Georgia Tech (3-1, 1-1 ACC) will host Miami (3-0, 0-0 ACC) at noon on Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Hurricanes coach Mark Richt had these things to say today on the weekly ACC teleconference, courtesy of the conference:
Q. Everybody gets an off week, and you can obviously use that to heal up and everything, but is it especially convenient to get it the week before Georgia Tech to give you time to prepare for —
A: Yes. I mean, it helps I think to have time to prepare for anybody. If it was a one-game season, that would be great, but we’ve got another eight conference games to go in a row basically. We have a ninth game in there. But when you’re preparing to play their offensive system, it does help, I think.
Q. You’ve seen them a lot when you were at Georgia, you played them every year and have worked against that offense. Can you talk about some of the problems it presents?
A: Well, we have a quarterback who can run, number one. That’s problematic in anybody’s system. When you also read people, in other words, you don’t block somebody and you read them, you know, if they get off the field, you hand the ball off and maybe they crash down on the back, you pull the ball out, so you don’t have to use a blocker for them, you use your eyes and your skills to negotiate the guy. So now all of a sudden, that still allows you to have one more blocker to block one of your defensive players.
Most defenses would like to have one or two safeties deep to clean up anything that might spit through that line of scrimmage or spit through the initial group of defenders, and against them, it’s very difficult to play some type of one high defense or two high defense. You’ll get murdered.
So everybody has got to be locked in. Everybody has got to play the right assignment, and everybody has got to defeat a block to make a tackle.
You know, there is no unblocked guy that’s going to get in the box and make a hit. Everybody is getting blocked or optioned, one of the two.
Q. At this point in the season, what do you have a pretty good handle on in terms of what’s emerging, the strong suits of your team versus what you still are kind of unsure about and will learn more about in these coming weeks here?
A: Right. Well, so far I feel like if we continue doing what we’ve been doing, we’ll at least play hard, we’ll play physical, we’ll play — we will tackle well. We will block downfield. We’ll do the little things that help a team become successful. You know, I will say this: Every game we’ve played, the second opponent was probably a little better than the first, and the third was probably a little better than the second, and now the fourth one is probably a little better than the third one, so we’re kind of stepping up in the competition level in my opinion throughout this season so far, and it’s just a new challenge for us to see if we’re ready for the next level of competition.
Q. How was your bye week? What did you learn during the bye week to get you ready for this game?
A: Well, part of it is just to give these guys a little bit of break physically, mentally, and if there’s a guy that’s just got a nagging injury that maybe he would have played last week and not missed a practice and kind of fought through it, sometimes we’ll monitor the amount of reps or just pull the guy out for a day and let him heal. You only get one shot a year to do it, and this was it. After this we’ve got eight in a row, nine in a row, and eight of them are conference games. So we’re not going to have that luxury anymore.
So you do that, and then you start to scheme them. But you scheme them at a pace that is not as fast and rapid as it has to be when you only have one week to do it. We were able to take a little bit more time, be a little bit more deliberate. Sometimes that’s good and sometimes it’s not good if you have too many good ideas that you just don’t have enough time to practice them all.
Q. You played this team last year when you were with Georgia. Is it always good to play against somebody you know instead of playing against a team that you have no idea — anybody on your schedule this year that you have never met before?
A: Well, I will say this: If I was a defensive coordinator type guy coming up, and if I knew everything about what you needed to know about that offense that we’re about to face, I think it would be an advantage, but right now I don’t have that expertise. I know in generalities but not in specifics. That’s why I’ve got to really rely on Coach Diaz and his ability to — with his staff put together a plan that will help us defend those guys.
Q. Is it weird at all going back up there?
A: Not to me. I’ve been there when I was at Florida State coaching, I’ve been there when I was at Georgia, and now I’m going there while I’m at Miami. It’s not that weird. It’s just — I guess I’m used to it. If this was the first time there, it might be different. It’s more — I don’t know if weird is the word, but going to Appalachian State was more new to me than going back to Atlanta. I’ve been there a lot of times.