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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tuesday Tidbits: Kentucky Week

Some tidbits from today's afternoon news conferences with Mark Richt and players...

-- Tons of talk about the seniors getting ready to play their last game at Sanford Stadium. Richt and several of the seniors talked about how much going out on a high note meant. I don't think anyone has to worry about them overlooking Kentucky with Georgia Tech on the horizon.

-- Several of the players and Mark Richt discussed the importance of locking up second place in the SEC East. It's a far cry from their preseason goals, but it's good to see they're still shooting for something.

-- Richt on Randall Cobb: "He might be the most talented player in the Southeastern Conference." Uh-oh. Timmy Tebow's gonna come knocking on Richt's door demanding an apology soon.

-- Cobb won't be the starter at QB for Kentucky. That'll go to Morgan Newton, a true freshman. Richt said he expects Cobb to be lined up at receiver, in the Wildcat and running the reverse though.

-- Richt complimented how far the Georgia running attack has come in the past few weeks and also noted Kentucky's struggles against the run. But that came with a big caveat: "There are some statistics of them maybe having some people running the ball against them relatively well, but most people that have hurt them running the ball have hurt them with the option game," Richt said. "The more traditional zone, power, sprint draw, the things that we do the most, they’ve been much more tougher and physical against those types of runs."

Richt ended that comment with this little nugget: "It makes you want to put some option in, doesn’t it?"

It was said with a sort of nod and a wink, but it might not surprise me to see a few wrinkles this week we hadn't seen before.

-- Richt said Quintin Banks would likely be the No. 3 safety this week, but that Banks wasn't likely to get the same reps that Bacarri Rambo has gotten the past few games. Instead, Reshad Jones and Bryan Evans are likely to play more.

-- Richt on the bowl scenarios for Georgia: “It seems like there is a big wad. You have two guys over here, one kind of over here and then there is a big wad. We’re in the middle of that wad, and I’d like to separate from that group if we could and convince the bowl people that we’ve done that. It’s going to be interesting.”

I'm expecting plenty of "wad" jokes in the next few days.

-- Some major kudos from Richt for senior DT Kade Weston: "I think the guy who made the most improvement from his junior year to his senior year was Kade Weston. Kade went from a guy who was a pretty good football player, a good, solid football player to a guy who really started to dominate. It all started with his offseason. That guy trimmed his body. That guy got in the best shape of his life and he changed his physique and his changed his quickness and the ability to change direction and his ability to play hard every down without the fatigue factor."

-- Richt was careful not to commit to anything on A.J. Green and Bacarri Rambo, saying that he wasn't counting either out for Georgia Tech but simply didn't have a clear idea of what their status would be.

-- An Richt was even more careful when answering the question of how much these last three games would play into his decisions of big-picture issues like the coaching staff: “I’ll say this, and it’s definitely good policy for me. It’s not the answer you want, but my main focus is Kentucky. That’s where I have to keep my mind. That’s what I have to focus on. Focusing on anything too far down the road is not healthy for me or the team, so my goal is to really make sure we are ready to play against Kentucky right now.”

-- Back to Rambo -- I spoke with Bryan Evans who said he visited Rambo in the hospital after the injury and said he was fine then. Evans said Rambo has been on campus and at the Butts-Mehre facility the past two days, laughing and joking around, showing no after effects of the concussion.

-- Richt praised the recent play of center Ben Jones, noting that while Jones has always played with a lot of emotion, he's learning to play a lot smarter. But his best synopsis of Jones is a good one: "He is like a pig in slop out there."

-- This isn't anything newsworthy, but I just thought this explanation of the challenges a running back faces in the blocking game was an awesome bit of football-speak: "If he decides he is going to try to run your little rear end over, you better be ready to hunker down and strike a blow, because good ones will lift a back out of his shoes and just plant him on the quarterback, so it’s not an easy thing to do."

-- And finally, Richt made a point of asking fans to be in the stadium early on Saturday to ensure the seniors get a proper ovation in the pregame ceremonies. I, of course, am barred from cheering in the press box, but I'll say that guys like Jeff Owens, Kade Weston, Bryan Evans, Joe Cox, Marcus Washington and Rod Battle have all been extraordinarily kind to me during the past two years, doing interviews, answering a ton of questions -- many of them about issues they probably didn't want to discuss -- and always handling themselves with a ton of class and professionalism. As a reporter, I'm not in a position to judge how much I like or dislike a player by what they do on the field. You're free to make those judgments as fans. But I can say without reservation that the seniors going out on Saturday are, by and large, a very good group of guys and definitely deserving of you getting to your seats a few minutes early to give them a big round of applause.


joemoore10 said...

Good stuff as always! I've known Bryan Evans for along time and He is a great kid! For the record its tough for 18-21yr olds to please everyone from there teammates and fan base, and reporters too.I'm also a fan so I have my opinion on who should be playing safety and who should be coaching the D? Anyways thanks for your devotion and great work on this blog and your beat stuff on UGA. jmoore10

Dustin said...

I will be there early on Saturday and cheering for the seniors. I know that some of the guys haven't played up to expectations but I do remember how tough it was in Athens to get my work done in the classroom without all the practice time, weight lifting sessions, team meetings, etc... They have all worked extremely hard and haven't given any excuses for their shortcomings on the field and deserve congratulations for that. They are all Damn Good Dawgs!

Jan Kemp said...

Yeah, it's got to be tough to play football and study for a consumer economics or underwater basket weaving test. I don't know how those guys do it. I'll be the first one there barking when those guys run on the field one last time in Athens. I hope the result is better than senior day last year.