Tough call on UGA’s all-time best QB

I got into a pretty good debate the other day with a friend of mine about who was the better Georgia quarterback, Matthew Stafford or David Greene.

My buddy was emphatic that Stafford was based on the fact that he is about to become the No. 1 pick (or thereabouts) in the 2009 NFL draft and, Greene, well, his NFL career didn’t amount to much. I argued that Greenie, plain and simple, won more games. In fact, he won more games than any quarterback in NCAA history, 42 out of 52, and started every single game he played in college.

Both arguments have merit. There may not have been or will ever be an individual come through Georgia that can hurl a football like Stafford. Take a look at this [video from]( of Stafford working out with his trainers out in Arizona. It’s that type of thing that gets scouts salivating.

But, man, did Greenie have some big moments? Tennessee and P-44 Haynes and Auburn and 70-X Takeoff. You know they’re historic moments when the play is almost as famous as the game itself.

I threw another guy in there while debating this topic. When he came through, Eric Zeier was the most impressive quarterback I’d ever seen up close and personal. I still haven’t seen anybody throw the deep ball better than that guy and he completed nearly 60 percent of his passes during his career. But Zeier simply didn’t win enough games at Georgia. After a nice start, he was 30-15, with 10 of those losses coming during the inexplicable 1993 and ‘94 seasons.

Winning is the bottom line, I reasoned, and actually made the argument for Buck Belue being the best of the modern era since he won it all in 1980 and almost did again in 1981. Yeah, yeah, he had a pretty good tailback on those teams. But he managed those offenses and made some big throws in some big games, too.

Anyway, it’s one of those great debates that can go on forever. Go back another half-century and you can make another whole argument with guys like Zeke Bratkowski and Johnny Rauch and Frankie Sinkwich, who threw the ball a good bit, too.

Let’s here what y’all think. Here’s some stats for fuel:

Greene — 52-52 games started, 849-of-1,440 (.590) for 11,528 yards, 72 TDs, 32 INTs, 42-10 record

Stafford — 34-39 games started, 564-of-986 (.572) for 7,731 yards, 51 TDs, 33 INTs, 30-9 record.

Zeier — 39-44 games started, 838-of-1,402 (.597) for 11,153, 67 TDs, 37 INTs, 30-15-1 record.

30 comments Add your comment


February 22nd, 2009
7:01 am

I think you should just count the total wins. The total wins per season that is how you have self proclaimed Georgia to be the best football team in the conference since 2000. Did you know that these quarterbacks have a record of 2 wins and 11 losses against Florida? Buck should have been on the list he has a championship.

Keith Strawn

February 22nd, 2009
8:14 am

Chip, I agree with you. I think you’ve got to go with Greene. NFL potential should have no bearing on how we evaluate a collegiate player’s career. There is not a UGA fan on the planet (myself included) who wouldn’t have rather had Tim Tebow instead of Matthew Stafford these last three years, and Tebow is considered a marginal NFL prospect.

rush smith

February 22nd, 2009
9:12 am

Fran Tarkenton wasn’t bad-He at least deserves mention.

Sautee Dawg

February 22nd, 2009
12:04 pm


I’m wondering like you where is Fran Tarkenton’s name in this discussion?

Sautee Dawg

February 22nd, 2009
12:15 pm

1. Greene was one of the best game managers college football has ever seen, thats where the NCAA all time leader in wins as a QB comes from. Also a great team leader when it came to decision making on the field.
2. Stafford probably has the best passing skills UGA has ever seen.

3 ZEIER was to me the most complete QB, as far as passing and game management goes, only strike against him was his height. 50% of his incomplete passes were passes that were batted down at the line. couple inches taller and he’d probably still be playing.
4. as far as giving anything or everything he had to make a play or win a game, that goes to Tarkenton, who should have been on your list Chip!


February 22nd, 2009
12:22 pm

Best QB goes to DJ Shockley. I have loved them all and each QB has his thing going at his time.

Gatorman 722- Wow! What a hit. And you give food for thought.

John Tucker

February 22nd, 2009
1:02 pm

What about Zeke bratkowski nand Fran Tarkenton?

