ATHENS, Ga.—Georgia head coach Mark Richt and several football players addressed the media during the Bulldogs' weekly press luncheon on Tuesday. They offered the following comments:
Head Coach Mark Richt
"South Carolina is 1-0. They are really an outstanding football team. As I look at this game I'm seeing two defenses that played pretty darn good and two offenses that are trying to find their way.
"More than likely the special teams will be the deciding factor in this one. As we know, it's a team that we have always had great battles with and very, very close games. We have won six of the last eight and just about every time we play, the score is within a touchdown.
"Rarely has anybody scored more than 20 points on either side. The way it's shaping up, it looks like another one of those, quite frankly. We'll play it with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. I know it will be exciting to be home for our players.
"We are looking forward to our Dog Walk and getting the guys excited about the game. The night atmosphere certainly adds to the atmosphere. It's the first Southeastern Conference game. The SEC has begun and we are looking to go 1-0."
BUI: Special teams being a deciding factor? Not a good omen.
On coach Mike Bobo taking some of the blame after the Oklahoma State game...
"That's what leaders do usually. If their unit doesn't do well, they aren't going to blame someone else for it. I admire that about Mike (Bobo). I think as we watched the film, not to say we couldn't have called this or called that possibly, it always comes down to the execution of the play.
"We didn't call any plays that we didn't practice. We didn't call any plays that didn't have a chance. For one reason or another, we didn't execute as well. I say that, but that first drive, quite frankly, should have been about a five-play drive if we were really executing extremely well. We have to stay versatile. We have to mix things up.
"We can't just sit there and say we are going to grind it out with everybody that we play. We have to have a good mix of run and pass. I think we ran it 30 times and threw it 30 times, so it's not like we weren't mixing it up. I think it was an execution issue probably more than anything else."
BUI: "...that first drive, quite frankly, should have been about a five-play drive if we were really executing extremely well." So it was worse than it looked? Also, a better mix of plays during series would be nice. There were several series with 3 passes and a punt.
On the perception of the program being 0-1...
"I'm not worried about perception. I'm worried about winning right now. We played a top-10 team and lost. That's what happened. We're playing game two and we're focused on what it takes to win the next game. We're not focused on what people say about us. You just can't do that; it's counterproductive. We're much more concerned about studying film, getting a plan, implementing the plan and practicing it to the point where our players understand it well and can play full speed and get after it."
On Marlon Brown and Rantavious Wooten not playing at Oklahoma State and whether he expects them to play on Saturday...
"I do. The game (last Saturday) was tight. You have a young guy in there that you don't feel like understands it as well as a veteran guy. You kind of look at your veterans and see if they have enough juice in them to keep going.
"We decided not to play those guys, but we cannot go the season with just four receivers; there is no way, so we have to play those guys. I told the freshman that you have to make sure in practice that you are sharp. The sharper you are in practice, that breeds confidence in your coach to give you opportunities. We know we need to play them, but they also need to continue to get to the point where they are studying and practicing to where it gives them confidence and the staff confidence."
BUI: Does not jibe with Michael Moore's quotes, or several other players' post-game quotes for that matter.
On whether there is any added urgency being 0-1...
"Bottom line is we aren't worried about that. We're worried about preparing for the game and focusing on what truly will help us win. Like I said a second ago, focusing on those things doesn't do you any good. What does you good is preparation."
On how Joe Cox handled the loss...
"He's been good. He's a pretty tough kid mentally. One of our other coaches or media saw Joe in the locker room afterwards going around the room talking to just about every one of them, talking to them and encouraging them for the future. That's the good thing about Joe."
BUI: "That's the good thing about Joe." I wish he would have said it was one of the good things about Joe. Oh brother.
On Logan Gray...
"He can run our system. We had planned to get him in the game mostly in the red zone area, and we did get him in there one time during the first drive of the game. Unfortunately we didn't get in the red zone very often, so we didn't use him. Right now Joe is definitely the No. 1 guy and we'll see if and when Logan will get in there."
BUI: I think this goes back to the problems of 2000. Quincy scared other QBs away and I am afraid Stafford did the same thing. We are incredibly thin at the most important position on the field.
On whether Georgia will use Logan Gray in the red zone...
"That's what we had planned last week. I'm not saying for sure what we have planned this week. That was the plan last week."
On whether Joe Cox's performance was influenced by the flu...
"I don't know. He wasn't going to tell us. The only thing we could do to gauge it was stick a thermometer in his mouth. I can't say he felt great. When you come off the flu, you don't feel great but he felt good enough to play and perform.
