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Richt Doesn’t Think “The Season Is Riding On This One Game”

Welcome to a world of fast food, information at our fingertips, and instant gratification.  In such a world, every sporting event is the biggest, most important, most career-defining game ever played.

Until, of course, the next one.

Coming off a 6-7 season, Mark Richt needs to rebound at Georgia or he could be out of a job come December.  Some fans are pointing to the Dawgs’ first two games — Boise State and South Carolina — as the ultimate test of Richt’s ability to lead the Georgia program.

Richt doesn’t necessarily see it that way:


“Well is it as big of a buildup for an opening game as we’ve had, because of who we’re playing and where we’re playing and maybe a little bit of the uniform issue and all that kind of thing.  There is an awful lot of hype going into this ballgame compared to maybe some other opening games.


I don’t personally think the season is riding on this one game.  It’s really not.  It’s a game that we absolutely want to win.  It’s a game that we expect to win.  We talk a lot about winning the Eastern Division because that is the one thing we can control.  This really doesn’t have a bearing on the Southeastern Conference race, so it really doesn’t get in the way of that goal.  But what I do think it’s going to do is give us a pretty good feel of what we’re made of right away.  I think it’s also going to be a great teacher of what it’s going to take to win in our league down the road.  So I think it’s very positive that we’re playing the game.  I certainly want to win it.  I think it could create some really good momentum from that.  But I don’t think everything is riding in the balance.”

Obviously, Richt is correct.  If the Dawgs beat Boise State and then lose to South Carolina next Saturday, no Georgia fan will be talking about what went on in the Georgia Dome against the Broncos.  Likewise, if UGA loses Saturday night but rebounds with a win over Carolina, the folks in red and black will be woofing about SEC championship possibilities.

We all want instant answers these days.  Wondering about a coach’s overall ability?  Let’s judge him on his next game.  But that’s all just hype and nonsense.  Richt should and will be judged by AD Greg McGarity and the most-powerful Georgia boosters at the end of his season.

After all, for all the talk of UGA’s toughest games being one and two on this year’s schedule, I seem to recall Auburn and Florida giving the Dawgs some trouble down through the years.  And even if Georgia loses its first two games, running the table and reaching Atlanta would silence a whole lot of September critics.

So the season is most certainly not riding on the Georgia-Boise State game.  It only seems like it is.

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SEC Headlines – 8/29/11 Part Two

1.  Dan Mullen has a lot of respect for Memphis coach Larry Porter.

2.  On Thursday, State will visit a Memphis squad that absolutely horrible on offense last season.

3.  Several new faces dot the Week One depth chart as Ole Miss readies for BYU.

4.  The “story behind the story” on Saturday will be which set of new assistant coaches can best get a read on what the other team is doing.

5.  New Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis is viewed as a “genius” by his players.

6.  Here’s a list of “five potential disasters awaiting the Gators in 2011.”

7.  Two Gators escaped injury in minor one-car accident yesterday.

8.  Here are five things for Georgia fans to worry about in Fall 2011.

9.  With the goal of getting things back to normal in Athens, Saturday’s game with Boise State is a season opener UGA needed.

10.  Boise State’s play-by-play man is a Georgia alum.

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Putting The Ug In UGA

Last September, Nike flew yours truly up to New York for the grand unveiling of their 2010 Pro Combat uniform collection.  Chris Fowler was there.  Michael Irvin was there.  Ex-jocks from each school donning Pro Combat unis were there — including guys representing Alabama and Florida.

While many of the unis were just as horrible as Nike’s previous Pro Combat efforts, the duds picked out by the Gators and the Tide really weren’t that bad.  The changes weren’t huge.  You might even say their uniforms were understated… if Nike does anything in understated fashion.

But that was then, this is now.

And this.  And this.

Yes, friends, it’s quite possible Georgia will be wearing one of the ugliest college football uniform sets of all time when they take on Boise State in 12 days.

The black G on the side of that silver helmet with the big red stripe might as well stand for Garish or Gawdy or Gimmicky.

Gawd-awful might also apply.

