Richt rests up along with injured players on Bulldogs’ off weekend

Mark Richt didn’t spend Georgia’s first bye week of the season on the sideline of a high school football game.

The Bulldogs coach and his wife, Katharyn, spent Friday night and Saturday morning at the lake before heading back to Athens to watch college football.

And Sunday?

“About as lazy of a day as you could hope for this time of year,” he said on a teleconference Sunday evening.

Florida head coach Will Muschamp spent Friday night watching the Region 7-AAAAAA matchup between powerhouses North Gwinnett and Norcross. With about 15 FBS prospects on display in North Gwinnett’s 36-17 victory, including 5-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter, Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and running backs coach Bryan McClendon were also in attendance.

But no Richt.

As Richt used the bye weekend to rest up, he said he hoped his players did the same, giving some of Georgia’s banged up players time to recover, including offensive lineman Kenarious Gates (knee, ankle) and running back Keith Marshall (knee).

“We believe they’ll be able to play,” Richt said of Gates and Marshall.

He also said that wide receiver Jonathon Rumph (hamstring) and Jay Rome (ankle), who were out against South Carolina but practiced last week, should also be inserted into Georgia’s lineup Saturday against North Texas. 

The kickoff time for the Bulldogs’ third game of the season is also the third different kickoff time they have been assigned so far this season, including an 8:30 p.m. kick against Clemson, a 4:30 p.m. against South Carolina and 12:21 p.m. against North Texas. Richt, in his 13th season, said the pregame process picks up speed with an early kickoff time.

“I think some of the challenges of an early game is just the fact that our coaches won’t have that extra meeting time with our players,” said Richt, whose team remained in the No. 9 spot in The Associated Press poll released Sunday. “ … Now that it’s going to be a very early start, everybody’s going to be getting up and eating breakfast and really jumping on the bus and coming on back to the Butts-Mehre getting ready to go. We’ve got to make sure we take care of all of our business on Friday afternoon and Friday night  before the game because we’re not going to get that extra meeting time in.”

Richt said areas of improvement — tackling, communication, pressuring the quarterback — will be emphasized as the Bulldogs prepare for North Texas rather than using it as a tune-up for Southeastern Conference foe LSU, which jumped from eighth to sixth in the AP poll Sunday.

“We’ve got a long way to go in a lot of areas,” Richt said. “We’re still fighting hard to find out how good of a team we can become.”

Richt noted North Texas surged and put together a 34-27 comeback victory against Ball State on Saturday. Mean Green quarterback Derek Thompson, a 6-foot-4, 218-pound senior, completed 31-of-47 passes for 274 yards and a touchdown.

“He runs the ball better than you think,” Richt said of Thompson. “He throws it well. He’s a guy that really seems like he’s got a good feel to the game. They’ve got some receivers that are catching the ball. Their top three receivers are playing well. … I think they just play real solid football all around.”

As the Georgia defense continues to favor frequent substitutions, allowing younger players and second team players to get game experience, the Bulldogs’ outing against North Texas will likely allow even more rotation for the defense.

“If you ever get in the game, that’s your best shot to show the coach you belong, the best shot you can show your coach that you deserve more playing time or a starting position,” Richt said. “Hopefully those guys will get an opportunity to do that.”

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by Marc Weiszer

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