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’re 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’re tired of practicing. We’d rather play tomorrow night if we could, but we can’t, so what we’ve got to do between now and then is keep our fundamentals up and don’t 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’ll 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’re 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’s poised to have another great season, so we’ve got to stop the run first. They’ve got a brand new quarterback who just won the job recently and we’ll see how he holds up if we can stop the run.
Which positions do you think it’s been most difficult to name starters at this year and why?
I don’t know. Right now we still really haven’t 100 percent nailed down who’s going to start at tailback. The reason is mainly because there are some really talented guys. The bottom line is I’m not so much worried about who starts; I’m more worried about who’s ready to play football for Georgia. We’re going to rotate a lot of people. It’ll be hot on Saturday. It’ll be high noon, smoking hot and a lot of humidity, so we’ll 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’re 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’s bigger challenges early?
Well if you win, that’s 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’t 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’ll do that this year.
With Buffalo coming down from the Northeast, do you think your players’ work in the heat this summer will make a difference, especially with an afternoon kickoff?
I’ve been keeping track of what’s going on up north with the temperatures and a lot of days it was hotter up north than it was that we had. I’m not sure if we’ll have a great advantage or not. I hope so, but we might have more humidity than they’re used to dealing with and that could certainly make a difference. The bottom line is that we’ve got to play hard for 60 minutes and if that means substituting players that’s what we’ll do.