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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Richt on recruiting Cam Newton, the greatness of Nick Fairley, and more

These things we learned during Tuesday's media availability:

- Georgia projected Cameron Newton more as a tight end out of high school.

- Aaron Murray is praying he doesn't get concussed by Nick Fairley.

- Mark Richt thinks Fairley is the best defensive tackle he's seen since Warren Sapp.

- And no one at Georgia expects any of the reports swirling around Newton to affect him on Saturday.

Richt, the Georgia head coach, spent most of his opening comments talking about “Cam” – pointing out that you know a player has arrived when he can be referred to only by his first name.

("Cam" is, for those of you unaware, the quarterback for the Auburn football team, and the Heisman Trophy front-runner, assuming he's not taken down by the big bad media machine, to hear Auburn fans tell it.)

“Just when you thought Tebow had left, he comes back wearing another jersey,” Richt said.

(Tebow is, for those of you unaware ... Never mind, you're aware.)

Richt made the Tebow comparison again later when talking about the physical play of each quarterback.

“There aren’t many quarterbacks who finish runs the way Tebow did, and Cam does,” Richt said.

Richt then moved on to Fairley, calling him “a beast” and saying he had seen Fairley sack someone without touching them. Perhaps realizing how much he was building up Fairley, Richt looked down and smiled.

“I hope Murray’s not watching this press conference,” he said.

(In fact Murray was not, but he’d been forewarned. Discussing Fairley later, the quarterback said he planned on doing a little extra praying this week.

“Hopefully I won’t get a concussion,” Murray said, laughing.)

Richt also compared Fairley to Warren Sapp, the former NFL Pro Bowl defensive tackle. Well, Richt first compared him to Patrick Sapp, then corrected himself.

”Warren Sapp. Patrick Sapp was what, a tight end at Clemson?” Richt said, as the room laughed. “Warren Sapp. You all remember Warren Sapp. The young people may not remember him.”

Hey, we’re not that old.

Then it moved back to Newton. Richt said the Bulldogs recruited him the first time he was available – out of Westlake High School – but not the second time, when Newton was coming out of junior college.

“Very talented guy, a guy that we did look at,” Richt said. “We actually had him pegged as more of a tight end prospect. And a lot of it had to do with what we like to do offensively. And a lot of it was like you said the fit with our offense. … But he’s obviously doing real well.”

Richt shrugged off the impact of all the reports coming out about Newton, including the two recent ones about his time at Florida.

“Those reports were swirling last week,” Richt said. “They didn’t seem to bother him much.”

Several other players, such as Murray and receiver Kris Durham, echoed that thought.

And there didn’t seem much expectation the NCAA investigation would impact his eligibility, at least for Saturday.

“We’re expecting him to play,” Richt said.

A few other notes:

- Richt was asked if there was pressure on the Georgia offense to put up a lot of points.

“If they (the Tigers) do what they’ve been doing … it puts pressure on all offenses to keep up,” Richt said. “It’s been well documented, everyone seems to remind me once a week if we start slow we don’t win. It’s one of those games, where you don’t wanna start slow in this one.”

- The head coach admitted that yeah, basically, it took the defense longer to pick up the 3-4 than he anticipated.

“I was hoping it wouldn’t. But I guess it’s pretty natural for that to happen,” Richt said. There’s always a learning curve. When something’s brand new, it takes awhile. We’ve had some very good outings defensively. I think we’ll get a whole lot better as the season rolls on, and going into next season we’ll be a whole lot better.”

- Richt was blunt about his reaction to South Carolina’s loss to Arkansas. It meant that Georgia could have won the SEC East, had it beat Florida.

“I was sick, I’ll be honest with you. I was sick. It hurt worse,” Richt said.

“I knew that Florida game was key. It wouldn’t have mattered really what happened in the Auburn game, quite frankly. What happened in that one gave us a chance to go to Atlanta.”

- The Bulldogs are using walk-on Parker Welch as the scout-team quarterback this week, though as Richt pointed out, Welch is about four inches shorter than Newton.

“One of the best similarities we have to Cam this week is he wears No. 2,” Richt said.

Side note: Someone signed in as "Speedy Gonzalez" in the lunch line after the press conference. I'm not going to say who, except the person was right in front of me, he's 50 years old, and he's the head coach of the Georgia football team.


Anonymous said...

Glad to hear that CMR was sick after the usual late season collapse of SC. We UGA fans have been sick for a long long time now. Maybe some much needed changes will come soon like in Colorado and Dallas.

Anonymous said...

Can we fire commenters mid-season?

Anonymous said...

I just don't understand those that have no issue with going 6-6...