UGA’s Mark Richt: ‘We always expect to win the East’

THE REST OF THE STORY …

ATHENS — In this day and age, it’s never too early to start talking about expectations. So never-minding that Georgia only minutes earlier wrapped up spring football practice Thursday night, I asked coach Mark Richt whether he thought the Bulldogs can win the SEC’s Eastern Division in 2015.

“Well, we’re always expecting to win the East,” Richt said, chuckling at having to answer such a question in April. “That’ll be our goal. I don’t know what to compare it to. There are some days you walk out there and say, ‘I’m not sure who we’re going to be able to beat.’ But sometimes it just depends on what side of the ball you’re watching the ball — what vantage point. Usually if the offense is having a rough day, the defense looks good and vice versa, but we’ve got a long way to do. That’s what I told them. We got better, but we’ve got a really long way to go in my opinion. We got a long way to go.”

Richt was in a lighthearted mood after the Bulldogs concluded the last of their 15 spring practices.  Being the last coach-led practice for more than 100 days, Richt patiently answered reporters’ questions for 20 minutes and occasionally went into extensive detail.

I hit on the quarterback and center competitions and a few other things in the practice report I filed last night. Following are some more newsworthy excerpts from Thursday’s session:

On progress of offense under new coordinator Brian Schottenheimer …

“There’s a lot of moving parts right now, no doubt. I think once we hone it in to getting one unit ready to play, I think it’ll all come together better. A lot of learning going on. Three units going. Not sure who the starting quarterback is and rotating guys around, it’s hard to imagine having a ton of continuity right this second. But as we get closer to it, we’ll hone things down as far as game plan. We’ll hone things down as far as who is getting reps, who we’re going to count on. It’ll come together.”

On what criteria might decide QB race …

“It’s going to be mostly what we see in practice and meetings. I mean, you learn a lot in meetings, too, now. You’re asking questions and you find out what guys know and how fast they can give it to you and how well they can give it to you while you’re watching film. ‘What’d you see, why’d you do it?’

“The scrimmages will be big. We’ll have two scrimmages. We usually have three prior to the first game but that third scrimmage is usually like a practice game. I’m hoping by then we’ll at least say who’s starting the first game. We’ll just have to see.”

On how important it is for UGA QBs to throw the ball down field …

“Very important. We’ve got guys who can run, really. Malcolm (Mitchell) is fast. Reggie (Davis) is fast. Isaiah (McKenzie) is fast. Justin Scott-Wesley can really run. We’ll see how these other kids run who come in. We’ve got guys who have enough speed. All three (quarterbacks) have the arm to throw it deep. There’s no doubt in my mind on that. I think we miss too many balls by throwing it too far, actually — just all Spring long. You didn’t have to tell (Aaron) Murray to back-shoulder a guy. Murray was going to keep it in play and put it where we could get it. Very few times did Murray lay it out and have them go get it. It would have to be very evident that our guy got ahead and really stacked the guy for him to lay it out. If it was two guys side-by-side, he was going to rip it on the backside of that guy and complete it. He completed a bunch of balls because he kept them in play. We’ve got young guys who want to throw that perfect, long bomb but when you throw it too flat and too far, you’ll never complete a ball that’s thrown too far. You’ve got to throw the ball, usually, a little shorter but outside. You’ll complete more balls that are short and outside than balls that are too far down the field.”

On center/quarterback exchange issues throughout the spring …

“Those guys will work all summer long. They’ll have a lot of 7-on-7 reps with each other. That’s one thing you can perfect, in my opinion, in an offseason. They should be able to get that done.”

On whether the ability to play guard will affect the center competition …

“Not really. We’ve got to find the best center. I think (Brandon) Kublanow could play guard, I think Isaiah (Wynn) could play guard. I’m not worried about their ability to play guard. I’m worried about who should really be the guy at center. It’s just not settled yet.”

On issues at center with Kublanow being left-handed …

“It really shouldn’t matter. I don’t think it is a factor. I think the lack of reps is the factor. We got through the scrimmage really pretty good. This wasn’t a reaction to what happened in the scrimmage. It was really about this being the last chance to coach one-on-one until the fall, really. So I just wanted to have a good session with him and Brice (Ramsey).”

On standouts among early enrollees ...

“It’s hard to say but Natrez Patrick, he looks like he found a home, anyway, there (at inside linebacker). I’m not saying he’s going to start or anything like that. I think he’s got a good body type and a good disposition to play that middle linebacker position. I think that was a good move for us. The young (defensive backs), (Jarvis) Wilson and Johnathan (Abram), have been hot and cold and making some plays. (Tight end) Jackson Harris, I think is a guy who has got the skill set to do well and he’s learning pretty quick. I think he had a real solid deal. (Defensive lineman Jonathan) Ledbetter is learning a lot. (Linebackers) Chuks (Amaechi) and (Jake) Ganus, those guys are going to help us win. … I think they all got a lot of solid work in.”

On McKenzie’s hamstring injury …

“Just a typical hamstring. Gotta rehab and not get back too fast. Now is probably the best time of the year to deal with a hamstring, because even the offseason doesn’t kick into gear in the full phase until early June. They’ll be doing some things between now and then. But it won’t be quite like it will be in June. He should be perfectly fine by June.”

On whether OLBs Leonard Floyd and Davin Bellamy (shoulder surgeries) will 100 percent by fall camp?

“Oh yeah. Definitely by the start of fall camp. We’re  hoping they can do most everything by June, have  two good months. That’s part of the reason we had Leonard have the surgery prior to  the bowl game, to try to get him on track for the season. Give him time. Not only get the OK to go full speed but have a couple months of going strong.”

On whether there are concerns about Collin Barber’s punting …

“Yes. He’s just not been very consistent. And he needs to have a good offseason as well. When he does it right it’s as good as anybody. But we need eight or nine out of 10 of those, instead of four, five out of 10 of those.”

On why they hold two practices after G-Day …

 

 

 

 

 

 


View Comments 0