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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Notes: Richt Downplays Conditioning Concerns

Willie Martinez has been squarely in the crosshairs of caustic fans for two seasons. Mike Bobo has seen his playcalling critiqued by a bevy of message board pundits. Even Mark Richt has earned the scorn of fans unhappy with the team’s 4-4 start to the season and its 10-7 record over the past 17 games.

But the most recent coach to come under the microscope at Georgia is strength and conditioning coordinator Dave Van Halanger, a longtime assistant for numerous successful programs. With Georgia’s struggles on the offensive and defensive lines and problems running the football or bringing down opposing rushers, some critics have wondered if Georgia simply isn’t strong enough this season. Richt thinks that’s just par for the course.

“Everybody wants us to win, everybody wants to find some kind of angle to see where they think we’ve got issues,” Richt said. “So if everybody’s going to start chiming in on what we need to do, then it’s obvious that every part of our program is going to be looked at and questioned.”

Richt said across the board his staff works to keep up with the latest advances around college football, whether it be strength and conditioning, Xs and Os or simple coaching methodology.

“Coaches go to conventions, strength coaches go to conventions, everybody goes to the seminars trying to stay on top of the cutting edge,” Richt said. “Everybody gets together and they discuss the things they have, the things they do, what do you like and what don’t you like. And everybody’s got friends in the business where you can compare notes.”

It’s common practice during every offseason to evaluate Georgia’s program against what the competition is doing, Richt said, and that hasn’t changed in the nine seasons he’s been in Athens.

“We’re always out talking to other folks,” Richt said. “Our offensive and defensive staffs are either taking off somewhere, bringing somebody in or both. Our strength staff does that, too. We just do that across the board.”

Richt said most other coaches are happy to exchange ideas, although not normally within the same conference. But he said it’s not uncommon to seek out coaches from around the country who play a similar style on offense or defense or who have played against common opponents and bounce ideas off each other after the season has ended.

“If you want to get better at throwing certain screens to your receiver or things of that nature, you’re going to find a team that does it great and ask how do you do it?” Richt said. “Instead of just trying to watch the film and hope you get it right, you just go ask them. And most people will help you. It’s hard to go within the league. You won’t get much help there. But you go as far as you’ve got to go, and sometimes it’s an NFL team.”


For the past month, Georgia’s coaches have given redshirt freshman safety Baccari Rambo increased playing time and have been pleased with the results. But despite the struggles of starters Reshad Jones and Bryan Evans in coverage against Florida and Tennessee, Richt said it’s unlikely Rambo will move past either veteran on the depth chart.

“I don’t know if he’ll move into the starting lineup but he’s earned playing time and he’s playing well,” Richt said. “He’s continued to practice well, and that’s good, good for us."

Richt said this week he planned to continue playing veterans that give the Bulldogs their best chance to win their remaining four games despite many of the team’s preseason goals now being defunct.

Rambo offers the option for Georgia to both keep a quality product on the field this season, Richt said, while also giving playing time to a younger player projected to see a bigger role next year. But Richt doesn’t think Rambo needs to be in the starting lineup to be prepared for next season.

“I don’t think he would have to start to say that would make him more ready a year from now,” Richt said. “He’s playing plenty to help us be ready for next year.”


With sophomore receiver A.J. Green out of action this week with a bruised lung, freshman Rantavious Wooten is slated to make his first start of the season against Tennessee Tech, and the fast rise up the depth chart isn’t coming as a surprise to Wooten’s teammates.

Richt said that veterans raved about Wooten’s performance over the summer, giving Richt and early indication that the true freshman would be in position to help out immediately.

“They loved Wooten from the get-go – his quickness, ability to change direction and just how quickly he was picking up the route running,” Richt said.

Wooten has just four catches so far this season in minimal duty backing up Green, but that will change this week, and Richt said he expects Wooten to make the most of his chance.

“He’s going to get a really outstanding opportunity this weekend,” Richt said. “Wooten playing a position behind A.J. certainly hasn’t given him a ton of opportunities. This will be the biggest opportunity to this point for him, and I think he’s excited, he’s up for it.”


Wooten isn’t the only freshman receiver hoping to make an impact against Tennessee Tech.
Marlon Brown thought his breakout game had come last month against Tennessee when he had the first two catches of his career. But a hip pointer a few days later derailed his plans for a bigger role.

“After the game, I was like, yeah, I’m going to get a little more playing time,” Brown said. “Then that Tuesday at practice I had the hip pointer going up for a pass.”

