CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Mark Richt’s coaching record in games at Georgia Tech is perfect.
Miami’s challenge this week: keeping it that way.
Richt is 13-0 in Atlanta as a coach against the Yellow Jackets — 5-0 as an assistant at Florida State, and 8-0 as the coach at Georgia. And now he’s heading there for the first time as coach at Miami, when the 14th-ranked Hurricanes (3-0) open their Atlantic Coast Conference schedule against Georgia Tech (3-1, 1-1).
“I’ve been there when I was at Florida State coaching, I’ve been there when I was at Georgia, and now I’m going there while I’m at Miami,” Richt said. “It’s not that weird. I guess I’m used to it.”
Georgia and Georgia Tech play annually, and Richt coached in Atlanta plenty of times with the Bulldogs. Georgia was 2-3 in Southeastern Conference title games in that city under Richt, plus went 1-1 in bowl games and lost a season-opener there once to Boise State. Richt was a freshman quarterback on the 1978 Miami team that lost at Georgia Tech as well.
But this one has significance. It’s Richt’s first time back in the Peach State since his time at Georgia ended by what was called a mutual agreement that wasn’t exactly mutual. It’s also a game that Miami can’t let slip away if the Hurricanes want to be considered a viable contender in the race for the ACC’s Coastal Division title.
The Georgia-Georgia Tech games, while big for rivalry and bragging purposes, meant nothing to the ACC and SEC races. This one is obviously different.
“It’s good that he has experience against them, but as a team we aren’t focused on the past,” Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya said. “It’s a new game for us and for them.”
For his part, Richt is trying to keep things as normal as he can this week.
The Hurricanes will arrive in Georgia on Friday afternoon, and there will be the usual slate of meetings and team meals to get through after landing. An early wake-up is coming Saturday for a noon kickoff, and when the game ends, the Hurricanes will head right back to South Florida.
Richt will have family and friends in attendance, though he doesn’t expect to get much time with them.
“The next time I’ll see them is after the game, like any home or away game,” Richt said. “But when you travel, you get on the plane, you get on the bus, you go to the hotel, take care of business there, you get on the bus, go to the stadium and you play. There’s not a lot of socializing during that time.”
Richt is an offensive-minded guy, and Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense is designed to give opposing defenses fits.
So even though Richt had great success against the Yellow Jackets when he was with the Bulldogs — Georgia went 13-2 in the rivalry game under Richt — he doesn’t know if his particular experience gives Miami any edge this week.
“Miami has been playing them every year. It’s not like this is a one-time special event,” Richt said. “Our players are used to playing Georgia Tech every year. If I was a defensive coordinator, and I was in the nuts and bolts of every single decision that is made to try and play that offensive system, I would say maybe there would be an advantage going from where I was to here. But because I’m on offense … I don’t know if it’s a big advantage.”
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