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November 5, 2013
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Below is the transcript from Mark Richt's weekly press conference previewing Saturday's game with Appalachian State.
On Aaron Murray being able to stay healthy during his career
"We're thankful that Aaron's been able to stay healthy throughout his career, and we want to keep it that way if at all possible. There have been a lot of quarterbacks injured this year, and in particular in the league. The SEC East has been hit pretty hard. Like a lot of guys, Murray works hard. A quarterback like Murray knows that he's in the weight room for protection purposes as much as he is for running the ball and pounding people at the end of the run or that type of thing. He works on flexibility and strength and all of that type of thing because he wants to be as quick and as athletic as possible, but he wants to be able to handle the fact that he's going to get hit from time to time. Hopefully he will stay healthy. He's taken some big licks. There's been some times where he's pulled the ball in a zone read and gotten hit pretty good, especially early on. His first year, he relied a lot more on his feet and took some pretty good shots that year, but I don't want to talk too much about it."
On the hardest hit he's ever seen Murray take
"I don't remember the game, but I think it might have been his first year. One time he was down in the red zone area and he pulled the ball on a zone read and someone just laid it on him pretty good. That's the one that I remember most, but he could probably tell you better."
On Ramik Wilson's progressions throughout his career
"Ramik's had his chance to shine, and sometimes it's not bad for it not to happen right away. Sometimes it's hard to be a star as a freshman. Sometimes you just have to mature a little bit and grow a little bit and grow within the system and find your niche. We weren't really sure where Ramik would be best suited for us. He started out as an outside linebacker. He played inside in high school, but at the time, we didn't need his help there. We didn't need his depth, but we wanted to get him going. He's played well on special teams over his career, and now he's doing a really good job of playing that inside linebacker position, along with Amarlo (Herrera). Amarlo is just a couple of tackles behind him, and he's having a pretty good year, as well."
On Ramik Wilson leading the SEC with an average of 10.0 tackles per game
"He's a very talented guy, he knows what he's doing and he plays hard. A lot of his tackles are effort tackles, and a lot of them are in the box. The ones in the box are usually designed for those guys to make those hits. You want your down-linemen to keep linemen from climbing to that linebacker position by being stout inside. So by scheme, we want those linebackers to make those hits in the box, but he makes a lot of tackles because he's pursuing from sideline to sideline. He has a couple sacks here and there and a couple tackles for loss - a little bit of everything."
On Todd Gurley's status for this game
"If he's healthy enough to play, he will, and we expect him to be healthy. We still have to practice a couple of days, but it's a game. Whoever our starters are, we're going to play them. I think you get your conditioning in practice, mostly. We're going to play him according to what is best for the team at that time."
On Corey Campbell
"Corey has been a great Georgia Bulldog for us. He started out as a linebacker and then moved to a fullback. He's just trying to find a way to help Georgia wins. Whatever it takes, he's been that guy. He's been a great special teamer for us. He was named special teams captain (for this week) because the coaching staff collectively felt like he was the guy that deserved it. I'm just proud of his effort. He's a good student, good person and good player. It's what you hope for."
On the difficulties of motivating a team if there was not a chance to play for a championship or a bowl game in the post-season
"I imagine it would be tough. It's probably tougher if you're allowed to compete for it and you get to the point in the season where you have no chance. If we were out of the Eastern Division race right now, it makes it much more difficult to motivate, I think. But if you go into the year and you know from the get-go, I imagine it would be managed in a little bit different way. Everybody knows on the front end that's the deal, so they have a little bit better shot of understanding that rather than thinking that this is what is going to happen and then get to midseason and realize that you're out of it. I think it would be a little tougher that way."
On the strong defensive play of safety Corey Moore over the past two games
"Corey, obviously, made that big sack (against Florida), and it was probably the biggest defensive play of the game. At the time that it happened, it was a big deal. I tell the guys that normally the biggest plays aren't usually something spectacular. You basically do something that's relatively normal, but you do it at an extraordinary time. That's kind of what happened. He hit it right, and obviously no one blocked him. He came to the line of scrimmage and just ran him down and tackled him. If you show that blitz too soon and people see it, they change the play, they change the protection, they change the plan and they call timeout or whatever it might be. He did a very good job of being disciplined and waiting for the indicator that the lineman used to say that they were fixing to snap that ball, and he came at that point, and it was too late (for Florida) to change anything. He was disciplined to do it properly and the result was a big sack. I'm really happy for him. He's been playing well. He's been playing a lot of special teams too, and I think there's been some great games on specials and some that haven't been so great, but we need him to play well on special teams, as well."
On the close competition at the cornerback position
"I think it has been a very close competition at corner. When you go through a year like this, whether it's injury or suspension, a bunch of guys get a chance to play and they're still young, so it builds a lot of depth. It's a lot of depth for the future. It has been close competition, and guys have been getting some opportunities and taking advantage of it."
On Sheldon Dawson
"Sheldon's strength, in my opinion, is his ability to cover in man-to-man type coverage. He does a great job there. When he's playing off, he still has some improvement to do in that area, but he's very physical. He's never been afraid to make a tackle or support the run or take on a block and do it the right way. He's also caught my eye as a kick return man, and I think he's really made a good move there. I've got a lot of confidence in him, and he'll probably be the first guy to return a kick for us in this game. I think he's catching a little momentum. You talk about teams having momentum, and sometimes players gain a little momentum and he's one of those players right now."
On defensive improvements over the past few games
"I think our defense is really playing better, and I think earlier in the season there were still some things that we were doing very well, like I said before. It became a broken record, but to get as many third-and-mediums and third-and-longs as we were getting, you're doing some pretty good things on first and second down. One was that we were handling the run game pretty good. The goal, obviously, is to get them off the field and force kicks and things of that nature. We've done a better job of that the last few weeks, and I think that's why it's all starting to come together. Hopefully we can continue that momentum."
On Marshall Morgan's improvements as a kicker from last year to this year
"I just think that the first time you do it, you go from kicking in a high school stadium with 500 people or maybe 5,000 people. You're kicking off a tee and the rush isn't the same, and then you go into these stadiums where there's 80, 90 or 100,000 people inside and there are people watching on TV. Every single game, you know that every kick you make is probably going to make a difference in winning or losing, or even every extra point. That's kind of hard to adjust to when you're not used to that, and it's probably a little bit of a shock to them. After the ability to live through it for a little while and work on some things in the offseason, he's done a good job. I'm happy for him. I will say that all of the signs we're seeing now, I saw in the spring. He was really kicking well in the spring, and camp was tremendous. We knew he couldn't play the first two games, and it was hard to watch him kick so great. Of course, (Patrick) Beless came in and made every kick, so that was wonderful, as well. He's done a good job."
On the challenges that are presented with each season
"They can be tough for a lot of different reasons. They're tough just by virtue of the hours or preparation that it takes on a weekly basis and a daily basis. It takes a toll on your body with the amount of hours that you put in. Certainly if you're winning every game or most of your games, it's easier and it seems like your load is lighter, but it can still wear you out. The season can wear you out physically. When you add all the drama and injuries and whatever else you have to deal with, it can wear you out. Every season wears me out."
On his most challenging season while at Georgia
"The year we go 6-7 was a big challenge, obviously, and the offseason and the beginning of the next year when we go 0-2 to start. That was probably one that was tough, but I think we did a good job of handling it. I think we kept the faith and believed and did the right things. We came through it pretty good."