Thursday, April 2, 2015

The case for Faton Bauta

A little over a year ago I wrote this post supporting a redshirt sophomore hybrid/dual-threat/longshot as the next quarterback for Georgia. A year removed and I haven't really changed that position.

That's not to say that I don't think Mason earned the right to be last season's starter. In truth, this time last year he had already taken the reins to end the 2013 campaign. I recognize my position as just a fan with keyboard and trust the coaches to make the true and actual decisions.

This spring is different in many ways. Of course, much like Murray was eventually succeeded by his backup in 2013, Mason was forced to give up the huddle early too when he couldn't finish the bowl game. Brice Ramsey entered to finish off the 2014 season and so began the speculation that he was the heir apparent. However, it's clear that Ramsey doesn't have the firm grasp of the top spot that his predecessor did a year ago.

Which is why these next few months and especially August are going to be so interesting to watch. Ramsey, once presumed the next in line, has had plenty of time to develop, but hasn't separated himself from his colleagues.Maybe some of that is due to the change at offensive coordinator. Maybe not. Jacob Park, according to reports, has the swagger, but does it translate into consistency on the field?

Here's Coach Schotty himself on what they're looking for:
“I think we truly have three guys that are capable of doing it,” Schottenheimer, who coaches the quarterbacks, said last week. “We’re rotating the reps with the ones, giving them all a shot to work in there with the first group. What we’re looking for as a staff this spring is there are going to be good days, bad days, but we’ll come to a point with, ‘Who’s being the most consistent?'" (via Weiszer)
Competition in the spring. Consistency in the fall.

Faton Bauta has something both of those guys don't, more experience. This is Bauta's fourth spring camp and I bet that is something the other offensive players appreciate. I have little doubt that over the course of a season Bauta would take much greater care with the football than Park, and maybe Ramsey as well. My reasoning with that statement is similar to my reasoning last spring; Bauta is more than an arm. He's the type of player that will look to make plays with his arm, his feet and most importantly, his head.

Heading into a season that figures to see a lot of handoffs to #27, don't you think Schottenheimer and Richt would like to see someone under center they can trust completely? We'll have a better picture of Mr. Park after GDay, but right now he sounds like a gunslinger with chip on his shoulder. Boy we could've used that a few years ago. In 2015, not as much.

Back to the word "experience", you're right. Ramsey has more of it when it comes to in game, non-garbage time, meaningful snaps type experience. He has a live arm that can make all the throws. And there will be downs and distance this fall when we need an arm like that to move the chains and maybe even win a ball game. But doesn't Bauta add more of a dimension to the backfield with the likes of Chubb, Michel, Marshall, Hicks, Turman? As defenses zero in on Chubb after he's carried the ball for 150+ on 24 carries entering the fourth quarter, wouldn't it be nice to have a quarterback that can not only call the read option but can also run it?

That's where having Bauta as the starter truly excites me as a fan. When we're talking about keeping defenses honest, I like Bauta's ability to do that with his arm, his feet and his head more than the other guys. And I think Schottenheimer is thinking that over pretty hard the next few months as well.

If nothing else, I'm willing to bet that if Ramsey or Park beat Bauta out for the starting job, the dual-threat junior from West Palm Beach will have made them earn it.