Georgia’s quarterback problems falls at Richt’s feet

Georgia Bulldogs coach Mark Richt has made mistakes in recruiting and developing quarterbacks in the last two seasons. (Brant Sanderlin / bsanderlin@ajc.com)

Georgia Bulldogs coach Mark Richt has made mistakes in recruiting and developing quarterbacks in the last two seasons. (Brant Sanderlin / bsanderlin@ajc.com)

Georgia Bulldogs coach Mark Richt has made mistakes in recruiting and developing quarterbacks in the last two seasons. (Brant Sanderlin / bsanderlin@ajc.com)

ATHENS – One could theorize, as one sits on the couch in Bulldogs boxer shorts this week, that everything is still on the table for Georgia this week. And somewhere, the clouds will part and Annie will sing as … Georgia beats Florida, Kentucky and Auburn and the Dogs win the SEC East.

• Georgia beats Florida, Kentucky and Auburn and the Dogs win the SEC East.

• The Dogs channel that spiritual high from an unlikely late-season run, charge into the Georgia Dome like Namath, Buster Douglas and the U.S. hockey team at Lake Placid rolled into one, and upset Alabama or LSU in the conference championship.

• Watch as the angels stick out their legs to trip enough other top-10 programs down the stretch, opening the backdoor to the playoffs.

Or we can just assume what seems obvious now: That Georgia will wind up in a second-tier bowl with fans wondering what went wrong, screaming about coaching and recruiting, and then assume/hope/drop to their knees and pray that a freshman quarterback (Jacob Eason) swoops in next season and accomplishes something freshmen quarterback rarely accomplish: which is win big.

The Dogs have been underwhelming this season on defense and special teams. The loss of running back Nick Chubb meant the loss of a great player who could make up for the team’s other significant flaws. But Georgia’s biggest issue going back to last spring has been the absence of a competent starting quarterback, a passer who could make plays to win games in big games.

For that, there is no excuse — not at a major college program with the resources Georgia has, not with a coach like Mark Richt whose career specialty has been offense and quarterback development.

There have been recruiting mistakes. There have been coaching mistakes. There have been mistakes in terms of how Richt and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer approached this whole quarterback competition after realizing they might have an issue with an unimpressive depth chart of Greyson Lambert, Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta.

Richt isn’t going to make such declarations now, if ever. But for a coach who has largely enjoyed starting quarterback stability and success at Georgia — Matthew Stafford, David Greene, D.J. Shockley and Aaron Murray among those coming off the assembly line — this must be a bit of a shock.

I asked Richt on Tuesday if he second-guesses himself on anything that led to this year’s situation. But it was the second question he had taken on the quarterback topic, and apparently that was one too many. (Maybe two.)

“I’ll just say this: We are this deep into the season, and we’re playing Florida, and we’re in a very meaningful game,” he said. “To me, there’s still a lot to be written this season. So I’m not ready to say what kind of year it was for quarterbacks yet or not.”

Maybe. But it’s no coincidence that Georgia’s offense has struggled against the only three good defenses it has faced this season: Alabama, Vanderbilt and Missouri.

It’s easy to dump on Lambert. But he can’t change who he is. It’s not like he’s a problem player who isn’t open to coaching. He transferred from Virginia because he wasn’t good enough. The problems go much deeper than him.

Richt (recruiting): With Georgia’s resources, it should always have quarterback depth. The program shouldn’t have to rely on “bridge” quarterbacks, and that has been the case for two years. The Dogs needed starters to get them from Murray to Eason. They managed to get by with Hutson Mason last season but were limited with what they could do offensively. There have been recruiting mistakes with Christian LeMay, Jacob Park and, presumably, Ramsey. Georgia waited too long and whiffed on Deshaun Watson, who’s now leading Clemson. One has to wonder why Richt even recruited Bauta, knowing he wasn’t a golden-arm, pro-style offense quarterback, or maybe a major college quarterback at all. So this situation falls solely at the head coach’s feet.

Richt/Schottenheimer (development): So, message board/social media whiners: Do you miss Mike Bobo now? The most successful/underappreciated/inexplicably criticized offensive coordinator in Georgia history did a great job developing quarterbacks and calling plays before getting a head coaching offer at Colorado State. His replacement, Schottenheimer, has failed to this point. Richt called Schottenheimer “a great coach.” I never heard that adjective when he was in the NFL. The scouting report was closer to: good guy, works well with players, unimaginative and predictable. Fact: None of Georgia’s quarterbacks have gotten better and play calling has been predictable.

