Georgia’s Biggest Offensive Concern is not the Vacant Coordinator Position
Don’t get me wrong. The O.C. hire matters, and as candidates continue to emerge and rumors continue to swirl we’ll weigh in.
But Georgia’s biggest concern heading into the offseason is quarterback position.
Hutson Mason was great this year. You can sit there and tell me otherwise all day long, but I won’t listen.
In his lone season as the starter he finished 10th nationally in passer rating (second in the SEC) and eighth in completion percentage (first in the SEC, school record). For a quarterback who was primarily called upon to hand the football off to Todd Gurley, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, those figures are pretty damn good. Along the way he tossed 21 touchdowns and threw only four interceptions. Only one quarterback in the country threw more touchdown passes than Mason while also throwing fewer than five interceptions and that quarterback won the Heisman Trophy.
If individual statistics don’t press your buttons, then team statistics should. Georgia set a school record for points scored despite missing out on an extra game via a conference championship. The Bulldogs finished the season eighth in the nation in points per game at 41.3, a figure that ranks sixth among major conference schools and first (by nearly 4.5 points) in the SEC.
Hutson Mason was good. You can’t convince me otherwise—not even with bogus anecdotal evidence.
Mason was good and he was kind of expected to be. As a true freshman his first ever pass was a touchdown. He completed more than 60 percent of his passes in both his sophomore and redshirt junior seasons. Prior to starting the final two games of 2013 and all of 2014, Mason had completed 51 of 82 passes (62.2 percent) for 705 yards, five touchdowns and one interception.
There’s not another Hutson Mason waiting in the wings. For some fans, that sounds like great news. They ignore things like statistical performance, leadership and offensive results and focus narrow-mindedly on what they want: Brice Ramsey and his seemingly limitless potential.
My beef with Ramsey is this: He’s erratic.
Before we dive into what I mean by that, I will grant that he is young and inexperienced. But it should also be be noted that every quarterback on the planet who has not started a collegiate game is inexperienced. The numbers quoted above for Mason’s first 82 attempts came when he was inexperienced. Further, Ramsey has been on campus for two full calendar years. He’s not that young anymore.
At times, Ramsey has looked phenomenal. His arm strength, which is (for better or worse) always on display, pops. He hit on all five pass attempts against Kentucky while racking up 80 yards and a score. He was never better than that performance.
- In his collegiate debut against Troy, Ramsey threw for 66 yards and a touchdown but completed just 50 percent of his passes.
- Against Vanderbilt he hit two of four passes for 31 yards and no touchdowns.
- He completed his lone pass attempt against Missouri for 13 yards.
- He hit two-thirds of his 12 attempts against Charleston Southern but he threw an interception.
- Against Louisville, he hit on just four of nine attempts, racked up only 51 yards and tossed a pick.
Ramsey has a big arm. A huge arm even. But he hasn’t—over the course of two years in Athens—learned how to use it.
For all his unteachable, cannon-like ways, inaccuracy and poor decision making has haunted him. Despite having the strongest arm the Bulldogs have seen since Matthew Stafford and a tendency to take more shots downfield than Mason, Ramsey averaged just 8.5 yards per attempt this season. Throw out the perfect performance against Kentucky and that average falls to 7.4.
We don’t know what Ramsey might become. From a natural gifts standpoint he could contend for a Heisman Trophy. But that seems more like fantasy than reality at this juncture.
Ramsey didn’t throw the football often in high school at Camden County. Despite being the best passer in the state (in theory), he wasn’t an All-State selection (just honorable mention). As a senior he threw for just 1,396 yards. As a comparison, Mason threw for over 4,500 yards as a high school senior and redshirt freshman Jacob Park threw for 3,665. Again, this doesn’t mean that Mason and Park were better high school players and better collegiate prospects than Ramsey; it just means they threw the ball a hell of a lot more.
But combine Ramsey’s limited experience as a pro-style, passing quarterback in high school with inconsistent showings at the tail-end of his second year in Athens, and it’s possible Ramsey isn’t a Heisman winner or even an All-SEC performer or even a starter for a Top 10 program.
That’s not what fans want to hear right now and it’s not what I want to believe, but for the first time since Aaron Murray took over as a redshirt freshman in 2010, I have doubts about who will step up under center.
I haven’t addressed Faton Bauta and Park at length, because I trust the coaching staff (including departed Bobo). If Ramsey was getting playing time this year over those two fellows, it’s because he was the best option behind Ramsey. Obviously, that could change as well. But at this point, I don’t know what to expect.
That’s all I got/