Behold, the return of the mailbag. Let's call it the mid-spring practice, post-basketball version. ... On to the questions and answers:
What are the benefits of not having a quarterback starter through the summer? Seems like UGA would lose out on some quality throwing practice.
- William Kent
I see what you’re saying, and if someone emerges the next two weeks as the clear guy, then you could see Mark Richt at least proclaim that the guy will enter preseason as the No. 1. Though I’d be shocked if Richt announced after G-Day that someone will be the definite starter for the Louisiana-Monroe game.
There are several other reasons, however, to not name a starter yet, and both are rather cynical, but understandable:
Georgia will only have three scholarship quarterbacks next season. If you name one of them a starter, one of the other two could contemplate a transfer over the summer. Then you only have two scholarship quarterbacks.
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But if the competition promises to carry into the preseason, then all three candidates have the summer to keep working hard in the hope they’ll get it. It’s true that the past five years it was clear that Aaron Murray and then Hutson Mason would be the starter. But those were obvious choices, plus there was no doubt Murray and Mason would still put in the summer work. This time around, the coaches might like for the uncertainty to continue.
Brian Schottenheimer was viewed by the Rams fans and many NFL pundits as the reason they were not a playoff team. What does he bring to the table that should make UGA fans optimistic? And please don’t answer with “Nick Chubb."
-Scott C. Davis
Well, Chubb might be better right now than Zac Stacy, but okay, you said I couldn't answer that way.
You may be a bit harsh on Schottenheimer when it comes to the perception of him by Ram fans. I asked a fellow writer in Missouri for his assessment of fan views, and here's what he said:
"He's a reason but not the reason. He wasn't very popular with Rams fans. Offense considered too conservative. But when he had a healthy Sam Bradford in 2012, Bradford had his best season and the Rams weren't as terrible as they've been other years. Jeff Fisher is known for a grind-it-out boring offensive style, so I'm not sure how much was really Schottenheimer's doing or just the overall philosophy of the head coach. I think he became an easy target when the offense really struggled with Bradford injured the last two years."
OK, that’s not a glowing endorsement either. But you can’t ignore the Rams’ talent and quarterback problems during Schottenheimer's tenure. Certainly, there are reasons for hope and reasons for concern. The hope is the continuity factor. As Richt said when he hired Schottenheimer, if you want to run a pro-style offense, there aren’t many left at the college level, so you tend to have to go to the NFL, and there are only 32 of those jobs. Maybe Schottenheimer didn’t light the world on fire up up there, but ran offenses for nine years, and was welcome back for a 10th before hopping off to Athens.
I guess I’m not allowed to answer “Nick Chubb,” but don’t dismiss that as a good answer. When Georgia has the stable of running backs it has, you want an offensive coordinator who will make sure to put the ball in their hands at least 50-60 percent of the time. Maybe an up-and-coming college coordinator would have intrigued a lot of people. But I’d argue that Georgia didn’t need that on offense. It just needed to not mess with success, and to that end Schottenheimer is so far saying and doing all the right things.
I'm interested in Mark Fox/Arizona State and other jobs he may be getting interest for?
- Austin Grieb
There haven’t been any firm rumblings about Fox and any available job at this point. Arizona State could make some sense considering his familiarity with the west. Jeff Capel, the former Oklahoma coach and current Duke assistant, seems to be getting the most attention. Trent Johnson, the TCU coach and Fox's close friend, is getting some mention for that job. (Fox succeeded Johnson at Nevada.) If Johnson wants that job, it would be surprising if Fox tried to jump in on it too.
Fox and his assistants were hosting two recruits this past weekend, including Michigan big man Michael Edwards, who they're hoping to secure. And with Jaylen Brown still at least a fleeting possibility, making the jump from Georgia to Arizona State would be pretty unexpected.
Still, you couldn’t blame Fox if he were to entertain even a lateral job offer, considering the pressure he was under before this year’s NCAA tournament run. But next year’s Georgia team should be good enough to contend for another bid, and perhaps go further in the tournament. So waiting at least one more year could make him more marketable – or get him a bigger deal from UGA.