Mark Bradley of The AJC rightly compares the new Georgia uniform to those worn by the Power Rangers on Saturday mornings.  (Click the link, see the photo, laugh out loud.)

While Dawg fans — at least the majority of those writing to us and commenting on UGA messageboards — are rolling their eyes, Mark Richt’s players seem A-OK with the idea of Halloween in September.

As for the coach, clearly he doesn’t think a one-time change of pace is a bad thing:


“Yeah, I think there are a lot of people that just don’t want to get away from that (traditional look) and I don’t blame them.  That’s the reason we’re sticking it out there two weeks in advance, so everybody can get over it.  I doubt we’ll do any surprise uniforms anymore.  At least everybody’s got time to digest it.  If everybody just thinks about what’s most important and that’s playing the game, I think we’ll all be fine.”

He’s right.  If Georgia whips Boise State, the uniforms will earn more fans.  If the Dawgs lose, those jerseys and pants will no doubt be burned shortly after the final gun.

But did Richt have to use the word “digest” when talking about those unis?  They make me want to toss my cookies.

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UGA’s Crowell And Samuel Could Be Out Til Next Week

If you’re Mark Richt, the last thing you needed were injuries at the tailback position.  After a wave of departures this offseason, the Bulldogs’ coach found himself with a tailback-turned-linebacker-turned-tailback and a true freshman as his 1-2 options heading into the fall.  Now both are on the shelf for a few more days.

First-team tailback Richard Samuel has already missed two practices with a left quad injury.  “I don’t know how long he’ll be, but he definitely isn’t ready yet,” Richt told The Macon Telegraph.  “My guess is it’ll be early next week before we even start thinking about it.”

Isaiah Crowell — the all-everything freshman who some are expecting to be this year’s version of Marcus Lattimore — is still limited with a groin injury.

“He still can’t really move quick enough to be safe and be competitive,” Richt said.  “I mean he gave it a go today, but it’s not ready yet.  He thought he was ready and he wasn’t.  He’s farther along than I’d say Richard right now.”

Richt said he expects both players to be back for the opener against Boise State.  But in Crowell’s case especially, any missed practice time — true learning time — has to be a concern.

No one is worried about the rookie’s ability to run the football.  And so far, he’s gotten good grades for picking up the offense.  But if he’s going to be a complete player right from the get-go, Crowell will also have to master blitz pick-ups and quarterback protections.  The more reps he misses in practice, the more likely it is that Samuel will get the bulk of the work against the Broncos in the Georgia Dome.

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SEC Headlines 8/4/2011

1. “Georgia HAS to beat Boise State when they meet in Atlanta…”

2. What to focus on as Georgia starts practice. The “dream team” arrives.

3. Wide receiver Israel Troupe cited by police.

4. Les Miles on the start of LSU practice: ”We like getting outside and … tasting the grass.”

5. Wide receiver Russell Shepard reports and will practice today. Total of 104 players report as Les looks for leaders.

6. Thousands turn out to watch South Carolina’s first practice. Steve Spurrier likes the team speed.

7. Mississippi State begins practice. “On Wednesday, they slept.  Today, they’ll sweat.”

8. Kentucky defense produced only 16 takeaways in 13 games last year – turnovers a big focus.

9. Alabama deals with a home invasion – from Florida State. Alabama #1 and Florida State #2 in this preseason forecast.

10. Huge expectations for wide receiver Durron Carter – son of Cris.

11. The Tide’s Darrington Sentimore will transfer to a JUCO – he’s the seventh player to leave since the end of last season.

12. Freshmen pass catchers at Auburn have a great opportunity – team returns only one receiver with more than three catches last year.

13. No one gets Cam’s #2.  “Starless” Auburn is “the underdog, again.”

14. The star of the day at Auburn’s first practice?  The new practice facility.

15. James Stone is the rock in the middle of the Tennessee offensive line.

16. Who will be the leaders for the Vols this year? Practice competes with $48 million construction project.

17. More praise for the wide receiver corps at Arkansas. High expectations for the Razorbacks. 108 in Fayetteville today.

