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July 18, 2013
KEVIN TRAINOR: We're now joined by the head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs, Mark Richt.
COACH RICHT: Thank you, Kevin. It's good to be here for the 13th year in a row. That's exciting for me to still be at Georgia. It's a lot of fun.
It's been a tremendous season last year. We really, I thought, played extremely well. Got a taste of how close you can get and not quite get it done. I think that will serve to motivate us throughout this off‑season, what's left of it, and throughout our camp.
Once again, the goal is to get back to Atlanta. That's it for us. You get to Atlanta, once you get there, you win that game, you got a chance to play for a national championship. Sounds like a broken record, but that's the real deal.
The fact that we're in the type of league that is so rugged that people understand even if a team has one loss, they still might be worthy of an opportunity to play for a national championship, that's exciting to be a part of that type of league.
I think our team is one that has a lot of questions. I think because of the questions, I think it's created a lot of excitement. I think it's created a lot of energy. An awful lot of players are still fighting for starting positions. A lot of players are fighting for playing time, the opportunity to get on the 70‑man travel roster.
So, you know, you could see it in our off‑season conditioning, you could see it in spring ball. From what I understand, the summer workouts have gone tremendously well, talking to Murray and some of the other leaders of our football team.
I know rolling into two‑a‑days, there's still a lot of questions that have to be answered. But I think we have the ingredients to answer those questions, it's just a matter of how it's going to fall into place for us.
Very excited that we've kept the great majority of our coaching staff from a year ago. Rodney Garner moved on and did a tremendous job for us at Georgia. Added Chris Wilson to our staff. Couldn't be happier than to have a guy like Chris with us.
But the good news is both coordinators returned. When you have that happen, it helps your continuity as a football team, it helps your players understand their role, it helps them understand what the coach expects.
You don't have to spend a whole lot of time trying to indoctrinate coaches to the Georgia way. Everybody understands the Georgia way. We'll reiterate it and we'll refine it as we go, but it's nice to have everybody back for the most part.
We're anxious to get it started. I know Murray is excited about getting it started. On the flight down here, he was saying how he can't wait till camp starts because he won't have to coach anymore. He's been coaching all summer. He says it takes a lot of energy to coach and practice. He's done a super job of organizing our off‑season workouts in the summer, him along with some of the other senior leaders on this football team. Artie Lynch, Garrison Smith, as well, with Aaron. We've got some great leaders, not just these three.
I'm just proud of 'em and looking forward to this season.
With that, I'll open it up and see what you guys want to hear.
KEVIN TRAINOR: We'll open it up for questions for Coach Richt.
Q. Could you talk about the challenge of opening with Clemson.
COACH RICHT: Well, definitely a big challenge. My guess is that we'll both be top‑10 teams or near the top‑10 mark in the pre‑season rankings.
Obviously they've had tremendous success recently, especially. Last year they had a big year, finishing with a bowl victory versus LSU. I know it was a big game for their program.
So their offensive team is one of the best in America. Tajh Boyd obviously is one of the best quarterbacks in the country. Playing at their place is going to be tough. I was 15 years at Florida State, got a chance to play there quite a bit. They have an outstanding atmosphere.
The fact that it's going to be a night game, the fact it's going to be the first game, the fact that the majority of the country is going to watch that thing, it's big for both teams.
Q. You mentioned continuity on the coaching staff. Can you tell what Will Friend has brought and what he's brought into that role?
COACH RICHT: Will Friend is our offensive line coach. He was a graduate assistant coach early on at my time at Georgia. Then he went on to become his own man, so to speak. He started coaching the position on his own. The last job he was at was at UAB with Coach Callaway.
I just loved what I saw as far as when he was at Georgia before. I knew he was just your typical line coach that just loves his players and doesn't really want a whole lot of other things to deal with than those five guys.
He's very good at understanding how crucial the running game is along with the passing game. There's some coaches, offensive line coaches, they think the only way is to hammer people physically by running the football. Some of them aren't as excited about doing the pass protection stuff or don't understand it nearly as well as Will does.
He understands that it takes a lot of different ways to move the ball. He has no problem with going up‑tempo. Will has been great. Good recruiter. Great family man. We're just thankful we have him.
