Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Once and Future Quarterback

Emerson's feature on the emerging quarterback battle between the guys behind Hutson Mason is both comforting and unsettling. Comforting in that it is good to hear that Bauta is aimed at staying ahead of Ramsey by pushing Mason as much as he can. Unsettling in that there are more questions there than we are used to this time of year.

And since it appears that the 2014 job is Mason's to lose, I read it all while continuing to worry wonder what the quarterback depth chart will look like next year this time.

Well, if you are to go along with everything we've read between the lines, then we should have junior Faton Bauta as the front runner to start the 2015 campaign with a redshirt sophomore in Ramsey and a redshirt freshman in Jacob Park following behind. So whatever lack of intrigue this spring's competition under center is giving you will be made up for tenfold next year. Especially considering the losses of other supporting players like Todd Gurley (almost certainly), Michael Bennett, Chris Conley and David Andrews.

(I just spontaneously shuddered at the thought of losing those players and having to replace a senior quarterback for the second time in as many years.)

(And I also feel a little weird about completely practically overlooking this year's changes under center. But we'll continue to come back to Hutson Mason, as promised, and look more closely at what's in store this season. But for now...)

What do we know about Faton Bauta? 
Faton Bauta warming up. (via)

Well, I thought I knew how to pronounce his name until I heard Coach Richt say it is actually . I don't know. Whatever. I miss the days when we had Munson to tell us how to (not) pronounce players names.

Regardless, I like Bauta and admit to being more than intrigued to what he could bring to both the pocket as a passer and the backfield as a dual threat type. So much so that I'd like to see more of him this season in certain situations. He's got good size at 6'3" and around 220. Last season when he entered the game it was to run the ball (played in four of last five games with four rushes for 30 yards).

So we don't know about his arm strength and accuracy. It's good to hear from the coaches about his progress and development. But GDay should set the stage for his coming out party as a true second stringer and eventual 2015 starter to be...or continued questions about what the guy can offer.

What do we know about Brice Ramsey?

At least nothing definitive. Ramsey was highly recruited out of Camden County and sought after by a number of programs, including Alabama, Clemson, Florida and Ohio State. He committed to Georgia early and never wavered. Big get for Coach Bobo and this offense.

However, Camden County didn't pass the ball all that much, at least as compared to what would be expected of Ramsey at this level. In fact, he had just 137 attempts his senior year and 287 for his high school career. In comparison, Hutson Mason had 110 attempts in just five games played last season.

Still, this breakdown by recruiting analyst Chad Simmons shows that there is plenty to work with in terms of Ramsey's skill:
Ramsey has the tools you look for in a pocket passer. He has good size, he has a smooth release, he has great arm strength, and he can make any throw asked of him. He sees the field well, he is a player teammates follow, and he is as cool as they come. He does need to work on his feel in the pocket and reading defenses and those things will improve with experience. 
What do we know about Jacob Park?
Even less than we know about Ramsey, of course. He's the only early enrollee of the 2014 class and is a surety to redshirt this fall. So his hat being thrown in the ring next spring as a possibility depends on his ability to absorb the playbook and know what defense he's looking at before the snap of the ball.

But like Bauta, the youngest scholarship quarterback on campus could add an intriguing dimension to Bobo's offense. Even presuming that Gurley's declares for next year's draft, there will still be a stable of running backs chomping at the bit to tote the rock. That doesn't set up as a situation to revamp the offense towards one that features a dual threat quarterback; not with the likes of highly valued running backs Keith Marshall, Sony Michel and Nick Chubb at the ready. But a quarterback that, in Richt's words, "will definitely keep people honest with some of the QB runs" is a viable contender for sure.

Where does that leave us?
Time will tell. I like that these young quarterbacks are said to have good leadership skills and a coolness under pressure. If the Spring of 2014 is setting up to be the era after Aaron Murray, 2015 could very well be the era after Gurley. And that's a transition that will require a quarterback on solid footing.

To close, I think it's fitting to go back to something I wrote on the situation last month:
But the quarterback position in Athens is seemingly going through a transition period. And that's not just a statement about a fifth year senior in Murray moving on. We might see "business as usual" with Mason this spring and likely the fall as well. But with a guy like Bauta and Park, there's going to be some emphasis on running the football from that position.

That's something I thought Bobo should've done more with Murray, at least early in his career. With the depth appearing to be restored to the way Richt likes it, I can't help but think the reins are about to be turned loose.
Replacing an Aaron Murray is no easy task. Should Mason hold onto the starting spot this spring and into the fall, replacing Murray's replacement just one year later also has an uneasy feeling. One we've not felt in quite some time.