18. Breaking down Florida’s special teams.

19. Vanderbilt freshmen excited to get started.

20. Who can stop the SEC from winning another BCS title?  The SEC.

21. A roundup of key players and returning starters for all 12 schools.

22. The KFC Yum Center in Louisville, Lady Gaga and John Calipari.

23. “No truth to the rumor that Cal is looking into scheduling exhibitions in Knoxville, Gainesville and Durham, N.C.”

24. Florida’s non-conference basketball schedule this season features six teams that made the 2011 NCAA Tournament. “Perhaps the toughest one yet,” says coach Billy Donovan.

25. The cost of covering college athletes’ full expenses.

26. An Alabama ethics commission says high school coaches accompanying prospects on recruiting trips can receive free tickets to games.

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Richt Plans On Having “A Hell Of A Year”

Last night, Mark Richt spoke to a Georgia booster club in the Atlanta area.  His message was upbeat and positive.  And the fans on hand liked what their coach was saying:


“We’re Georgia.  We’ve got good players.  We stumbled last year, but we weren’t far off.  Greg (McGarity) has done a good job supporting us.  The fans have done a great job supporting us. …

No one’s pushing the panic button.  We believe in what we’re doing. …

I plan on having a hell of a year.”


Richt even pointed out that an 0-2 start (with losses to Boise State and South Carolina) would sound the death knell for his club.  “… On paper, those might be the two best teams we play all year,” he said.

But let the Dawgs actually start 0-2 and you won’t be hearing a lot of positivity from the Peach State media or fans.

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Richt At The Podium

Here’s a rundown of Georgia coach Mark Richt’s comments:

* Richt said it’s an “exciting time at Georgia” and then discussed Boise State and South Carolina, his team’s first two opponents.  “It has energized the program in a big way.  I think that everybody understands what it’s gonna take preparation-wise and I think everybody’s been willing to pay the price.  I say ‘everyone,’ but there’s been a few guys who’ve gotten off the bus, so to speak… a year ago, or in the last few months even, the last few days.  Some guys have chosen to move on and a couple of guys got a little help, but the guys that are still here are excited about the future and are willing to pay the price to play the kind of football that everybody in our Georgia Bulldog Nation expects.”

* Asked if quarterbacks Aaron Murry and Tyler Bray (Tennessee) might be on the verge of a Danny Wuerffel-Peyton Manning year-in, year-out duel, Richt said: “I hope they’re both that good.  I hope ours is better.”  That got laughs.  “Aaron is really a coach’s dream in how he approaches the game.  He understands preparation.  He understands team.  His motivation is for Georgia to win.  His motivation is to see his teammates have success.  His motivation is not to promote self.  And when you have a guy like that it makes your life so much easier.”  Richt also credited Mike Bobo for working with Murray on protecting the football.

* Asked about the decision to play Boise State in the Georgia Dome, Richt said: “Where we were at that time was a decline in our record.  A decline in how people perceived our program.  A place that I didn’t really like, I wasn’t really comfortable in, wasn’t used to.  And I said, ‘what better way to send a surge of energy into this program than to schedule a game like that.”  Richt also said, “There’s risk in playing a team that can whip your tail because they might whip your tail.  But in order for us to get back to where we want to be — which is highly ranked, highly thought of — we need to play this game.”

* Richt handles the media as well as any coach in the league.  While some Georgia fans are turned off by his ever-cool demeanor, it serves him well when dealing with the press.  Richt always seems to be in control of the room.  Let’s see what happens when the hot seat questions come.

* Richt is excited about his defense in Year Two under Todd Grantham.  Last year, his defensive players had to think too much about their assignments.  This year they’re able to focus on technique.  The coach also said he’s been able to recruit to the 3-4 now.

* Asked if Georgia’s Liberty Bowl loss to UCF was devastating to his program, Richt said, “Well, it wasn’t devastating.  I mean it hurt real bad.  I didn’t enjoy it.  But devastation means you’ve blown up the program and it’s beyond repair, so I don’t think it was devastating.  But it was awful, I can say that.”  He also said, “Coach O’Learly outcoached me.  They’re team played harder than we played.  And they deserved to win.  And we learned from that. … We learned to finish.  We’ll see how well we learned it.”

