One week removed from his team's 33-30 triple-overtime loss to Michigan State in the Outback Bowl, Georgia head coach Mark Richt held a teleconference Monday to wrap up the just-completed season and look ahead to 2012.
Questions were varied and touched on a variety of subjects, including what changes he expects to make on special teams, Georgia's running backs, to what changes - if any - he expects to implement to the strength and conditioning program.
Q - What will be your main focus for spring practice?
A - "I've kind of covered a lot of those things even as the season was winding down, I think there's no doubt we've got to be a whole lot better on special teams, top to bottom. We went through some growing pains with some young guys, kind of bit the bullet with some true freshmen and various guys but the good news is they'll be a year better. Then we'll also make sure we're all hands on deck when it comes to special teams, whatever it takes personnel wise, but we as coaches too are going to review everything we do and make sure we're confident that we're doing the right things with the right personnel and it's going to be big for us. We also want to create as much depth as we possibly can and continue to try and finish better. We definitely want to run the ball and it's going to be an extreme challenge for us to break in some new linemen offensively, so that will be big for us. Those are just some things that are crossing my mind. Even defensively we've got to make sure we can finish the games like we start them, so I think we came a long way this year. I'm proud of the effort and I'm proud of the progress, but we're still on a journey to do even better things so that's going to be the goal."
Q - Assess the performance of your running backs and what improvements will have to be made moving forward?
A - "The biggest thing will be consistency, that's what we've got to get. We played a lot of inexperienced running backs as well. Those guys gained some experience and hopefully because of that they'll become more mature players and more consistent players, so I think that's going to be the two things that I'd say are the most important for me. As always, the fundamental things of ball-security, pass protection and those types of things, but the maturity and the consistency is what we've got to do a better job of."
Q - What has been our early impression of Keith Marshall, along with fellow early enrollees Faton Bauta and Mark Beard?
A - "He's (Marshall) a very fine young man. He's very focused. I walked into the team meeting last night and he had a playbook in his hand. He was looking over assignments, just gave me a moment to grin, to be able to see how excited he was about being at Georgia and I'm sure he was a little nervous, being at Georgia for the first time. I remember the first night I stayed away from home. There's a little anxiety, but also a lot of excitement. They each got a chance to introduce themselves to their teammates and got a round of applause, we did a good of welcoming them and now getting ready for the offseason program.
Q - What position will Bauta play, and has Hutson Mason said anything more about transferring?
A - "Yes, he's a quarterback. I've talked to Hutson a couple of times and I'm not sure if he is 100 percent settled on what he's going to do at this moment."
Q - Will all of your assistant coaches return for 2012?
A - "I certainly hope so. I've had no indication otherwise. I've heard nothing at all. I think everybody is excited about the future here. I've not heard one thing. Everybody has moved forward and I'm excited about that. I'm very excited about these men; I thought they did a great job of coaching and teaching, but also staying positive and holding down the fort when things got tough after 0-2. If the leadership doesn't stick together you're doomed and those guys were awesome. I appreciate every one of them and I know our administration does, too. We're moving forward with everybody on staff."
Q - Do you know yet which of your underclassmen are applying for the NFL Draft?
A - "I talked to those guys off and on. We had a team meeting last night and all those guys were there. That doesn't guarantee everybody is going to stay, but at least they were all there and I guess that meant they weren't 100 percent sure what they were going to do yet. When's everybody going to decide and have some sort of finality? I don't know. Certainly they've got to have it by the deadline. I think there's some guys whose heads are spinning a little bit and not sure what they are going to do. I have not been told yet by anybody that he is leaving."
Q - Can you shed any light on why Jordan Love decided to leave the program?
A - "I just want to say that I really appreciate what Jordan contributed to Georgia. He's a great kid and I wish him well."
Q - Will you sign a full class this year?
That's the hope; we'll see. There's still a lot of really great players out there and lot of decisions to be made. We're working our tails off trying to finish this class as best we can. We'll just have to wait and see if we fill the full allotment or not, but we'll be shooting for it."
Q - Will Trinton Sturdivant return?
A - "I don't think so."
Q - Will there be any changes to the strength and conditioning program from last season?
A - "It will be the same setup as last year."