Questions for Georgia QBs: Is Christian LeMay the Drug-Free Lindsay Lohan of Passers? Is Parker Welch the name of a Scotch Whisky? And many more…
That’s my Quarterback…
I’ve already written about Aaron Murray this week, so he’s off the hook (and off da hook). With him out of the equation and entrenched as a starter – at least for a few more weeks, here are the other quarterbacks on the Georgia roster:
- Faton Bauta: Redshirting as a Freshman. Came in with the Dream Team 2.0 Class (three-star recruit, 24th rated QB in the nation) who has been hailed as a Tebow-lite (less size, less prayers) and a workout warrior. (Dude’s Note: Also of note, GeorgiaDogs.com, the official site of Georgia Athletics, lists his birth day as January 2, 1984. Either this is wrong or he’s a about to turn 29.)
- Christian LeMay: Redshirted as a freshman and saw some action this season. LeMay, unfortunately, has LeBust written all over him (but I’d love to be wrong). He was one of two juniors invited to the Elite 11 QB Camp when he was in high school, he then caught a year-long suspension allegedbly for doing something he shouldn’t have with someone he shouldn’t have. He showed up at UGA, redshirted, took claim to the backup job with an older player redshirting and then promptly lost it.
- Hutson Mason: Mason is the Junior who’s redshirting but was ready to go if a redshirt needed to be pulled. He appeared in four games as a freshman and four games last year. On his career he’s hit 27 of 47 passes for 356 yards and 3 TDs.
- Greg Bingham: Greg is a redshirt sophomore from Colmbus. He’s a walk-on who balanced football and futbol with a 4.27 GPA in high school. So he’s smarter than you.
- Parker Welch: Parker is a redshirt Sophomore from Jesup, GA. He served on the scout team as a walk-on in 2010 before popping up in two games last year and stealing the backup job from LeMay this year.
So let’s ignore Aaron Murray. Let’s assume that he does leave after the Capital One Bowl.
What does the quarterback position really look like for next year? I’d assert that there are three questions we must answer before we really get a grasp on it.
Question 1: What is the state of Hutson Mason?
I have a friend that has written here before (I’m talking to you Andy Crawford), who thinks that Hutson Mason only plays football for the University of Georgia because he lost his guide dog one day and somehow ended up on a campus that wasn’t that of the Georgia School for the Blind. Andy thinks Hutson stinks. To hear Andy speak (and he knows I disagree with him on this, and hopefully this will inspire him to write something I can post on here) Hutson Mason played eight-on-eight flag football with such poor proficiency that no school other than the University of Georgia expressed any interest. That’s simply not true.
I live in Marietta, GA where Hutson played high school ball and he is something of a legend. He played for a powerhouse Lassiter High program (the Trojans will send four players to FBS schools this year, sent three last year, they continually put out good teams) at the highest level of competition in Georgia (AAAAA) and competed quite nicely. As a junior he threw for 3700 yards and 28 TDs. As a senior he set the state record for passing yards in a season (4560) and TD passes in a season (54) while being named a Parade Magazine All-American, the All-Class Player of the year by the Georgia Sports Writers’ Association, the Gatorade State Player of the year and the Class AAAAA Offensive Player of the Year by the AJC.
All of this earned him a three-star rating (the same as Faton Bauta, who nobody seems ready to write off) and a number of scholarships from schools that aren’t exclusively geared towards the visually impaired or otherwise physically incapable. Despite being a relatively late bloomer Mason garnered real, legitimate scholarship offers from the likes of Mississippi State, Cincinnati and Florida State. But don’t tell the Mason haters – the Maters – about that.
Mason has good size as 6 foot 3 and 205 lbs, and a decent arm that has translated pretty nicely for him in his limited game time. In his first ever snap he threw a 26-yard touchdown to Logan Gray against Louisiana-Lafayette. He finished that game 2-5 for 33 yards and a TD. He went 4 for 4 against Vanderbilt later that year for 28 yards. He hit on 3 of his 8 attempts against Idaho State (41 yards) and he got in against Auburn after Aaron Murray appeared to be buried alive by Nick Fairley and company but didn’t throw a pass.
