Aaron Murray

Mark Richt will find peace in naming a starting QB

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There was a nice little stretch of time in recent years when Georgia head coach Mark Richt did not have to worry about who his starting quarterback would be entering a season. Aaron Murray provided the Bulldogs head coach with a certain level of comfort most coaches can only dream of having every summer. But Murray has been gone for a couple of years now and once again Richt is one of many coaches around the nation trying to figure out which player will be best suited to be the starting quarterback of his offense. Time is starting to run thin.

“I’m a patient guy, but the clock is ticking,” Richt said Saturday when meeting with members of the media during fall practice. Richt appears to be no closer to naming a starting quarterback than he was when fall camp opened up.

Georgia’s quarterback competition was thrown under the spotlight in the spring game, knowing the running game should be just fine with Nick Chubb. The spring ended with Faton Bauta, Brice Ramsey and Jacob Park all vying for the job, which Richt expected to continue to play out over the summer anyway. Park has since left the program and Georgia has added Virginia transfer Greyson Lambert. Lambert would seem to be a likely candidate for the job, although Richt has not jumped to any such conclusions.

I’d like to know and have peace,” Richt explained. “I mean I’m waiting for some peace.”

Here’s hoping Richt finds some peace soon enough.

Georgia puts running game on spring shelf in favor of QB competition

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The Georgia Bulldogs gave rising star running back Nick Chubb just one carry before removing him from the game. The Bulldogs also held out Keith Marshall and Sony Michel for the game due to injuries. We all know Georgia is going to have a strong running game, so there was no real need to put anyone at risk in the spring game. That allowed for a good opportunity for the passing game to be put to the test.

Georgia has no Aaron Murray to count on this season, but that does not necessarily mean the Bulldogs have a problem at quarterback. Saturday afternoon’s spring game in Athens put all three options to work. Faton Bauta had a particularly solid afternoon with good timing with his receivers but did not show off much deep down field. Brice Ramsey showed off a solid arm but lacked consistency with his accuracy. Jacob Park was the third man in, which likely means he will be a backup in the fall, but he played well when given the opportunity.

So, where do things stand now?

“I think it’s still a race,” Georgia head coach Mark Richt said after the game, according to Barrett Sallee of Bleacher Report via Twitter. “There’s no question it’ll go through summer and fall before we settle on one.”

Not a bad way to go about it when dealing with a full-fledged quarterback situation. It is also not unexpected for Richt to see the passing game sit where it currently does. This will sort itself out over the summer leading up to the start of the 2015 season.

“Has any [QB] mastered their craft yet? No, but that’s not expected.”

Wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie had some good highlights, but a hamstring injury brought an early end to his afternoon. The severity of the injury does not figure to have any long-term impact for the fall, but he should sit out the final two practices Georgia has scheduled in the coming week.

Richt: ‘QB as wide-open as it’s ever been since I’ve been at Georgia’

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Not only will Georgia enter spring practice for the first time in nearly a decade with an offensive coordinator other than Mike Bobo, the Bulldogs will also be searching for a new starting quarterback for the second time in as many years.

After Aaron Murray more than ably handled the job from 2010-13, the signal-calling baton was passed to Hutson Mason for the 2014 season.  With Mason’s eligibility expired, the new starter is expected to come from a group of three players: redshirt sophomore Brice Ramsey, redshirt freshman Jacob Park and redshirt junior Faton Bauta.

Ramsey served as Mason’s primary backup in 2014, completing 24 of 39 passes for 333 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Bauta completed four of his five pass attempts in 2014, while Park, a four-star member of UGA’s 2014 recruiting class, took a redshirt as a true freshman.

Based on experience alone, Ramsey will enter the spring as the favorite to win the job. The Bulldogs’ head coach, though, made it perfectly clear that, in the first year under the highly-paid coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, the job is available to anyone for the taking.

“It’s just a lot of work to be done between now and that first game and a lot of competition to happen,” Mark Richt said according to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. “You know, the quarterback position is as wide-open as it’s ever been since I’ve been at Georgia probably. It’s going to be an interesting battle I would say.”

It’s unknown if Richt will name a starter exiting a spring, or wait until the competition shakes itself out a little more during summer camp before pulling the trigger.

Regardless of who lands the job, they’ll be able to ease into the position as UGA will open the 2015 season at home against Louisiana-Monroe before traveling to Vanderbilt for the SEC opener the following weekend.  The next three games are at home, with a game against FCS-level Southern sandwiched between matchups with SEC East rival South Carolina and West heavyweight Alabama.

