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Mailbag: Georgia’s muddled QB situation, impact freshmen, and hoops

And there was much rejoicing: The mailbag has migrated with your faithful beat writer over to his new job, along with his propensity to use the third person, as well as his propensity to use big words, such as propensity.

And when you have a mailbag, and you have a quarterback debate, obviously you know where we’re starting. And where we might start for a long, long time.

So let’s get to it:

Is the quarterback race just a one year holdover (a “Cox year”) until Jacob Eason is ready?
– Jeff Giddens

Is the search for graduate transfers at QB a depth thing or is the play of Ramsey/Bauta/Park a concern, in your opinion.
– Coach Davis (via Twitter)

In all honesty, the quarterback situation is close to confounding at this point. My stock line entering spring practice was that “there will be a lot of intrigue right up until Brice Ramsey is inevitably named the starter.” And that could still end up being the case. But the coaches have done a good job of muddling up the picture, especially with the addition of Greyson Lambert.

Why add him? I’ve been skeptical of the depth argument, given that this team has gone plenty of years with only three scholarship quarterbacks, including one year with just two. (Aaron Murray was a redshirt freshman in 2010 and Hutson Mason was a true freshman. They were okay enough with that situation that they moved Logan Gray, the only quarterback with game experience, to receiver.) So ultimately I don’t think Georgia would have taken Lambert if it didn’t think he had at least a chance of competing for playing time, although I do think there’s some truth to being concerned that someone else leaving.

Coach Mark Richt wasn't thrilled by what he saw from Brice Ramsey or any of the Bulldogs' quarterbacks this past Saturday. (UGA photo by John Kelley)

Coach Mark Richt wasn’t thrilled by what he saw from Brice Ramsey or any of the Bulldogs’ quarterbacks this past Saturday. (UGA photo by John Kelley)

Do I still think Ramsey is the favorite to start? Yes, though I’m not as confident as I was before spring practice. Mark Richt and Brian Schottenheimer have kept their feelings close to the vest. I’ve had some people tell me that they still expect Ramsey to win the job in August. I’ve had other people tell me that Bauta was clearly better during spring. And I’ve had others say that Park can’t be counted out of the competition. (But I haven’t had anybody tell me they expect him to win the job.)

It all makes for a very interesting August. And there’s still almost two full months for further roster movement.

There’s also a lot of time between now and when Eason arrives (for spring practice 2016). If no one emerges as the clear starter this season, then Eason has a great chance to be the guy right away. It will be up to whoever gets the job to establish himself this season, and make Eason work harder.

Biggest impact signee for next season that is moving in this week?
– Austin Grieb

That rules out the early enrollees, of whom several could play right away. I could see defensive back Jarvis Wilson, linebackers Natrez Patrick and Chuks Amaechi, and defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter all seeing a lot of early action.

But you asked about those who joined the team this week. While I’d love to shock you with a name, such as DB Juwuan Briscoe or edge rusher D’Andre Walker, and I do expect them to have an impact, let’s not be too cute: The answer right now is Trent Thompson or Terry Godwin.

Thompson was one of the nation’s top recruits for a reason. He’s going to play right away on the defensive line, possibly at both tackle and end, the only question being whether he starts or is one of the first few off the bench. He may not be racking up sacks and TFLs right away, but by the end of the season it would be a surprise if he’s not a major factor.

Godwin was also a five-star recruit, and he joins a team that needs him right now. Schottenheimer mentioned the comparison to Tavon Austin the other day, and it didn’t sound like Schottenheimer was discouraging it. Much like Thompson, I don’t know that I’d project Godwin as an immediate starter, but if he picks up the offense well enough, they’re going to find ways to use him.

UGA is piling up D-lineman. Will we be a truly elite defense, even this year? Future looks bright on that side of ball.
– Craig Scruggs

Elite this year? I wouldn’t expect it. You’ve still got a fairly green secondary, uncertainty at inside linebacker, and lack of star power on the defensive line. (Something Thompson could solve, but he’s still just a freshman.)

When you look at top-level defenses in college, there are usually multiple first-round picks and established All-SEC candidates. Georgia may be building towards that, but I’m not sure whether it has it right away. Yes, the outside linebackers are loaded, as Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd could both be first-team All-SEC picks and first-round picks. But that’s just one spot, and the question is whether other players will develop this season into that kind of an impact star.

All that said, Craig, the future does indeed look good for Georgia on defense. Jeremy Pruitt and the other defensive assistants are recruiting very well there, and you could soon see overall talent there akin to what the 2011-12 Georgia defense had. Perhaps even better.

Linebackers coach Mike Ekeler likes what he's been seeing from Tim Kimbrough at the Mike position. (UGA photo by Steven Colquitt)

Linebackers coach Mike Ekeler likes what he’s been seeing from Tim Kimbrough at the Mike position. (UGA photo by Steven Colquitt)

OLB is obviously stacked. How do you see ILB shaking out? Pruitt mixing and matching to get best talent on the field?
– Glenn Orman

Yes. There aren’t two clear starters anymore, the way Amarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson were, but there are plenty of good candidates with varying skill sets. Reggie Carter is the smart, quick guy. Tim Kimbrough is the thumper. Jake Ganus has experience and a nose for making tackles. Natrez Patrick and Roquan Smith are very skilled overall. Chuks Amaechi, while officially at outside linebacker now, should also get a look inside in some packages.