Brown said he was healthy enough to play in the past two games for Georgia, but he didn’t see any action. That should change with Green out this week, and Brown’s hoping for another opportunity to showcase his skills.

“I’m just going to go in, warm up, and if he says, ‘Marlon, you’re in the game,’ I’m going to go in the game and do my job,” he said.


It has been more than a month since Georgia played in front of its home crowd, and Richt is thrilled to be back.

“If you’re home three or four games in a row, sometimes it’s good to get away,” he said. “But when you’ve been gone a long time, it’s good to get back home. I’m looking forward to being with the Georgia people.”

It’s been a rocky ride since Georgia’s last home date – a narrow loss in the final minute to LSU. The Bulldogs where thumped on the road at Tennessee, beat Vanderbilt prior to an off week, then settled for another dismal performance in Jacksonville, Fla. against the rival Gators.

With three losses in their last four games and not a lot of pats on the back along the way, Rambo said getting back in front of a cheering crowd will be a welcome dose of enthusiasm for a team in need of some positive energy.

“I know going off to play, we’ve been doing that for a month, and the opponent’s fans haven’t been too nice to us,” Rambo said. “It’s great to come back home and see our friends and let them support us. I think it’s going to be a great feeling to get back home and play again.”


Carter said...

In light of Cox's recent comments, I wanted to share a personal anecdote.

In Fall semester '06 I had a small, 8:00am seminar class with JT3. I was in the class for a month before I realized who he was. He was a quiet, unassuming guy who came across as intelligent and level-headed. I grew to have a great deal of respect for how he seemed to handle adversity. In working in small groups on a few assignments I could tell that he had the right perspective, and I could see that he would likely succeed in his future professional endeavors.

During that same semester I also saw Joe Cox around campus a number of times, usually accompanied by Mo Mass. Now I was not sure if the impression I got about Joe was fair or accurate, but here goes. Have you ever seen someone walking down the street and thought to yourself, "That guy seems like someone I wouldn't like"? There is a quality people can convey with their demeanor, body language, or just the way that they carry themselves that leads you to believe that said person is likely a douche, jerk, etc. Sometimes when I have gotten such an impression from people it turns out that after getting to know them, I had judged them too hastily. However, most of the time it turns out that my initial impression is correct.

Anonymous said...

Carter. Seriously. You saw him walking down the street 3 years ago and made an impression? C'mon, man.

I'm not so sure that the team is going to get the type of homecoming with the fans that they're expecting. We'll see how many Georgia people show up for a 1 pm game against a nobody.

rbubp said...

Urban Meyer and Tim tebow are clearly douches extraordinaire. But I think they will be ok in life anyway.

I wouldn't mind having their record.

rbubp said...

Oh, and by the way, Carter...that was a pretty douche-y thing to say. Not the best first impression.

Anonymous said...

"Notes: Richt Downplays [insert any one of the many things to legitimately be concerned about] Concerns"

Broken record. Broken record. Broken record. Broken record. Broken record. Broken record. Broken record. Broken record. ...

Carter said...

Anon 6:02 - "You saw him walking down the street 3 years ago and made an impression?" I said, "...I also saw Joe Cox around campus a number of times." See "number of times" > "saw him walking down the street." My post was a bit lengthy, but reading comprehension isn't that tough.

rbubp - Douches often enjoy varying degrees of success in all facets of life, but society more gladly suffers talented douches. If this is my first impression for you then so be it. However, I have read this blog each day since its inception and have left other comments.

I have always been told by friends, family, and coworkers that I am an exceptional judge of character and that I have the ability to quickly size people up. This skill has served me well. However, on occasion I have been wrong. So take it for what its worth that I think JT3 came across much better than Cox has.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, starting Rambo makes way too much sense. That kind of goes against the much heard saying of Richt, "We're going with the guy who gives us the best chance..."

Anonymous said...

'Everybody wants us to win, everybody wants to find some kind of angle to see where they think we’ve got issues,” Richt said. “So if everybody’s going to start chiming in on what we need to do, then it’s obvious that every part of our program is going to be looked at and questioned"

Translation: Fans don't know as much as us because they're just fans.

sbryant said...

I think we got it coach, we understand you are going to play the players we think you should bench. What we don't get is why?

Also, if it isn't the strength and conditioning coach either who the hell is it?

rbubp said...

