Friday, February 26, 2010

UGA QB Shuffle : 3rd time's the charm.

Ok, we are again, a year experienced QB. We've seen this. 2006. 2009. 2010. Three out of the last five seasons, UGA has headed into spring practice with no experienced QB starter on its roster. Yes, Joe Cox had "A" start before last 2006, where he led the team to a 2nd-half deficit and had to be bailed out by future #1 draft pick (a distinction I have to use since he never won a championship or a national award) Matt Stafford.

"Wow, Dukes...sounds like you're a bit on the negative side today."

Not at all! I'm just stating facts. Deal with it.

Here's the thing...I read a comment by Mike Bobo this morning that has me a little rattled. On the subject of Logan Gray, this is what he said:

The thing about this kid is, all he’s ever wanted to do is help Georgia and play and compete,” Bobo said. “And that’s what he wants to do this spring at quarterback.'

Now, why would this bother me? Well, it sounds a great deal like what we heard concerning Joe Tereshinski and Joe Cox leading into their senior seasons. All they'd ever wanted to do was help Georgia. All they'd dreamed of was leading the Bulldogs to a championship.

You know what? When I was at Georgia, all I ever wanted to do was help my team win...and the coaches decided THAT would be best accomplished by keeping me on the sidelines. I don't disagree. I wasn't the biggest, strongest or fastest player...but I had a great deal of heart. My grit and determination earned me the respect of my peers, sparse playing time, a Varsity Letter, and a pair of awards. THAT'S ALL. NEVER would you have heard Jim Donnan say "We're gonna start Dukes at defensive end because all he's ever wanted was to help this team."

Don't get me wrong, I don't think Bobo's gonna use that as his sole indicator of who the starter should be. BUT, twice in the past four seasons, (06 and 09), a QB who was woefully undertooled for the job won it. Now, I'm the first to say that 09 was a direct result of a lack of preparation by the staff. I don't mean they didn't prepare Cox. I think Joe Cox was as prepared as he could be coming into the season. He didn't get much playing time in '08 because '08 was a tragically underperformed season. What I mean is, I don't think the staff did a good job of preparing for life without Stafford. There were reasons to believe he might return in '09. He had a goal to win a title, he didn't do it. He was a Heisman name...he didn't even come close in '08. I don't know that Joe Cox ever believed he'd start another game at UGA after Ole Miss in '06....until Stafford declared.

Then, the "Oh crap" moment. Cox realizes he's the guy....and that there's nobody else who's even CLOSE to being in contention. Not only that, but there's nobody in the SYSTEM who's being prepped for life after Cox. So, we're fortunate to score two TOP QBs in the '09 recruiting class. Logan Gray, while he may be a fantastic athlete - Which, I might add, is only hearsay as far as I'm concerned - was never going to challenge the 5th year man for the job. His reads and mechanics were still FAR too underdeveloped (as seen in the few appearances he had). I mean, if this is a kid who was going to challenge Cox, you'd think we woulda seen him during actual competitive moments throughout the season...but much like many 2nd stringers before him, he was a mop-up guy (And vs FL, wasn't even successful in THAT role).

The last time UGA had a TRUE QB competition was back in 2001-2004...Green and Shockley. These were two guys with all the tools to win, and with all the tools to lead the team to championships. How do I know? They both won SEC titles. In 2006-2009, we had one QB on the roster with those tools...and he bailed before succeeding in that goal. In 2010, the coaches will have to discover if any of the current crop of QBs have those tools. And THAT is what this QB competition should be about. It shouldn't be about who has the most time in the system. It shouldn't be about who "really wants to help the University of Georgia..."

NEWS FLASH:::: Kids don't take scholarships to schools, hoping to NOT play and help their team to a championship. Dumb argument.

The competition absolutely HAS to be about which one of these guys will have the best chance to lead this team to a championship in the next few years.

"DUKES! Don't you mean, NEXT YEAR?!?!"

Hell no, I don't mean next year. Do I think we can win a title in 2010? Yes. Do I think we will? I have no clue. But, that's not the point. The point is, in college ball, you're never thinking only about this year. In the pros, you can do that. You can spend a bunch of money, fill up your roster with ringers on one-year contracts, and give it a go. In college, you can't. You always have to be preparing for the seasons to come. You have to DEVELOP your roster.

We spent 2009 suffering through an 8-5 season, only to enter 2010 with no solid QB experience. I dare say we could have gone 8-5 and played Gray, Mettenberger and Murray throughout the season. In essence, this spring's QB competition should have played out on the competitive fields of the SEC's stadiums last fall. Murray was hurt, and Mettenberger "didn't know the playbook" well enough, I know. But, Mettenberger could have trotted onto the field with a total of five plays in his head, and run those five plays. He would have known what it's like to face defenses full of SEC stars playing at top speed. And he would have learned. At the tail end of the season, Murray would have been able to do the same. Logan Gray would have had a chance to mature as a QB instead of a fair-catch punt returner (another thing that bothers me about his supposed "athleticism"....why do the coaches only have him fair-catch the ball? Just to give him time on the field?) And hey, who knows? Perhaps giving Cox some in-game relief would have decreased the probability of late-game mental and physical fatigue resulting in disasterous turnovers and losses (Kentucky).

Ok, so what's this "Third time's the charm nonsense?"

Well, it's Richt and Company's third opportunity to do the right thing, and pick the right guy. In 2006, they went with the "Hard working special teams guy who wants to help the team win" Joe Tereshinski. WRONG.

In 2009, they went with the "all he ever wanted to do was lead UGA to a championship guy" Joe Cox. WRONG.

In 2010, they have the chance to ignore the "hard working special teams athletic guy who has always only wanted to help UGA win" Logan Gray and go with either the "all the tools to be an all-american Freshman" Aaron Murray or the "Howitzer Arm and playmaking ability Freshman" Zach Mettenberger. Let's hope they make the right decision.

Go Dawgs.


dave clark said...

"Yes, Joe Cox had "A" start before last 2006, where he led the team to a 2nd-half deficit and had to be bailed out by future #1 draft pick (a distinction I have to use since he never won a championship or a national award) Matt Stafford." DO realize this happened backwards from what you described, yes?

Ge0rg1a B01 said...

I believe he is referring to the Ole Miss game and not the one against Colorado in which the scenario was vice versa.

Ben Dukes said...

Yes, B01...I was indeed referring to the Ole Miss game, not the Colorado one. Cox's off-the-bench performance against CO earned him the start against Ole Miss. His piss-poor Ole Miss performance earned him a ride on the pine for the next 2.5 seasons.

ThePetis said...

"His piss-poor Ole Miss performance earned him a ride on the pine for the next 2.5 seasons."


BulldogBry said...

I don't mind that he started JT3 at the beginning of the season in 2006, it's that he gave the job BACK to him after he came back from injury - for the UT and Vandy games (both losses)

JRL said...

I have more faith in congress (which is near zero) than I do in Bobo

Ben Dukes said...

To be honest, I never thought Joe T would attempt a pass at UGA, and said as much to many friends over his first couple of years. The fact that he was named the starter baffled me in part because I had never seen anything from him that showed me he had the tools, and in part because we had the Texas Gunslinger and the Redheaded Wonder. I understood the decision to not throw a freshman into the fire immediately, and like Bry, wouldn't have minded so much if he didn't RETURN to action after his injury. Stafford was learning and growing, and let's put it this way...the TN and Vandy games couldn't have turned out WORSE without him.

And as for not starting a kid because he's a freshman....perhaps the coaches have re-thought their philosophy on that one.

Anyone remember a certain Walk-On Freshman named Sam Bradford?