Q. I heard you talking about how close you guys were. When you're evaluating your team, how much have you looked back at that Alabama tape?
COACH RICHT: What I like to do is, once the game is over, I'm going to watch the tape, then I have to move on to the next thing, which was getting ready for bowl practice, recruiting, all those types of things. I didn't have a whole lot of time to emotionally get through that game I guess, so to speak. I kind of stuff it and move on to the next one.
Once the signing date is over, I like to watch TV copy of every game. You watch coach's copy, you get one feel for it. You get certain details you can't get on TV. When you watch TV copy, you'll get some details and feel the emotion maybe a little bit differently than you do when you're living it out as you're focused on the game. I try to keep a lot of the emotion out of it.
I've watched all the games on TV. It's amazing how you watch it almost as a fan and you get a chance to kind of get into it and really feel how the game is unfolding.
I think it's healthy to watch all those games. It was certainly a gut‑wrenching thing to see again the way it finished. But it was also exciting to see a great football game by two tremendous powerhouse football teams.
I thought the players played great. I thought the coaches coached in an outstanding way. I thought our fan bases on both sides were phenomenal in the dome.
Q. You have two backs, Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall. What is the competition like between those two? Do you prefer to have a feature back as opposed to what you have with those two?
COACH RICHT: I think Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, they're poster boys for collegiate athletics. They are tremendously talented guys, obviously. They're handsome kids. They're smart. They have tremendous character and leadership abilities.
As far as their competition, I think both of them want to be what would be considered the lead back. I don't think there's any doubt about that. They also came in knowing who they were. They're very good friends. They wanted to share the load. They wanted to not be in a situation where they had to carry 25 to 30 times a game. I don't think they were interested in that.
As far as I'm concerned, I think you need to have backs that can share the load. If there's a third guy that wants to get in there and get some reps, last year Ken Malcome got a good bit of carries. I think you need to have at least two and sometimes three backs if you're going to run the ball the way we run the ball, if you're going to pass protect the way we pass protect.
Our backs are going to touch the ball about half of the snaps we have offensively. I don't think one man can do it.
Q. We know the schedule is tough every year. Even by Georgia standards, this first month is extraordinary. Three top‑10 teams you might be facing. Are you going to be preparing in fall camp any differently, more urgency to get this thing up to speed because of the brutal first month?
COACH RICHT: I told the team we're in a race, and that is to try to be at mid‑season form by game one. That race started back in January. It was so important we got certain things accomplished in the off‑season, prior to spring ball.
Spring ball, there's so many questions we're trying to answer. Then from spring ball till now, a lot of things have got to get done and done extremely well for us to be ready for that type of a gauntlet of a schedule.
I think we're on track. I've heard nothing but great things about how it's gone in the summer. I was pleased with the progress in the spring. Now we're going to have 29 practice opportunities to be prepared to play those teams.
We know it's coming. We know it's coming. We'll be ready.
Q. Are you considering giving your secretary a week off before the LSU game this season? Just how unique is that going to be?
COACH RICHT: Zach Mettenberger's mother Tammy is one of our secretaries in our program. They're not called secretaries, they're administrative assistants, by the way, just so you know that (smiling).
She's been with us longer than I've been at Georgia. She's a mainstay there. If she wants to take a week off prior to that, we might work that out. We know her, love her, and trust her. But I know she loves her boy, that's for sure.
Q. You obviously have a really great experienced quarterback. There's a lot of those guys in the league this year. Talk about Aaron in particular and what do you think about this group of quarterbacks in the league.
COACH RICHT: Great group of quarterbacks, without question, in this league. A lot of them around the country, maybe a little bit more than usual. Seasoned veterans that have played at a high level, Aaron Murray being one of them. Great player. Had all the experience in the world in the SEC competition, big games throughout his career.
But not to be too redundant, and I've been saying it throughout the day, he's a 365‑day‑a‑year quarterback, meaning every single day he's got a plan to get better personally. He has a plan to try to help his teammates get better, just how he eats, how he trains, how he rests himself. He's a great example for our young guys the way he studies film, the way he gets his teammates in there to get them prepared throughout the summer is huge. Some of the other things he does throughout our community.
