September 19, 2010

Richt addresses offensive, defensive concerns

Georgia coach Mark Richt admits there are issues his Bulldogs (1-2, 0-2) are still trying to work through heading into this week's game at Mississippi State.

During Saturday's 31-24 loss to Arkansas, those mistakes weren't too difficult to see.

From issues of pass protection on offense to improper alignment and blown coverages on the defensive side, there was plenty for coaches to dissect during Sunday's film session at the Butts-Mehre Building.

Some mistakes stood out and were more obvious than others. But during his weekly teleconference Sunday afternoon, the Bulldog head coach wasn't about to start pointing any fingers, especially in regards to the offensive line.

"The big thing is I'm not going to say anything that's going to sound like dirty laundry," Richt said. "I care very much about their mental well-being through it all but it was definitely a combination of things. There were some O-line issues, there were some running back issues as pass protectors and there were some quarterback issues. It was pretty much spread across the board; there wasn't just one culprit."

Quarterback Aaron Murray bore the brunt of the mistakes that were made.

During Saturday's post-game press conference, Murray wore a large white bandage strapped over his chin, a result of some of the hits he took in the second half of Saturday's game.

"The time where he moved up into the pocket, very positive things happened. If there was negative at all it might have been a very minimum loss. The times that he tried to move up and then back in the pocket - anytime he didn't move forward - he was more apt to get drilled," Richt said of Murray. "He's got to learn to continue to work his way up in the pocket, throw the ball on time, and if it's not there … But he did make a couple of nice plays moving the football by stepping up and running, but you can't ask those guys to block too long by trying to move up, move back, reset and all that. He's still learning."

Murray completed 15-of-27 passes for 253 yards and one touchdown. He also accounted for the Bulldogs' first touchdown on a 1-yard run.

"I don't think anybody can question his toughness. I don't think anybody can question his competitive nature, question his arm strength, his devotion to the team or his work ethic," Richt said. "There's so many positive attributes that are coming more to life even to us as a staff. As he continues to experience these things he's only going to get better."

Richt was also asked about Georgia's situation at tight end.

Saturday, Aron White had the only catch by a tight end all game, one of just five for the position all year.

"We did call plays that sometimes will go to Aron as the first receiver, or Orson (Charles), our tight end position, basically," Richt said. "We called plenty of those plays but here's different ways a ball might not go there. A lot of times, the coverages might dictate it; a protection breakdown might dictate that. I don't think it was a case of us not trying to get the ball to the tight ends. It just didn't get to them for those reasons."

In regards to offensive coordinator Mike Bobo[.db], Richt said nothing has changed. Bobo is still calling Georgia's offensive plays.

"There's a time or two where I might make a suggestion but there's a lot of times, going for it on fourth down, those are the calls that I've got to make," said Richt, who does help plan the offensive game plan. "Mike might say you want this one or that one every once in a while, but for the most part he's calling that thing. My part again is to let him know on third-and-1 you've got two downs to make one or look if you don't get it we're punting or going for a field goal, whatever it might be."

Defensively, Richt echoed Saturday's thoughts by defensive coordinator [db]Todd Grantham regarding the inconsistencies and breakdowns that plagued the team against the Razorbacks allowing some easy scores.

Yes, there were alignment issues when players were not in the correct position to make plays. But according to Richt, that's all part of learning a new system like the 3-4.

"I won't name names, but one of the coaches mentioned to me he's a senior, he should know better but I said these guys are freshmen, all of them are learning it brand new," Richt said. "They're all kind of young in the system. They're growing and they're experiencing things kind of like Murray is going through his thing. That's one of the main reasons that we're going to really improve as we go and we are improving. I feel very good about that part of it."

NOTES: Richt said he wasn't sure whether or not tackle Trinton Sturdivant was actually leg-whipped in the second half Saturday, but is cautiously optimistic that the junior who is attempting to come back from two torn ACLs did not suffer a relapse. … Other than backup offensive lineman Chris Burnette (knee), Richt said he anticipates the rest of Georgia's players who missed Saturday's game with Arkansas to be ready to Mississippi State. That list includes linebacker Marcus Dowtin, running back Caleb King and nose Justin Anderson.

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