Notes from Mark Richt‘s Tuesday press conference in advance of Appalachian State (noon Saturday, ESPN):
On the Mountaineers: “I can’t imagine them not being hyped and ready to go. … They’re going to run the ball” and said App State’s offensive line “will forklift you right out of bounds” if Miami defenders don’t keep their pad levels down.
He praised several App State players, including quarterback Taylor Lamb (his grandfather worked for Richt at UGA) and running back Marcus Cox. App State is third nationally in rushing yards.
Richt on freshmen linebackers Shaq Quarterman, Michael Pinckney and Zach McCloud hitting the first-year wall: “They don’t know that they don’t know … right now, they think everything’s good. They are going to get hit in the mouth. … We’ll see how they respond.”
It’s the first road trip for everyone, including a veteran coach like Richt. “The one thing we are used to is waking up early,” he said. “A team that works in the afternoon and works in the afternoon, you kind of worry about an early start.”
With a tough October coming, is a good mid-major like App State the right test at the right time?
Richt wasn’t buying that premise.
“This will be one of the better teams we play, period,” he said.
On freshman wideouts: Richt said Sam Bruce‘s surgery (to repair a broken leg) “went well.” He added that Dionte Mullins is not ready for heavy duty. “We’ve got to get him ready,” Richt said. Ahmmon Richards, whom he described as “a clean-cut, All-American boy,” becomes a hard-nosed competitor on game days. He compared Richards’ game-day energy to that of Mark Walton.
On his play-calling through two games: “I wouldn’t give myself an ‘A’, I’ll tell you that.” Brad Kaaya told us earlier he thinks Miami has revealed 20 to 30 percent of its offense. Does Richt script his first few series as a play-caller? “It’s all scripted out to a certain extent.”
Richt was asked about the discipline he metes out for penalties. UM had nine for 90 yards against FAU, which resembled last year’s nation-worst averages of 9.3 for 84.2 yards. Is taking playing time away from repeat offenders an option? “If I had enough depth, I might yank a guy,” Richt said. “We talked about that. We will start trying to discipline them where they won’t do it again. If it persists, playing time is the next thing. It creates the biggest impression on them. … I don’t want to punish everybody for that mistake, but on the other hand, if that’s what it takes to get a guy’s attention, that’s what we’ll do.” Offensive line coach Stacy Searels said players were doing up-downs after practice.
Richt said at today’s practice, which was “a little bit of a zoo,” with weather delays, the offense struggled to “get its mind right,” had bad body language and didn’t have energy between plays.
Richt said while watching film, players cheered when linebacker Darrion Owens, who played 20 snaps on Saturday, was hit on his injured knee and looked OK. Owens returned last week one year after blowing out his knee against FAU.