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Former Georgia and current Miami coach Mark Richt says he's happy to see the success Georgia is having this season.

Mark Richt says he’s ‘happy’ to see success Georgia is having this season

Cy Brown

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Once a Dawg …

Even though Mark Richt’s tenure at Georgia ended on a sour note, he’ll always hold a special place in Bulldogs fans’ hearts, and they’ll pretty much always root for him. (Especially in weeks such as this one, when his 4-0 Miami Hurricanes face Georgia Tech.) Based on comments Richt made Wednesday, that feeling is mutual.

When asked about Georgia’s sudden rise to the top of the college football world in Year 2 under Kirby Smart, Richt had only good things to say about the school where he served as a coach for more than a decade.

“It’s exciting to see that,” Richt said on the ACC teleconference. “I’m happy for Georgia. I’m happy for all the kids I recruited and I’m happy for all the guys I didn’t recruit. Georgia is a great place. It has a special place in the hearts of myself and my wife, and I’m all for them having a lot of success.”

Richt went on to say that while he hasn’t been able to watch any Georgia games this season — he’s too busy coaching his Canes to an undefeated record in his second year of a new gig — he has been impressed by the scores and highlights he’s seen of the Dawgs.

“When you see the scores and the point differential and what looks like really lights-out defensive play,” Richt said, “that’s what champions are built of.”

‘He’s a peacock, gotta let him fly’

Tight end Isaac Nauta came into this season with an eye-grabbing new bleach-blond hairdo, but it hasn’t helped him get noticed in the passing game. Many fans expected him to be one of the top receivers for Georgia in 2017, but that hasn’t come to fruition. Nauta has just 5 catches for 77 yards on 10 targets. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t contributing. His contributions are just coming more in the form of run blocking than pass catching. From Seth Emerson of DawgNation:

While the receiving stats aren’t there compared to last year, in a way this season has been more successful as far as being an overall tight end. There have been less mistakes, less missed assignments and more physical play overall.

“It’s a blast when you do a pancake block and you look up and see [Nick] Chubb taking it to the house,” Nauta said. “Running the ball is a very rewarding deal because you work so hard on it, and it’s so physical that when it breaks your way, it’s a great feeling.”

Better with age

Fans have chalked up Georgia’s success so far in 2017 to many factors. A lights-out defense. A top-notch running game. A drastically improved offensive line. But what’s the one thing that led to improvements in all those categories? Experience. From Emerson:

[Davin] Bellamy tied the team’s ability to blow out teams this season — every game other than the one against Notre Dame has been decided by at least 21 points — to maturity.

“That’s definitely what it is. We kind of felt like last year we let a lot of teams off the hook when we had them down,” Bellamy said of a season in which Georgia’s biggest win was by 14 points and it blew leads and lost to Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech. “This year, it’s been a different story, and I think that’s because of the maturity of the team on both sides of the ball. We know that in this league it’s a four-quarter game.

“And I think last year we looked at the scoreboard too much. Even though Coach Smart preached, ‘Never look at it too much,’ I think as you get older you really understand not to look at the scoreboard, just play football the way you’re going to play it. The games will end in your favor. I definitely think that’s the mindset of this team right now. Even when we’re up 20, 30, 40, we don’t look up at the scoreboard. That just shows the sign of maturity.”

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Someone call an exorcist.

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