ATHENS, Ga. -- Some highlights from Mark Richt’s Sunday media teleconference following Georgia’s 35-7 loss to South Carolina:
On whether Georgia might look at different combinations on the offensive line:
I don’t think we’ll do anything that would change right now. There’s a combination where [Mark] Beard would get to play some and we might look at that a little bit. I know Watts’ [Dantzler] ankle’s been bothering him a little bit, so he hasn’t had much of a chance to truly compete. But I still think we’ve got our best five in there, or at least our best six as we move that combination around.
So the big thing is we definitely have to acknowledge what happened. We’re going to watch film of what happened and make any corrections that can be made. But the main thing is to get back to work and keep believing in each other and come back with a strong performance. That’s really the best medicine that we have right now.
On the defense’s slow starts:
Well, there’s always a little element of something new. ... Everybody kind of scripts that first drive, maybe the first couple of drives, so there’ll be some things that maybe are there before the game settles into what’s normal, that’s something that they would actually practice, that you haven’t seen. That happens from time to time. But bottom line is we’ve just got to make plays on the front end of a game. That’s really all there is to it.
On setting up pass with run when run isn’t working:
Most every defense you play, they’re going to be more stout early in the game than in the end. It’s just human nature. Once a little bit of fatigue sets in, it’s just people tend not to tackle quite as good and really running games tend to do better as the game goes on. Every once in a while you’ll pop some things big and everybody gets excited about it, but the better defenses you play it takes a little time to break them down and sometimes you’ve got to be patient so if it does break and we were trying to be patient with it, but we just never really got untracked.
After watching some of the film, some of it was just flat out we weren’t blocking, but there was a couple times where I think we could have got a couple big runs if they’d have hit it just right. I think we missed a couple here and there. But sometimes it’s just a game where you’ve got to find a way to move the ball, you’ve got to find a way to make plays, whether it’s running, play-action pass, drop back and pass, I don’t care what, screen. Whatever it might be, you’ve got to find it, and I think we were searching, but they had answers for most of the ballgame.
On whether this loss shook his confidence in what he has on his team:
You know, sometimes you have a bad game, period. You run into a situation and a team that’s they’re at home, they have some outstanding ballplayers, they put together a good plan, they grabbed momentum early and fed off the energy of the fans. Sometimes that happens and it happened this weekend. You hate to be the victim of it, but that’s what happened. So I’m definitely not losing confidence in this team at all or our coaching staff or anything like that. That’s the worst thing you can do.
And that’s what teams do, when teams panic, they tend to fall apart and Georgia’s not going to fall apart. We’re going to go ahead and get to work and just get better at what we do, and if we’ve got to make some changes, we’ll do that. But the main thing is just like I said, a year ago we were 0-2 and everybody wants to decide that the sky has fallen and it’s over for Georgia. But we stayed firm, we believed in each other, we kept banging away and we began to win and before you know it, we won the Eastern Division. So it’s one day, it’s one game. It’s unfortunate it came out the way it did with so much at stake, but there’s still a lot at stake as the season rolls on. The sun did come up and now we’ve got to get back to work.
On the number of big plays the defense has allowed:
Well, it’s a combination of things. In the run game, we know in the past we’ve had a couple times where we brought a couple pressures and we didn’t hit our gaps properly and they run a little zone play and the runner finds a gap we didn’t secure and takes it to the house. There were other times when there was a play-action pass and our guys haven’t been as disciplined with their eyes as they should be and allow them to get by them. Those are two of the main culprits of some of the big plays. The rest, I’d have to really just sit there and look at film to get a gauge of all these big plays that we’re talking about. But those are the things that tend to get your in trouble the most.
On Ken Malcome’s running late in the game:
I was proud of Ken, the way he ran the ball. It was very reminiscent of how he ran the ball at the end of the LSU game last year. Sometimes when a game has already pretty much been decided, how much heart is left in a defense when a game is already decided? So I can’t really sit here and say how many starters were in the game. I know there were starters, defensively, in the game. I don’t know if everybody was in there or what their frame of mind was at that time, but Kenny’s frame of mind was a very positive one and one where he took advantage of the opportunity that he got, and I’m really proud of him.
On Hutson Mason:
He’s getting a lot of reps, still. We still believe he’s our No. 2 quarterback and just going into the last ballgame, if something were to happen to Aaron [Murray], it had already been decided that he was going to jump in there and play ball and he was going to be excited about it. We’ll continue to work him as our No. 2 guy and we’ll decide on a week-to-week basis if he would jump in or not depending on what would happen with Murray.