dear, yes dear” over and over again.