DULUTH | Mark Richt said he thinks his football team will be good this fall.
The problem, he admits, is that everyone else in the SEC will be good, too.
“I think we are going to be very good,” the 14-year coach said Tuesday night. “The problem in our league is that everyone is going to be very good.”
Richt’s Bulldogs and South Carolina are considered the two favorites to win the SEC East this fall, which means one of the two could be in a winner-take-all game in the SEC Championship to advance to the new College Football Playoff, which starts this season.
Richt said in order to get to the SEC Championship Game Georgia will have to play well in close games.
“You have to win the close games,” Richt said. “We have won a few close ones and lost a few – we’ve had too many close ones quite frankly.”
Eight of Georgia’s games last season were decided on the last drive of the game. Two of those eight games came when new starting quarterback Hutson Mason took over for an injured Aaron Murray at the end of the 2013 season. Mason is one of the few question marks for the Bulldogs coming into the season.
“I think we are in a situation with the skill that’s around Hutson, I think he doesn’t have to carry us,” Richt said. “I think he has to be wise throwing the football.”
The biggest question mark for Georgia this fall, however, is the defense. New defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt inherits a defense that is strong up front, but is dealing with transition in the secondary. Richt said he’s comfortable with the skill of the secondary – just not the experience of that group.
“I think that we will have enough of a talent base. The experience level is the thing you have to be a little bit concerned about. If we are wise enough to call more defenses than they are capable of doing then we will be OK,” Richt said. “If you put scheme ahead of execution you are going to get beat. The goal is to be able to execute.”
Georgia’s execution failed them in the secondary in 2013. The prime example was Auburn’s game-winning Hail Mary in the Tigers’ 43-38 win. Georgia also struggled on third down — ending the season ranked 66th nationally in that critical statistic.
In other news basketball coach Mark Fox said that he was “as disappointed as I have ever been” in dismissing starter Brandon Morris from the program on Monday. Morris was arrested on a felony charge of marijuana possession with intent to distribute Sunday morning.
“It was heartbreaking,” Fox added. “It really was a tough, tough deal.”
Although Morris has proclaimed his innocence, Fox said that Morris would not return to the Bulldogs.
“Whatever he said publically — I pray that he can work things out in his life — but he’s not on our team. That’s not in the plans,” Fox said.