* Laughing, Richt said, “I think our depth is fine… as long as we don’t get anyone hurt.”

* “The passion of the coaches and the players and the fans especially” is what separates the SEC from other conferences. 

* Richt admitted that “right now” the West is stronger than the East right now.

* Sidenote — Worst thing about Media Days now compared to 20 years ago: You now hear “reporters” say “We” when referring to teams.  If you’re pulling for a team in the league, you’re not objective and you shouldn’t have a credential.  Period.  There’s no room for “we” at Media Days.  Just my rant.

* “College football is a grind.  It’s a grind for the coaches.  It’s a grind for the players.  We love it, we’re not complaining, but anytime you can have some fun with your guys I think it’s good to do that and to wear those (Nike Pro Combat) uniforms I think will be something they’re really gonna enjoy.”

* Asked about the hot seat, Richt said: “I know that if you walk in the Butts-Mehre Building there’s not one sense of doom or gloom.  There’s only excitement, only guys that are so thankful that we’ve got a new season and a clean slate and the ability to play some great opponents to start the year.  Expectations are just as high as they’ve ever been going into any season.  Our goal is to win the Eastern Division.”  Nice dance around the job security question.  “I don’t worry about all that.  I worry about enjoying the ride.  We’re in good shape.”

* “Six of our losses were within a touchdown in the fourth quarter (last year), we just finish better and we’ve have had a better season.  We weren’t getting blown out of the water, we just didn’t win.”

* Richt pointed out that he’s getting commitments for 2013 and 2014 which shows people still have faith in Georgia’s program.

* One of Richt’s sons has the sickle cell trait and he says that’s led him to treat his players differently.  Some players who have that trait are pulled out of certain drills.  Interesting question from Rachel George of The Orlando Sentinel.

* On Will Muschamp, Richt said: “Well, I’m sure he’s gonna tell everybody in Florida that he’s Florida through-and-through and all that, but I guarantee you there’s a little bit of red and black in his veins.”

* Georgia center Ben Jones entered the writers’ room and was given a mic.  Richt laughed and looked at the podium in a “here it comes” kind of way.  “Do you trust the offensive line this year,” the player asked.  Richt smiled and said, “You weren’t in here when I was bragging on the offensive line.  (The writers) are worried about the depth on our line. … I think Ben Jones is the best center in America.  I think he’s going to win the Rimington.”  He drew laughs by saying, “Good question there, Ben.”

* Asked to talk about how tough it is to last 11 years at one school in the SEC, Richt said, “It’s not difficult if you win,” and then he laughed loudly.  “It’s not difficult if you know you win 9, 10, 11 a year, and win the Eastern Division every other year, and win the SEC every three or four years.  It’s not a problem at all.  It’s when you go 6-7, that’s when it’s a problem.  But greater days are coming, the best is yet to come.”

* Very, very hard not to like Richt.

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SEC Headlines – 6/15/11 Part Two

1.  ESPN.com says Trent Richardson is the SEC’s best back, but…

2.  Auburn has the league’s best stable of backs.

3.  Florida isn’t getting its usual amount of love from the preseason football mags.

4.  Will Charlie Weis find a 1,000-yard rusher among this year’s Gator backs?  (Urban Meyer’s team never had a 1,000-yard running back.)

5.  Georgia’s players are geared up for the tough start to their season.  (Boise State and South Carolina will be the Dawgs first two opponents.)

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SEC Headlines – 6/10/11 Part One

1.  Here’s a behind-the-scenes video look at Auburn’s day in Washington, DC.

2.  It sounds like ex-Tiger Cam Newton is earning respect from his Carolina Panthers teammates.

3.  This blogger thinks Georgia could make or break Boise State’s season.

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Arkansas Adds Linebacker To 2011 Class

Linebacker Robert Atiga from Snow Community College in Ephraim, Utah, will attend Arkansas this fall.

Atiga chose Arkansas over Oregon State. He also received scholarship offers from Utah, Washington, Boise State and Utah State.


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