Richt reiterated Tuesday that the decision to go with Lambert as the starter wasn’t finalized until just before the season and that the decision was close. “It wasn’t like one guy just stole the show and that’s it. They all had some really bright moments and they all had some moments that weren’t that bright,” he said. “It was a fairly inconsistent camp. Was there ever a guy who was on top and stayed on top the whole way through? There really was not.” So how is it that in the first three games against Louisiana-Monroe, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Southern, Ramsey didn’t get more snaps and Bauta didn’t get any? Sharing plays in the first four weeks, before the Alabama game, might have been a truer test for the three.

Then again, it might not have made a difference. It has been a bad a situation from the outset, and that’s the problem.

Reader Comments 0

28 comments
KBP
KBP

The lack of a NC makes everything Richt does seem really bad. Tell me LSU didn't miss on its QB after Mettenberger and Florida after Tebow, and Auburn after Marshall, and A&M after Manziel. It's not just Richt. Many Power 5 coaches have missed on QB's. Furthermore, if the Dawgs win the remaining conference games on its schedule and then lose the SECCG how is that a bad year? If they win the conference and somehow get into the playoff, how is that a backdoor way in? I respect Saban and Alabama but right now they need help to win the west because when their destiny was in their hands they failed to deliver. They need help and the Dawgs don't.

Boeingdawg
Boeingdawg

All Bobo did was direct n offense that set records for point scoring with Mason as the qb. I'd say Bobo is missed.

HowdyJune
HowdyJune

I'm not a UGA grad, but have followed the program closely for years.  I was very disappointed in Georgia's performance against Alabama.  UGA was at home and simply got trampled big time.  The collapse against Tennessee really told me a lot.  UGA got out to a 24 point lead and let Tennessee score 35 points.  That was simply a very embarrassing collapse - Georgia is better than that.  I don't know what happens the rest of the season, but I just don't think that Georgia will beat both Auburn (at Auburn) and Florida.  Last year's Georgia-Florida game was a dismal performance by Georgia.  Maybe, just maybe, Georgia can get it together.  I'm with Todd22 - give Bauta a chance.


As for Richt's commitment to a pro offense, I agree that is not a winning strategy.  Look at Clemson - they recruited a "running quarterback" named Deshaun Watson out of Gainseville, GEORGIA! Try to block his pass and he'll run around you for big yardage - he scored 4 TDs against Boston College.  But he can throw the ball as well as anybody and his running is a real threat. Georgia has no such threat.  All of us should be very happy that Georgia does not play Clemson this year.



Zepster
Zepster

The only thing left to do is fire Mark Richt... He does less with more than any one in the country.. He sucks... Please fire his a$$.. I am UGA grad and lifetime Dawg fan of 55 years old. The guy is not anywhere near earning $4M a year... What a joke... You could probably hire a hungry and talented high school coach who could do a better job... I'm not just saying that.. Richt is wasting a lot of talent... He was good for the first 5 years but since then he's sucks...


Todd22
Todd22

After watching Lambert and Ramsey, I'd prefer they give Bauta a try. You have nothing to lose because you aren't going anywhere with the first 2 guys and maybe Bauta does better than people expect. If the QB competition was as close as they say, why hasn't this guy been given a chance?

rim1one
rim1one

I am glad that Bobo is gone.  I just wish that Richt would have kept the OC job for himself like his first few years.  He is an offensive genius and when he puts other people in charge of the offense we lose a little.

chiefl5p
chiefl5p

Old men complaining about the student athletes... sigh

BCB
BCB

All schools go thru years with this same problem.

EastBroadDawg
EastBroadDawg

Richt's marriage to a pro style offense is central to UGA inconsistency and underachievement. In college a coach that uses an offense based on deception and mismatches (not running downhill and precise routes) is the way to go.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Two issues: (1) The Dawgs in the past two seasons have turned over Defensive and now Offensive Coordinators. That's significant. 

(2) It is apparent the level of talent on the team, everywhere but running back, is not what it has been at the peak moments in the past. There aren't that many difference makers on the field and there are underclassmen playing key roles especially on defense.


They are what they are, a mediocre team. They might win some big games this year, and yet it's not hard to envision they might lose them all. If I were Richt I'd be in the ear of those coordinators big-time. It's his responsibility to ensure they are meeting standards and expectations as leaders of their units.


It is curious to me that UGA keeps going OUTSIDE the program to find coordinators. That may be one (maybe the only) knock on Bobo, he did not groom a viable successor. Defense - ugh, bad situation.

Peaches30305
Peaches30305

@DawgDadII So you blame Bobo for not grooming a viable successor, but not Richt the head coach.  hehehe ok.

ATLnative72
ATLnative72

The QB play is fine, or at least good enough.


