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November 20, 2012

Richt presser transcript

The following is the transcript from Georgia head coach Mark Richt's weekly press conference with reporters previewing Saturday's game against Georgia Tech (Noon, ESPN).

Opening Statement

"We are playing Georgia Tech this week, and we're excited about that. Of course we all found out that they are the winners of the ACC Coastal Division, and they'll represent the Coastal Division in the ACC Championship Game. I know they are excited about that."

"It's a very challenging week of preparation for us. It will be a highly emotional game for a lot of reasons. No. 1, it's our in-state rival. No. 2, it's the last home game for our seniors, a big day for our boys. On that note, it we can get the Bulldog nation out there a little bit earlier, our Dawg Walk is going to be a little earlier at 10:15. That's about 15 minutes earlier than we normally have it because of some of the senior festivities. I'm hoping that everybody can be in the stands in time to honor those guys. I think it's going to be at 11:46. We're hoping to send our seniors off with a great moment there before the game and hopefully they'll play great during the game. It's an early morning for everybody, and I'm hoping the Bulldog nation shows up early and supports us like always. Hopefully we can be in the stands by the time the seniors get introduced."

On Georgia's senior class

"We have won a lot of games, and I'm very impressed with this senior bunch. They really wanted to take some ownership of this team. Once they all decided to stick around, just the fact that everybody on defense especially checked out the NFL and where they might be drafted, once they all decided to stay I think it created energy immediately for those guys and for the team and the coaching staff too. I'm sure the Bulldog nation was fired up when they heard most everybody was coming back other than Orson (Charles). Because they decided to stay, they wanted it to be a special season. They didn't just want it to be another year where we came up short, so I saw a sense of urgency in the offseason. I saw a very organized summer. (Aaron Murray) rallied a bunch of the leaders and asked them to divide the team into subgroups and had a high accountability with those groups to work out and in running, lifting, throwing and all the things you do in the summer. They've done a really good job. We didn't start out playing as great as we would hope to, especially on the defensive side of the ball, but we got that thing turned around with Shawn's (Williams) leadership. I think that was the catalyst for our defense to pick it up, and we've been playing pretty well ever since. There's been a lot of player-driven stuff that we always talked about. I saw a lot more of it than we talked about it this year."

On the possibility of Georgia's juniors leaving for the NFL

"I don't know. It's really not the appropriate time to talk about that, but it won't be long before everybody will be talking about it. I think everybody is just trying to focus hard on what is happening this week."

On Christian Robinson

"I think he's had a pretty good season. When (Alec Ogletree) was out for a while, the roles were different for Amarlo (Herrera) and (Michael) Gilliard and Christian (Robinson), and when (Ogletree) came back it changed the dynamic of that linebacker group. I think he's led all the way through. He's had a tremendously positive attitude. When he's getting his opportunities to play, he's played well. He's been playing more nickel stuff. Like you said this last game he was a starter and played a lot and played well. He made a bunch of tackles. He's just very good at identifying things and trying to communicate it with his teammates. He's always there with a smile on his face and ready to go to work. He's just a great guy."

"Is he overachieving? I think the fact that he's very intelligent and very diligent, it helps him function out there, there is no doubt about it, but he's a good athlete. He's a good football player. A lot of people wanted him out of high school just like we did. He's a good athlete."

On how Georgia will handle the triple option against Georgia Tech

"I don't know. We'll find out how well we handle it against Georgia Tech. They are averaging 47 points over the last three or four games. They are just so explosive that I just don't how we are going to handle it. We are going to have to find out."

On Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson's ability to coach the triple-option offense

"There aren't a lot of people doing it, but he knows it so well that obviously he doesn't need a call sheet. It's in his brain, and he's seen just about everything under the sun, as far as people trying to defend it. When he sees something, he knows where to go next, and that's the beauty of the system that they have. You know what to do to counteract what a defense is trying to do to stop something or slow it down. I don't know if that many people have as good a grasp on their offensive system. There's a lot of coaches that if the defense brings a little bit of a different scheme to a game, it might take until halftime to start making adjustments and it might take until the next day Sunday to watch what happened and figure out what went wrong. Whereas, I think within a matter of plays, he's making adjustments. He might see one play and one thing they're doing and he'll know immediately what he's going to go to then. He doesn't have to go back and review what he thinks he ought to go to next."

