Sitting in the Sanford Stadium Media room after talking to Coach Richt, Aaron Murray, Justin Houston, and a slew of other Georgia players. Obviously the biggest questions centered around the young Murray taking over at quarterback and new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s new 3-4 defense. The decision to eliminate two-a-days almost entirely from pre-season practice is also a pretty big topic around the journalism water cooler. I still have to go through my recorder, but here are a couple of quotes that stuck out from the interviews. Practice is scheduled for 3:25 PM, but the word on the street is that it is pretty much a dog and pony show. That’s good because I love ponies.
On the alarmingly thin and young depth chart at quarterback:
“The quarterback room may be the youngest in the history of college football…Coach Bobo will really earn his pay.”
On the injury to inside-linebacker Akeem Dent, the “quarterback” of the defense:
“It definitely hurt us.” Richt still holds hope that Dent will be back in time for the September 4th opener against University of Louisiana-Lafayette.
On Logan Gray, who currently will not get snaps at quarterback during pre-season practice:
“We’re asking him to mentally prepare for us.”
On the importance of the running game with Washaun Ealey and Caleb King:
“I’d be very disappointed if we didn’t run the ball well…we have to run the ball well.”
On the comparison between former Georgia quarterback David Greene and Aaron Murray, made recently by offensive coordinator Mike Bobo:
“David was a tremendous student of the game…Aaron has a tremendous work ethic…you have to prepare your mind as well as your body to play quarterback.”
On the mobility of Murray, and whether or not Richt and company will ask him to use it:
“We don’t want him to prove his manhood as a runner.”
On his expectations for Murray:
“All he’s gotta do is do his job…you don’t have to be the hero on any down.”
On the record-setting hot summer and the possibilty of players getting injured.
“We just have to keep an eye on everybody.”
On how intriuged he is to the new defense Grantham has installed:
“We’re all intrigued.”
On the decision to eliminate (sort of, there will be a couple here and there) two-a-days from the pre-season practice schedule:
“Instead of breaking them down and building them back up, let’s just build them up from the get go.”
I gotta hand it to Richt, he’s honest. I think a lot of coaches would look at a quarterback situation like this and try to sugar-coat it like it is not as bad as it seems. But let’s face it, it’s bad. Or at least has the potential to be. You have Murray, who hasn’t taken one snap in a college football game then Hutson Mason, who hasn’t taken one snap in a college football practice. Forgive me for not mentioning the two-walk ons, Parker Welch and Greg Blingham, but I think you get the point.
Richt understands that, even admitting that Mike Bobo will “earn” his pay this year. Still, Richt is confident that the running-back tandem of King and Ealey, the veteran-filled offensive line, and weapons like AJ Green will make up for the inexperience at quarterback.
Richt is also pretty confident that nixing two-a-days will be a big help to both his offense and his defense. Per NCAA rules, the one-a-day practices will also allow a walk-through every morning as well as a worthwhile weight-lifting session. Before, Richt says, the two-a-days would tire players out and leave them fatigued. Lifting sessions would happen, but they were short and lackluster. While Richt insists that he’s not softening his approach, he also insists that two-a-days left his players worn out and that the new practice schedule should allow his players and opportunity to get stronger as well as be mentally prepared on both sides of the ball.
To be honest, I really like this approach. In a year where you are installing a new defense as well as a new quarterback, important fundamental concepts could be as important as ever, so to keep the players fresh both physically and mentally may be the difference in those late-fourth quarter games where most players are worn out and going purely off adrenaline.
That’s it from me for a bit, getting ready to head over to the Butts-Mehere complex to take in the first practice of the year. Player quotes and thoughts should be up later this evening. Until then, follow me on Twitter for live updates.