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July 19, 2012
HOOVER, Ala. - Georgia coach Mark Richt touched on a number of subjects with beat writers and a few select members of the national media before taking the stage in the main room at SEC Media Days.
Among them, former Bulldog running back Isaiah Crowell, who was dismissed from the program following his arrest on gun possession charges and the impact it will have on the Georgia offense this fall.
"We've got some really good backs on this football team and it's certainly going to change Richard Samuel's role. He was transitioning to at least a hybrid tailback-fullback for us, and he may still be ready to go if needed over there, but he'll be mostly (at tailback)," Richt said. "So that will change, and actually Ken Malcome was going in as the No. 1 tailback going into spring ball, plus those freshmen tailbacks (Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley) are going to get a chance to show what they can do. That's why they came, to play and play early."
As for Crowell, Richt said the decision to dismiss the running back was difficult but stressed it was one that had to be made.
"No decision to dismiss a guy from the team is an easy decision ? it's very tough because I care very much about all of these guys," Richt said. "Having to make those kinds of decisions are tough but in the end I think we made the decisions that were made in the best interest of the program. I wish Isaiah the very best in his future and hope things work out for him."
Richt also defended the notion that Georgia is a program that has a hard time controlling its student athletes.
He also denied any suggestion that he's recruiting the "wrong kind of kids."
"We're not recruiting bad kids. We're recruiting a lot of great kids. We're recruiting, competing with every team in the conference for the same guys, so I don't think that statement's true," he said. "We certainly are going to have an expectation of how we want our guys to behave and if they don't behave we're going to discipline them. Whether the discipline involves running up and down the stadiums, whatever it might be - losing playing time, or to the level of losing your ability to stay at Georgia - the thing we're going to do is take care of any issues that come up in the proper way."
Low numbers not a concern
Richt acknowledged that recent attrition has cut the number of scholarship athletes on the football team to a level he'd rather not be.
With the news that would-be freshmen Leonard Floyd and John Atkins will both be attending prep school, Georgia is currently at 69 players who actually signed with the Bulldogs on a football scholarship.
Richt, however, did not seem overly concerned.
"There's been more attrition the last couple of years since I've been at Georgia but we'll still have plenty of guys to field a team," Richt said. "One good thing is we're a very healthy team right now. We've got a couple of guys who are coming into camp maybe not full speed, (Xzavier) Ward is still coming off an injury and Sterling Bailey but everybody is coming in healthy ready to go."
In hopes of replenishing the numbers, Richt said the Bulldogs should have ample opportunity to do that with the 2013 class.
Georgia has 22 verbal commitments thus far.
"The rules say if you come in at the mid-year you can count back as many as you've got space for from 25 from the year so we will have space, a large enough number of space - and you can count 25 forward," he said. "It could go into the 30 range."
Richt knows what punishments will be
It's been common knowledge for weeks now that safety Bacarri Rambo, linebacker Alec Ogletree and cornerback Branden Smith each face suspensions for their respective violations that occurred during spring break.
The length of each has been popular message board fodder.
Thursday, Richt finally said he finally knows the answer - but he's not saying.
"I do know. We'll share it sometimes, but not today," he said. "I'll announce it when it needs to be announced.
? Richt was also once again asked about the future of offensive lineman Kolton Houston, who missed all of last year dealing with an "NCAA issue. ""I wish I had an answer for that. I still don't the answer. I'm waiting as are you guys."
? "They all know that they are a little bit of a focal point, needing to prove that they can do it and I think it's added some incentive from what I understand. But with offensive line guys, just coordinating five guys to hit the right guy is big and these guys are very sharp. If we can get five to fight like mad and put their hat on the right guy, I think we can function pretty good." - Richt on the offensive line.
? "Well, obviously Malcolm practiced all spring to be a defensive back. The main reason for that is we want him to be able to function every down or any given down or distance in any situation. I'm not saying he's going to play on defense because I don't know if anybody plays every single play these days, but I want him to understand our scheme well enough so Coach (Todd) Grantham has no hesitation with what he might want to do or call because Malcolm in the game so we're getting him ready to play as much defense as he can." - Richt on the role of Malcolm Mitchell.
? "That's the thing. If you can make good decisions throughout the year, really respect the ball, he's going to complete a lot of balls, he's going to throw touchdown passes and there's going to be times he's going to put it on the money. When things aren't just perfect, you've got to manage that situation, whether it's throwing it up I the stands, wrapping it up ? that's very important for all quarterbacks. But the thing is there's going to be some key situations, mostly at end of ball games, when your quarterback has to make plays in crunch time. He needs to be able to make those types of plays - with the help of his teammates." - Richt on the importance of quarterback Aaron Murray protecting the ball.