On the play of Branden Smith this season

"Branden's been great. He's one of those seniors that you just love and appreciate. He has been effective for us offensively, defensively and with some special teams stuff. I see tremendous improvement in him in two areas. One is his intensity on a daily basis in practice. I think he's become much more physical in his defending of the pass and his defending of the run. Sometimes a guy is a field corner because you don't want him to be at the point of attack a lot in the run game. You don't want him to be the guy that has to support the run a lot, but he's become a very physical guy in that way, and he plays the screens much better. He plays the plays they get outside the field and the run game out there. He's just tenacious as a defender. I'm just seeing big improvements over his career, and he's become a really fine player."

On the importance of the Georgia Tech rivalry

"We always talk about it. There's enough to talk about in this rivalry. Coach T (Joe Tereshinski) is passionate about this game, so he wants to put his two cents in, which is great. I want them to hear it. Because we don't have any time constraints this week, we have a little bit more time to talk about those things on a daily basis, so we're not as rushed for time with the fact that there's no class and there's no restriction on the 20-hour rule."

On the importance of the continuity of the coaching staff this year

"I think it's great to have coaching continuity when you have the right coaches, and I think we do. I'm very impressed with our coaches. They're highly competent. They're highly competitive. They just know what they're doing. They're good motivators, and they're good evaluators of talent and also of what needs to be done and how it needs to get done. I love what we're doing with the strength staff. I love the support staff and all the people that support us in that area. It's the most complete staff, as far as just everybody understanding their job and everybody doing it. That helps with the continuity. We have what we call our hideaway before every year, and when you have new coaches or new staff, there's a learning curve there. Sometimes you have to take a lot more time to explain the Georgia way, and this year we got it done in the shortest amount of time since I've probably been around here because everybody pretty much knows what to do. They're doing a good job of it."

On maintaining focus on a week-to-week basis without looking ahead

"We're just focusing on today really, and then we'll focus on tomorrow. It's one day at a time."

On people asking him about the BCS

"The staff's not asking me. I get here at eight and leave about midnight, so there's not many people I talk to outside the building. So, we really haven't talked about it."

On keeping players focused as postseason draws near

"We meet every day and we talk just like we do every week. We talk about who we're playing next, what kind of challenges they bring, and what we have to do on a daily basis to get ready for it. That's really all we do."

On the energy level that will be present against Georgia Tech

"Energy level is huge, obviously. If you have energy and no discipline, or if you have energy and no plan, it's not going to be good. So you want to have good fundamentals and a good plan and then add energy to it. That's kind of how it goes. I don't know why sometimes there's more energy in one given day. Sometimes I think momentum plays a bigger part than a lot of people think, on some days. There are some days people get momentum and you just can't get it going for some reason. Sometimes people grab momentum, a big play happens, and then all of a sudden you start feeling good and it creates a little doubt for them. You'd like to think every single game that you're bulletproof, but you're not. How many teams are undefeated right now? Just two."

On historically playing well against Georgia Tech

"I think the guys understand how important this game is, and they want to win it. They want to win all of them, but I think this game takes on a little bit more special meaning for them."

On the importance of this game for in-state recruiting purposes

"I think it's very important. The more you win overall, the better it is for your recruiting. I don't think there's any doubt about that. I don't think any one game makes a huge difference to the masses. There may be a kid or two that might decide on one or the other because of the result of a game, but that probably doesn't happen very often. What I do think is that a lot of times when, let's say, a kid is interested in both schools and then they play each other, I think what happens a lot of times is that their heart kind of tells them which team they like the best. They're watching the game and they'll find themselves wanting this team to win over the other team, so I think at times it can define for a kid where his heart is, regardless of who wins the game. He may be happy his team won or sad his team lost, but he might know who his team is when it's over. He may not have known that going in. All the years that I've coached, when I was at Florida State, it was Florida and Florida State. It was a huge game, and there were a lot of guys on the bubble. You could see in some of their eyes after the game if they were happy or sad. If we won the game, you'd see some guys happy and then you'd see some guys that didn't look too happy, and you're thinking that guy's going to Florida. So, I think there's some of that that happens in these types of games."

On offensive line coach Will Friend's impact this season

"Coach Friend has really been a blessing. He came in and first of all works very well with Coach Bobo and the rest of the offensive staff. He understands team when it comes to the staff and the players. He's just a very good technician, and he knows what he's talking about. He's a good communicator. He's good at figuring out these guys and what works with them and what doesn't work with them, as far as motivation. Again, what we looked like in the spring compared to what we look like now, it's night and day. He's done a great job. It helps them - the veteran quarterback and some backs and the receivers that can make plays. All of that helps, but if you can't give the quarterback time and the backs a little room to run, it's not going to be a good year."

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