Mailbag: The new quarterback era at Georgia

semerson@macon.comNovember 27, 2013 

Quarterback Faton Bauta (10) has ascended to the No. 3 quarterback spot, behind Aaron Murray (11) and Hutson Mason.

JOHN KELLEY — UGA sports communications

ATHENS - I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving, and by happy I mean that you gorge yourself into a stupor. This is very important: Don't worry about your weight. And I say this as somewhat of a health fanatic. (Even Subway.) Your diet can wait.

Even Todd Gurley, who is staying in Athens rather than go home to North Carolina, said he's planning on going to multiple Thanksgiving dinners. Running backs coach Bryan McClendon is hosting a dinner, but so is senior end Garrison Smith.

"I may take a plate from one and go to the other one," Gurley said. "As long as I get banana budding I'll be happy."

Well, I don't know too much about banana pudding. I thought it was pumpkin pie and apple pie, but maybe they do it differently in North Carolina. But anyway, the important thing is one of the best tailbacks in America plans to overeat on Thanksgiving, and so should you.

Also, you should read this mailbag. Happy thanksgiving.

Have you seen Faton Bauta play any extended minutes in a scrimmage or in high school? My question is what kind of QB is he? I have heard people (who may or may not know what they are talking about) refer to him as a poor man’s Tebow. I don't know what that means, considering he is not as big as Tebow and I don't remember any scouting reports calling him a dual threat type guy. I might be mistaken about that but I'm assuming that however he plays, he does it well if he is second on the depth chart but I'm just curious of what to expect. Any knowledge on the matter?
- Kevin Williams, Columbus


I’ll be very, very careful of making any Tebow analogy, but that was actually thrown around when Bauta committed a couple years ago. He’s an athletic quarterback, and when he first committed a lot of recruiting analysts thought he was more of a fullback, tight end or linebacker. But Georgia offensive coaches liked his passing ability, and since this preseason Bauta has really started to show off his arm.

I haven’t truly seen enough of Bauta to make an in-depth evaluation. He missed the G-Day game with a lingering shoulder problem. But I heard from people who watched the preseason scrimmages that he was pretty impressive. Not the strongest arm, and not the quickest feet, but good enough at both to be intriguing. And apparently the coaches like his decision-making enough that they’ll roll him in if something happens to Hutson Mason.

Subject line: Snakebit. Have you ever seen such a snake bit team than this year’s Georgia Bulldogs? Even in a 59-17 rout of Kentucky we can’t escape a devastating injury.
- Michael Jones

Nope, I’ve never seen a team have it this bad. Then again, that’s because I don’t cover Florida, Maryland or Georgia Southern, three teams I know have had it worse. But in Georgia’s case, it may have truly ruined a chance to have a special season. The other teams, not so much.

What has happened to Brendan Langley? A true freshman, seemed like he was everywhere in the first couple of games this year, but hasn’t been heard from since. Haven’t seen his name on the injury list?

I don’t understand why we burn the redshirts on some guys who haven’t seen much action or minutes. Kublanow and Rankin come to mind.
- Robert K. Burnham

Todd Grantham was asked about Langley on Tuesday night, and said “he’s not in the doghouse,” he’s just been passed by Shaq Wiggins and Sheldon Dawson. Of course, as I’ve said Grantham rarely publicly criticizes his players. Langley clearly struggled against while he was a starter early in the season, so the coaches decided to see what Wiggins could do, and Wiggins did very well. Dawson, meanwhile, was the No. 2 cornerback entering the preseason but got passed by the two freshmen. He’s recovered and is now playing in nickel situations.

Langley may still have a good future. In retrospect it may have been too much right away, but then again, some freshman had to play right away. Langley strikes me as a pretty heady kid who can recover mentally. A fresh start next season should benefit him.

Kublanow has gotten a bit of playing time, and while it may not seem like much to justify burning the redshirt, both starting guards are seniors this year and there’s a distinct chance that one of this year’s first-year linemen would be in line to contribute in 2014. So Will Friend identified Kublanow as someone to see some action this year in preparation for next year.

At inside linebacker, they were going to have to play freshmen. Reggie Carter, Tim Kimbrough, Rankin and Johnny O’Neal have all played. Maybe they didn’t need to play everyone, but with a smaller signing class next year, it’s possible someone could redshirt next year.

Will Murray travel with the team to the two remaining games? I know he won't play, but I think it would help the team just to have him on the sideline.

On second thought, maybe he could play. They could just stand him up over by the sideline as a "receiver" while Gurley takes the direct snap in the "Wild Dawg" formation. Murray gets the start without risking further injury, Dawgs don't have to waste a play, win-win. I'll just hold my breath while I'm waiting for that to happen....
- Dallas Smith

I never had much doubt that Murray would be at both of the remaining games if possible. And Mark Richt said that Murray had already requested to be there on Saturday. We’ll see.

