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Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Mark Richt 'freed up' for more football

Associated Press

ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia coach Mark Richt said Wednesday he had been "freed up" from some administrative duties to spend more time on football.

Coming off a 6-7 finish in 2010, the Bulldogs' first losing record in 14 years, Richt applauded changes put in place by athletic director Greg McGarity. He said the moves give him more time to "study the game of football and be an expert and be on the cutting edge."

"That revives me, that rejuvenates me, that excites me in a big way," Richt said.

Richt says he'll have more time because of former strength coach Dave Van Halanger's role in a new mentor program for athletes and John Eason's job as a liaison to academics.

Richt said McGarity "wants to be able to help take off my plate" other time-consuming duties.

McGarity attended Richt's news conference but did not speak with reporters.

Georgia lost three of its last five games, including a 10-6 loss to Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl. Since finishing 11-2 in 2007, Georgia's win total has declined in three straight years.

Georgia's 2010 season included four straight early losses to South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi State and Colorado and late losses to Florida and Auburn.

"Last season certainly was not anywhere close to what we expected or what we expect here," Richt said. "It certainly was well below the standard of what Georgia football is all about. I understand that as much as anybody. I'm not happy with the way things went but I do think in the process of going through what we went through, we'll be better for it in 2011."

Richt said he had confidence the defense would improve in its second year with coordinator Todd Grantham.

Richt fired Willie Martinez and two other defensive assistants after an 8-5 record in 2009. Richt recently made Joe Tereshinski Georgia's strength coach but announced no additional staff changes Wednesday.

Richt said he wouldn't make moves to satisfy "people so jacked up about change."

"We've made some changes last year and some changes this year," he said. "The changes we made I think were very well-thought out and things that were going to help us. But if you just change for the sake of changing, then all of a sudden you have to relearn stuff all over again."

Richt said Georgia was close to being a contender again.

"We're not looking to blow anything up right now," he said. "In my opinion, we're very close. We're very close."

Asked if he will reclaim his former role of calling plays on offense, Richt said: "I'm not making any plans." He said he would meet with his offensive assistants to "just look at what we're doing and why we're doing it and making sure we're on the right path."

Richt said offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and offensive line coach Stacy Searels "have done a great job, not a good job, but a great job."

Richt led Georgia to Southeastern Conference championships in 2002 and 2004, and has had six teams win 10 or more games in his 10 years at Georgia.

The program also was hurt by having 12 players arrested or charged in 2010.

Richt learned this week linebacker Marcus Dowtin was charged with second-degree assault in May in Ocean City, Md. The charges have been resolved and Richt said Wednesday he would comment on Dowtin's status "in a couple days."

At least two juniors, receiver A.J. Green and outside linebacker Justin Houston, may enter the NFL draft.

Green is projected as the top receiver in the draft and a high first-round pick.

"I think A.J. Green can't help his draft status," Richt said. "I think that's obvious."