Well, Carter, so what is your point in this dialogue of douchedom? That being an arse means you can't be a good QB? Why is your impression of Cox as a person--from across the street, even-- remotely relevant to anything at all? How is yours a fair criticism, your character-clairvoyance notwithstanding?

As for taking it for what it is worth, well, it's obviously not worth anything. And that's not personal, it's just that that kind of comment would be 100% useless from anyone.

I'm sorry to have taken such umbrage at a pretty small issue. I guess I feel that personal attacks on the players ought to be first, based in fact, and second, serious enough to warrant real discussion as opposed to petty, gossipy silliness.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:44, I don't want to defend CMR's record or anyone's poor play or performance this year, but the coach is right that they know more than the fans.

We're fans. The coaches are professionals. The players play the game at a level we could only dream of. They know more than we do. Get over yourself.

DH is right about the quality of the posts lately. Come on, people...

Dawgerton said...

Senor Hale,

I have a quick question for you. Could you tell me if any practices during the football season are open to the media and/or public? How about during pre-season practice in August? How much access does the media have in August and during the season? And the public?


Carter said...

rbubp, sorry to have offended your sensibilities.

A number of people have had a problem with comments Cox has made regarding the fans earlier this season and again yesterday. The point of my "dialogue" is to say that I wasn't surprised. If he had been more humble in his recent comments, I would have felt no need to share my thoughts. I don't hold Cox's physical or mental limitations against him, but I do not appreciate his attitude.

To sum it up, JT3 handled like a man. Cox hasn't.

rbubp said...

Carter, that's a more useful observation. Thanks for your perspective on it.

Carter said...

rbubp, glad we could end on a more pleasant note.

Maybe my writing skills weren't able to convey my initial points as well as I would have liked. I am in finance (hence the class w/ JT3), so words aren't my strong suit.

Believe it or not, I have never criticized or said a single negative thing about an individual player in the history of the interwebs before today. Not Quincy, Jasper, '08 Reshad Jones, or '09 Evans. As long as they remain respectful in the press, I would never feel comfortable calling an individual out. However, Joe "webMD" Cox shot off at the mouth one time too many.

As a lesson for all you out there: if you are going to be a douche, you better be talented (i.e. Tebow). If you are not talented, being a douche won't help your cause.

DevildawgNC said...

I don't think this is conditioning, I'm not sure exactly what to call it. But does anyone remember that first game against OSU? I was excited for a while about this year's D. They really laid some big hits on receivers right when the ball got to them. Did it multiple times over the course of the game, shook some guys up. Dez Bryant still made his plays, but the D looked like they were reading things well. If you're gonna play a Martinez soft zone, you've got to break fast and hard. Instead, for most of this year guys haven't been making the break hard, and end up tracking down receivers who are piling up YAC. Why the change?

rbubp said...

Carter, an interesting point I heard not that long ago, can't remember where, is that football is an unbelievably violent and aggressive game. The conduct in practices and on the field is not suitable for any other social venue.

And yet we expect these hyper-competitive, hyper-aggressive, hyper-physical people to join with society's rules of decorum, tolerance, deference, and taste once they step off the field.

A lot of them can't make the switch so well. I don't know about either of the Joes, and I certainly don't want to generalize, but some of that may very well more often come with the territory than not.

just sayin.' The game makes 'em that way, to some extent. And maybe it takes that kind of personality, a little bit, to be the best at it.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 9:03 -- Of course coaches know more than fans. they're coaches, we're fans. That's not what I was implying.

What I'm tired of is this BS coach- speak that is eminating from everyone. They say they're making adjustments and trying to correct problems, and yet there are no adjustments and problems continue. It is starting to sound like a Bobby Cox broken record.

And you're right, they coaches are professionals. Extremely public professionals. And that's why we as fans, media, donors, etc. have every right to expect that certain level of excellence from them, and we'll sure as hell call them on the carpet when it appears that there are problems.

Richt, et al, have led a charmed life for the 9 years he's been here. I just don't like his reaction. He's on pace to catch the boiling frog syndrome.

Anonymous said...

Will someone please point out the hypocrisy in Richt's statements concerning personel choices. He continues to start Evans over Rambo and King over Ealey. He comments about the lack of turnovers produced by the "D", but then doesn't do a single thing to address it, ie. letting the only ball hawk we have on the team(Rambo) start and have the majority of plays over a senior(Evans).

Then he makes a statement about having Rambo ready for next year... yet he will not burn a red shirt to get a Freshman QB some playing time this year because he says he's playing to win games this year.

That my friends is Hypocrisy...