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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Richt on Suspensions, Roster Limits and Urban Meyer

Some interesting stuff from Mark Richt in his post practice meeting with reporters today. Here are the highlights:

-- Georgia will have to trim its roster down to 70 for the first time this season to meet with SEC travel restrictions. This is causing a number of problems, Richt said, considering the Bulldogs played 68 players in Week 1 and 67 in Week 2.

The first key decision is whether kicker Jamey Lindley will take over on kickoffs for Blair Walsh, thus meaning he'll travel with the team. "Today was the day that Coach Fab was having it come down to, and I've not talked to him," Richt said. "It was still very much up in the air, but we're going to have to decide by tomorrow because I've got to try to get the travel list straight."

Special teams become a major concern, Richt said, when deciding on the travel rosters. "Our toughest task this week has been to get to 70. That's been very difficult. It's not settled yet. Tonight, it's got to be settled. The first time you go from as many as you want to 70 is hard. And I'll be honest, I did a bad job of not saying, This is the 70,' on Monday because there's still enough guys playing these special teams that when it came down to pulling a guy off the plane or the bus, he's starting on this one and this one, or he's a backup on these two. And they've already rep'ed them. So I should've made that determination sooner. That's been tough to do. That's the biggest thing we've got to do tonight."

-- Richt was asked if he was any closer to a decision on suspended players Jeff Hensen and Donavon Baldwin. He said he was still not ready to announce a decision, but he did say Hensen's clearance by the school's review board would not sway his determination.

"It's not going to affect my decision either way," Richt said. "It could've affected if they'd said, You're out,' but it's not going to affect what I decide."

-- Suspended players Darius Dewberry and Fred Munzenmaier both return this week -- leaving only Hensen and Baldwin still suspended. Richt said he was glad to be putting the suspensions behind him, and said Dewberry and Munzenmaier handled the situation well.

"I'm glad their back. Both those guys paid a price for what they did, and I thought they handled it as well as you could ask a guy to handle it. Once you get yourself into that situation, it says a lot about a man as to how he responds to it, and I was really proud of both of them for fessin up, admitting they were wrong, telling the truth, taking their discipline like a man and really, truly learning something from it. That's what we're here for. You'd like to think nothing will ever go wrong, but they do, and when they do, you want to teach these guys something. You want them to learn something by it, and I really truly believe they have. It's not easy to watch your teammates go do their thing, and it's not easy to put all that work in and have to watch, and both those guys have been set back. They're not as ready as they would be Game 3, and they're probably not going to get as many reps as they would have got if they were playing all along. Sometimes it sets a guy back for half a season. Hopefully it won't be that way. These guys are a little older, more mature, I think they'll be able to handle it."

-- Richt discussed the team's weekly bowling night and why he decided to hold the event for all UGA students. Just another great example of what kind of person Richt is:

"Part of the bowling idea was to have a good safe alternative for a night that traditionally in most college towns is a night to go out. We had a group a year or two ago talking about the alcohol issues on campus, and one of the things I kept saying is we've got to find some alternatives. Let's think of some other things to do that can be fun and safe. So finally, I don't know where it clicked (to start bowling), I knew (Demarcus) Dobbs loved it, Knowshon (Moreno) loved it, and I found out there was more than those guys that really enjoyed it. So I was like, well, let's take a stab at it."

-- On finally getting started with SEC play: "I just look at it as the start of the Southeastern Conference race. That's the most significant thing right now. And I do feel that there's an air about this game that feels like the first game of the year again just because it's conference play. The conference is so meaningful to us, and it is the only true goal we can control, so it's crucial."

-- With Dewberry back and the Sam linebacker likely to be more heavily involved against South Carolina than the spread offenses Georgia played the past two weeks, Richt said he was still unsure how the rotation at the position may work out.

"I don't even know who Coach is starting between (Dewberry) and (Akeem) Dent. They're both going to play. I think it'll be a pretty close I would imagine close to 50-50 because they're both capable and experienced playing that position."

-- One guy who likely won't see much action at Sam is Darryl Gamble. "Gamble has been playing Mike, working Will, a little Sam I'm not sure he'll get much time at Sam now that Dewberry is back."

-- Kade Weston will definitely play this week, Richt said, but he might not see a ton of snaps. "He's going to play. Kade has worked with the scout team the last two days. I don't know if Coach (Garner) has gotten him in there on a pass rush. I think all things concerned with Kade is how many plays will he be effective, not so much he's a good player, we know that, but he's going to fatigue a lot sooner if he'd been playing all along. . I think he'll play more of a spot role than a true rotation would be my guess."

-- And finally, I asked Richt his thoughts on Miami coach Randy Shannon's complaints that Urban Meyer was running up the score by kicking a late field goal with a 20-point lead last weekend. At first, Richt didn't want to answer (for obvious reasons) but he expounded a bit on the situation, which he said he didn't actually know about before I asked the question. Read into it what you will.

"I don't know what to say about that. I don't know what to do in that situation. I mean, do you take a knee? Is that as big a slap in the face? I don't know what coaches feel like. I mean, if it's fourth-and-3, do you go for it? Do you try and score a touchdown? I guess the only thing you can do is take a knee if you feel the game is in hand, and that's usually what we'd do. If I've got a bunch of young guys in there, I might say, run this freshman back and let these linemen block one more play. I think if you have your starters in there at the end when it's absolutely over, I just don't think it's very wise. Now if you've got a bunch of youngsters in there, just let them play. And if somebody got mad at me, I'd just say, We've got some young guys in there we're trying to get ready for the future.'"

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