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Richt: "Stafford down to 230 "slim" pounds. " **UPDATED**


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Richt rested and ready for start of season

By Michael A. Lough -

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Jason Vorhees
Georgia football coach Mark Richt signs autographs Thursday night at the Macon Centreplex during the Dawg Day Event. Jason Vorhees/The Telegraph

Mark Richt isn't any more anxious for this season to start than any other season. He doesn't have any greater anticipation for the day his players report or the opening kickoff.

"I'm excited," the Georgia head coach said before speaking to more than 350 fans Thursday night in Macon. "I don't know if it's any more than usual."

He was about the only person wearing red or black at the Edgar H. Wilson Convention Centre with that mind-set as UGA's "Dawg Days" tour stopped in Macon, part of Richt's busy offseason.

It has included a trip to the Middle East with several other college football coaches, a visit to the White House and a mission trip to Honduras with about two dozen Georgia players. And he has also had to deal with a variety of off-the-field issues with his team.

A little rest is in order, as is figuring out exactly how many miles he has flown since spring practice ended. But upon further review, Richt admitted he's pretty ready.

"Before the Fourth of July, I want to relax, I want to go on vacation," Richt said before talking for about 45 minutes Thursday. "After the Fourth, I get jacked up and ready to go. I'm feeling it."

So were the fans after listening to UGA network radio voice and event master of ceremonies Neil "Hondo" Williamson get them fired up, including pointing out that it's a distance of 589.4 miles from Macon to the site of this year's BCS championship game in Miami.

Richt saw the mother of UGA punter Brian Mimbs of Dublin and announced to the crowd that Mimbs had recently been awarded a scholarship.

"It was a long time coming for Brian," said Richt, adding that Mimbs - who averaged 42.3 yards per punt in his first season as a starter in 2007 - is serving an internship this summer. "He's done so well for us, and we're thankful he's with us."

Richt touched on several specific topics before and during the event:

" Fullback Brannan Southerland continues to rehabilitate his foot after surgery. Richt said the window of Southerland's absence from the date of surgery was 12 to 16 weeks.

"It's healing," Richt said. "But I just don't know if he'll be closer to 12 or 16 (weeks)."

" Quarterback Matthew Stafford is in the best shape of his career. Richt said Stafford is a slim 230 pounds, which still sounds thick.

"His freshman year, the first day of practice, he weighed 248 pounds," Richt said. "He was kinda chubby. He's a big, broad-shouldered, big calves, he's a big kid. But he's as trim as he's ever been."

" The Bulldogs' trip to Arizona State on Sept. 20 has intrigued scores of UGA fans.

"We don't have enough tickets to give to as many Bulldogs that want to go," he said. "We have Bulldog fans paying $99 for (ASU's) season tickets so they can go.

"They're like, 'We wish it would cost $99 for (Georgia tickets).' "

" Yes, much has been made of this year's schedule, which includes Arizona State, LSU and Alabama, as well as the normal opponents.

"Next year: Auburn, LSU, Arkansas in the West and still Arizona State again and Oklahoma State and Georgia Tech out of conference and the Eastern Division," Richt said. "You thought this year was rough. Wait till next year."

" Richt reviewed every position and unit on the team.

Depth is a concern at safety and inside linebacker, true freshman wide receiver A.J. Green is likely to play, the offensive line is still a young unit with no seniors and one junior on the two-deep, and the backups at running back behind Knowshon Moreno and Caleb King will be young.

Richt feels good about the defensive line all the way across and noted that special teams will be of great focus, not just replacing place-kicker Brandon Coutu.

Chris Davis is leading the way at center, but true freshman Ben Jones is improving and making quite an impression.

"Ben is so mean," Richt said. "On the field, he's nasty. He wants to whip you, and he wants to tell you about it afterwards."

That excited the crowd as Richt chuckled.

"I told him, 'When you get here, you're probably going to get into a few fights (in practice),' " Richt said. "Ben got his tail whipped a bunch in the spring, but he kept scrapping."

Perhaps Richt's happiest moment of the offseason came during the trip to Honduras, when the Bulldogs played soccer against a local team that dominated on a regular basis.

So Richt convinced the team to participate in a few one-on-one races against the Georgia contingent, which included his Clemson-bound son Jon, who was set up to race one of the local players.

"I said, 'If he's got the Richt genes, we're in trouble,' " Richt said. "Sure enough, old Jon won the race. I was so excited. A Richt won a sprint foot race."


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Some more comments:

1. When discussing the depth by position MR had to admit we have it pretty good right now. Two names that came to the forefront quickly were Houston and Knox as guys that are working hard to challenge for playing time. Seemed somewhat of a validation of what we've been hearing. He did answer the AJ Gereen/Tavarres King question with "they will get every chance to compete for playing time and if he had to guess, he thinks Green will "probably play" (from a different question). LOL, ya think?

2. During his comments about Ben Jones being "just nasty" on the field (not same off the field) he embellished the comment with what Jones' spring camp was like. He said "when a true freshman lines up against Geno Atkins you just KNOW he is going to get BEAT" and went on to describe how that indeed did happen a lot early in camp. But what seemed to me to impress MR was Jones' grittiness as Richt described with the later comment "he's the kind that will just rub some dirt on it and get back in there".

3. One of the best Q&As last night was when Hondo asked Richt "more intensity, Fabris or Searels?". The whole room burst out laughing as soon as the question was asked (Bulldogs fans KNOW Georgia football). Richt just leaned back in his chair and wiped his hand all over his face and finally responded, "They're BOTH pretty intense.... (pregnant pause)... but I think you need to add Garner in there too (another loud laugh from the crowd). He can get pretty intense and get down on them pretty hard when coaching too." All the while he almost seemed not wanting to answer the question so he then added... "and I can get a little intense from time to time too". He then kind of sloughed it off with "I think they even have some film of me getting upset once or twice" (another huge laugh from the crowd).

4. Q from crowd: Thoughts about Bobo as OC? A: MR talked about how important it is to allow a young coach to mature until he is "ready" to take over a job like OC. Said if you do it too soon and the coach makes a mistake that in the coach's mind cost us a game it could ruin his confidence, but even worse, it could affect the coaches around him and their confidence in him. Richt went on to say that he "knew" for a long time that he really needed an OC and that he "was not the OC down on the field as he was in the booth". Long answer made short, MR is very pleased with Bobo.

5. He also mentioned that we may have lost out on some guys last year because "(Richt) didn't "know" if he would have room for them when it came time and the last thing (Richt) wanted was to have to tell a recruit he'll have to wait until January to be accepted. Pretty cool, I thought. Very classy, I know.

6. On our recruiting style - said we don't do a lot of things to glitz up the recruit's visits because we want the visit to feel as much like it's really going to be when they get here as possible. We even for the most part try to take them to places they will actually eat when they get here, like the dining hall (yep, he said that). We don't try too hard to take them to fancy places although we do a little of it. We also try hard to be honest with recruits and in the long run we have gotten commits from recruits later becasue they realized not evey school is as honest. He went on to say "we (our coaches) will coach the guy when he gets to UGA, not some ex player that is now in the NFL or anyone else that might show up at some camp." Again, makes a heck of a lot of sense and cool as all get out.

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