Mason saw his next action against Coastal Carolina in 2011 going 6 of 9 for 68 yards and a TD (plus another score on the ground). He hit on 8 of 10 passes against New Mexico State and racked up 131 yards through the air and a TD. And last year he played against LSU in the SECCG and hit 4 of 11 passes for 55 yards.
For his career Hutson Mason boasts a 142.13 QB rating. That would rank 40th in the nation this year. That’s not bad. But, “that passing has been intermittent,” you say. Yes, but does that necessarily discredit his performance? Probably not. It might actually be more difficult to come in cold and perform. But, “he’s done that against crappy teams,” you say. This is mostly true. But also keep the following in mind:
- In the six games Mason has passed in, Mason’s QB Rating has surpassed that of Aaron Murray twice (Louisiana-Lafayette in 2010 and LSU and 2011) and was essentially equal on another occasion (against Coastal Carolina in 2011 Murray boasted a 168.0 passer rating to Mason’s 166.8). So he’s held his own against the same competition.
- Murray’s total passer rating in those games is 156.19 – clearly better than Mason’s (142.13) – but they’re still on the same page as far as comparison’s go.
I make those two points not to make a case for Mason’s superiority to Murray, but rather to indicate Mason has performed on a similar level to Murray against crappy teams. Now, does that imply that he’s as good as Murray? No. Does it mean that Hutson Mason is going to be great? Certainly not. But I think it goes a long way in proving that Hutson Mason is – at the very minimum – capable of playing quarterback for the Georgia Bulldogs, even in a starting capacity.
Consider the last time the Georgia Bulldogs had a clear understudy replacing a multi-year starter – Joe Cox replacing Matthew Stafford. In Stafford’s last two years when Cox was the clear backup (remember, Cox along with Joe T battled Stafford for the top spot in 2006, but he was the no. 2 option on 2007 and 2008) the Ginger Ninja put up a quarterback rating of 110.72 in eight games of play. In those eight games Stafford came in at 138.5. That’s a significant gap.
And, let’s not forget that Cox’s lone season as the starter wasn’t a total disaster just because of his performance. His lone year as the BMOC would have been Stafford’s second best year in completion percentage, yardage, yards per attempt, TDs and QB Rating. Georgia had a serious defensive problem that year and revisionist history has painted Joe Cox – a very average (if not above) quarterback – as a buffoon.
All of this is to say that I don’t have a problem with Hutson Mason based on what I’ve seen. But, before we can make a call on him I would like to know how he’s progressed this year. If he’s continued to progress then I have no qualms with sending him out to start for two years (if Murray leaves). Again, he’s played at a pretty similar pace to Murray in common games (much closer than Cox ever did to Stafford) and he has the build and arm strength to play in the SEC (something Cox never had). If these two facets can combine to make him 10% better than Joe Cox then we could be looking at the following statline next season: 204 for 331 passing for 2840 yards, 26 TDs and 14 INTs. That’s pretty daggum respectable.
But again, we need to know what the State of Hutson Mason is. Because…
Question 2: What’s the deal with Parker Welch and Christian LeMay?
Three short months ago Parker Welch was still the guy on the roster that seemed like he was just hanging around because he knew the game, could throw decently well and because he loves the red and black and he wants to tell chicks that he’s the quarterback. And then all of a sudden he became super relevant. He went from the guy whose name sounded like a Country Club (not like a guy you’d meet at a Country Club, I mean his name sounds like the actual name of golf club..”where’d you play man?” “Well, I snuck out of the office early enough to nine in at Parker Welch. The greens played fast…”) to a guy who was second on the depth chart and beating out scholarship players. He went from being the random guy with a name that sounds like a fine single malt Scotch (“I’ll take a 21 Year Parker Welch on the rocks, because I like a alcohol that’s old enough to order it’s own alcohol. Oh and make it a double.”) to being the guy that made you ask, “At what point in the season do you play the walk-on in a pinch rather than burn Mason’s redshirt?”
