Georgia coach Mark Richt said he didn’t lobby for Saturday’s 11 a.m. kickoff time at Missouri’s Memorial Stadium.
But he knows who did.
“Our athletic director, Mr. (Greg) McGarity, requested (the early kickoff time),” Richt said during Wednesday’s weekly SEC teleconference. “We don’t think we can control anything, but we can at least put a bug in somebody’s ear and hope for the best.”
Presumably, the SEC has some influence in such matters, but ultimately the conference’s broadcast partners, CBS and ESPN, select the start times for each week’s games.
Either way, No. 23 Missouri welcomes the early kickoff against No. 13 Georgia.
“I think every player and coach in the country would rather get up and play at 11 o’clock in the morning,” Tigers coach Gary Pinkel said. “They want to get it over with instead of agonizing all day long, watching all the stuff happen.”
Saturday evening games leaves players (and coaches) will a lot of time to fill before pre-game preparations begin.
Too much time to think isn’t always a good thing, but it’s not a concern with the early kickoffs.
“You wake up and have pre-game meal at 7 o’clock in the morning, so you better be ready,” Pinkel said. “The second you bounce out of bed, you better have your head right to play. You don’t get any Saturday to work on getting yourself ready to play at all.”
▪ Georgia is leery of Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk’s running ability.
Richt lauded Mauk’s passing skills, but said it’s the scrambling ability that makes him tougher to defend.
“He’s very talented,” Richt said. “He’s got arm talent; he’s got a very strong arm and absolutely can make any throw that they’re asking him to throw — but very athletic. He’s already rushed for 124 yards. … Any quarterback who has positive yards like that, you known that he’s athlete enough to cross the line of scrimmage and get first downs when you’re covering people.”
Richt continued, “It’s hard to defend a quarterback like that. You might have a great pass rush. You might have everybody covering everybody, but if he breaks outside or breaks up the middle of a pass rush and starts running for first down and gaining yardage in critical situations, it’s hard to defend those guys.”
▪ Both Pinkel and Richt took notice of the slew of upsets last weekend’s games produced.
“It looks like anybody can beat anybody,” Richt said. “It sure did last week anyway.”
Even from the comfort of his couch (or office), it was a harrowing display for Pinkel.
“We had a bye week last week and I’m watching this stuff happen and thinking, ‘What am I coaching for? Are you kidding me?’” Pinkel said.
He also said it wasn’t a complete shock.
“This league has, without question, the most high-end teams in numbers of any league I’ve ever been in,” Pinkel said.
▪ On the injury front, Richt said wide receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley, who are both coming back from torn ACLs suffered last season, are getting healthy and could be bigger factors against Missouri.
Both practiced ahead of last week’s Vanderbilt game, but Scott-Wesley did not play and Mitchell was limited to an 11-yard reception.