- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
ATHENS, Ga. -- Some highlights from Georgia coach Mark Richt’s Sunday media teleconference:
On whether Todd Gurley’s tackle-breaking ability is what they saw from him in preseason:
We got a pretty good taste of what he was going to look like. I’ll just say that we were all really looking forward to see what it would look like in some real games because we were hopeful that he was going to do just what he did in scrimmages and that’s about what he’s been doing. And he maybe even just a tad bit more now that you get into maybe a game as far as getting your blood flowing. You certainly get a little more adrenaline flowing for a ballgame than a scrimmage, but when it’s your first scrimmage or two in your college career, I’m sure there’s a lot of adrenaline flowing then, as well.
On whether he talks to freshman backs about handling celebrity that comes with success at that position:
We have a little bit. It’s just a situation where we want everybody to stay hungry and stay humble. That’s what you want. That’s how they were when they got here and I think they’re still that way and I hope they continue to be that way -- continue to strive to really become an expert at what you do on the field and take care of your responsibilities as a student and be an outstanding human being, be a humble man that is thankful for what he’s got.
On Shawn Williams’ injury before the game. Was it a hamstring?
Yeah, he thought he had pulled it while he was stretching, but it was more of a spasm. Just kind of tightened up on him and kind of shook him up. He thought maybe he pulled it. It turned out it wasn’t, thankfully. I’m not saying it didn’t bother him throughout the game. You’d have to ask him how much it bothered him, but he played the majority of the game.
On getting back to full strength on defense:
There’s definitely room for improvement. I think to this point, our team has done a good job of, especially our defense guys, stepping into roles that are more than they probably would have been if there wasn’t anybody losing any playing time. Even Malcolm Mitchell’s situation, I’m not sure he would have ever left the receiver position unless some of these things happened. I think Malcolm, even though he wanted to play both ways, I think he was probably visualizing the ability to continue to play offense and help out on defense where-needed type thing. It became the other way around. It became full-time defense and get a little bit of offense here and there. We always felt like he’d be a return man for us, whether it’s punt or kick, and he’s definitely going to be working in that way, and he’s running and covering punts, too, for us, so he’s doing a lot of things for us right now. But I think everybody who has had an opportunity to play more than they probably would have has benefited from it. Thankfully we’ve won to this point through it all, so that’s good, too. But do I think we can get better? Yeah, I think we can continue to get better.
Yeah, we’ll figure it out in pregame warmup, I guess, just like last week.
On whether they add up yardage after contact for Gurley:
Yes, we do it actually as a team. We have team yards after contact. There’s some goals that are on our offensive goal board. I’m not exactly sure of the number. It’s probably 100, 150 yards or something like that per game that we’re looking for. And it’s not just as a running back, it’s receivers, it’s anybody who has the ball and advances it after he has possession of it, so that stat is kept, but I just can’t recall sitting there and charting it for any individual.
On getting yards after contact:
We’re definitely breaking tackles, no doubt. I think most any runner gets started, if you know what I’m saying. There’s enough blocking to get him into the hole, get him into the crease, get him around the corner with just a little bit of space where he can pick up some momentum. And then if your receivers are blocking downfield and the guys can tie it up with the block, he may shed the block and go try and make a tackle, he’s not in a tremendous position to knock a guy back or make a real good form tackle. He’s usually a little bit off balance or he’s kind of reaching for a guy.
So the better you block at the second level, whether it’s linebackers or safeties or DBs, if somebody’s on them or at least working towards getting in the way, distracting them from being in that good football position that can really hit a guy head-on and wrap up real good, you tend to break more tackles. So I think it’s a combination of the linemen getting them started and whether it’s a lineman going downfield for a linebacker or tight ends or receivers blocking downfield, I think we’re blocking good enough in the perimeter where those guys aren’t in tremendous position to make a form tackle.
And I’ll say this, there’s been some guys that have been in perfect position and may have eventually gotten them down, but usually they’re on their back by the time [Gurley] gets through them and then I think [Keith] Marshall’s had some runs like that, as well, and Ken [Malcome] is a very powerful runner. So our runners in general do a good job of when they get to that human equation at the end of the run, we tend to end up moving forward at the end.
On if he has an update on Abry Jones’ ankle:
I don’t. Again, we have a staff meeting tonight at about 6:15 and Ron [Courson, Georgia’s director of sports medicine] will give us an idea. But I don’t know. Again, I don’t think it’s serious.
On Tennessee’s improving offense and whether it’s the best UGA has faced thus far:
I think so. Definitely throwing the football. They’re throwing and catching it extremely well and like you said, their run game is starting to come around, too. I know it’s been important for them to try to do that. They want balance in their attack, but it’s hard to have balance when you have the types of receivers they’ve got. You want to throw the ball and you want to throw it down the field. You want to take those shots because these guys can really go and they’re not only fast, but they’re tall and they’ve got jumping or leaping ability, the ability to catch a rebound at the highest point, so it’s hard not to want to throw the football with those guys and a guy who can throw it like Tyler Bray. You’ve got to throw the ball, but I don’t think there’s any doubt that they want enough balance running the football to keep people from just teeing off on the passing game.
On Cordarrelle Patterson and how heavily Georgia recruited him:
Yeah, we knew he was a special player. We wanted him big-time. He just looked like a big-time difference-maker, a big-time playmaker. And the fact that he’s a couple years out of high school, even more of a threat to come in and make some things happen immediately.