Barry Jackson

Richt says he can do a better job, but so can his blockers

The Herald’s Susan Miller Degnan has two posts from Friday’s ACC Media Day in Charlotte, including one on the quarterback situation.

Here’s a six-pack of notes we found interesting while listening to Richt’s session with reporters:

• Richt challenged everyone on his offense to do a better job blocking. In his estimation, last year wasn’t good enough.

Frankly, it was embarrassing on a couple occasions when two-man or three-man rushes resulted in sacks on Brad Kaaya.

“I really believe we’re going to be better blockers,” Richt said. “We have to be. If we want to win anything, we better be better blockers up front. I see a lot of progress. I see progress in their body types. I’ve seen progress in the spring. I’ve seen young guys coming in with ability.

“I got my hopes up that the line is going to be a lot better than a year ago – pass protection and run blocking. Part of our problem last year was you get sacks in these ganes, if you can’t gain a yard or two on first down, and you’re second and 11 or second or 9, and third and six... If you try to establish the run, one yard, then it’s 3rd and 8,… it’s hard to sit there and drop back and throw the football when they’re teeing off on you.

“We have to block better. We got to block better at tight end. We have to block better at receiver. We have to not to do stupid stuff, self-inflicted [stuff]. A guy can’t let lined up. A guy flinches. A guy hits a guy when a play is over. Let’s not beat ourselves.”

• Richt, asked how he will change in his second year on the job, said: “I can do a better job. Last year, I was still memorizing our code names and hand signals and verbiage we presented as a staff to our players. I changed verbiage from Georgia. I didn’t want the same code names and hand signals.

“Now, I don’t need flashcards. I got it. I think I’ll be able to call the game much more quickly. When you play certain teams a second time around, you face a defense a second time around, it’s a lot different than the first time you’ve done it.”

• Richt said though Mike Smith will be available to play fullback, linebacker remains his top priority. Smith is Shaq Quarterman’s backup at mike linebacker.

“We don’t see using Mike a lot at fullback,” Richt said. “But if we’re in a short yardage situation or a four minute offense at the end of the game, trying to just get big and hammer the ball. [But] I don’t know if we’re going to spend a massive amount of time with a fullback in the game. But when we do, in one game it may be as many as 10 plays.

“In another game, it could be three plays. Maybe it’s 15 plays ---- possibly. Is that a lot of wear and tear on a guy? Not necessarily. I mean, I don’t want to do anything with the fullback that would take away his ability to play linebacker. [Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz] and I had a discussion and don’t think it will.”

• Though Richt is not allowed to oversee informal workouts, Richt has heard good feedback from players on cornerbacks Dee Delaney and Jhavonte Dean.

“I can’t really judge because I’m not out there but I hear guys talk about [Dean],” he said. “They say he can cover a lot of ground. They say he’s really fast, can bait people a little bit. And when the ball is in the air, go attack with his speed and his ball skills. The guys are impressed with him.”

• Richt was asked by an out of town reporter if he embraces the program’s (or specifically, UM players’) reputation for brashness.

“I am not ignoring it,” he said. “I think swag is lining up and whipping the guy in front of you. Swag is winning. If Miami players did what they did back in the day and were 5-5, no one would care. Swag was invented because they won. Swag wasn’t invented because they danced or taunted or did this or that. I had no problem what they did. They loved the game of football.

“I am a not bashing that. I am embracing it. Swag was invented because they won national championships, or we did. That’s where swag came from. That’s what I tell our guys – swag is winning and winning big.”

• Funniest exchange: With NFL prospect/cornerback Dee Delaney transferring to UM, does Richt feel sad for The Citadel coach?

“I will say this,” he said. “I feel sad for me that David Njoku went pro. It happens.”

If you missed my three-part series with UM defensive coordinator Manny Diaz this week, please click here for part three and links to the other two... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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