"I hope that he's 100 percent when we get going for this ballgame and doesn't have anything that can keep him from a peek performance. I saw nothing and Joe certainly never said anything like he was feeling miserable."
BUI: Again, this does not bode well for us. I pray he wasn't 100 percent physically. If he was, the Joe T 4 moniker may stick.
On Caleb King...
"I don't think there's much doubt that we would play him and get him going. He may get hot. We do plan on him playing in the game. We do plan on him practicing today. We have to monitor his reps. Any kind of pulled muscles; they'll feel healthy enough to practice or maybe even go full speed, but if you go full speed too many times in a row and you begin to fatigue, then you are susceptible to having it pulled again.
"We just have to keep a good eye on him, and he has to be willing to communicate what's going on too. We do plan on playing him. How much will depend on this week's practice and probably also will have to do with what he does when he gets his opportunities."
BUI: This is great news. I have a feeling King will be far more motivated than he was following the first scrimmage.
On the flu...
"If a guy is going to get infected with it from a teammate, it usually manifests itself pretty quickly, so we feel that we are out of that situation. Our guys are all over campus and who knows who might be getting something on campus. I don't think anybody is out of the woods. Across the country it could spring up at any time. Ron Courson has done a great job of monitoring it and doing the due diligence to try to prevent it.
"Joe had symptoms; we didn't get him around the team until he was past the point where he could get somebody sick. Part of the reason he didn't practice was because he didn't feel good. The other part is because we didn't want him among the group. Obviously he felt good enough to travel, but we didn't travel him with the team because we didn't want to take a chance of getting everybody on the plane sick."
On Georgia's kickoffs and Oklahoma's State's long kick return...
"The fans want the long kick, but the longest kick had the longest return. The kicks that were a little shorter had the better hangtime and ball placement, and we covered those better. I wouldn't say that because we kicked it deeper that was the cause.
"We had a young man who should have contained and forced him inside to where our coverage teams were. We didn't do a good job of that. Our second wave didn't get in position to corral him. There was some great hustle at the end to keep him from going the distance. The guys that were designed to be safeties did their job, so it didn't become a touchdown at that point. Ultimately that ensuing drive was a touchdown on a short field. We just can't have it."
BUI: Where have you gone, Rex Robinson......
On Brandon Wheeling...
"Brandon is a guy that transferred to us from West Georgia. He couldn't play last year. He was kind of hoping he could get some type of waiver to play last year. He was a walk-on and he was a scout-teamer. We really liked what we saw from him and we thought he could help us even last year. We would have used him last year if he was eligible to play.
"He got eligible this year and we saw enough from him where we feel like he deserved an opportunity to get a scholarship, so we put him on aid, we traveled him and we played him. That's pretty good for a kid who is competing with three senior D-linemen and a couple of young guys who are coming on strong. I thought he did a nice job."
BUI: I, too, thought he looked well on the couple of plays I noticed him. Nice job!
On Vince Vance...
"He played fine and yes, we plan on him being our left tackle going into the game. We are anxiously awaiting Josh Davis' return. Josh will practice, but it's not likely that he will play in this game. When I say practice, he will phase into scout team work and he will start to do some work without a lot of bodies around him to gauge his progress. We're hopeful that he could play real soon. That will help us."
BUI: We sure need the depth!
On night games...
"For whatever reason, when you get under the lights there is a little more excitement. This time of the year, during the day it's usually hotter. It may be 20 or 25 degrees hotter when you add the heat index for a 3:00 kickoff or a 7:00 kickoff. I think there is a huge difference and the guys usually respond a little bit to what the weather is like.
"The cooler it is, the easier it is to not only be excited about playing, but maintain that enthusiasm, speed and quickness. There is a lot less chance of a guy dehydrating and a lot less chance of a guy camping up. And I think the fans, when they have a little bit of time to get worked-up, tend to be more excited by the time kickoff rolls around at 7 (pm)."
BUI: Does "worked-up" equate to drunk? This South Georgian loves the night games!
On whether he would like to change the SEC schedule of opening league play with South Carolina...
"I don't even know what it would take to do that or what kind of problems would arise from it. A lot of times we are all creatures of habit and no one really likes change much. If you have a systematic way of scheduling teams and everybody kind of gets settled into it, the first time you change I'm sure everybody would throw a fit about it, so I'm fine with the way it is right now."
BUI: It shouldn't matter, it is the same for both teams. GATA!
On Georgia's intensity level...
"We definitely need a strong intensity level. I don't know if we weren't intense as much as we didn't play with the speed and we didn't finish blocks like we should. By no means were we horrible; we were close, but we just need that extra effort on each play to block a little bit longer, or where if you block a little bit better you are going to create a little more space.