I know your second thought is in jest, but one thing that might be nice – and I don’t see much chance of this happening – is if Murray got into the bowl game to throw one more pass, so that his final career pass isn’t an interception. Maybe Richt and the opposing coach could work that out.

My question is regarding Hutson Mason. What are the chances that Brice Ramsey, Faton Bauta, or one of the other QBs on the roster give him a run for the starting spot going into next season? I know, I know, there are games left to be played, but I'm guilty of looking ahead.
- Chris Marcus

Very little chance of that. Mason has not only been waiting for awhile, and there’s a reason he’s been the clear No. 2 for several seasons. It’s always possible that Mason struggles the next two games, but he would have to struggle immensely to not be the anointed starter heading into his senior year.

The No. 2 quarterback job will be the more intriguing battle this spring. Bauta has the job right now, but Ramsey hasn’t been an option because he’s redshirting. Christian LeMay? Well, it’s just not happening for him right now. Jacob Park will also be on campus this spring, but like Ramsey this year he’s probably headed for a redshirt.

During Saturday nights game vs Kentucky where was Jonathan Rumph? Was he injured or DNP? Maybe I missed him.
- Chris, Cedartown, Ga.

Rumph didn’t get in the game, and it wasn’t injury. The coaches haven’t been asked why, but if you remember Rumph ran a bad route against Auburn, and that may not have been the only one. He’s still a bit rough around the edges as far as his route-running and knowledge of the offense.

What does Richt do differently Tech week? Our boys are always ready to play them except in 08. (Knocking on wood for '13).
- Garrett Tolfinski

Generally, Richt doesn’t do anything differently, other than emphasizing the rivalry, perhaps saying some things privately that he isn’t publicly. (The same probably goes for Paul Johnson.) Joe Tereshinski also typically speaks to the team about his general feelings concerning the ACC school in Atlanta.

Lately it’s just been a good matchup for the Bulldogs. Given a week to prepare for what they know is coming, Grantham and the defense have done a good job. (Grantham is 4-0 against triple-option teams, including one win over Georgia Southern.) What’s also helped, and Grantham pointed this out, is that Georgia’s offense has been so good that it has taken big leads, taking Georgia Tech a bit out of its preferred offense. The more the Yellow Jackets have to throw and play catch-up, the worse it is for them.

1-I see Tech putting eight in the box to stop Gurley and making Mason beat them. Will he be able to? Can the Georgia o-line blow Tech's d-line back like they have the last two years?

2-The basketball team is really bad. No defense, bad shot selection, and the never-ending litany of missed FT. I don't like to support calls to replace a coach, but...what is the answer for this group?

Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving.
- Bob Ho

1-Actually, I’d be surprised if Georgia Tech approached it that way. They’re aware of Mason, and they know he can burn them. They also still know Georgia has Michael Bennett, Chris Conley, Arthur Lynch, and some other weapons. That doesn’t mean they won’t focus on the run on first and second downs. But I don’t think they’ll be stack the box. If they did? Mason could handle it, which is why I don’t think the Yellow Jackets will try it.

2-There’s no way to play down the start for Mark Fox’s team. After looking good in the opener, it’s dropped four straight. The offense has actually been good without Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, but the defense has been worse, and the rebounding and post play has been as bad as previous years. They need Kenny Gaines, or someone, to emerge as a real 3-point threat. And they need to play defense about three times better than they have so far. The next five games are against much weaker opponents, at home, so this is the time to work on that and be in better position for the rest of the season. Otherwise, this is going to be a long, death-march type of season.

Georgia still had its defensive starters in the game as late as the early fourth quarter Saturday when the outcome was already decided. We saw this a bit last year, too, in blowouts. Why do you think the coaches are so reluctant to get other defensive players in-game experience? Is it simply lack of trust? Lack of talent? I feel like most other top-tier programs who recruit like Georgia play its second team a little bit earlier in blowout situations, or even have a deeper roatation in general.
- Brandon in Charlotte

It’s been that way for a few years, as you mentioned, and I’ve wondered about it too. It’s not something Grantham and assistants have been asked about this year, because it wasn’t an issue until the Kentucky game. It hasn’t really bitten them yet in terms of anybody getting hurt. Where it may have is not getting snaps for young players expected to move into bigger roles down the line. The secondary in particular could have benefitted from that.

Who will be UGA longer: Bobo or Grantham?
- David St. Louis

The more likely answer is Bobo, whose spot on the staff seems more stable, and he’s a Georgia boy, unlike Grantham, who has had his dalliances with the NFL. But what if Grantham is retained this year and doesn’t take an NFL job, and Bobo gets a head coaching job in college? That scenario is foreseeable.

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