ATHENS -- Nine years have passed since Georgia entered preseason practice not knowing who the starting quarterback would be. And even then, back in 2006, Joe Tereshinski III held the upper-hand before fending off true freshman Matthew Stafford.
This year’s decision might be head coach Mark Richt’s toughest call at quarterback since taking the Georgia job in 2001. There are three candidates, and not one has greatly separated himself from the group. Faton Bauta closed the gap on Brice Ramsey in the spring, and incoming transfer Greyson Lambert will be in the mix. But with three quarterbacks neck-and-neck at this stage, there is a level of concern as to whether Georgia has the kind of option needed to be among the best teams in the SEC. Then again, perhaps all three are viable and will do just fine with the supporting cast on offense. Regardless, there won’t be a more scrutinized position on Georgia’s roster this preseason than at quarterback.
The players: Ramsey, Bauta and Lambert all offer something different, although Ramsey and Lambert are in a similar mold. Bauta, who helped organize offseason workouts, is a dual-threat quarterback who would give the Bulldogs the ability to run some zone-read option on offense. Ramsey and Lambert are traditional pro-style passers. Ramsey has a big arm and quick release and can effectively move in the pocket. Lambert is big at 6-foot-5, has a strong arm and has 16 outings of college game experience.
Even though Richt stated numerous times that he doesn’t know who will get the job, Ramsey can be assumed to be the leader -- even if it’s by the slimmest of margins. Ramsey was Georgia’s No. 2 quarterback option a year ago, and there would be no reason to assume he has done anything to lose the job. But considering that Bauta gained considerable ground on Ramsey in the spring and the Bulldogs felt the need to secure depth with a graduate transfer in Lambert, all options are on the table. When Ramsey was recruited, it was thought he would eventually have a good chance at being a starter. Bauta and Lambert have done their part to make things difficult for Ramsey.
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Expectations: They might be at an all-time low for Georgia’s quarterback, especially recently. While everyone wants to know who will win the job, it’s pretty much assumed Georgia will have a game manager who will have the task of not making mistakes. While last year’s starter, Hutson Mason, didn’t have the kind of arm Ramsey and Lambert possess, he played smart enough football to keep his interception total at only four. Mason also leaned on a running game that should be every bit as good in 2015. Mason broke Mike Bobo’s program record by completing 67.9 percent of his passes but only totaled 2,168 yards and 21 touchdowns. Assuming the running game performs as expected, Georgia should be happy with a similar stat line from its quarterback.
Outlook: Whichever quarterback wins the job won’t be asked to do too much. And the winner will have two weeks to ease into the role with games against Louisiana-Monroe and Vanderbilt to open the season. The third game against South Carolina will be the first test for the winner, which could serve as a big indicator as to what the rest of the season may hold. With a stout offensive line and one of the nation’s best running back stables, all Ramsey, Bauta or Lambert will need to be is steady under center.