Georgia Football: Best Quotes and Key Takeaways from SEC Media Days
Despite all of the hype, it's easy to gloss over the actual substance at SEC media days. This time of year it seems every player is in really great shape, everyone is doing what they need to do to prepare and every team is just ready to play football—at least that's what the coaches are saying.
The Georgia Bulldogs' appearance in Hoover, Alabama, was no exception to this tradition. Fortunately both head coach Mark Richt and the Dawgs in attendance (wide receiver Chris Conley, linebacker Ramik Wilson and running back Todd Gurley) managed to throw in a respectable balance of entertainment and insight along the way.
Here are a few of the best quotes and key takeaways from Georgia's media day.
Mark Richt Has Questionable Taste in Offseason Television
The first question thrown in Richt's direction was, of course, about the absence of the conference's all-time leading passer, Aaron Murray.
After talking his way through the transition in fairly generic terms and praising new quarterback Hutson Mason, Richt turned on a dime, per the transcript provided by ASAP Sports:
Not to say we don't miss Aaron because we do, but it was time for him to go. That's just college athletics. After four seasons, you're out of here. We wish him well. We wish his brother well on The Bachelorette, by the way.
So, it appears even Richt has joined Bulldog fans and players in backing Josh Murray in his pursuit of reality-television love. Interestingly enough, Josh (a former Bulldog walk-on safety) was brought up before any current defensive back on the roster.
Richt Believes in His New Quarterback
Richt had nothing but praise for Mason's ability to move into the starting role under center, and he wasn't alone in his confidence.
In some ways, Richt asserted, per ASAP Sports, Mason brings a high degree of continuity:
But I think Hutson being there, us knowing Hutson is the guy, the team knowing Hutson's the guy, Hutson knowing how everything works, you know. Hutson has been in our system obviously going into his fifth‑year. But there's been no change in our system. He has the blessing of being with Coach Bobo the entire time, being in the same system the entire time, seeing Murray doing it and having a chance to start a few games last year as well of the. I think we'll transition well.
The team certainly rallied around Mason in his first career start against Georgia Tech last season in a come-from-behind victory. The Dawgs will benefit from minimal growing pains with Clemson and South Carolina at the beginning of the 2014 schedule.
Chris Conley Is a Future Star—on the Field and on Screen
Conley has registered 1,281 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns over the course of his three-year career at Georgia. He's primed for a massive senior campaign if he can stay healthy, and the 6'3" target has the physical skills to parlay a successful college career into an NFL opportunity.
But he has other ambitions as well. As the video above shows, Conley would like to contend for an Academy Award in the future as well.
Todd Gurley Is Quietly Prepared for a Heisman Campaign
Gurley doesn't like media attention; he never has. Nonetheless, he suffered through SEC media days and actually seemed to enjoy himself.
The star running back told Seth Emerson of Macon's The Telegraph that going to media days was something he "couldn't pass up on." He added, "I'd be a fool not to want to come here."
And yet, Gurley downplayed Heisman hype, telling Tod Palmer of The Kansas City Star: "I'm not really too big on it. People say it a lot, but it's not the thing I'm going after."
Like it or not, another big season in 2014 could put the reserved running back on the grandest of all college football stages.
Georgia's Defense Needs to Step Up
Georgia linebacker Ramik Wilson knows that the defense needs to do. "We've got a lot of talent coming back. We've got to put it together," he told Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
He also identified getting off the field on third down and forcing more turnovers as primary areas in need of improvement. In addition, Wilson told Bradley, "We need to win now. We've got the team to do it."
Wilson, the SEC's leading tackler last season with 133, has confidence in the defense, but more importantly he has urgency. That type of leadership will pay dividends for new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, but how long will it take? Georgia fans will find out soon enough.