is extremely gracious, or he’s extremely impressed with Missouri. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but either way it’s clear he isn’t taking his team’s road test against Missouri this week lightly.
This became obvious Sunday, when Richt – whose Bulldogs are ranked No. 6 in the country – heaped praise upon the unranked Tigers during a short conference call with the media and called Saturday's showdown at Memorial Stadium a "monster" game.
“It’s a huge game for them and it’s a huge game for us, too, because we’ve got our goals,” Richt said. “To me, it’s the biggest game of the year, no doubt.”
Richt said Missouri’s first game, a dominant 62-10 victory over Southeastern Louisiana of the Football Championship Subdivision on Saturday night, made a lasting impression.
“It looks like Missouri’s boys played harder than our boys played,” said Richt, whose team dominated Buffalo 45-23 on Saturday afternoon. “Playing in the evening might have helped them. It was staggering, though the heat and humidity was definitely a factor in how hard we played.”
The tape had no sound, but Richt assumed the energy the Tigers played with also had to do with what looked like an enthusiastic home crowd of 62,173. Add that to Missouri’s athleticism – not to mention the fact the game is MU’s SEC debut – and Richt said he has plenty to worry about on Saturday night.
“To play Missouri at Missouri to open league play is not the best draw,” Richt said. “But it is what it is.”
Richt correctly noted that Missouri runs a balanced spread attack, with plenty of carries going to the quarterback and running back. But when asked specifically about how the Bulldogs plan to prepare for gifted 6-foot-6 freshman receiverDorial Green-Beckham
, Richt added that MU’s deep group of receivers is “special.”
“Let’s face it, this was the 10th- or 11th-best offense in the United States of America last year,” Richt said. “When you’ve got receivers to play that type of spread, when you’ve got big guys like that, it’s hard to defend.”
Richt added that Missouri doesn’t fool around with a lot of deception on offense, either.
“At Missouri, they are spreading you out but they’re not trying to trick you with things,” Richt said. “They’re just trying to line up and execute what they do.”
Complicating things for Richt is the fact he will be bringing a banged-up team into Columbia. It remains unclear whether several key contributors – headlined by right tackleJohn Theus, two-way star Malcolm Mitchell and running back Ken Malcolme
– will play Saturday.
Still, Richt reiterated several times that he knows the Bulldogs will be in for a fight, and he said all this while apparently being unaware of Missouri defensive tackleSheldon Richardson
’s postgame comments from Saturday night.
Richardson – who was asked if he watched Georgia’s game earlier in the day – said he had, but ultimately turned it off because the Bulldogs play “old-man football,” a not-so-subtle shot at Georgia’s traditional pro-style offense.
“I don’t know what he meant by that,” Richt said. “But the bottom line is we have to get after it.”To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/TerezPaylor.