Mark Richt’s question-and-answer period with the media was drawing to a close when the moderator pointed to a burly guy in a suit in the back of the room.
“Coach, Ben Jones from Georgia. Do you trust the offensive line this year?”
Yes, that was Ben Jones as in Georgia center Ben Jones, taking his opportunity to have a little fun with the media and his coach. You may remember Jones as the guy who came off the field following 2009’s victory over Georgia Tech with a big chunk of the Bobby Dodd Stadium turf in his mouth; he didn’t sound resentful of LSU coach Les Miles for getting all the grass-eating attention in the conference these days, but he did add, “I might have to talk to him about that. He might’ve stolen that from me.”
Jones said the offseason had been a major “gut check” following last year’s 6-7 finish, and added that he was looking forward, as a senior, to being part of the change movement afoot at the program. “This is why the senior class is here for everybody — we want to lead the freshman recruits in the right direction,” he said.
Jones praised his QB, Aaron Murray (“He’s there from 11 in the morning to 8 o’clock at night, and when you get there on Saturday, you know he’ll be ready”), but reserved his most effusive praise for his coach. Listening to Jones talk about Mark Richt would almost be enough to make the most rabid Florida or Georgia Tech fan shed a tear and say a prayer for Richt’s future with the Bulldogs: “He’s the face of Georgia. He’s a great man and a great coach . . . godly man, family man. I look up to him more than anybody.”
Richt, for his part, took Jones’ unexpected question in the spirit in which it was intended — and said yes, he does trust his offensive line. “And I think Ben Jones, he’s the best center in America. I think he’s going to win the Rimington.”