I'll bet he does more community service than anybody. Just walking down the street for him, going to the grocery store, whatever, becomes a little bit of a community service project in that people stop him, they want to talk to him, they ask for pictures for their children or for themselves or autographs. He's a very gracious ambassador for Georgia. He's a blessing to us.
Q. Whenever you talk about Aaron, it seems it's really with reverence and heartfelt. Talk about your personal relationship.
COACH RICHT: Aaron, through the recruiting process, I got to know him and his family pretty well. I felt we were really going to have a good shot at him because of the type of person he was, the way we were going to go about our business, the way we have been going about our business at the quarterback position for years. I think that was really attractive to him. I thought he was just going to be a really good fit.
I remember when he made his announcement, in his speech basically at the press conference they had when he announced his decision to go to Georgia, I could see his passion for life and his compassion for people, people in his family, his teammates. He really gets it. He understands that even though he is the leader, he's the one that probably gets the most attention, that he's no more important than any other player on the team.
He was raised well, let me tell you. His family. The program he came out of Tampa Plant, with Coach Weiner there doing a great job of teaching those types of things. Then Coach Bobo carrying the mantle here at Georgia here has been great.
Q. This marks the first time in Aaron Murray's tenure that he'll have a runningback returning that started the year before. How does that improve your confidence in the offense? Do you see the playbook opening up because of that?
COACH RICHT: Just the fact that we're talking about Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall coming back, that gives me a lot of confidence in our offense. Great backs tend to make your blocking look better. Sometimes you don't know if it's the linemen blocking that make the back look good. I think there's a little bit of both going on with us.
Just to know you have a couple horses there that can carry the load, to know how hard they worked this off‑season is tremendous.
For Murray, Murray knows that a great runningback and great running game is his best friend. He's got no problem going to those weapons.
Q. From the head coach standpoint, what are you looking for when you bring in motivational speakers for the team? Is there a fear of maybe too many? How many do you choose from?
COACH RICHT: We do it quite often. I think the ones that are the best for us are the ones that are former Georgia players, either guys talking about experiences in life that hurt them and use those gentlemen as a warning for our guys for certain things that can get them into trouble.
But then there's also an awful lot of guys that have had tremendous success, have been able to talk about how they went through their college experience, how they used Georgia as a platform for them to jump into life and be able to have a high level of success.
I don't know if you can have too many, especially if they're guys that are coming in that are speaking from the heart. There are some tremendous speakers that travel around the country and bring a good message. We do our fair share of that, as well. But sometimes the guys, if they think it's kind of a canned speech, so to speak, even if it's a good one, you tend to lose them at times.
If you bring in former teammates, if you bring in former Bulldogs in general, guys that really have a passion for our program, for these guys in particular, I think it's very effective to do it that way.
Q. Your offense using some element of the hurry‑up. There's been a lot of dramatic opinions about the healthy and safety issues. Have you ever been concerned about the healthy and safety of your players or the opposing players when you go to the hurry‑up?
COACH RICHT: I think that just the part of the hurrying‑up, I don't worry about that as a health issue for our players. First of all, we all play on national TV. Our TV timeouts are I don't know how many minutes, three, four minutes. Seems like there's plenty of time to rest between series.
I think the one thing we need to be careful of is when we are going fast. I'm saying offenses in general, when they're going fast, the officials are trying to spot the ball, I think that official spotting the ball needs to get out of the way far enough so when the ball is snapped, he's in position, for his safety and anybody else's safety who could run into him if the ball is snapped too quickly.
I think it's important if an offensive team is making a substitution and the defensive team is getting their substitution, I think not only do the officials need to let the defenders get on the field, they need to give them a reasonable amount of time to get lined up and get set.
I've seen a lot of balls snapped when the offensive team isn't even quite set. So we feel like we just want to make sure, hey, if you want to go fast, great, we like to go fast at times. There's no doubt about that. I was doing that back at Florida State back in 1993. I understand the need for speed, so to speak. I think just everybody needs to be in place, in a good football position, ready to go, within reason.
If teams are not substituting fast enough because they're not organized, that's their fault. But if you're highly organized, you're running your guys on the field and they're not even set when the ball is snapped, I think that's the thing that might need to slow down just a tad.
