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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Notes: Richt Mum on Taxi Incident

What seemed like an April Fool’s joke turned out to be no laughing matter, and Georgia coach Mark Richt is still working to get to the bottom of a story that several of his players made threats to a couple in a cab in Athens last week.

The Red & Black reported that four men physically and verbally assaulted a couple in a taxi on March 29 and the victims believed the men were Georgia football players.

That was the extent of the report as of Thursday evening, Richt said, and he was in the dark about further details.

“Right now, it’s speculation,” he said. “We don’t really know anything for sure. I’m aware of the report, and we’ll just wait and see what’s going to happen from here. I don’t want to over- or under-react at this point.”

The police report said that the four men harassed the couple and slapped the victims multiple times while making suggestive sexual remarks.

Richt said he is working to get more information, but he said he only learned of the incident moments before practice began and had not had a chance to discuss it with the team.

“I had (the story) stuck in front of my face real quick right as I was walking on the field, and I really wasn’t aware of it.,” he said. “I don’t even know enough about it to answer that question.”

(NOTE: More from Marc Wieszer on the incident.)


Georgia’s kickoff philosophy was one of the most talked-about issues of the year last season, but kicker Blair Walsh said that should change in 2010.

Under former coach Jon Fabris, Georgia routinely employed a directional kicking philosophy in which the kicker aims his kickoffs to a specific spot on the field. In the past two years, however, Walsh had trouble keeping those kickoffs in bounds and Georgia ranked 117th in the nation last season, allowing nearly 26 yards per return on kickoffs.

This spring, Fabris is gone, and new coach Warren Belin has taken the restraints off of Walsh and will let him boot a few more long ones. Walsh led the SEC with 17 touchbacks last year.

“It’s not like it was here the past two years directional-wise,” Walsh said. “It’s a lot more use of my talent I would say. I was fine doing what they wanted me to do. I’m a team player, and I can go along with it. But it’s a lot more use of my talent, and I’m happy about it. I don’t feel like there’s a restraint on me anymore. Without giving too much away, it’s different.”


Tailback Caleb King did not participate in Thursday’s practice due to a combination of an illness and a sore knee.

Richt said King hurt the knee in high school and occasionally has problems with swelling and soreness. Those symptoms returned after Tuesday’s practice, but Richt was still hopeful that King could participate Thursday. Instead, the tailback was further hindered by nausea Thursday morning and sat out the day’s workouts as a precaution.

“It wasn’t like there was some kind of incident that happened on the field that made it happen,” Richt said of the knee injury. “It just got a little irritated.”

Richt said the injury was “nothing serious” and called it a sprain. He said the team was hopeful that King would be able to participate fully in Saturday’s scrimmage.


Outside linebacker Justin Houston dripped sweat and staggered to do an interview in front of a camera following practice. Safety Jakar Hamilton said he was holding back vomit. Nick Williams doubted he’d be able to eat when he got home because he was too tired.

The reason for such post-practice anguish was a grueling bit of discipline done by the team before they left the field Thursday. A rash of penalties during practice meant the entire team had to roll 200 yards – up the field and back – before wrapping up the hottest day of practice so far this spring.

Williams said the rolling may actually have been a bit better than being forced to run, but by the looks of his teammates, they hardly caught a break. But Williams wasn’t complaining. He said he understands the need for the punishment.

“It was high energy (at practice), but we just had a lot of penalties,” he said. “That’s something we’ve got to fix. We were a penalized team last year, so that’s something we’re working on. And hopefully this year it won’t be a burden on why we may or may not win games.”


Richt said he cut practice about 25 minutes short Thursday, due in part to the high temperatures – which reached into the mid-80s – and in part to ensure a strong showing at Saturday’s scrimmage.

“I wanted them to be really fresh and excited about scrimmaging because it’s really the last scrimmage where we can do all the things we want to do schematically,” Richt said. “This Saturday is really the last big test with all the stuff we’ve installed.”

Because the team’s final scrimmage on G-Day is open to the public, Richt said the team will employ a more vanilla scheme then, making Saturday’s work crucial because it will be the final time coaches can see the team execute everything that has been installed this spring.

On the injury front, linebackers Marcus Dowtin and Chase Vasser were among a small group of players who missed practice with injuries. Receiver Marlon Brown was in a green non-contact jersey but participated in most of the team’s workouts.

1 comment:

jferg said...

Can you shed more light on the process CMR takes with these type things (the report from the R&B)? Given the level of seriousness of the accusations, will he take his usual 2-3 weeks to process...or will this be a more swift internal investigation?

For many, many reasons I hope they have an official statement today. With it being front and center of every UGA website, the PR boogey-man is soon to come calling.

Also, any news on the Mett case?