I am working on the assumption that this happened because Christian LeMay has (by his own doing/lack of doing or otherwise) failed to develop. Again, LeMay’s pattern of behavior seems to be the classic tale of “too much too soon” as he’s fast becoming the drug-free Lindsay Lohan of Georgia signal-callers. And for what it’s worth: I really hope I’m wrong. I love the idea of a tall, lanky signal-caller that can move around with his feet a bit. If Christian LeMay could develop into Geno Smith over the next couple of months you wouldn’t hear me complain.
But I don’t think that’s happening. But is it not happening because LeMay is struggling or is it not happening because Parker Welch is a baller? And what if Parker Welch is actually good? And if he is, how good is he? Is he better than Hutson Mason? (Don’t answer that Andy Crawford)
Most importantly: Why aren’t more people talking about this? With a talented freshman on scholarship (Faton Bauta) and a highly regarded redshirt freshman on scholarship (Christian LeMay), how on earth is a redshirt Sophomore getting playing time?
I don’t know what happened, but I want answers. And I’m coming for them. (When I cover the Capital One Bowl this will be my lone mission in Orlando. That and to toast champagne with my wife and Todd Grantham on New Year’s Eve. And to spill coffee on someone important in the Press Box. And to live-tweet the Press Box – not the game itself – and give everyone a preview of every beat writer’s upcoming game recap. And to find out if Mark Richt’s tan is real.)
Question 3: How good is incoming freshman Brice Ramsey going to be?
I’ve heard about this kid for quite a while. The 6-foot-3 high school senior from Camden County was hailed “UGA’s QB of the Future” by the AJC fifteen months ago and certainly looks the part. Without sounding too creepy (it’s DudeYouCrazy, not DudeCrazy after all) I’ll point out that Ramsey is a big ole, good looking kid with a big ole arm. He looks the part of “QB.”
And he’s got the history to back up the big-shot story: he plays for a power house football team (2008 and 2009 state champs). As a junior he hit on 80 of his 125 pass attempts for 1308 yards, 17 TDs and only 2 INTs. This year he hit on 75 of his 137 attempts for 1396 yards, 19 TDs and 3 INTs.
But one thing stands out: he doesn’t pass very often. Why is that? From what I’ve read in my research Camden runs a Wing-T, run-heavy offense. There’s nothing wrong with that. But at what level of talent do you, as a coach who cares not only about your high school team but also the individuals looking to enhance their game, alter your offense to accommodate for the surrounding talent?
I don’t know the answer, I’m not a coach and I certainly don’t intend to insult Camden County’s head-man. But if I had a talent like Brice Ramsey I think I’d let him toss the pigskin more than 10.5 times per game. That was this year’s average. It was a step up from his 9.6 passes attempted per game last year. Again, I’m not pointing fingers I’m just point out that those numbers seem oddly low.
Whether Ramsey should be tossing more often or not, however, is irrelevant. The fact is that he hasn’t thrown the ball much – and that is what actually concerns me. In his entire varsity career he has thrown 289 passes. I’m not drawing a specific conclusion here (I’m just stating a fact), but Hutson Mason threw 434 passes during his senior year. That’s 50% more than Brice Ramsey’s entire career. And what concerns me about Ramsey is how he will hold up (not so much physically, more so mentally) when he’s asked to throw the ball early and often – which will be the case in any Georgia offense.
Can he do that?
There are a lot of questions to be answered for Georgia as far as 2013 QBs go. The first and most obvious one is: Will Aaron Murray stay? If he doesn’t, I think these three questions will go a long way in providing the next answer. Hopefully it’s one we like.
That’s all I got/