Richt reiterates the case for not spiking the ball

semerson@macon.comDecember 12, 2012 

ATHENS - Mark Richt spent most of his press conference not talking about the upcoming Capitol One Bowl, but the last 15 seconds of the SEC championship.

And yes, he still thinks it was the right call not to spike it.

"No," Richt said when asked if he's re-thought the decision to run a play, rather than stop the clock. "When you no-huddle, you go with tempo. You want to go with pace. That's what we've been doing all year long. Part of going no-huddle is when you have the defense on the run you snap the ball again. You don't need to stop play."

Richt then went on with an 679-word explanation and defense of the decision. If you're wondering why the final 15 seconds were being re-litigated more than a week later, the main reason is that this was the first time Richt and players have met the media in nine days. Richt also didn't appear reluctant to talk about it, and seemed eager to argue why they made the right decision.

The one new revelation on Tuesday was that offensive coordinator Mike Bobo had already called the play from the booth as the offense was heading down field, following Aaron Murray's completion to Arthur Lynch.

Murray, speaking later Tuesday to the media, said he initially thought they were going to spike the ball. But he saw Richt make the motion to run the play, and put the play in motion. Bobo and Murray did not communicate about whether to spike. So it seems that decision was purely Richt's.

But everyone involved - Murray, Conley and Richt - maintained that the right play was not to spike.

"If you run a system where you're used to going fast, it's no big deal, you just run the next play. If you spike it, you give them (the defense) a chance (to get ready)," Richt said.

Murray said he had the authority to spike it, but said he supported the decision to run the play.

"I'm sure I wouldn't have gotten in trouble if we did spike it," Murray said. "But like I said, I don't see any problem with the play call at all. It's not like we were designed to throw a short pass. It was a fade into the end zone, and either a catch or an incompletion."

In fact, if they had spiked the ball, they would have run the same play.

"The problem wasn't the play," Richt said. "The problem was that the ball was tipped."

It was tipped at the line, and then into the hands of Georgia receiver Chris Conley, who instinctively caught it. But because he was in bounds, the clock ran out and the game was over.

"Really you're probably talking about one or two digits of a finger," Richt said. "That's how close a game is sometimes."

Murray was asked what would have happened if the ball, intended for receiver Malcolm Mitchell, wasn't tipped.

"Oh it's a touchdown," he said. "It's a 50-50 ball. The guy's facing Malcolm, and Malcolm just has to go up and catch the ball."

And the reason a receiver (Conley) was in play, in position to catch it? Because that's what you do against a zone coverage team.

"Every receiver, his reaction would be obviously to catch the ball," Richt said.

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