Georgia coach Mark Richt met with local media in Athens today to talk about the Bulldogs’ preparations for Tennessee.
Georgia football coach Mark Richt
The fifth-ranked Bulldogs (4-0, 2-0 SEC) will host the Volunteers (3-1, 0-1) on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Sanford Stadium. The game will be broadcast nationally on CBS.
Some of Richt’s comments about UT are listed below.
General comments on Tennessee...
“It sounds kind of weird to say Coach Dooley with any other team but Georgia, but Derek of course, the head coach at Tennessee, is getting them going. They’re 3-1 right now playing extremely good football, and especially offensively they are. I know the first four games that they’ve accumulated more yards than any team in the history of Tennessee football in a four-game span. They’re also number one in the league in passing and first downs, they’re scoring 38 points per game, and they’re over 500 yards per game so far (on average). They’re doing an outstanding job. Quarterback Tyler Bray is a very talented passer, and one of the most talented passers that I’ve seen in awhile throwing the football. They have some tremendously skilled receivers. They’ve got a vertical passing game that I know I envy. We like to throw it down the field, but they can really lay it out there good.
“Tennessee coming into Athens historically has done very well in our stadium. They actually have a better record in (Sanford Stadium) against us than we have. They’ve won 10 and we’ve won nine and there was a tie back in the day when you could have a tie. So we need to do a good job of defending our turf.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to play another SEC game.”
On trying to make Tennessee a one-dimensional team…
“I was saying just the other day that if I had those receivers and that quarterback, I’d have a hard time trying to stay balanced. I like throwing the ball, and they’ve got great pass protectors. When you have those tackles like they do that don’t need any help, you can release five guys out and then you’ve got a guy that can spin it like Bray. I don’t know if I would sit there and say that I need to be totally balanced, but I think if you do shut down a running game and you just know someone is going to pass, it’s just much easier to defend. But they’re not that. They’re running the ball well, and they have good play-action pass. They’re really good at throwing and catching, I can tell you that.”
On the SEC Eastern Division…
“I think the SEC East is an outstanding part of our league. Preseason everybody had an opinion on everybody’s schedules, and I felt like we just aren’t going to know how tough everybody’s schedule is until you play the season and you have a better idea of how tough it is. We felt like we had some very outstanding teams in the East, and so far they are proving it.”
On talking to the team about the 2004 Georgia-Tennessee game, when the Vols upset the third-ranked Dawgs in Athens…
“I told them that this situation reminded me of that season. We played a game like we played against Vanderbilt when we played LSU in ’04, one of those what people would call a complete game. Everything just seemed to work that day. Everything went well that day. The very next week we were favored to beat Tennessee. Tennessee came in with a freshman quarterback and beat us. I wanted to help them understand that it could happen and we better get our minds right. We better prepare just as hard or harder than the week before. I just want us to play our best. If we lose, we lose, but you want to play your best. That’s what I’m trying to make sure we do.”
On the similarities between Georgia’s defense and Tennessee’s defense…
“It’s very similar. Their defensive thoughts are very similar to the basic 3-4 scheme we employ, same as Alabama. Those three teams are kind of mirroring each other to a certain degree with the basic principles of how to run a 3-4.”
On Tennessee’s edge pressure and whether Georgia’s tackles have been tested to the degree they will be Saturday…
“We’re going to find out. We just have to keep working and start playing. We’ll have the ability to slide protections and chip the backs and use tight ends. We’ll also see if the tackles guys can do it on their own as well.”
On adjusting to a new 3-4 defense in one year, which Tennessee is doing this season and Georgia did in 2010…
“Anytime you do something new it’s tough. There’s a learning curve for everybody. A lot has to do with do you have the personnel to do it. I remember our first year we didn’t have the big nose guards, or at least Kwame (Geathers) wasn’t ready to be the player he is today. We didn’t have John Jenkins. We were playing DeAngelo Tyson if you remember, kind of an undersized guy for that position. (Tennessee) has a big beast in there who can do it and edge guys who can do it and play coverage in space as well. It doesn’t really change your perimeter much.
“They may have had better personnel year one to start it out than we did. Are they going to be better a year from now? I’m sure they will, but they’re still pretty darn good at it now.”
On whether Georgia center David Andrews facing nose tackles Kwame Geathers and John Jenkins in practice will help him prepare for Vols’ Daniel McCullers…
“That will help him. David has been going against some huge nose guards. Whether you go against the number one or number two guy, he’s a huge man. Whether you are in a pass pro drill or an 11-on-11 just every single day he’s used to blocking guys who are taller and much heavier than he is. The one advantage he does have is he has the leverage as the low man. He is going to get under those guys whether he wants to or not.
“In some ways that’s helpful, but it won’t be the first experience of going against a big man like that.”
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