Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The QB Debate: Of Opinions, Preferences, and Agendas

There have been a lot of rumblings lately that not only do Mark Richt and new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer not see eye to eye on Georgia's would-be QB, but that Schottenheimer actually wants to go with Lambert because it's "his guy."

With so many insider tips, hearsay, and secondhand accounts of the QB situation floating around, it's difficult to distinguish what's real and what isn't.

I have no insider tips, no secondhand accounts, and plenty of hearsay to offer you. What I will suggest to the average fan is to use your head. It's difficult to do, as we've all waited 8 months for football, and it's reached a fever pitch. Nonetheless, try to digest a few suppositions that I will present as givens.

First, Greyson Lambert transferred in early June. Schottenheimer was hired in early January. The timeline of events alone  suggests that Lambert really couldn't be Schottenheimer's "guy." It is entirely possible that Schottenheimer decided fairly early on that Ramsey, Bauta, and Park were, none of them, viable candidates for the job. It's also possible that Schottenheimer was dead-set on bringing in somebody else, but he couldn't have known that there would be an eligible transfer who would even have a shot at earning the starting nod.

Second, Schottenheimer's coaching credentials have not necessarily been trending up lately. That's not an indictment on him; he was an OC in the NFL for several years, which has to stand for something. But, if he bombs out in this role, he's going to be relegated to being a college position coach for the foreseeable future. You don't come in and rock the boat if you know that this gig carries that much more weight. From both his mouth and Richt's, Schottenheimer was considered the ideal fit because his offensive philosophy would not impede the recent success Georgia's offense has had. Now he's going to take that harmony and butt heads with the HCIC? Not likely.

In this age of instant information about any number of subjects, it's easy to take the latest quote or report and spin it any number of ways. Everyone, it's assumed, has some sort of ulterior motive.

So, let me propose this wildly outlandish idea: Ramsey and Lambert (it seems Bauta is no longer in the running, but who knows) are neck and neck for the starting job. Ramsey is currently the team favorite, having been with the team for awhile, and finishing out last season as the quarterback. Lambert is the new guy. He is viewed as a guy who left his school because he wasn't going to be the starter (this, apparently, is 100% true). As such, the team is a bit torn between trusting the coaches and aligning with one of their own.

Taking these things into account, it's easy to see how someone heard from a guy who is best friends with the third string long snapper that Lambert is only going to start because Schottenheimer wanted to use "his guy."

Personally, I choose to believe that we can win with either Ramsey or Lambert, and that Richt and Schottenheimer will evaluate everything and go with the guy that gives them the best chance to win. It's simplistic and not nearly as exciting as hearing that my friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with a girl who saw Schottenheimer and Lambert pass out at 31 Flavors last night. But, it's probably the truth.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Why It Makes Sense to Not Name a Starting QB (Yet)

Here we are with just two and a half weeks before the season opener, and, according to most credible reports, the coaching staff has not yet decided who will lead the Dawgs' offense. They definitely haven't named a starter publicly. Some have speculated that Greyson Lambert, fresh off a transfer from UVA, will be the starter. Others have long held that Brice Ramsey will nail down the job, or at least, that it's "his to lose" (which also suggests that it's not "his" at all, but I digress). Faton Bauta, meanwhile, is reportedly the early odd man out, which begs the question, why would you bother rotating him in at this point if he wasn't still firmly in the race? But, you already know all that, even if you've just been ducking your head in at the daily updates. We can rule a couple things out in terms of Richt and staff playing this one close to the vest. First, there's no reason nor opportunity for the element of surprise; they'd only be surprising ULM and Vandy. Second, while each candidate brings a little something different to the table, no single QB is so drastically different than the others that it makes sense to go w/ the (gasp) two-headed quarterback scenario, at least, not schematically. So, those reasons aside, what the hell's taking so long? First off, we're dealing with a transfer who just got the playbook a few months ago, and has only been officially practicing with the team for 2 weeks. I'll make the assumption that, while he almost certainly started at the back of the pack, he's made enough progress for the coaches to say, "he's come this far in 2 weeks, so what might he look like in another two weeks?" In other words, if the game was tomorrow, we might see Ramsey or Bauta, but it's not. Ramsey/Bauta might be better right now, but will they be better come kickoff? If Lambert is close enough to being #1, then the staff has to give it more time. Secondly, and this only applies if you're a true believer in head games, the staff needs to find out which, if any, of the candidates can deal with the daily pressure. It's getting to the point of 'win or go home' in a manner of speaking. Obviously, whoever's second in the pecking order stands a decent chance of playing anyway, either by injury to or ineffectiveness of the initial starter. But, generally speaking, if Lambert, Ramsey, or Bauta were to have an especially off day this late in the process, that might put him too far back to catch up. That's a lot of pressure to deal with. It's nothing compared to the pressure of a prime time showdown against a top 10 team, but it's as close as you can get at this point. Who can best handle the rigors? Lastly, there has to be a calculated assessment of strengths and weaknesses. I have no idea if Richt and Schottenheimer have a weighted scale or anything like that, but the bottom line is that they have to measure the pros and cons of each guy. And, it goes far, far beyond saying, "This guy knows the system better, but this guy has been more accurate." Percentages to be weighed surely include: Percentage of playbook knowledge/expertise, what percentage of the playbook is the QB physically able to run (with confidence), getting into the right play pre-snap, post snap adjustments (check down vs. taking a sack vs. throwing it away, etc), turnovers, and passing accuracy to name a few. From there, they've got to check the drive charts. Under which QB do we move the ball most effectively? Does any one QB seem to have the team behind him more than another? Taking all those percentages and measurements into account along with a few dozen other criteria, you begin to understand that the best thing is to keep on keeping on until they're sure. They have the luxury this year of being able to sacrifice a few pre-season reps for the eventual starter because we open with (all due respect) Louisiana-Monroe. The reps will be there before the meat of the season begins, so we're better off giving this thing a little more time now, rather than rushing it because of some sense that a starter must be named sooner than later.