Some quick notes from Mark Richt's first pre-game press conference heading into FAMU opener Saturday:
*** "I've been here almost nine months now and it's been a lot of work between the first day and today...It's time to go line up and play and see what we've got."
*** On going to Hard Rock Stadium: "It is a very beautiful place and a little bit different from what the players are used to...We want to thank the Miami Dolphins.. for allowing us to use their bubble the other day. It was nice to be in the AC. I think we're used to the heat for sure."
*** FAMU coach Alex Wood "of course coached back here early in his career as a running backs coach -- he won a couple national championships.''
*** The last few days knowing he has three true freshmen lbs that might start, what do you do to make sure they don't make this is into something that it's not?
"I think the big thing is just the fact that they've been here since January. They went through spring football.They went through matt drills first. They spent the whole summer with our strength staff getting stronger and faster and quicker. When we installed our defense in the spring they heard it for the first time with the rest of their defensive teammates. It's not like the rest of the defense had heard it before...They've been through three installations of the same defense and have heard it as often as anybody else that's been here... In a lot of ways they're not freshmen."
*** "Just wearing that U on your helmet for the first time has got to be a really surreal experience. It takes a minute. I guess at a contact position like linebacker it doesn't take long to get those feelings out because once you strike somebody for the first time or get struck one way or another you tend to get ready to play pretty quick.''
*** On how team responded to news about Grace and Muhammad: "We just got back to work." Richt says he talked to team about attrition and the next guy has got to be ready. "On the other hand they're teammates, they're friends, they're guys that have been working alongside them that have created the energy and momentum we have to this point. It hurts. It hurts us as coaches, it hurts the fans, it hurts the teammates. I'm sure it hurts the gentlemen. It is what it is. It's done. So what are we going to do now to make sure we win?"
*** On FAMU, an FCS team, what kind of things do you have to guard against? "Well, I don't really look at it that way. When I approach any opponent I watch the film, I look at the scheme they're in.. and we schematically try to figure out what gives us the best chance to win."
*** On freshmen linebackers: "Yeah, that's a key spot. No doubt. I mean the heart of your defense and you've got a bunch of freshmen in there. Thank goodness for mid-year enrollees."
*** On how Malik Rosier finally won the backup quarterback job: "Evan Shirreffs did have an injury on his throwing hand in the middle of camp that didn't help his accuracy. But Malik at this point has begun to figure me out and do it the way I ask him to do it every single snap...He has improved quite a bit... He has some good athleticism. I think he can be a guy you can design a little bit quarterback run for -- that helps him as well. Shirreffs and [Vincent] Testaverde right now, it's more of a battle for [third team] now.
*** Do you think safeties have skill-set to play in nickel spot? "Yes I do. I feel a lot better about our defensive backs today than I did at the end of spring. I was a little concerned.. I didn't know if we could tackle anybody in space... What a huge difference that I see now in our defensive backs and our safeties' ability to close that space, come at good angles and get people corralled and get them on the ground... There might have been more interceptions in this camp that I'm used to seeing, period. ...Part of it is working with four guys trying to be second-team quarterback but I feel like we'll have enough defensive backs to play the nickel."
*** On Braxton Berrios: "I can kind of gauge our entire practice regimen by watching Braxton. If Braxton is dragging then we're probably doing too much. That guy, he doesn't drag around...I can't even tell you how many yards that cat runs. He's been a great leader. He's smart, he loves football...He can play the Z, he can play the Y and he can play the X.''
*** On why Mark Richt isn't using the GPS system: "Because I think there's a way to go about it without having to look at that thing.. I want it to be tough. I want them to push hard. I went them to go through the physical and mental toughness part of camp. I think you can watch them and know when to pull off...''
*** On calling plays again and the excitement: "The first time I called plays in the scrimmage in the spring I didn't sleep that night.. I was excited... My focus is going to be calling the game.. My focus is going to be on recruits.. that day. There will be so many things to keep me busy I don't think I'll get too nostalgic. I'm sure the Cane Walk will be an emotional time, but then we've got to get our minds right and get back to work.''
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN