Conversation with the top Dawg: Part 1

The Atlanta Sports Council’s annual College Football Preview Luncheon took place on Monday, and I had the chance to talk to Georgia head coach Mark Richt at the event and get his thoughts on his team as they prepare to start Fall practice. In today’s Part 1 of the interview, Richt talks about the Bulldogs offensive skill positions and preseason predictions. Some of his answers to my questions caught me by surprise.

On what to expect from quarterback Matthew Stafford …

“I think he’ll improve a lot. I think he certainly has a grasp of what we’re trying to do offensively. He knows that front and back. He’ll be very comfortable in that role. But he’s also expanding his leadership role for us and that’s big for us. It’s huge for us when your quarterback is truly your leader of your team. That’s very, very important. I like the way Matthew has been responding to that role and I like the fact that our players are in agreement that he is the leader.”

On establishing a No. 2 and No. 3 running back early in the season …

“Well, it’s always good to get your backups running the football. In our system, that tailback position is going to carry the ball a lot. If [starter Knowshon Moreno] gets every carry that the tailback gets throughout the year, he’s going to get too many. So we definitely have got to have some other folks that know what they’re doing, not only to help Knowshon as far as getting a break running the ball, but we also have to make sure those kids understand what they’re doing in the passing game or it’s going to put a lot of pressure on Knowshon to be in the game maybe a little bit more than we want him to.”

How will the injury of Brannan Southerland and the suspension of Fred Munzenmaier affect the fullback position?

“We moved a couple of linebackers, Benjamin Boyd and Justin Fields, to fullback, so throughout camp they will be getting the reps there. Fred Munzenmaier, though he will not be able to play the first couple of games, he will practice. So the practice reps will be gotten by Fred. But the main thing is, we’ve got to keep Shaun Chapas healthy, keep him fresh, because he will be playing the majority (of the snaps) in the first few games.”

Can A.J. Green make an impact at receiver this year?

“I don’t know. All I know is what I’ve seen in high school, which is pretty good. I just haven’t seen him practice with Georgia yet. He’s been running around in the summer with his teammates, but we’re not allowed to be there, so I really don’t know what to expect right now. But a freshman can make a huge impact if he learns what to do quick enough and he’s not intimidated by playing on national TV and all those things. But I heard nothing but great things about A.J., and Tavarres King for that matter, the other true freshman receiver.”

Since King participated in spring practice, will he play before Green?

“Not necessarily. We’ve got 29 practice opportunities. I’m not sure we’ll use them all, but we’ll learn a lot more once we practice and see. Some guys hit the wall during camp. Some guys hit the wall mentally because there’s a lot thrown at them. Some guys get dead-legged because they’re not used to the reps that we give. Some guys come through with flying colors, we’ll just have to wait and see.”

On the media picking Florida to win the SEC.

“I’ll be honest with you; I didn’t know that until you just mentioned it. I left town right afterwards, so I didn’t know that was the case. That’s fine, Florida is an outstanding team. It doesn’t shock me that folks would put them there. I don’t know if all that matters all that much. I think what matters is where we finish. Good news is we play Florida and everybody in the East, so in the end we will know who will be playing in the SEC Championship Game.”

Will the Bulldogs use Florida being picked No. 1 as motivation?

“Well, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I don’t think our guys get all that worked up about where everybody’s ranked preseason. I don’t think any of our players or coaches feel that that’s any kind of slap in the face because we know there are so many great teams in our league. When it comes to league play, it’s decided on the field. So, all the Southeastern Conference preseason voting is exciting to read about, I suppose, for the fans and everything, (but) that’s one thing that will be settled on the field.”

Check back here Wednesday for Part 2 of Butler’s interview with Mark Richt. Butler can be reached at


Tags: , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply