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October 11, 2005
Georgia football coach Mark Richt and basketball coaches Dennis Felton and Andy Landers met with the media Tuesday to discuss their teams. Listen to what they had to say.
Georgia football coach Mark RichtOn team's hurricane relief efforts:
"Everyone of course was affected by the hurricane at least in knowing that people needed help. We have a player, John DeGenova, who's family is from the New Orleans area and his family had to evacuate during that time, and we were trying to think of ways to help. One of the ways the guys came up with was to give some money, it wasn't a lot but symbolically it meant a lot.
They took five dollars out of the weekend money that they got after one of the games, collected it and wanted to give it to someone who needed help.
Then Kedric Golston said we ought to take the money give it to John, he thought it would mean more to the team to give it to someone they knew. John graciously took it and gave it to his family, so that was a neat thing. Then we wanted to think of how we could help on a larger scale, and Benjamin Boyd, one of our linebackers and special teams guys, came up with the idea of having an auction of items signed by the team. We hope the Georgia fans get excited and bid on those things not only to have those nice pieces of memorabilia but because they know its for the cause of hurricane relief. Its going to benefit the UGA Hurricane Katrina relief fund. On Thursdays we usually have our character education meetings but last week in lieu of that we got together and got all this stuff signed. I really hope the Georgia fans get excited and fired up about supporting this thing."
On the win over Tennessee:
"We're very excited about the win we just had over Tennessee and where we are right now. It certainly energized everybody in the locker room after the game but then after the celebrating is over, we have to get back to the business of trying to win in our league."
On the Vanderbilt game:
"Couple of things on Vanderbilt that I thought were interesting, they've got 20 different players on the team from Georgia, so they're going to be excited about us coming to town for sure. They're the least penalized team in the league and they're opponents are the most penalized, so that's not good for us even though we did a lot better with them last week. They have the most first downs in the league, they're second in the league in third down conversions at 47.2 percent which is unbelievable really, that's fantastic. Time of possession and red zone offense they are No. 3 in the league. They are very good at what they do. They're still very much in the SEC race, they're very much in the race to become bowl eligible which they haven't done in a while, so I know they're excited about that. They've got a heck of a good football team and historically we haven't played very well at Vanderbilt, so hopefully we can turn that around."
On the Vanderbilt offense:
"Of course offensively everything starts with Jay Cutler. I have no bones about saying he was the guy I voted for preseason as the best quarterback in the league and I have no reason to say any differently now. He's got Eric Davis, a fellow senior who's a wide receiver, and he's second in the league in receptions and doing a great job. They have two backs who are outstanding, Jennings and Jackson Garrison, who together average over 100 yards a game, they go by committee too and they do a nice job. They're fullback, Steven Bright, missed some playing time but he's a very versatile guy he'll play a lot of positions, and that allows them to get into some different formations. Their line does a nice job scheme wise, of course Trey Holloway and Stamper started against us last year and our coaches think they do a nice job. Then their tight end Dustin Dunning and all of their receivers, from what our coaches say, is they all catch the ball extremely well, they don't drop many balls, which I'm sure is one reason why they are getting as many third downs as they do."
On the Commodore defense:
"Coach Callaway really thinks their two interior defensive linemen are outstanding but Harrison on the outside is their speed guy, he's the guy that will give us the greatest threat as far as a sack guy. Moses Osemwegie is a great football player, he's fast, he's physical, he's creating turnovers, getting fumble recoveries, he's got some tackles for loss, a sack or two, he's tough on the blitz, he's tough in coverage, he's just a great player, I'm sure he'll be a high draft pick. Ohanaja is a ballplayer too, he'll lay the wood on you."
On the Vanderbilt special teams:
"They're second in the league in punting and their punter is also their kicker and extra point and field goal man. He's a freshman and does it all, and he's doing a fantastic job. Their return guy is also a freshman named Bennett, he's got a lot of courage and he's a threat back there as well."
