Mark Richt is the longest-tenured coach in the SEC. He’s won two SEC titles. He’s coached in big games.
But Saturday may be uncharted territory.
The No. 8 Bulldogs (4-0) host No. 13 Alabama (3-1) in a clash of SEC powers, one that will undoubtedly have playoff implications.
How will Richt ensure that his team’s emotions are high but not too high? Richt wants to see passion and energy, yes, but he also wants to see focus and discipline.
“You got to focus on what gives you the best chance of winning – and that’s knowing what to do, knowing how to do it and doing it with a lot of energy,” Richt said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “You can be real emotional about a game, but if you’re not doing the right thing and making mistakes, it’s no good. So we want energy. We want them to be excited about the game, but we also want them to function well. So the bottom line is, are we paying attention to the business at hand? Are we taking care of the things that are most important? And that’s knowing what your job is and doing it well. I think the emotions will take care of themselves. There’s no doubt in my mind there will be plenty of blood pumping on Saturday.”
That includes the blood of Greyson Lambert, who has completed 76.5 percent of his passes for seven touchdowns this season.
“Well, to this point, he’s really done a very good job,” Richt said. “He’s only been on campus a couple months. He only had a couple weeks to kind of learn what to do before he began to compete for the job and actually ended up winning it. So he’s experiencing new things within this system every single week, and one thing he hasn’t experienced is a whole lot of adversity. We’ve been playing with the lead most of the time. He hasn’t thrown a pick yet. He hasn’t had to react to that. He hasn’t had to react to getting hit in the mouth a few times and watching that pocket squeeze on him and getting sacked here and there. So there’s a lot of things that he hasn’t experienced yet that he’ll have to manage as they come along. But to this point, he’s done about everything you can ask him to do.”
Georgia beat SEC rivals Vanderbilt and South Carolina by a combined score of 83-34 before dismantling Southern University, 48-6, this past Saturday. That win, however, was bittersweet, as Southern receiver Devon Gales suffered a spinal cord injury while blocking during a kickoff return.
Richt visited Gales in the hospital Sunday. Gales, who only has partial movement in his upper body, will be hospitalized for at least eight weeks, with doctors unsure of his long-term prognosis.
Needless to say, Gales’ injury has a way of changing one’s perspective on life.
“It affects everybody,” Richt said. “It affects everybody. It affects the people in the stands, it affects the people on the field, it affects families – there’s just so many emotions that run high during moments like that. But the thing that I thought was beautiful about the whole situation was how, from the moment it happened, Southern University’s medical staff came across the field and our medical staff – they’re just sitting there side by side, working and doing what’s in the best interest of Devon, and it just continued from there. The outpouring of love that the Bulldog Nation has shown this Southern University family and the Gales family – it’s been incredible. Theres going to come a time when Devon, after all the whirlwind of it all, he’s going to go home and he’s going to start living his life. We just want to do enough to where we can affect him in a positive way the rest of his life. That’s our goal.”