Georgia football coach Mark Richt, who is still in the midst of spring practice, took time out of his schedule to visit Columbus for the university alumni association’s UGA Day on Tuesday at the RiverMill Event Centre.
The coach talked about his team’s progress in the spring, prospects for next season and even a little Bulldogs basketball since men’s coach Mark Fox was unable to attend.
Richt finished the day’s practice in Athens, took a flight to Columbus and arrived shortly before the event was set to begin, still sporting his practice attire.
“I look like a bum, I apologize,” he said to the crowd as he took the stage with former Georgia basketball player and WSB personality, Chuck Dowdle. “I had some clothes to change into, but I decided not to.”
Prior to taking the stage, Richt spoke with the media, expressing his satisfaction with the annual G-Day spring game, which took place last Saturday.
“It was awesome,” he said. “We had beautiful weather, broke a record for attendance and I thought it was a pretty well-played game.”
Asked if the attendance should be taken as a sign of excitement among the Georgia faithful following a near berth in the national championship game, Richt said he has felt the buzz.
“I think you can tell everybody’s excited about Georgia and we are too,” he said. “But we know (the Southeastern Conference) is such a rugged league that we can’t get too excited and forget to prepare.”
Part of that preparation is solidifying a defense that lost 12 players who started at least two games in 2012. Richt said that he expects that side of the ball to be played more by committee than it has been in the past.
“There’s a lot of opportunity right now,” he said. “There are a few guys who played and started. Garrison Smith played a good bit, Damian Swann played a good bit, Amarlo Herrera played a good bit and Jordan Jenkins played a lot. I think we’re going to have a lot of guys who can step in and get the job done by committee more than we have in the past, so it’s an exciting time for those guys.”
Asked the same question by a fan in the crowd, Richt elaborated more, stating that the increased rotation should keep players fresh and, perhaps, healthier.
One area Richt said isn’t as settled as some may think is the offensive line, which returns all five starters from a year ago. The coach said, while the starters are returning, there are younger guys poised to step into some roles.
“They’re vying for some starting positions now, too,” he said of some of the younger guys. “We’re not sure who is going to play where up front. David Andrews is pretty solid at center, but other than that, I’m not sure where everybody’s going to land.”
The coach noted linebacker Jenkins, a Harris County graduate who is expected to step into the role vacated by former linebacker and Carver graduate Jarvis Jones.
Richt said he enjoyed coming to Columbus and the surrounding areas, which have been good to Georgia in recent years.
“We love coming here,” he said. “It’s a great place. People love their Dogs here. I know we’re just a hop skip and a jump from Auburn, but there are a lot of true Dogs here in Columbus, and we appreciate that very much.”
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571; Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.