On the last game Georgia played at Vanderbilt:
"I know the last time we went there it was not a good day. We came into halftime losing 2-0, it was awful. To Vanderbilt's credit they did a great job against us last time we were there, we just hope this time we can be a little better. I know that day we were a bit banged up as well, guys were starting hurt, guys trying to fill in were cramping up and getting knocked around, we were just struggling to find some guys who were healthy and knew what to do. As far as the emotions of this game, I've always talked to the team more about how we practice and prepare, I think that's a lot more important than the emotions. When it comes down to it, its more about the habits you've developed in practice."
On Georgia's offensive line against Tennessee:
"We started out running some plays that were more lateral in nature, still zone plays but from the shotgun, we thought schematically we'd have some success with them but we didn't. They were getting excellent penetration. At halftime, Coach Callaway suggested that we get a hand on the ground and run a little more downhill, not try to stretch is so much, and we started to have some success. We also switched up some protection schemes that will help any offensive line, slide protections, gap protections, not so much man protection. A great job by Max, I think he had the best game of his career considering the production he had and who he played against. He played against a couple of big, strong, NFL-type guys and did a great job."
On the play of Tra Battle:
"Tra's productivity has been outstanding. He's not a devastating tackler, but he is a sure tackler. He's a very smart guy, to be his size you have to be sharp, tough and have a lot of self belief. Doing the little things like stripping the ball out like he did are big, he happened to get matched up with a freshman receiver and got it out of there and who knows what would have happened if he hadn't gotten that done. You can tell by a coach's demeanor as to whether he believes in him or not, and you can tell Coach Martinez has a lot of confidence in Tra. He has a lot of enthusiasm and energy, but he can think straight when he's excited unlike me."
On special teams play:
"There's really two unsung groups, one is all of the guys who block for Thomas Flowers. Everyone knows his name now, but noone knows the blockers.
The other team that noone knows is the scout team. Those guys work extremely hard in practice every single rep. with barely a break. I have a lot of respect for all of our walk-ons and scout team guys.
For Mikey Henderson and Mike Gilliam to pin those balls deep was great. They were at the right place at the right time and made the play. How many times do guys miss a play when it presents itself, they had the opportunity and made the play, and field position played a huge role in that game looking back on it."
On running the ball toward the end of the game:
"A lot of things had happened to that point. Fatigue sets in at that point, I think the score was to the point where it would have been a little bit disheartening to those guys, and as the game wears on we stay more fresh than the defensive players do because we rotate our backs. So all those things help you finish a drive like that. If we had started the game and said we're going to run the ball every play out of those sets, we probably would not have gone down the field and scored like that. We probably ran the ball six out of seven times to start the game and punted twice. You have to throw the ball sometimes, you're just not going to be able to run the ball that well from the get-go."
On Jarvis Jackson:
"It's nice to have Jarvis almost fully healthy again. He got some good experience last year at the Mike linebacker position when Odell wasn't playing early on. That's actually his favorite position, he feels its his most natural position. You wouldn't draw up his body type as a Mike linebacker but he lays the wood as good as anyone and its great that he's got that experience."
On Brandon Miller:
"In the preseason we didn't really expect Brandon to do well, we were hoping he would but didn't expect it. I'm not sure what the injuries or circumstances were but he pretty much had to start at the beginning of the year, and he played very well. Especially in the South Carolina game, I think that gave him the confidence that we almost feel like he's a veteran now." On the O-line winning conference awards:
"That is big, to have Inman, Roland and Jean-Gilles win Offensive Lineman of the Week. Tanner also has a good shot, Nick Jones has a good shot. Hopefully we can run the ball well enough and protect the quarterback well enough that we can get a shot at another one."
On spreading the ball around:
"This is the most we have spread it at Georgia. Back at FSU we were going at such a fast pace we had to sub about every three plays, so we were forced to get a lot of guys involved. This is reminiscent of that, it helps morale, it helps people stay healthy, it shows people that we're a team and not reliant upon one person."