Q. With five returning starters on the offensive line this year, how much easier is it coaching a unit that's so cohesive and how much easier does it make it for your running and passing game?
COACH RICHT: It's big. When you get your linemen coming back...
A year ago we lost three linemen to the draft. We had to replace some guys. We really didn't have any idea what kind of a line we were going to have. I thought Coach Friend did a tremendous job of coaching them up, giving them confidence, playing together.
Now that they've all worked together for a year, they're coming back, they certainly should be better. I think they're in better condition. I think they're stronger. I think they know the system better. You hope they'll do better. They should do better.
Your runningbacks are more mature now. Your quarterback certainly is a veteran. I think we still have enough weapons at the wide receiver and tight end position.
Should we have a great season because of those things? We should. But last year's success doesn't guarantee it this year. It's a new day. It's a new year.
Q. I'm sure you've heard what Jadeveon Clowney said about Tajh Boyd and Aaron Murray being scared to play him. Just your reaction to that.
COACH RICHT: I don't know about those guys in particular, but I would think some guys are scared of him. I'd be scared of him if I was in the game, this guy was coming after me.
I think Jadeveon is a great player and a great kid. I got to know him just a little bit traveling with Jarvis Jones last year at some of the big events, awards ceremonies, things of that nature.
I think he's having fun. I'm sure he said it, you know, while he was smiling and grinning. I think we need to let guys have fun once in a while and not make a big deal about it.
Q. Mike Bobo has borne some significant criticism over the years while putting together some really spectacular seasons for you guys. How would you assess his development as a coordinator?
COACH RICHT: Mike Bobo is an outstanding coach. I knew that when I hired him way back when I first came to Georgia 13 years ago. I've just watched him get better and better and better as a quarterback teacher, as an offensive coordinator, as a play caller, as a strategist, as a recruiter.
I always like to say he's old school in a lot of ways. His dad was a high school football coach. He was brought up around it. He understands the toughness it takes to be a coach, to be a player in this league.
But he also has got a tremendous mind for the game. He's an innovator. He's such a good teacher that I just think he's doing great. Glad we got him.
Q. The drug policy within the athletic department at Georgia has drawn a lot of attention the last couple years. Have you ever proposed anything league‑wide?
COACH RICHT: Well, I can't really control that. I think that would have to be handled on the presidential level as far as that's concerned.
Would I like that? I would like that. I think that would be a good thing for the league to be in sync in that regard. I would think it's going to be very difficult to do certainly at the presidential level, they would all have to agree that it should be done, this is what it's going to look like.
But I've got no problem with how we do things at Georgia. I like it, quite frankly, because I care very much about our players and I want them to be safe. That's just the way we do things.
Q. Coach Saban is going to follow you up here. Could you imagine anybody being able to dominate college football in today's game like Alabama seems to be doing right now? Do you think it's harder to win national titles today than it was maybe back in Bear Bryant's day?
COACH RICHT: I don't know about that. Everybody has their issues. Everybody has their competition level across the board. I really wouldn't know what it looked like back then, to be honest, to give you a good answer on that.
But, you know, I guess we've had, what, seven national championships in a row here in our league. I think only two were undefeated seasons. You know, people are getting beat and still winning the national championship. LSU lost twice and won the national championship.
I think everybody is beatable. I think some of it is, quite frankly, the way the BCS is set up. There's some good fortune. If Ohio State wasn't on probation, they might have played last year. If whoever lost at the end, Kansas State lost at the end, whoever, there's just some teams that had to lose to make that opening for us or Alabama at the end of that SEC Championship game.
Sometimes you just hit it right. Tommy Tuberville has a team that goes undefeated, didn't get into the national championship game. I think there's a little bit of fortune that happens the way the BCS has been set up in the past.
In the future, we certainly know there's going to be at least a four‑team playoff to get it started, maybe a little bit better gauge of getting the right people in that game. But not to downplay anything they've done, that Coach Saban has done. They're tremendous coaches, they develop them well, get them ready to play the big games.
KEVIN TRAINOR: Coach Richt, thank you for your time.
COACH RICHT: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports