Q: With all of your losses on defense, you're kind of flying under the radar in the SEC East. How do you like that?
A: I don't worry too much about it one way or another. I was asked about how I felt about none of our guys being named first-team All-SEC. I told my guys that the All-SEC team that matters is the one that is picked at the end of the year. If we win we will have guys on the first team. The teams that win get the accolades. Last year we finished strong, but we were still 1-4 in the [SEC] East. So I can see why people aren't picking us.
Q: You lost your best cornerback, Paul Oliver, to academics. How will your secondary respond?
A: If we played tomorrow Asher Allen would play the boundary corner where Paul was. We were able to redshirt nine of our defensive starters last season but we decided we had to get Asher and Prince Miller ready to play because we thought there was a 50-50 shot that Paul might leave anyway [for the NFL]. We also have [senior] Thomas Flowers coming off an injury and he has played corner. I think we'll be OK.
Q: Does Mikey Henderson have a chance to be an impact receiver?
A: We know Mikey is a great punt returner and last year we moved him to receiver. But when the season started it didn't translate into the kind of production that we would like to have. Now we have to find ways to get him the ball in his comfort level. A guy who is that fast and shifty can make problems for a defense. But we have to get him the ball.
Q: What will be the impact of moving the kickoff to the 30-yard line?
A: Last season we only returned about 25 percent of our kickoffs. Now we predict that we'll return 75 to 90 percent of those kicks. You're going to have to put better athletes on the kick coverage team. Our special teams coach, Jon Fabris, has always believed in kicking the ball high into a spot and then covering it. Now I think everybody is going to have to do that.
Q: Are you going to miss being offensive coordinator?
A: I'm not sure I'm going to miss it now. When I turned it over [to Mike Bobo] it was tough to give up because I've been calling plays about 15 or 16 years. I did it because I though it was in the best interest of the team and the best interest of myself physically. I can now sit back and look at the big picture of our program and I think that's important. Mike Bobo has matured to the point where I know he'll do a better job than I was doing.
Q: You open the season with two very tough games in Oklahoma State (Sept. 1) and South Carolina (Sept. 8). Does that create a sense of urgency as you begin practice?
A: I don't think we'll prepare any differently because I don't think anybody gets to their first game without being excited. We will probably start preparing for Oklahoma State after about 10 practices. Oklahoma State was one of the few teams the country that averaged 200 yards rushing and 200 passing last season. They return nine starters on offense. That is going to be a challenge.
Q: What is your reaction to the fact that South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has said his team could win the SEC championship?
A: I think he has every reason to believe that. Coach Spurrier is a realistic guy and he shoots everybody straight. The last couple of years he said he wasn't ready. But after what happened last year, when they beat some good teams and had some close losses to great teams, there is no reason they can't compete for the championship. Coach Spurrier will tell you how he feels and he won't sugarcoat it.
Q: How is Matthew Stafford a better quarterback than he was a year ago?
A: A year ago Matthew was a brand new freshman trying to get used to college life. He was just trying to learn the plays. He had no game experience. Now he knows our system and instead of just trying to fit in, he's leading our program. Now he knows what it is like to play in a pressure packed game. I hope he's learned the importance of protecting the football.
Q: Your offensive line is very young. How are you going to get them ready?
A: Stacy Searels [Georgia's new offensive line coach] has a lot of new ideas. He is a great teacher and great technician. We only had six scholarship linemen after last season ended but we were able to bring in five kids at mid-year. If we started tomorrow we would have a true freshman, Trinton Sturdivant, at left tackle. Coach Bobo and I know that we can't do everything at once because we're so young. We're going to have to be careful with this bunch until they get their feet wet."
Q: You lost all of your starting linebackers. What is the status of that position?
A: Brandon Miller is the whole key to our defense. We moved him from the [outside] linebacker to the [middle] linebacker. And when you do that there is an adjustment. But he is very talented and very capable and has the ability to be a dominant player. If he can play at full speed he will be a big plus for us.
Q: Would you ever consider moving the Georgia-Florida game from Jacksonville to the respective campuses?
A: There are a lot of possible scenarios. I'm not even sure when the current contract ends. But I think it would be exciting for our fans to go to Gainesville and for their fans to come to Athens. If you're going to do a rotation, then maybe through in the neutral site in Atlanta. I think that would be good neutral site.