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Richt on elusive SEC title: ‘We need to win one’ (w/ videos)

Mark Richt showed up at his 15th SEC Media Days with less hair than ever. He shaved it off three weeks ago. (USA Today)

Mark Richt showed up at his 15th SEC Media Days with less hair than ever. He shaved it off three weeks ago. (USA Today)

HOOVER, Ala. — Seeing Mark Richt as he made his 15th consecutive appearance at SEC Football Media Days on Thursday – most ever, we’re told — makes an observer want to call him “Colonel.” And that’s to say nothing of his seniority.

In this year’s case, it would be a reference to his new hairstyle, which was military grade “high and tight.”

“It was my wife’s idea,” the ever-balding 55-year-old said before his appearance before the media throng in the main ballroom at The Wynfrey Thursday. “She said, ‘why don’t you just shave that thing?’ This is actually three weeks growth.”

In addition to being closely coiffed, Richt appeared very relaxed and confident during the Bulldogs’ four-hour visit to this annual talk fest in suburban Birmingham. Following are his thoughts on several subjects he was asked about:

On state of the team heading into preseason camp (Aug. 2) …

“Health-wise we’re in good shape. I can’t think of a guy right now who will come into camp not being able to participate. … Justin (Scott-Wesley) will be able to go. There may be a guy or two we may have to monitor like him. But I think he’ll be fine.”

On Malcolm Mitchell and his blossoming writing career …

“I’m proud of that guy. As a father you want your children to grow. You want them to chase their dreams, but you also want them to be a well-rounded human being. That’s very important, too, especially in the sports culture. Players become what they do, maybe in moreso than we as citizens, regular people. When that thing ends, then what happens? That’s a big part of the experience for us at Georgia as a program. We want our guys to be the greatest football players they can be. We want them to play in the NFL. We’re one of the top schools in America for producing guys in the league. So guys do realize their dreams at Georgia. But we also want them to be able to handle life well and be able to function well as a husband and a father and a citizen in our community. We’ve seen the growth in that young man from his freshman year to going out the door here in a minute, it’s rewarding to see that happen.

On his early impressions of quarterback transfer Greyson Lambert …

“I’ve seen him here and there. Not a whole lot. He is a very mature guy. Graduated in three years or whatever it was. He’s already been a starter, he’s already been hit in the mouth and gotten back up, he’s been through a lot of things that sometimes you wonder how a guy will react to. I think he’s a mature guy who will come in and compete well for us.”

On the quarterback competition …

“Like I’ve been trying to say, it’s a wide-open competition. We’ll get into camp and start practicing and find out who’s going to be the guy.”

On 10 years without an SEC championship at Georgia  …

“Oh, yeah, we need to (win one). But that’s our goal every year. It’s a great league and we’ve been in Atlanta a few times. It’s been a long time since we won it last; we haven’t been able to win that game. But we’ll keep banging away and we’ll get there.”

On outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins deciding to come back …

“He’s a very talented guy, but I think he knew that he could improve and I think he knew that he was getting coached well and wanted to be as ready as possible when that day came. He knew the NFL wasn’t going anywhere and he was very serious about being a graduate before he left. His education is very important to him.”

On Brandon Kublanow moving to center from guard …

“He’s played for us a bunch and you want some maturity at that position, some experience, playing time. And his body type works there. Guards and centers are very similar in stature and skill sets. So it makes good sense. We’re not sure that’s how it’s going to end up but that’s how we’re going to start.”

On rich contracts for SEC coaches …

“I don’t know how everybody else feels but what I do is just focus on our program, focus on our team, focus trying to win, trying to build young men in the right way, educate. I try to bless these guys on the field and off. I don’t focus on anything else.”

On offensive changes under new coordinator Brian Schottenheimer …

“I think it will be tough for the fan to really see a lot of difference. There’s no doubt we’re going to be serious about running the football. We’re going to be serious about throwing the ball, too. But the types of sets and personnel groupings will be very similar to what we’ve done in the past. The plays themselves are very much the same. There’s a few things, obviously, that Schotty believes in, route concepts and game concepts, things like that. But when you put it all on the field I think we’ll look very similar in style.”

On where Leonard Floyd will play most on defense …

“You see him at two spots on the depth chart (inside and outside linebacker) for a reason. He could play inside, he could play outside, he’s played in nickel and out in space a little. He’s just a guy that can run and have the length that he has and still have the physical nature to play in the box, there’s just not many guys like that.”

Impressions of summer workouts …

“I think the biggest thing is the players feel like they’re really in tremendous shape. They feel like a lot of the drill-work that we do simulates football maybe moreso than before. And everybody’s out there busting their tail. Our guys went 6 a.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday on team runs all summer long. And then they did three days of lifting and a couple days a week of meeting. They did their 7-on-7 on their own. So the work ethic, the effort, the organization of how they took care of business when there were no coaches on the field was very impressive from what I understand.”

On offensive tackle John Theus …

“I think he’s had a great career. He’s excited about finishing strong. He’s excited about being a leader for this team and he wants to have success as a team. These guys want to play in the NFL; that’s their goal, that’s their dream. But they do enjoy the college experience, they do enjoy their teammates, they enjoy playing in the types of venues we play in. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these guys and a lot of people never get that opportunity. I don’t think they take it for granted.”

On longevity and how long he might coach at Georgia …

“I’m going to do it as long as the Lord says to do it.”

On disciplinary philosophies …

“There’s no book that says these are all the things a guy can do and this is what you can do about it. There are some policies we have in place that are cut-and-dry. We have a drug-testing policy and other things like that. But some of it is just the judgment of myself and the other coaches. If a guy makes a mistake, there are different levels of discipline. All of our discipline involves some kind of punitive action to hopefully sting them enough where they don’t want to do it anymore and anybody watching won’t want to do it either. There will also be some education to explain to them and counsel them about things that can happen. And then we hug their neck and say, ‘OK, let’s go back and do things right.’ But there are times it comes to the point, if somebody is a danger to the team or to the campus or has done something where maybe he doesn’t to stay at Georgia anymore. Maybe he can have an opportunity at another place, a clean start. But it’s just a judgment call you have to take.”

On tailback Nick Chubb …

“I love watching Nick. I love watching Keith (Marshall) and Sony (Michel) and Brendan (Douglas) and A.J. (Turman) is going to get his chance. He has come back well from an injury and had a good spring. But, yeah, Nick obviously is a proven back not only in our league but the way people view him around the country. The thing I like about him is his demeanor. He is a very quiet, unassuming guy, a team guy, a hard worker, a very good student. He’s just a great representative of our program and a good teammate and he has become a very good leader as well.”






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