As a head coach with coordinators, Richt's top game duties are game management and mentally preparing his team.  He fails in both area, especially in the mental department.  If things begin going against us, we give up.  We do not fight, but instead accept our miserable fate and get blown out.  That's all on Richt.

Zepster
Zepster

@ATLnative72 The QB play is fine? But you must have been watching games from 2013. Possibly 2014.

StayingtheCourse
StayingtheCourse

Interesting that CMR doesn't adapt his offense to the players he has ... he wants a "plug and play type" ... Watson didn't fit the mold ...

Peaches30305
Peaches30305

How does someone who is a great recruiter have such glaring holes in the pipeline of the quarterback position?  Not to mention the current starter was a transfer.  Who cares what other teams troubles have been in the qb position?  


They win, we don't.



monty1
monty1

Bama, LSU, Fla, Auburn have all struggled with the QB position.Coker was a transfer from Fla St. Fla St. had to get a transfer from Notre Dame. Fla and Bama had QB's transfer to smaller schools and are doing quite well. It seems more like trying to find a needle in a haystack. But the trick seems to be finding a guy with an indomitable will to win (lie a Tebow) or develop a Offensive system where you just plug a guy in and in doesn't really matter who it is(say a Danny Weurfel) both he and Tebow won the Heisman and they couldn't even make in the Bigs. Neither were big arm kind of guys but both played on good teams in good systems and had guys who could go get the football. We either don't have the receivers or they aren't being coached because they don't seem to get separation. Something is missing. I predict the back up QB for Fla who couldn't win the starting job(he's a get this: "running QB") will throw for more yards than Lambert. The knock on Fla was they didn't have anyone at the skill positions on offense. We'll see.

WardinConyers
WardinConyers

This self-same problem may have been a key reason why Spurrier left South Carolina.   The HBC must have been frustrated that he was stuck with 3 young, un-tested, rookies who were clearly not ready.  For Spurrier, always being a star, he just couldn't live with it.  I have an idea: send Richt to SC!


10percenter
10percenter

Both UGA and SC have (had) head coaches that were known for developing QBs. The fact that the well is dry at both programs right now astounds me. How does that happen? 

TOJacket
TOJacket

Richt has gotten softer and lazier.........and let me go ahead and congratulate him on his success against teams with less talent........but you don't hardly ever see the dawgs come out and beat a good ranked team......guy has no fire, too nice to win anymore.

Zepster
Zepster

@BCB @TOJacket How can you say that after they gifted that game to GT last year . Richt is a choke artist in close games.A major choke artist in big games. Please fire his a$$. 


PappyHappy
PappyHappy

Let's face it.  If UGA is to move to the next level, MR is going to have to fade into the sunset.  We now have Ole Miss, Tennessee, in addition to Alabama and Florida who are going to do their best to obliterate the dawgs on a continuing basis.


Perhaps it is past time that Richt should take a page out of the last chapter of Coach Spurrier!

almmanduane75
almmanduane75

The issues at UGA go a lot deeper than the QB situation.


There are problems with player development in most areas and the culture is one of "let's try to win the SEC" not "let's try to win the national championship.


UGA also has a school president that is content with 8 & 5 and 9 & 4 records as long as CMR graduates players with degrees.


It's been painfully obvious to me for about 3 years that CMR has served his purpose.


It's time for him to move on as it will not get any better.


I love his principals, but this is the SEC.


Until there is an organized revolt and demand for excellent by fans, donors and administration we can continue to expect Belk and Capital One bowl appearances.


              "Pants Up"  "Don't Loot"

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Problem seems to me lack of getting them ready, which I assume is because Richt despises QB controversies.   I watch a lot of C Football and most teams get their #2 in the game much more frequently than UGA.  I don't see all these problems with losing rhythm that Murray and Richt harped on, at Ohio State where they switch two QB's every game.


Richt also seems totally inflexible in his offense, so the QB has to bend to Richt's offense, instead of focusing the offense on what the QB does best.  Bauta should have gone somewhere they value mobile QB's. 

Andrew1447
Andrew1447

Ramsey was a 4-5 star quarterback coming out of high school as was Jacob Park. They were both recruited heavily by other major programs as was Lambert. The fact that Richt and this program have had as many successful QBs as they  have produced, and even got something out of Cox and Mason, is enough for me to not blame them for this. Every program that went after these guys would have made the same mistake. This is 100% on Ramsey, Park when he was here, and now Lambert. If you can't develop as a QB in this program, that is your fault. I'm not one to always support Richt, but I do not blame him for this one. 


Peaches30305
Peaches30305

@Andrew1447 So, blame the player who can't develop as a qb and not the coaches who recruit them.  LOL

POV1948
POV1948

At least Richt doesn't go anonymous, ajcsports.