CRAWFORD | Richt says Georgia looking forward to facing Louisvil - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Richt says Georgia looking forward to facing Louisville, Grantham

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Georgia coach Mark Richt said he has “an awful lot of respect” for the University of Louisville and isn't sure who has the edge when it comes to his team and former defensive coordinator Todd Grantham squaring off.

Richt spoke with reporters on a conference call Sunday night after the No. 13-ranked Bulldogs (9-3) were paired with the No. 21 Cardinals (9-3) in a Dec. 30 matchup in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium.

It's the first year of the Southeastern Conference partnership with the bowl and the Bulldogs' first trip to Charlotte for the event. When he found out that one of the team activities is a trip to Charlotte Motor Speedway for players to turn some laps in a NASCAR stock car at speeds nearing 160 mph, he said, “All of them get to? Do they have to?” When told there were plenty of cars, Richt said, “Hey, I'm in”

RELATED: Louisville, Georgia to meet for the first time; Belk ticket details

Running fast will be nothing new for Georgia. The Bulldogs rank No. 13 in the nation in rushing at 255 yards per game and averaged 6.1 yards per carry on the season, seventh best in the Football Bowl Subdivision. And they did that without star running back Todd Gurley for half of the season. Gurley played in only six games because of NCAA issues for compensation he was found to have received from signing autographs, but still ran for 911 yards — or 7.4 yards per carry.

The game already is being billed as the Grantham Bowl in Georgia, and Richt was asked if familiarity would benefit his former defensive coordinator or his team when the two tangle later this month.

“Certainly Todd has done a very good job there and the rest of his defensive staff, too,” Richt said. “. . . Maybe to a certain degree (there is familiarity) but we've got to be able to watch film to see if there's been any changes or, if there are, how many different changes in what he's doing. There may not be a thing different. We've just got to start breaking down some film and figure that out. Certainly, offense and defense practiced against each other a lot in camp and spring and there were some good, competitive days out there and I'm sure this will be a competitive day as well.”

Richt said he has watched Louisville a couple of times this season, though he hasn't broken them down on video. He said he's been impressed.

“We've got an awful lot of respect for Louisville and their program, and we know the great job that Coach (Bobby) Petrino is doing there in his second stint,” Richt said. “We're certainly looking forward to the challenge of competing. From what I've seen of them, they've been outstanding. And when you do look at the statistical data, (it is) just very, very impressive. So they do a super job of a lot of things besides stopping the run.”

U of L ranks third nationally in rushing defense. The best defense against the run that Georgia has faced this season is Florida — which ranks 12th nationally in rushing defense. Georgia ran for only 141 yards that game and lost 38-20 in Jacksonville.

The only other time Georgia has been held under 200 yards on the ground this season was in their season finale against Georgia Tech, a 30-24 loss.

At one time, the Bulldogs had College Football Playoff aspirations, but Richt said his team isn't suffering from any kind of letdown.

When asked if his players would be motivated to go against Grantham, he said, “One thing we've done, we've competed extremely well every game and we're going to expect that from our guys and they expect it too. They like to play football and will get another chance to do that and doing it in a great city like Charlotte will be a great experience for our guys.”

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