As expected, a good portion of Mark Richt's Tuesday's press conference with reporters dealt with the unsportsmanlike conduct call on wide receiver A.J. Green.
While the penalty certainly created uproar throughout the Dawg Nation, the response from the national media has been equally as fierce. Even Florida coach Urban Meyer chimed in, saying how he "hated to see that kind of thing."
"I haven't been reading everything thing and watching on TV, but through Claude (sports information director Claude Felton) that it is gaining a lot of national attention," Richt said. "I think that we need to have good sportsmanship. I do think that the kids absolutely need to celebrate good things happening. I think they've probably got to understand how to go about it. Probably the biggest issue is understanding what you can and can't do."
Richt said he's now watched the replay of Green's catch and the subsequent flag and found that the sophomore did not wrong.
SEC head of officials Rogers Redding concurred during a phone call to Richt Monday morning.
"I did watch the video of A.J.'s reaction after the catch, and that's basically how we coach it - go find your teammate and go celebrate with him. I also had a local television station show him come all the way in until he finally got to the sideline," Richt said. "I didn't see him do anything that warranted the call. It definitely changed the dynamics of the game, no question about that. Whether or not it would have ultimately changed the outcome, no one really knows that."
Richt said he has no qualms with Redding for how he's handling the situation.
"One thing I'll say about Rogers Redding and his leadership of the officials is that he's always been willing to say if they thought they made a mistake, he'd say it. I appreciate that about him. No one's perfect," Richt said. "But as far as philosophically, should we look into changing the rule, I think it might be time to look at that and say we've got to be careful not to take the joy out of the game for the players and the ability to celebrate something good, although if it includes taunting an opponent, there should be a flag for that."
King probably won't play
As reported Monday night by UGASports, running back Caleb King has a broken jaw, but Richt said the Bulldogs were fortunate in many regards.
No. 1, King will not require surgery to repair the fracture and his time on the sideline might not be that long at all.
"It's not a season-ending thing by any stretch. It might be a stretch to say this week but we're not really counting that out," he said. "There's a concussion involved from the shot that he took and that's probably more of a concern with now. We can't do anything until the concussion symptoms clear. I think they would let him practice immediately with the no-contact, they might ok him to play him as early this week, but it's probably not likely."
If King does miss Saturday's game at Tennessee that will guarantee that true freshman Washaun Ealey will see extended playing time.
However, it still appears that Richard Samuel will get the start.
"It's probably going to be Richard at this point," Richt said. "We haven't had an in-depth discussion about it, but right now Richard will start."
Richt attempts to explain kickoff coverage woes
As Georgia's problems on kickoff coverage continue to manifest themselves on seemingly a weekly basis, Richt was asked Tuesday about what can be done to start turning that part of the Bulldogs' game around.
"We've been inconsistent enough in the ball placement of some of our kicks and we're very, very immature on that team," Richt said. "We've got too many young guys side by side on those teams, the kickoff-teams, and the kickoff coverage team in particular. It's probably the youngest bunch we've had out there. Even some of the guys who have some good experience have had some injuries. Even a guy like Chad Gloer, Chad was becoming a start on that team for us, he pulled a hamstring on Thursday and that's just one more guy who got thrown in there who didn't really have the experience."
On the kickoff following the unsportsmanlike penalty against Green, the Bulldogs had eight scholarship players, including backup quarterback Logan Gray, plus three walk-ons on the kickoff coverage team.
After kicking off from the 15 following the penalty, LSU's Trindon Holliday returned the football 40 yards to the Bulldog 43.
Following a five-yard penalty for an illegal formation, LSU took its first snap at 38. Two plays later, Charles Scot rumbled 33 yards for the game-winning score.
The Bulldogs come into Saturday's game at Tennessee ranked No. 10 in the SEC in kickoff coverage.
"We're learning. You only get good at something through experience. You hate to have bad things happen to you in the process, but they have," Richt said. "But the two teams who have hurt us the most have the two most prolific returns in the country, probably. It wasn't like we were going against chop liver or anything like that. But we've got to continue working on our consistency, our hang time, the ball placement and the guys' ability to basically execute what's being coached."
This and that
Green continues to lead the SEC in receiving, topping the league in total receiving yards (527), receiving yards per game (105.4) and receptions per game (6). His 527 yards rank 11th in the nation.
Saturday's game at Tennessee will mark the first time the Bulldogs and Vols met as unranked teams in the Associated Press or USA Today Coaches poll since 1937. The Bulldogs and Vols have only met 38 times (25 times since the 1937 game) and only started meeting annually since 1992.
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