Week 13, Statistically Speaking

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A statistical snapshot of the week that was in college football…

.592 – Winning percentage of visiting teams in Pac-12 road games (29-20) this season. The six teams ranked in last week’s Associated Press Top 25 (Oregon, UCLA, Arizona State, Arizona, Utah and USC) have a combined overall road record of 23-6 (.793).

.815 — Ohio State’s winning percentage (97-22) in Big Ten play since 2000, the highest league winning percentage among all Power Five schools.  Oklahoma 99-24 is next at .805.

.933 — Career field-goal percentage for Florida State’s Robert Aguayo (42-45).  The all-time career mark, for at least 45 attempts per the 2014 FBS record book, was .900 (45-50) by Louisiana-Lafayette’s Brett Baer (2009-12). The career mark, for at least 55 attempts, is .895 (68-76) by Nebraska’s Alex Henery (2007-10).

0 — Touchbacks this season for Wake Forest punter Alex Kinal, the only player in the Top 25 in punting average who can make that claim.

1 — 400-yard passing games for Jake Waters in his career, the lone one coming in Kansas State’s win over West Virginia Thursday night (400 even).  Waters had only one previous 300-yard game, that coming in November of last year against Oklahoma (348).

Ohio State v Maryland
Brad Craddock

1 — Kickers at the FBS level who have yet to miss a field goal attempt (minimum eight attempts) this season: Maryland’s Brad Craddock (17-17).  Craddock has made 23 straight attempts dating back to 2013, the longest current streak at the FBS level and third-longest in Big Ten history.

1.2 — Yards per play Savannah State averaged in its 64-0 loss to BYU.  The Cougars limited the Tigers to 40 yards passing on 28 attempts and 23 yards rushing on the same number of attempts.

4 — FBS teams currently undefeated in conference play:

Florida State (ACC, 8-0)
Georgia Southern (Sun Belt, 7-0)
Marshall (Conference USA, 7-0)
Ohio State (Big Ten, 7-0)

5 — Consecutive games Auburn allowed 30 or more points prior to playing Samford, the first time that’s ever happened in the history of the football program.

5 — Number of undefeated home seasons in the history of Utah State football: 1968 (4-0), 1972 (5-0), 1982 (4-0), 2012 (6-0) and 2014 (6-0).

6 — Total touchdowns (five rushing, one receiving) for Colorado State’s Dee Hart in a win over New Mexico, the second-highest single-game total in Mountain West History.

(more…)

Georgia’s complete game proves why they are beast of SEC East

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No. 13 Georgia (5-1, 3-1 SEC) is going to play for the SEC Championship. Most likely. The Bulldogs put together what may be the most impressive performance of the season we have seen from Georgia, a 34-0 drubbing of No. 23 Missouri (4-2, 1-1 SEC) on the road. They did so without their best player, running back Todd Gurley, and made it look incredibly easy.

On Saturday Georgia proved there is much more to this team than Gurley, who is now indefinitely suspended while under NCAA investigation. Hutson Mason was not Aaron Murray, but he was incredibly efficient with his passing and avoided forcing plays and risking a bad play. Without Gurley, Nick Chubbs stepped in and carried the football 37 times for 143 rushing yards and a touchdown. Brendan Douglas chipped in as well as Georgia dug deep on the roster to make do. Douglas rushed for 36 yards and had  a flip into the end zone. Mason had a touchdown run as well.

Georgia’s defense was awesome too. There is no other way to say it. Missouri had five turnovers in the game, including four interceptions thrown by Maty Mauk (who was also 9-of-20 for 97 yards). Missouri was held to 147 yards of offense and went 0-for-7 on third-down conversion attempts.

Georgia and Missouri have now played three times, starting when Missouri joined the SEC. So far, the road team has won each time.

Georgia’s next few games are not exactly automatic wins, but if Georgia plays the way they did Saturday afternoon in Columbia then it should be safe to assume they will be in a good position heading into a mid-November SEC finale against Auburn. Georgia travels to Arkansas next week, and that is followed by a pair of home games against Florida and Kentucky. So there is still work to be done before Georgia fans start making plans for a trip to Atlanta, but it looks as though Georgia has the best all-around team in the division at this point in the season.

Missouri will hit the road next week with a trip to Florida. Florida should have quarterback Treon Harris available to play by then. Harris was reinstated by the team on Friday but is not expected to play against LSU open Saturday. Treon Harris available to play by then. Harris was reinstated by the team on Friday but is not expected to play against LSU open Saturday. Missouri is certainly not out of the mix just yet in the SEC East. One slip by Georgia could sway the pendulum back in Missouri’s favor.