Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and some of the Georgia players chatted with the UGA beat writers on Thursday (among other places, you can find reports here and here and here), and while nothing really surprising was said, there were some things worth chewing over, particularly some of Bobo’s comments.
While the oft-criticized Bobo saying that losing five games last year was “not acceptable” and “lit a fire in everybody” was the marquee quote coming out of the session, that sort of statement is pretty well expected at this point. As was him saying that the main emphasis at quarterback this season will be “taking care of the football and not turning it over.”
But it’s notable that he seemed to put at least a bit of the onus for that on his own shoulders, saying, “We just have to do a better job of managing that position and managing those mistakes this year where [last] year we probably didn’t.”
As the Dogs enter the season with what Bobo called a “wide open” race between three quarterbacks with “not a clear No. 1 guy,” I thought it instructive that he thought the QB competition in 2006 went on too long. Back then, Joe T. wasn’t picked as the starter until less than two weeks before the first game and the position remained in flux until Matt Stafford took control midway through the season.
“We probably should have weeded it down a little bit sooner,” Bobo told the beat writers. “We went into two, two-and-a-half weeks of fall camp before we ranked them. It’s just tough to get that many guys reps and get them quality reps and get them ready for the season. I don’t see us going that far this year. Not to say it won’t go into the fall, but to wait until the second scrimmage, it’s a little bit difficult to get a guy ready to play for the first game. You’re trying to get them all an opportunity, but you’ve still got to get a guy ready for that first game.”
The former Georgia quarterback confirmed that Aaron Murray missing 21 practices with an injury last fall “sealed the deal” on him not playing. “It just hurt his progression of playing quarterback. It was not in his best interest or our best interest to play him based off of some potential we might have seen in the spring.”
The assumption made by many is that Murray, the presumptive starter in a lot of folks’ mind, has or quickly will make up the lost ground. But that’s no doubt one of the reasons the competition is still wide open.
As for howitzer-armed Zach Mettenberger and his much maligned “footwork,” Bobo said “he’s improved tremendously and a lot has to do with getting himself in good physical condition. … He’s never going to be the fastest or the quickest guy, but if he’s in good shape and good condition, he’ll be able to improve his foot quickness.”
Part of the problem with Mettenberger seems to be in his head, Bobo said. “People have told him all his life he’s slow and you’ve got to work on your feet. So a lot of times he overcompensates and tries to speed things up when he’s really in good timing and good balance, because in his mind, he’s thinking, I’m slow, I’m slow, I’m slow.”
A lot of fans will prick up their ears at the fact Bobo said he’d be comfortable playing more than one QB this season, but he also said that last year when he tantalized us with talk of Logan Gray and the “Wild Dawg” formation, which ended up being an isolated play here and there before being pretty much dropped.
From what Bobo said on Thursday, that might have been at least in part because Gray didn’t step up his level of play as had been expected. “We did hope to play him more last year going into the season and it just didn’t work out that way. Not that we had this game plan going into each game that we were going to play him X number of snaps. Certain games did not dictate that, and sometimes performance in practice did not dictate playing in games. He had a lot of opportunities to prove that you’re ready to play. He knows what he has to work on, he’s been working on it hard, and he’s excited about this spring.”
Bobo certainly has mastered talking the talk as an offensive coordinator. Now we’ll get to see how he manages a quarterback battle that doesn’t have a player of obvious star potential like Stafford in the mix.
Again, G-Day should be fun.