Mark Richt addressed reporters in advance of Florida Atlantic (6 p.m. Saturday, ESPN3.com).
Live updates to come.
* Richt said FAU is a “very physical” team with a “very, very stout defense.” Offensively, “they go about as fast as a team can go.”
“These guys present a challenge. Defensively, they play a coverage that’s about as different as anybody,” he said. FAU plays press coverage and quarters, freeing up safeties to strike. “They have a lot of confidence in their cornerbacks,” he said.
* Asked if he likes playing local, in-state rivals like FAU, Richt said he plays the schedule that’s laid out for him.
“You can play just about a whole schedule here in this state,” Richt said. “I don’t get too involved in making the decisions on the schedule. Most of the schedule has been laid out for me, and I’ve always been a guy who says, ‘Tell me who we’re going to play, where we’re going to play, what time and let’s go.’ If it’s good for the state, that’s great.”
This is the last of a three-game series with FAU that brings the Owls to Miami Gardens twice. FAU Athletics Director Pat Chun told OwlAccess.com his school doesn’t want to play “guarantee” games — facing larger programs like Miami (and Alabama and Nebraska, two other recent opponents) on the road for a paycheck.
UM Athletics Director Blake James said he hasn’t had much discussion with FAU about continuing the series. “Nothing specific,” James said in a text message, adding that UM is “open to the conversation but it has to be something that works for both schools.”
* Richt asked to remember his days in Boca Raton (his hometown and FAU’s location). Born in Omaha, he moved to Boca from Colorado in 1973. “When I first got there, it was a lot of open space,” he said. “There wasn’t a whole lot between Boca Raton Airport and where we lived,” about a mile from FAU’s campus. “It’s amazing how the campus has changed … of course coach [Howard] Schnellenberger had a lot to do with it.” Richt said Schnellenberger and he made small talk about the program way back, when Richt was at FSU and the idea of FAU football was seen by some as laughable.
* On linebacker Jamie Gordinier, who will miss the season after a knee injury: “It’s sad. Any time a guy gets hurt and can’t play the rest of the season … it’s heartbreaking for those guys. It also puts pressure on the rest of the team.” Richt said Jaquan Johnson, a safety, is essentially a Sam linebacker now (a.k.a., the Jermaine Grace role). Johnson has been the nickel back and spent time working with the linebackers at practice Tuesday.
* Richt did not allow freshmen to speak to the media today. He called it a “one-day decision, made by me.” Essentially, he did it to shield them from praise after a big win: “I’m just trying to slow down the train for a little bit.”
* Richt on possibly being a ranked team today: “If we do, that’s great. If not, that’s OK.”
* Richt praised junior tight end Chris Herndon for being “one of the few legit guys that can play all three” of fullback, tight end and wide receiver.
“Sometimes you’ll stick a fullback on the end of the line and say, ‘You’re a tight end.’ But [he’s] not, you might have one or two plays [for him],” Richt said. “Herndon knows every play the fullbacks need to know. He knows every play the tight ends need to know. He knows every play a slot receiver needs to know.
“That’s an attribute to his athleticism and his brainpower. It’s also a tribute to coach [Todd] Hartley. That’s a lot of work. He’s doing all the special teams, coaching tight ends, and he has to know everything the receivers are doing and the fullbacks are doing to teach that. It’s kind of a perfect storm of a coach that can handle it and a player that can handle it.”
* He was able to watch the second half of the Florida State-Mississippi game Monday night — he was working on the FAU game plan, he said — and was impressed.
“I really only saw Florida State rolling,” Richt said. “That’s what I saw. It was very impressive what they did. I don’t know how they got down, I think the commentator said they had 11 penalties in the first half, or something crazy like that, so that was probably a big part of it. But all I saw was a team dominating a really good Ole Miss team.”