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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Richt's Sunday Comments

As you're probably well aware already, Georgia dropped in the polls for a second time in three weeks despite a win. The Dawgs are No. 3 behind Southern California and Oklahoma.

Georgia is the highest ranked of five SEC teams in the top 10. According to the SEC, this is the first time in history that five teams have been ranked in the top 10.

Regarding the drop in the polls, Mark Richt was not concerned.

"I'm not worrying about it," Richt said. "We can't control it. We can control winning the Eastern Division. When you set goals, you've got to set goals you can control. We're trying to win the Eastern Division, and that's the only thing we can really control. Also, can you control winning every game you play in. Like this week is a non-conference game, it doesn't affect whether or not we win the East, but we do want to win every game we can to put ourselves in the position where we could possibly be there in the end. But there's so much time has got to pass, there's so many games that have to be played, but we all know that we have the type of schedule that will put us back in business if we take care of business. The question is, are we going to take care of business?"

Richt also said he was not in any way surprised by the drop in the polls.

"You've seen that before," Richt said. "Everybody wants to settle in and see where everybody belongs. It's hard. I'm a voter, too. You've got to play a few games, and once the games get started, you get a little better taste, but you still people are playing all over, different regions, different conferences. Some people start with a little bit tougher opponents than others. It's very difficult to get a gauge on where everybody is."

Richt said the Bulldogs' tough schedule would eventually help decide things and put them in good position to play for a national title should they win out. But he said you had to look no farther back than a year ago to see how little any of these early polls mean.

"Everybody kept moving up by default, and some of them stayed ranked relatively high because they didn't play a great opponent until the fifth, sixth game of the year, and then they got knocked out," Richt said. "It was just musical chairs last year. We'll just see how it goes this year."

A reporter then asked if Richt would ever run up the score by keeping his first-teamers on the field late in a game he already had wrapped up just to impress the voters.
"I don't think so," Richt said. "If it's the 12th game of the year, maybe. But not before then."

On other topics, here's what Richt had to say:

On the lack of a pass rush: "We didn't do a great job at times covering their tight end or their receivers, but if you give a QB a nice big pocket and a lot of space to feel comfortable, he's going to throw a pretty accurate ball. That happened too many times. We did knock him down a few times, we did force him throw it quick a few times, and we did get a few sacks, but I just thought there was too many times he had too much time. It's not really just a defensive ends thing. It's everybody. If you cover, when you do blitz, you've got to make sure you get there. The interior defensive line is putting more pressure on the QB than the outside has at this point."

Asked by an Arizona reporter, Richt talked about playing for football-crazy fans:
"You don't want to play for a team where there's apathy or a lack of expectations. You're hoping to play for a team where everybody gets really excited about it and is willing to support it. It makes it more meaningful to our players. Now, do some people take it to an extreme to where I think they need a little bit of perspective on life sometimes? Yes, I do. There's a little bit of that going on, too. But you kind of get used to it, and you just embrace it."

On getting the ball to A.J. Green more often: "There's certain plays you can try to direct to a player. Most of our plays have a progression to them and some coverages sort of dictate who's the first progression, second and third. You can call more plays that have a better chance of him getting it, and every once in a while you can have a few plays where you say it's either him or nothing. But I think in that game in particular, he kind of started hot, had a great chance on a slant that was actually thrown behind him and kept his feet and had a nice run after that catch with guys draped all over him. He laid out for that fade, caught another hitch route and powered his way down the field. I would have liked to have seen more balls go his direction."

On whether he was surprised Arizona State was upset on Saturday:
"I'll be honest, I didn't even know who they were playing this week. I was really focused on South Carolina, and I wasn't really studying what was going on too much farther than that. But I was surprised that UNLV got them. I think after my coach's show I found out what the score was. But I think people understand know there are no teams that can't be beat. There aren't many games that you play that you can just chalk up on the front end. We've been through that. Michigan's been through that. There's a lot of teams who have been through that. Is that shocking? I don't know. I think there's more parity in football, and everybody's got to realize it."

On Blair Walsh's kicking (not kickoffs):
"There's no question. After Game 1, I got a lot of confidence after Game 1. And when you watch him every day and you see his fundamentals and you see his consistency in practice, once he settles down, sooner or later he's going to get comfortable in his position and do very well."

On how the offensive line played: "The offensive line struggles, especially if you compare it to the first two games. I don't think anybody was shocked by that. I don't think anybody was surprised. The level of competition was different, and it wasn't going to be the same amount of success up front. We didn't block as well in the running game as a unit. We've got a ways to go. I'm very thankful that we won the game and we can see we have to play at a higher level to be a consistent offensive football team against a front like that. I don't know how many fronts will look like that because they are pretty veteran, they're strong, and they were playing like the outcome of that game was so huge for them. They were playing with their backs to the wall."

On Georgia's travel plans for Arizona State: "It was even brought up to fly out the day of the game, get off the plane and stretch and let's go. But I felt like the best thing for us was to try to stay in the normal rhythm of the normal away game. We have a pretty good record on the road, so I felt like, let's stay as close to that routine as possible and see what happens."

On injuries in the South Carolina game: "There's nothing significant that came out of that game for any player. Matthew did say he got knocked around, which he did, but he's fine."

On Arizona State rebounding from a loss: "When you win as many games as he's won, you know how to rebound from a tough loss, especially when you're playing a team that you've been looking forward to playing for a while. There may be even a greater sense of urgency for Arizona State. Maybe even more so than if they'd won the game. So I wish they'd have won it, just so maybe they'd be flying a little higher now. They'll have a chip on their shoulder."

Oh, and one more note from the SEC...

Check out the numbers from SEC defenses for the week:

8.2 points allowed per game (82 total points)
259.2 total offensive yards per game (2592 total yards)
186.2 passing yards per game (1862 passing yards)
73.0 rushing yards per game (730 rushing yards)
2.52 yards per rushing attempt (290 carries for 730 yards)
14.1 total first downs allowed per game (141 total first downs)
SEC defenses forced 18 turnovers in 10 games

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