I also still like the idea of Leonard Floyd playing inside at some point in order to get all the outside linebackers on the field. Assistant coach Kevin Sherrer said this spring that obviously they would have to find ways to do that.

Congratulations on the new job.  I assume that Mark Fox and the Georgia basketball team are no longer looking to add any players for next season but was wondering if you had any insight on that issue.  Is it too late to add a graduate transfer? Thanks, and keep up the good work.
– Steve

Thanks Steve. It’s an honor to be working with my very good friends Chip Bowers and Mark Carville.

I asked Fox last week at SEC meetings whether they were done adding players, and he said they could still add a player, but indicated that nothing was on the horizon. There’s still a lot of time between now and the start of the fall semester, and Georgia has an open scholarship. But the possibilities for graduate transfers have dwindled.

Georgia made a hard run at James White, the post player from Arkansas-Little Rock, but he opted for Georgia Tech. It was a surprise given White said he wanted to play in the NCAA tournament, and only has one year of eligibility. That seems a real stretch for the Yellow Jackets this year, unless White is somehow the missing piece, while Georgia should contend again.

But Georgia Tech has a winning streak lately on these head-to-head recruiting battles with Georgia. Maybe some recruits just prefer Atlanta to Athens.

I remember you reporting some time ago that Stegeman Coliseum would be getting a new, overhead scoreboard.  Have any more details been released?
– Aubrey Neeley, Fort Payne, Ala.

The aim is for the center-hung scoreboard to be ready for the 2016-17 season. There are other, smaller tweaks in the works for Stegeman, which Greg McGarity talked about last month:

“We’d also like to upgrade all of our technology in the building, as far as presentation, sound, lights and anything that has to do with fan engagement,” McGarity said, according to Georgiadogs.com. “Over the next two years there will be a number of upgrades that fans will notice very quickly. We’re going to do everything we can to support Mark and support his program, and provide all of the resources he needs to be competitive.”

Georgia Bulldogs, college basketball, SEC

The Georgia Bulldogs streak into the SEC Tournament having won eight of their last 10 games. (John Kelley / UGA Sports)

Any word on UGA’s plans for their “Thanksgiving” basketball tournament this coming November?
– Bill Dunbar, Harlem, Ga.

None yet. I’m not sure whether Georgia will be in a non-conference tournament this year. They were originally set to be in the Las Vegas tournament over Thanksgiving, but pulled out. (The return game to Seton Hall has been set for the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend.)

As of now there are seven non-conference games set: Chattanooga (Nov. 13), at Seton Hall (Nov. 28), Kansas State (Dec. 4), Winthrop (Dec. 8), Georgia Tech (Dec. 19), Clemson (Dec. 22), at Baylor (Jan. 30). That leaves at least five more games to be scheduled, or six if Georgia enters a tournament.

Fox has talked with North Carolina about scheduling a series, or possibly a one-off in Charlotte. So far nothing has materialized on that front.

Normally, five non-conference games against high-major teams is pretty strong, but the question is how good some of those teams will be. (Georgia Tech, we’re looking at you.) So in order to build a good NCAA resume’, Fox may have to put another high-major on there, while plugging the rest of it with mid-major teams expected to have good records this year. Fox did a good job of that this past season with the likes of Stony Brook, Chattanooga and Norfolk State.

On the infamous drive against South Carolina, earlier in that drive S.C. twice stuffed Todd Gurley on first down. Passing during an obvious running situation keeps the defense guessing.

I recollect UGA driving on Florida a long time ago. Richt was head coach and I think that this was before Bobo called plays. UGA started a fourth quarter drive gashing the Gator defense for long gains on the ground. I remember thinking “Just call at least one pass. Please!” Sure enough, as the Dogs approached the red zone, they continued to run, the Gator defense stiffened, and Georgia had to settle for three. I think UF wound up winning a close game.  I certainly felt both frustrated and smart sitting up in the stands. 

Definition of a sports fan:  One who sits in the stands and cannot figure why one 18 year old kid cannot hit another kid 40 yards down the field with the football. He then goes to the parking lot and cannot find his car.
– Bruce in PA

OK, I’m honestly not sure why all of this popped into your head, and you also didn’t actually ask a question.

But I’m running it anyway because I love your final paragraph. (So does Bobo, I’m guessing.)

Do you have any plans on a new podcast?
– Jeremy McClendon

It’s in the works, yes, we just haven’t firmed up the details. It’s safe to say that there will be a “Chip and Seth Show” in some form. The only sticking point is whether Gentry will be allowed to call in and mock me. Chip is obviously pushing for this, while I’m resisting unless Jeff Schultz gets to call in and mock Chip.

It’s a sensitive thing and I’m not going to negotiate through the media. No further comment.


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