- Monday, 09 September 2013 06:10
- Author: Murray Poole
Photo: Rob Saye/BI
Mark Richt, in his weekly Sunday teleconference, had good news for the Bulldog Nation, that offensive tackle Kenarious Gates and tailback Keith Marshall ‑ who both exited the South Carolina game with injuries ‑ didn’t sustain anything of a serious nature and should be ready to go in two weeks against the North Texas Mean Green. “We expect everybody to be able to play in our next game,” the Georgia head coach said.
Richt also discussed the Bulldogs’ offense, which has totaled more than 500 yards in each of the two outings thus far. Could this unit develop into possibly the most explosive one he’s coached in his 13 years in Athens?
“From what they did last year and how we’ve started out, obviously if we stayed at this clip we’d be right up there as good as any of them,” Richt said. “It’s just one of those years we’ve got some better receivers, tight ends, backs, linemen and a quarterback. Usually, there’s one of those groups that are just kind of getting broken into the league, so to speak, but it’s one of those years where they all have got some really good experience and they’re playing well together right now.”
After watching the video of the South Carolina game, the coach said a few things jumped out at him.
“Well, just watching Gurley run was fun,” declared Richt. “He’s just such a powerful back, got such great balance. I thought our backs pass protected extremely well. Our linemen really did improve from game one to game two. They protected better overall and they got after it physically. I thought Sterling Bailey inside played extremely well. I thought Ray Drew really made progress. Amarlo (Herrera) really had a lot of tackles but just watching him play he seems to be getting better and better as we go. Those are some of the things that stood out for me.”
Richt further discussed Herrera, the standout junior linebacker who totaled 12 tackles against the Gamecocks and had the lead tackle on the Bulldogs’ big goal-line stand, and also talked about junior center David Andrews … two guys who committed to Georgia early on and have developed into solid leaders for the team.
“You know we always thought Amarlo could be a guy that could play all downs and probably play two or three different linebacker positions,” Richt said. “And he’s come through for us. He’s been pretty much everything we thought he could be. He definitely was an early commitment and a guy who loved Georgia and wanted to be here. And David, as well. You know David had a couple of really good knockdown blocks (Saturday). He finished some blocks a little bit more than he did game one. But David, we didn’t know if he could come in … I actually thought the next center would be (Chris) Burnette after Ben Jones. And Chris certainly could have played center but David came in and proved he could handle it. For a guy who’s not super big to come in as a freshman and be tough enough and smart enough to get the job done, it’s been pretty impressive by him as well.”
Richt was asked about the improvement of his offensive line, from the Clemson loss to the solid win over South Carolina.
“You know they were challenged this game, not meaning they weren’t challenged the first game but if you have a performance you’re not really proud of, it just gives you more incentive to play better,” he said. “We knew it was going to be a real physical game and we knew we were going to do the best we could to run the rock and put it in their hands from time to time and they took it to heart. Obviously, with Clowney being there and all the attention that was going to be put on that, the camera was always going to be on him and it’s also on the guy who’s trying to block him … the guy or guys who’s trying to block him. So that was a challenge for everybody. They stepped up and as for what I think we have in them, I think we’ve still got a bunch of guys that have to have that kind of effort to be successful. They’re not so physically gifted they’re going to dominate people, they have to fight like mad every snap but when they do, they’re pretty effective.”
In other comments today, Richt praised the kicking performance of walkon sophomore Patrick Beless in the two games thus far but said Marshall Morgan has paid his dues after the two-game suspension and will likely take over the place-kicking duties once again.
Richt said sophomore strong safety Josh Harvey-Clemons was really anxious to get on the field and hit somebody again after sitting out the Clemson game and came up with the big recovery of Connor Shaw’s third-quarter fumble, which could well have been the game’s turning point. But Richt added that Harvey-Clemons and all of the outside linebackers have got to start taking better angles when it comes to tackling.
Of the defensive front, he said the Bulldogs have to begin playing with lower pad level, in order to be successful in future games, adding that Sterling Bailey and Ray Drew have both done well at that so far. He said Georgia needs to be able to sub more at the inside linebacker positions, for Herrera and Ramik Wilson who have had to play most of the entire game to date. He thinks the defensive secondary will be showing improvement as they continue to get game experience, pointing out that Damian Swann is the only guy back there with good experience. Along that line, Richt said the two junior college transfers, Shaquille Fluker and Kennar Johnson, have gotten behind the eight ball, so to speak, due to camp injuries. “I don’t see them jumping into a game any time soon,” he said, “but we’re happy with their talent base.”
Richt said losing to Clemson was no fun at all but “I have to say it helped us in game two. You can’t make mistakes and expect to win and we cut down our penalties dramatically, won the turnover ratio, tackled better, blocked better and played with more intensity.”
And, yes, like college football fans everywhere, Richt plans to tune in Saturday’s mammoth Alabama-Texas A&M game in College Station, when the top-ranked Tide seeks to extract revenge from Johnny Football and the Aggies. But Richt said he’s interested in several other games as well.