“We had a better one today than yesterday. I thought yesterday was a little sluggish. It was a little bit wet, but I didn’t think it was as clean. You’re still installing things on Tuesday. Scout team is getting used to what they’re trying to simulate, so I guess it’s not unusual that Tuesday isn’t as sharp as you’d like sometimes. I thought today was real good. Energy level was real good. Our scouts did a really good job. We competed pass skeleton 11-on-11 at the end. A lot of good energy at the end. They know it’s the last day of any kind of physical contact today until Saturday.”
Q: Jarvis received All-American recognition today. Can you talk about his season?
Richt: He’s played really big in the Missouri game, as far as a monster stat day, and the Florida game, he had a whole season in one game as far as stats go. Plus he had a reputation of being a really good football player. I think playing the two option football teams made it very difficult to get a sack, and really in the position he plays, unless you’re a middle linebacker, it’s tough to get tackles against those teams. But he’s had a good year and a great career so far.
Q: Do you expect Damian and Malcolm to be fine?
Richt: They’ll both be fine. We didn’t want to irritate it. If we played today, they both would’ve played. We just didn’t want to light it up today.
Q: Do you think players are getting more excited as it gets closer to game time?
Richt: I think they’re starting to feel it. You want to be careful not to play the game midweek. I’ve been on some teams where you got so excited midweek you got emotionally tired by the time Saturday showed up. I don’t want them to get too emotional right now and staying in the moment and focusing on the process and not let their minds go too far ahead. You can tell they’re starting to feel it.
Is there anything you can do to make sure they stay focused?
Richt: Just talk about it every day, before practice and after practice, reminding them what’s really important. What’s important is getting better every day and focus on your job. Don’t focus on the outcome of the game. Focus on the process of preparing for the game.
Are you concerned about true freshmen playing in this game for the first time?
Richt: I think they’ll be fine. They’ve already had a whole season under their belt. I don’t see them as freshmen anymore. I really don’t.
Q: Is your offensive line a liability in a game like this?
Richt: A liability? I think they’ll have a great challenge. If I said they’re a liability, we’d definitely be in trouble. I think they’re going to know what to do. I think they’re going to play really hard.
Q: Have you seen lately that they’ve improved or that it wouldn’t be a repeat of the SC game?
Richt: I don’t even remember what happened in the SC game. I think everyone has had trouble with Clowney, don’t you? I think everyone has had trouble with those guys. We’re probably little bit better at blocking now than we were then. Theus is getting there. He’s got a ways to go, but he’s getting there.
Q: Does the weather outside hinder anything?
Richt: Ideally, it’d be better to have an indoor thing to practice in, where we can crank the heat a little bit, but we don’t have that right now.
Q: Will your freshmen kickers go out there Friday?
Richt: I’m thinking we might do it. We’re going to talk about the possibility of all of our specialist getting in there early. I think that’s one thing that would be worth doing. I don’t think it’d be worth going in there, running routes and throwing it around because we just don’t do that on Friday anyway. But if those guys think it would benefit them and we can do that logistically, I might do that.
Q: How do you think Marshall Morgan and Barber do in a big game like this?
Richt: I think if he focuses on his fundamentals and can block everything out, which is what outstanding kickers do, I don’t think you don’t have to be a junior or senior to do that. I think if those guys focus hard on their job, it’s relatively simple. It seems simple, but I know it’s not that simple when you’re the guy trying to do that. It’s like in golf you think if you can just do the same swing every time, what’s the big deal? I think both of our young kickers have improved. Our kickers and punters have improved as the season’s gone on and are gaining more confidence. I think they’re kind of over the big eyes and being nervous. I think they’re used to it now.
Q: You’ve performed better in the third quarter than Alabama. What’s the key to having a strong start to the second half?
Richt: You hope you have a good plan coming out. If I’m not mistaking, I think we’ve won the coin toss and deferred a lot. We probably have one more drive than other people have. I was looking at Alabama’s coin toss stuff, and they’ve taken the ball first quite a few times, so the opponent has the ball first in the third quarter. It may be as simple as one team having more possessions than the other in the third quarter.
Q: Do you think your receiving corps has been tested enough after the loss of Bennett and Brown?
Richt: They’re going to be tested. Even if Michael and Marlon were here, they’d all be tested. They have an outstanding secondary. They do a good job of making your quarterback throwing it sooner than he wants to. It’s more than just guys that can cover. They have defenders that can put pressure on the passer. It’s definitely going to be a challenge. I don’t know if we’ll be good enough or not. We’ll just have to see.
Q: What have you seen from Aaron Murray this week? How has he looked?
Richt: I know he is here a lot. He’s here studying a lot. He was very sharp today. Very sharp in pass skeleton. Very sharp in 11-on-11 where there is tighter coverage. If you practice against the scout team only, it’s hard to simulate tight coverage. When you go against our defense and play at more of a game speed and that type coverage, you’ve got to be more precise and you’re timing has to be good. He looked really good there at the end of practice.
Q: Do you typically talk to him before a game?
Richt: Not always. I know he’s in good hands with Mike (Bobo). There are certain times when I might say a little something, just remind him he doesn’t have to make a big play every time the ball is snapped. Remind him that punts are okay every once and a while...If I see a little something here and there, I may try to interject something, but I’m very careful not to say too much to him because I don’t want to confuse him. I don’t want to say one thing and Coach Bobo said something else or maybe said the same thing a different way. I’ve coached QBs long enough to know that too many guys in a quarterbacks ear, you can confuse him. I don’t talk a whole lot about strategy things or reads and progressions because I want to leave that to Mike. I want one voice there.
Q: Do you say anything to relax Aaron before this game?
Richt: I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ll need to. I always try to encourage him and all the guys, really.
Q: Is your staff going to have any energy left to go recruiting next week?
Richt: Oh I think so. They’ll be ready to recruit. We’ve got a lot of guys to go see. It’s going to be a large class as we know. A lot of the class has been decided on, so we’ll actually be doing a lot of scoping out of next year’s class, too.
Q: Are the emotions different for you now than in the game?
Richt: Right this minute, it’s not. I’m trying to practice what I’m telling my players to do and that’s just focus on my job. Focus on the things that I need to do, thinking about certain situations that could come up. What do we do if this happens? What do we do if that happens? Kind of like that old Bobby Bowden “iffy” meeting he used to have. If this happens, what are we going to do? You want to be thinking about certain situations that might come up and try to make a decision midweek before you start feeling the emotion of the game, so if that situation does come up, you have a plan for it. I’m trying to think of any of the things that could possibly happen ahead of time. There are certain things you can’t cover every week. We don’t practice overtime every week. We don’t always practice our two-point plays, but there are certain things that certain things I want to make sure won’t catch us off guard. No matter how hard you try there’s always something that comes up that you just weren’t ready for. You just hope and pray you prepared the best you can.