Hard knock: Richt takes blame for not issuing knock-down reminder

semerson@macon.comNovember 19, 2013 

Ricardo Louis, front, pursues the ball after Josh Harvey-Clemons (25) knocked it up in the air during the final minute of Saturday’s game.

TODD J. VAN EMST — Special to The Telegraph

ATHENS - Georgia head coach Mark Richt fell on his sword a bit on Tuesday when it came to Auburn's miracle 73-yard touchdown last Saturday.

Georgia called a defensive timeout prior to the play, and Richt was up front that neither he nor defensive coordinator Todd Grantham specifically reminded players to knock down a long pass. Josh Harvey-Clemons tipped it up rather than bat it down, while colliding with fellow safety Tray Matthews.

"I had my chance to coach that up and didn't do it," Richt said.

Part of that is because they didn't expect a bomb. Junior cornerback Damian Swann said the same thing on Monday, explaining that they thought Auburn would target the first-down marker, rather than heave a bomb.

But it was a bomb.

"I'm in there, Grantham's in there, we're all in there. I could have easily said, 'Hey guys, if the ball's launched deep, bat it down.' I could have said that," Richt said. "That's a good reminder for a young bunch of guys back there. I, quite frankly, didn't think it was enough time to move the chains, so we weren't thinking that they were going to launch a bomb into super-deep coverage."

While the knock-down reminder wasn't issued in the huddle, Georgia does practice that kind of play every week, on Thursdays.

"We bat it down every Thursday," Richt said, before turning to some analysis on why Harvey-Clemons played it the way he did. "In the moment of truth, the ball is coming right to you and you're thinking about getting it. Josh is trying to defend the play. He's looking at the ball. He's not really sure where the safety is. He knows where the safety was running to, so he was trying to knock the ball down or trying to defend the play.

"It was kind of a weird deal."

Grantham, speaking after Tuesday's practice, was sure the play would serve as a learning experience for a young defense.

"If they're ever in a situation like that again, they'll know what to do," Grantham said.

Grantham was asked if it was fair to focus on the idea of simply knocking down the pass, or whether it was just a fluke play.

"I think it's about 7 percent chance of happening," Grantham said, smiling, and left it at that.

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