"That little space can mean all the difference in the world between a guy getting tripped up and a guy going to the house. I don't want to cause any panic or anything; it' not that at all, but we want to see a little more fire come out of there. I think they played with good effort, but I think they could give greater effort. By no means did they play with no intensity. They played pretty hard, but they need to play harder."
BUI: I would love to be in the film room when they are analyzing the games. Obviously, they are seeing things that were not evident to me during the game. It could not have been the play-calling, it was the blocking...that's the ticket. Bobo, I love you, but that was not your best game.
On Steve Spurrier...
"I have a lot of respect for coach Spurrier. I've always admired his work. I haven't always liked playing against him and losing a game against him from time to time whether it was at Florida State or here at Georgia.
"I've learned a lot from him just by watching his film. I think he's always shot people straight. They may not like it all the time, but I think he's been a guy that tried his very best to play within the rules, which I respect. He's a heck of a football coach."
BUI: Just once, one time, I would like to hang 50 on that a-hole!
On Casey Nickels...
"Casey has been with us two or three years now and kind of started out as a tight end or a D-end. He grew enough to play some offensive line for us. Part of it was because we didn't have enough bodies in the spring.
"He got thrown in there and all of a sudden decided that he had a better chance there. He is a senior. He is going to graduate. He is a guy that could play another year if he chooses to. He may change his mind. We wanted to reward him for what he had done, and we had one to give. I don't like to sit on a scholarship where I can help somebody."
On the importance of walk-ons...
"It's crucial. The best thing I could say about those guys is at the end of their careers when they are looking at their jobs, and potential employers call about guys, they are so easy to recommend, because you say, 'This guy is a team player. He put the team first.
"He will sacrifice any personal glory for everyone else. He'll work hard without the great reward. He is paying his own way to go through this pain and misery.' Those guys are just so great because they have that true spirit of Georgia and the true spirit of what intercollegiate athletics is all about. They are awesome."
BUI: Can't practice without them.
On Georgia' receivers...
"They didn't get a lot of opportunities. We must be diversified in that. We must spread the ball around and give guys opportunities to make plays. Sometimes a guy is not a playmaker in people's minds because he hasn't had a chance to make a play. We have to get them in there and give them opportunities.
"As the season goes on they will. We have to just throw it out there and see what they can do. We have to spread it out. We can't just hone in on one or two guys and say they are going to make every play for the entire season. We're not going to have success if we do that."
BUI: Couldn't have been any worse if they had gotten a shot last week.
On how he is feeling this week after battling flu like symptoms last week...
"I feel a lot better. I'm glad it's gone."
On how big this week's game against South Carolina is for the perception of the Georgia football program...
"It's big. Everybody wants to see how we are going to rebound. This is the start of conference play, and we have to play well. I think everybody knows that and is ready to do that."
On how important it is to get more players involved in the offense this week...
"It's real important. That definitely puts a lot of stress on any defense. We've got plenty of guys who can do it, but we have to it consistently.
On putting together a game plan for this weekend against South Carolina...
"Starting with today we really just got to stay focused and get into the game plan. We need to really focus on the little things all week, and hopefully we can put it all together on Saturday and capitalize by putting on a good performance.
On how special playing South Carolina is for him personally being a native of the state...
"It's very special, but after losing our game last week I just want a victory to get this feeling out of my stomach and get a victory under my belt."
"This Saturday is going to be a big day. It is our first home game, first SEC game, and our first step towards the SEC Championship, which is one of our goals each year. South Carolina is a great team and it's going to take our best effort to get the job done. We have to continue to get better everyday and do more in the film room, on the practice field and just continue to improve and everything else will take care of itself."
"We are ready to play at home. There is nothing like playing under the lights in Sanford Stadium and we can't wait. It's going to be tough this week going against another great defense. It is going to be very important that we create turnovers. Last week we had our opportunities, but we didn't capitalize on them. That's one thing going into this week that we would love to improve on."
"We want to come out and keep our fan support. On defense we need to get more turnovers. Last week, we had no turnovers and I think that was a big difference in our game. This week we are coming out prepared to get some turnovers for our offense."
On the South Carolina game being televised...
"Any time the game is on TV, you know you are representing your school, millions of people are watching and it is just going to add to the intensity to the game. You have Bulldog fans watching and soldiers around the world, it makes it that much more important. "
On the defensive performance last week...
"We could have done a lot better on turnovers and put some points on the board. We fought hard and played a full four quarters. It was a learning experience. It was a good day for the defense, but we have a long way to go. We definitely took a step in the right direction."