Georgia football coach Mark Richt spoke Monday at the season-opening meeting of the Touchdown Club of Athens, which meets at Athens Country Club.
Richt spoke with the Banner-Herald before the dinner and touched on preparing for Buffalo, the importance of opening the season with a victory and the difficulty of naming a starting tailback.
You‚Äôre less than a week away from opening the season against Buffalo now. What goes in to the final week of preparation for the first game of the year? Are there a lot of loose ends to tie up? Or does having so much time to prepare for this one make it easier?
Having so much time for this makes us crazy. We‚Äôre tired of practicing. We‚Äôd rather play tomorrow night if we could, but we can‚Äôt, so what we‚Äôve got to do between now and then is keep our fundamentals up and don‚Äôt go backwards. But the game plan is in and the guys are repping it every day this week and a couple of days last week, so we‚Äôll definitely be ready to play a game by Saturday.
What stands out when you watch film of Buffalo and what do you expect to see from them on Saturday?
Well, they play very hard. They‚Äôre an outstanding team. One thing offensively they have is a running back who is a really tremendous player. He gained over 1,000 yards last year and he‚Äôs poised to have another great season, so we‚Äôve got to stop the run first. They‚Äôve got a brand new quarterback who just won the job recently and we‚Äôll see how he holds up if we can stop the run.
Which positions do you think it‚Äôs been most difficult to name starters at this year and why?
I don‚Äôt know. Right now we still really haven‚Äôt 100 percent nailed down who‚Äôs going to start at tailback. The reason is mainly because there are some really talented guys. The bottom line is I‚Äôm not so much worried about who starts; I‚Äôm more worried about who‚Äôs ready to play football for Georgia. We‚Äôre going to rotate a lot of people. It‚Äôll be hot on Saturday. It‚Äôll be high noon, smoking hot and a lot of humidity, so we‚Äôll be playing a lot of guys in the game.
Last year you opened at the Georgia Dome against a top-25 team and this year you‚Äôre opening at home against unranked Buffalo. Do you prefer it the way you have it this year? Or is it good to get one of the season‚Äôs bigger challenges early?
Well if you win, that‚Äôs the best thing for us to happen. A year ago it would have been great to play Boise State if we would have won it. As it turned out we didn‚Äôt win it. We may have learned some things from it. The bottom line is that we want to get off to a fast start. Hopefully we‚Äôll do that this year.
With Buffalo coming down from the Northeast, do you think your players‚Äô work in the heat this summer will make a difference, especially with an afternoon kickoff?
I‚Äôve been keeping track of what‚Äôs going on up north with the temperatures and a lot of days it was hotter up north than it was that we had. I‚Äôm not sure if we‚Äôll have a great advantage or not. I hope so, but we might have more humidity than they‚Äôre used to dealing with and that could certainly make a difference. The bottom line is that we‚Äôve got to play hard for 60 minutes and if that means substituting players that‚Äôs what we‚Äôll do.