With tons of experience in the backcourt and tons of youth in the post, what do you think the odds are of Fox allowing his guards turn UGA into a consistent transition team? They flirted with it at times this season and even showed its promise in the opening game of the NCAA tourney, cutting into several double digit MSU leads by pushing the ball intentionally.
- Blaine Seagraves
Fox said in Charlotte that he and his staff would “have to talk about how we’re going to play.” So it would appear that’s in the cards. But a few points:
In order to be a transition (i.e. fast and up-tempo) team you need steals and opponent misses, preferably 3-point misses. Georgia will need to do that more next season if it wants to run. And Charles Mann will have to finish better. Frankly, I like the idea of pushing the ball more, and there were times this year I was surprised the Bulldogs didn’t push it downcourt. But you could argue that Georgia was more successful in its half-court set than it was when a player was trying to score in transition. Transition chances were often an adventure.
A lot depends on how the final roster looks next season. If they somehow get Jaylen Brown, then you could see a very speedy and perimeter-oriented team. There are also some graduate transfer possibilities who would play right away on the wing. They also appear to like the two perimeter signees (guard Turtle Jackson and small forward E’torrion Wilridge) enough to find ways to get them on the floor. But if the team signs one or two more post players, it’s an indication that while they could run a bit more, it will still be a half-court oriented team.
Is the new starting center just as critical as the new starting QB?
- Keith Floyd
It’s important, but not as much as the quarterback.
Halfway through spring practice, it seems Isaiah Wynn (who will be a sophomore this fall) is being given every chance to win a starting job. He was first-team center in the first scrimmage. So far Brandon Kublanow, the normal starter at left guard, has only been given a brief look at center. He’s left-handed, which sometimes isn’t ideal for quarterbacks so used to right-handed centers. But if Kublanow were to get the job, Wynn would be a top candidate at left guard.
Still, don’t rule out Hunter Long, who will be a fifth-year senior this fall. He’s actually snapped in real games, though not many.
Status report on women's basketball coaching search?
- Janice Garrett
I wish I had something firm to pass along. It’s been very quiet on that front, partly due to UGA’s efforts to keep it that way, but also the lack of media attention. Obviously lump me in there, and I plead guilty.
My sense is something would happen by the end of next week, at the latest. The Final Four being this weekend could be a chance to meet with any finalists, although that could happen before then too, and may already have.
The one thing I’m confident in saying is the search is getting the proper attention by the UGA hierarchy; Greg McGarity cares about it, and so does Carla Williams, his top associate A.D., who happens to be a former Georgia women’s basketball player. You may not be hearing much in the media about this (again, blame me) but this has been priority No. 1 the past two weeks for the top floor of the Butts-Mehre.
New quality control guys and strength staff making a noticeable difference this far?
- Jordan Borders
Hard to say it’s been noticeable yet, but it should be eventually. The run of hamstring injuries shows that Mark Hocke (the new strength coach) didn’t have a magic elixir to fix that. Hocke is more active at practice, and you see him at different position spots each practice, it seems. But spring practice is too early to make any grand pronouncements about the new program.
The quality control people are still getting settled in. It’s not like you see a hundred new faces at practice right now. (And in fact they’re not supposed to be coaching in practice.) You’ll see their impact more in recruiting, as they take on some of the planning and administrative stuff that frees up the assistant coaches for their other duties. There will also be some effect in game preparation.
Next step for Jonathan Taylor, Auburn?
Bruce from PA
Actually Gus Malzahn, to his credit, stepped in and vetoed Auburn accepting Taylor a couple months ago, according to reports out of the Plains. This one is all on Alabama, which didn’t do its proper diligence and showed poor judgment.
Taylor, meanwhile, will finally be arraigned next week in Athens for last summer’s domestic battery arrest, as well as the check-cashing arrest last year. Originally Taylor entered pre-trial intervention for that, along with his other three then-Georgia teammates. But the PTI was invalidated by the domestic battery arrest. Throw in the latest charge in Tuscaloosa, and Taylor has a lot more than football to figure out.