October 4, 2009

Richt still unsure about penalty on Green

Even one day later, Mark Richt still has no idea what A.J. Green did to deserve his 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty during the final minute of the Bulldogs' 20-13 loss to LSU.

"I haven't asked A.J., so I just don't know," Richt said. "I do know this. Immediately after the catch, he went directly to his teammates. I know that for sure and I saw what happened until the television cut it off. I don't know if anything happened after that time."

By now, the story is a familiar one.

Almost immediately after catching a 16-yard touchdown from quarterback Joe Cox to put Georgia up 13-12, Green was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, a 15-yard penalty which the Tigers elected to apply to the kickoff.

Following a 40-yard return and 5-yard illegal formation penalty, LSU lined up at the Bulldog 38. Two plays later, Scott rumbles through a host of tacklers for a 33-yard touchdown run to win the game.

Although Richt declined to lay blame on the officials, the call generated plenty of negative response from members of the national media, who thought the referees overstepped their bounds in making the call.

"Whatever was caught on camera, may have or may not have covered everything that happened. But based on what I saw … I'm going to need to be educated on what constitute a flag for excessive celebration," Richt said. "I want to be able to educate our players in the right way, so that won't happen to us again in the future. That's all I've got to say, really."

Richt did say he would contract SEC Director of Officials Rogers Redding, although that's something he and all coaches do every week.

"We do that from time to time. Like when Reshad Jones was called for the penalty in the Oklahoma State game, I talked to Rogers to try and get an idea and be educated to what to try and tell these guys," Richt said. "I want to play within the rules, but I also want to play as physical as possible and I want our guys to be able to have some spirit and have the ability to enjoy some success. We have to make sure we're in the rules when it comes to tackling in fierce way and we have to understand what the rules are on the celebration deal."

Quarterback Joe Cox was asked his thoughts on the call before practice Sunday afternoon. Even a day after the loss, he was still at a loss for words.

"I don't know what exactly it was and why it was called. Somebody told me today that he was calling attention to himself. I thought he caught the ball, turned around and ran toward everybody that was coming to him," Cox said. "I don't know what it was but obviously it was something they felt was over the line so that's their call."

Green wasn't the only one to fall victim to the league's celebratory call.

Late in the third quarter, tight end Orson Charles drew a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct when the referees ruled that the Tampa freshman drew attention to himself following his 23-yard catch down the LSU 13.

The flag backed the Bulldog up 15 yards, but to Charles' relief did not keep the Bulldogs out of the end zone as Cox eventually hit Shaun Chapas with a 1-yard toss on fourth-down that gave Georgia (3-2, 2-1) a brief 7-6 lead.

"The officials are paid to do what they're paid to do. You can't really complain. You live and you learn," Charles said. "I'm pretty sure after Saturday that nobody will be celebrating anymore."

Still, Cox seemed to indicate that the interpretation of the rule leaves much to be desired.

"We're playing the No. 4 team in the country, we throw a touchdown with just over a minute left. I don't know what we're supposed to do or how we're supposed to act. Our whole sideline went crazy, our whole crowd went crazy. You can't help but to me be emotional after something like that," Cox said. " Now, obviously, there are things that cross the line if you're taunting the other team or something that is out of line and I guess they felt something he did was out of line."

The question Cox has, is what?

Cox said that coaches tell players not to get carried. Players are told not to taunt, but doesn't want to curb the excitement on the field.

"He tells us not to do anything stupid, but when we make big plays he wants us to celebrate together; not like Florida and the whole team run on the field, but congratulate your teammates when they make big plays, get excited together," Cox said. "I thought that's what we were doing."
NOTES: Richt said that Washaun Ealey would definitely get more playing time Saturday at Tennessee, but said it was too early to talk about him starting. … Redshirt freshman Bacarri Rambo will continue to get more playing time at safety. "Rambo is playing well. He's playing well on special teams, at safety he's showing a lot of ball skills, and he's got a pick. He deserves to get more playing time. He's earned it. I think we're going to be seeing a lot more of Bacarri." … Georgia dropped out of the Top 25 polls for the first time since 2006.

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