January 5, 2011

Richt looks ahead

Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and offensive line coach Stacy Searels aren't going anywhere.

That was just part of the message head coach Mark Richt was determined to make clear Wednesday at the Butts-Mehre Building.

In the days that have followed the Bulldogs' 10-6 loss to UCF in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, rumors have circulated that Richt might be thinking of going in a different direction.

But during his 33-minute session, which was also attended by athletic director Greg McGarity, along with his entire staff of associate ADs, Richt made it clear every one of his assistants will remain in place.

"Coach Bobo is the offensive coordinator, Coach Bobo is the quarterback coach; Coach Searels is the running game coordinator," Richt said. "They've not just done a good job; they've done a great job."

Richt later explained his reason for keeping his staff status quo.

"Sometimes people are so jacked up about change. When I came to Georgia, Georgia had gone through four defensive coordinators in four years; those kids didn't know what to do. There were five offensive line coaches in four years; the kids didn't know what to do," Richt said. "We made some changes last year and we've made some this year, but they've been very well thought out. They're things that are going to help us.

"If you make changes for the sake of changing, you've got to relearn something all over again. Do I want to confuse {db]Aaron Murray[/db] right now? Heck no. That guy knows what he's doing and he's going to have more confidence going into this season. We're not looking to blow anything up. In my opinion, we're very close."

That wasn't all.

Richt also announced that he will be relinquishing more of his administrative duties to Director of Player Development head John Eason and to Dave Van Halanger, who was recently replaced as the Bulldogs' strength and conditioning coach.

According to Richt, Eason will also serve as the football program's liaison to academics. Van Halanger, meanwhile, will cultivate the Bulldogs' various mentor and work study programs.

Richt said that will enable him to devote more time and focus to his actual coaching duties and deal less with the various administrative tasks.

"The revisions that we've made excites me in a big way and it's something that we've put in place that will make us better," Richt said. "The thing it's going to do is free me up to spend more time doing the things I love, which is studying the game of football, becoming a football expert and being on the cutting edge."

Richt also announced the program is bringing in a nutritionist to work exclusively with the football team. He later addressed the attitude of the current team and whether the culture of the Bulldog program needed to change.

Richt said new strength and conditioning coordinator Joe Tereshinski will play an integral role in that.

"I have full faith in Joe T to head up that program. He's a no-nonsense guy who will make sure the job is done right," Richt said. "I like his approach; I like his approach to his work and I like his demeanor. He's a Georgia guy through and through. Our guys will be better because of it."

But that's not all Richt wants to see.

"One of the biggest things I am going to be looking for is effort in the team and everyone around here," he said. "We need to do what we do well and do it full-speed. As a head coach, that's the number one point of emphasis that I am going to watch for."

With Boise State and South Carolina up first on Georgia's 2011 docket, he knows his team had better be prepared.

The Bulldogs open up against the Broncos in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome on Saturday, September 3. Boise State finished the year 12-1, including a 26-3 win over No. 19 Utah in the Maaco Bowl in Las Vegas.

"We need to play a game like this against a highly-regarded Boise State to start the season because it creates some excitement around the program," said Richt. "We play them and then South Carolina the first two games of the year so we will find out in a hurry where we stand. When I announced it to the team, they lit up and you could see the excitement immediately."

He added his thoughts on how the Georgia football program will continue to prepare its student-athletes for life after football.

"We have a small window where we need to take care of our student-athletes and help them grow mentally, physically and spiritually," said Richt. "We need to help them get a degree, to try and win championships and for some of them to get ready to play in the NFL. But most importantly is preparing all of them for life after football."

NOTE: Richt said he will have an announcement regarding linebacker Marcus Dowtin in the coming days. Dowtin was charged with a second-degree assault back home in Maryland last spring, although the charges were settled to the satisfaction of the victim and no arrest was made.

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