THE TEN AT 10:
1. Somewhat underplayed in the development that was the hiring of Brian Schottenheimer is the quarterback situation that Georgia’s new offensive coordinator is inheriting.
The general assumption has been that rising sophomore Brice Ramsey will take over starting job that has been left open with the graduation of Hutson Mason. But there was a lot of late-season buzz about the skills Jacob Park displayed while running the scout team during his redshirt season. And junior Faton Bauta probably has a better grasp of the Bulldogs’ offensive playbook than both of them.
Schottenheimer has had a lot of experience dealing with young, inexperienced quarterbacks. At St. Louis, the Rams were without starter Sam Bradford the last season and a half due to knee injuries. They ended up starting undrafted free agent rookie Austin Davis, who played extremely well the first half of the season before eventually giving way to veteran Shaun Hill.
Schottenheimer said he hasn’t had much time to assess yet the situation at Georgia
“I’m just kind of getting into the process now,” he said at his introductory news conference last Friday. “I’ve spent quite a bit of time on recruiting film, to be honest with you. But talking to Coach Richt and the staff, obviously we know there are a couple of guys starting to stick their nose in. I just met Brice. I can give you some more information on that in the next little bit.”
2. Ramsey slowly emerged as the primary backup to Mason over the course of this past season. In fact, after the loss to Florida in Week 8, the Bulldogs contemplated a rotation between the two quarterbacks in the Kentucky game. However, Mason responded by completing 13-of-16 passes and throwing for four touchdowns, and Ramsey was relegated to a No. 2 role the rest of the way.
When Mason went out of the Belk Bowl shortly before halftime with a concussion the Bulldogs turned to Ramsey. Coming in cold and without an opportunity to warm up, Ramsey threw an interception on his first play in the game and was shaky at first. He was 4-for-9 passing for 51 yards as Georgia eventually settled on just handing the ball to tailback Nick Chubb, who rushed for 268 yards.
For the season, Ramsey completed 61.5 percent of his passes for 333 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Bauta is more considered more of a zone-read quarterback who has some running ability. In limited playing time, he rushed for 16 yards on six carries and two touchdowns while appearing in three games this past season. He was 4-of-5 passing for 48 yards.
Park seems have some skill in both areas. He has exceptional mobility while also sporting a strong arm and, according to teammates, a penchant for showing it off by throwing the deep ball.
It should make for a spirited competition in spring practice and one that will surely continue into preseason camp.
3. As expected, Georgia recorded another Top 10 finish in the final Associated Press poll. The Bulldogs (10-3) came in at No. 9 when the last rankings of the year were released Tuesday morning.
That left the Bulldogs as the second-highest-ranked SEC team, behind No. 4 Alabama. Other SEC teams included were No. 11 Mississippi State, No. 14 Missouri, No. 17 Ole Miss and No. 22 Auburn.
Georgia was one spot behind Georgia Tech (11-3), which beat the Bulldogs 30-24 in overtime in the regular-season finale.
Meanwhile, it was the seventh top-10 finish in 14 seasons for head coach Mark Richt. That’s one fewer than Hall of Fame coach Vince Dooley, who had eight in 25 seasons.
4. Still haven’t had a chance to catch up with Rob Sale, the Bulldogs’ new offensive line coach. But he appears to be a well-qualified, if not somewhat inexperienced coach.
Sale, 34, doesn’t have a lot of sideline experience as a college coach. Before becoming the O-line coach at McNeese State in 2012, Sale’s college work came as an assistant strength and conditioning coach and offensive quality control guy at Alabama. Before that he was an offensive line coach in high school.
But Sale was a very good offensive lineman in college at LSU. He played in 35 games with 25 starts at guard and center at LSU from 1999-2002.
5. Georgia’s promising basketball season is off to a shaky start in SEC play. The Bulldogs (9-5) fell to 0-2 in league play after losing to LSU 87-84 in double overtime this past Saturday in Baton Rouge.
The Bulldogs fell apart after grabbing a nine-point lead in the first overtime, committing turnovers and missing foul shots the rest of the way. It was a particularly tough outing for Georgia’s two point guards, Charles Mann and J.J. Frazier. They finished a combined 2-of-14 shooting and committed 11 of the Bulldogs’ 20 turnovers.
Asked to assess his team’s point-guard play on the SEC teleconference on Monday, Georgia coach Mark Fox said he plans to stick with Mann, the 6-foot-5 junior.
“Charles did not finish the game well; he’d be the first to tell you that,” Fox said. “… You get into a double-overtime game, I think he wore down a little bit and made some poor decisions. But he’s been a good player for us and we’ll stick with Charles.”
6. Meanwhile, Georgia has a bit of an injury issue developing. The Bulldogs were already without forward Kenny Paul Geno for the LSU. The sophomore wing player suffered a fractured wrist in the Arkansas game and is out for a few weeks at least.
Then Georgia lost starter Juwan Parker during the LSU game. Parker, a sophomore who has started all 14 games this season, suffered some sort of Achilles tendon injury and his status for Wednesday’s game at Vanderbilt (11-2) is uncertain.
“He won’t practice,” Fox said. “Hopefully we’ll have him for the game, but we can’t be totally confident with that.”
Both Parker and Geno play on the wings for the Bulldogs. The 6-4 Parker is averaging 5.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. Geno (6-6) was averaging 1.9 and 1.2, respectively.
7. Bob Hope of the Atlanta public relations agency Hope-Beckham, takes an annual mission trip to rural Honduras. This year both Vince and Barbara Dooley will accompany him and his mission team March 14-21 to celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary.
It promises to be a special occasion as there are plans to dedicate “Vince Dooley Field” in the Agalta Valley while they’re there.
Supported by Hope’s mission, Vince Dooley Field is a soccer complex that has been built where there previously had been no athletic facilities within several hours of the area. According to a news release, it has state of the art Bermuda grass, goals and even a giant scoreboard supplied by Coca-Cola. And, of course, as it is named for Dooley, Hope says it has 160 hedges surrounding it.
There is still time to join the mission. Information is at http://www.wildernessteam.org.
8. Speaking of Dooley, he will be featured speaker for the annual Mariposa Miracle fundraising event on Jan. 22 at the Buckhead Theatre. Several former Bulldog players are also supposed to be in attendance. Sponsorship and ticket information is at http://www.havefoundation.org/events.
9. If you’ve driven through UGA’s South Campus area lately you’ve no doubt noticed the tremendous amount of progress that has been made on the Foley Field renovation.
While there is still a lot of work to be done on the exterior facade facing Pinecrest and Rutherford streets, the interior work of the $15 million construction project is nearly complete. In fact, the baseball team has moved into its locker room space and is using the new batting cages under third base grandstands.
It’s a good thing as the stadium is set to debut Feb. 13 when the Bulldogs play host to Eastern Illinois in the season opener and dedication game.
10. Todd Gurley is officially ineligible to play football for Georgia again as the junior tailback recently signed with an agent.
Gurley has inked with Roc Nation Sports, founded by hip-hop artist Jay-Z. He is just the sixth football client for Roc Nation, joining Dez Bryant, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Geno Smith and Ndamukong Suh.
Gurley had 911 yards rushing and scored nine touchdowns while playing in just six games for the Bulldogs this past season.