Georgia men's basketball coach Dennis Felton
On the state of the team heading into practice:
"With the influx of freshmen, we're more athletic than we've been. A lot of the same things we do every year seem to come easier because we have athletes they come easier to."
On the team's development:
"We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores, and immaturity comes with that youthfulness. But they're all doing very well. We have half a team returning and half a team that's new, but they're coming together really nicely. The head-to-head competition is like it's never been since I've been here. It's refreshing to have two going head-to-head because they make each other work hard. We have the ability to make plays and complete plays already a little better because we have guys who can play at an SEC level."
On the Southeastern Conference:
"I think the SEC is very unpredictable this year. That's the adjective I would attach to it. It's kind of wide open because of turnover of significant personnel. Kentucky is one of the most loaded teams, Florida is one of the most loaded teams, and Vanderbilt is poised to have a great year. There are a lot of other teams I expect to be good. Our team is as unpredictable as any in the league. We have a long way to go before we get where we want to be, but I'm not going to sell the team short either. I know we'll be improved, but I don't know how much and I'm not willing to put a cap on it."
On Levi Stukes:
"Levi is working harder than ever at (leadership). It's not something that comes naturally to him, but he wants to lead. All of us battle with what's best for the team, what's best for me, what's best for the group. Levi is learning what's appropriate, what things to say and what to accept. He's putting a lot of effort into it."
On Mike Mercer:
"I plan for him to be primarily a point guard. He's going to allow us to do some things because he aggressively attacks every phase of the game. In our defense, we want to not just stop a team but attack a team. He's athletic enough to be a great point man to that attack. He has the ability to be someone's worst nightmare defensively. He's fast and athletic. He'll help us ramp up our aggressiveness on defense. Offensively, he can help us start growing to be the team we want to be, which is up tempo and fast from end to end. He's fast and creative in the open court. He can deliver the ball and create offense for his teammates."
On Kendrick Johnson's injury:
"He had arthroscopic surgery for some chronic, turned, sprained ankle issues, and they found some sort of flaw in the ankle that needed to be addressed surgically. He'll have season-ending surgery sometime soon and it looks like he'll be a medical redshirt. That's a significant turn of events because we were looking forward to counting on him in the front court."
Georgia women's basketball coach Andy Landers
On opening practice:
"If you're a basketball coach, it's an exciting time of year as you approach the first day of practice. Everyone associated with our basketball team is extremely excited to get started."
On Tasha Humphrey:
"I think she will be better. She was out all summer nursing her feet. She played in a lot of pain last year and was a trooper. She didn't wear her discomfort on her sleeve or talk about it in a press conference. At the end of the season, she was borderline crippled. Her treatment this summer seems to have worked. She gets better day by day."
On the freshmen:
"Danielle Taylor is an in-between size. She's versatile. She's worked on the perimeter this fall, but I've been thinking about giving her some time at the '4' position. For a freshman, that's easier to do. Guards at this level get after it pretty good and don't give a rookie much of a chance. I think she'll be a good player. She's versatile, she's got good size and speed, and she's creative and free on the floor. Angel Robinson is a 6-5 talent, very smooth, very athletic. She reminds me in some ways of Christi Thomas: a beautiful shooting touch, range and size. She's got a chance to be a contributor in a big way right away."
On the SEC and the schedule:
"The team competitiveness, the fight for the championship, they just doesn't change very much. There seem to always be three teams in the top 10, and there are years where they're in the top 5. That speaks to the difficulty and competitiveness of the year. I like our conference schedule. What I see in (playing Florida, Tennessee and LSU all twice this year) is a clear opportunity to control in a positive way our destiny in pursuit of winning an SEC championship. It raises the bar and it's a greater challenge, but if you're going to win, you've got to embrace great challenges."
NOTE: Press conference football notes will be released in various stories over the next 24 hours while both men's and women's basketball teams will be covered in a notebook on Thursday morning. UGASports.com's Brad Harrison will begin regular coverage of both basketball teams with weekly notebooks on the men's team and women's notes every other week through their seasons. Select home games will be covered as well.