Or, have you simply eliminated anyone before 1970 from consideration?

Bothe Zeke ande Tarkenton were begttger in college and in the pros than Stafford will ever be and than Zeir and Greene were.


February 22nd, 2009
2:22 pm

Under different circumstances, DJ Shockley would get my vote. Unfortunately we just didn’t get to see too much of him.


February 22nd, 2009
3:45 pm

Isn’t this a repeat from last week in the new format. It is like Deja Vu all over again.


February 22nd, 2009
4:26 pm

Hands down its Buck Belue he has a NC. Greene has one SEC championship and when you talk about qurterbacks you talk championships


February 22nd, 2009
6:13 pm

In the modern era it HAS to be David Greene. He & Tarkenton had the inate ability to bring the team back, not only when they were behind, but when they NEEDED it.. It’s kinda like the Joe Montana factor. Not really flashy, but all they did was win. I think it’s Fran and Greene in a collegiate tie.

Michael G.

February 22nd, 2009
9:21 pm

strongest arm goes to Stafford, but to call him the best QB in program history is pure hyperbole. To me the most important job the QB has is to get the ball to the playmakers so they can do something with it after the catch. Too many times throuout Stafford’s career did he throw balls where the receiver had room to run, but either slowed down to catch ball thrown behind him, or go down to his knees to make a catch. His lack of touch on the deep ball has been well documented on this blog as well. My vote for mythical title of best QB in UGA history goes to Greene.


February 23rd, 2009
12:26 am

This ought to be between Tarkenton & David Greene or drop the discussion, one. The others mentioned are good QBs but can’t match Tarkenton and Greene’s track records.


February 23rd, 2009
1:08 am

Trying to make an argument for Stafford here is ridiculous. Flip the question around and look at Boston College. If you argued for Matt Ryan, you’d be laughed out of the room and pelted with Flutie Flakes. There’s a difference between the best BC quarterback and the best NFL quarterback that played at BC. It’s the same thing with every other school.

Thomas Brown

February 23rd, 2009
4:39 am

Well, Matthew Stafford is not the best quarterback I ever saw at UGA. 18 fumbles and 33 interceptions to only 6 rushing touchdowns and only 51 touchdown passes in his 39 games of 987 passes and 141 rushes, speaks for itself.

Look, David Greene cannot throw the football. Trying to say David Greene is the Best Quarterback at Georgia when we have all these College Football Hall of Fame Quarterbacks who went on and Won Pro Football Hall of Fame Quarterbacks is preposterous. David Greene also threw exactly the same 32 interceptions, and frankly his fumbles were even more of a fish out of water when he too tried to run the football 204 rushes for minus 258 yards and 1 less rushing touchdown of 5 than Stafford had. But, David Greene threw 1440 passes at UGA and 72 were touchdowns. But, if you recall his passes beyond 10 yards were all wounded ducks. How can that be the Best QB at UGA ever ?

Your list is that of a neophyte in this discussion. Frank Tarkenton was All America at UGA as QB. David Greene was not. Neither was Matthew Stafford. Not close. Eric Zeier was All America QB at UGA too. Zeke Bratkowski was All America QB at UGA and Won the NFL Championship Game on the Green Bay Packers. David Paddock was a All America QB at UGA. Johnny Rauch was All America QB at UGA and went on to be College Football Hall of Fame and Johnny Rauch said the Best QB at UGA when he was here was Charley Trippi. Johnny Rauch was Drafted in the 1st Round of the NFL Draft at Number 2. Charley Trippi was All America and played QB at UGA and he too went on to College Football and Pro Football Hall of Fame. Charley Trippi also was the Number 1 Draft Pick in the First Round of the NFL Draft. He promptly won the NFL Championship Game Most Valuable Player in the Championship Game before it became known as the Super Bowl. Charley Trippi is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a QUARTERBACK. Look it up.

Charley Trippi was a great Quarterback.

Presumably, you know more than All America Votes, more than College Football Hall of Fame, and more than the Pro Football Hall of Fame. If you are going to discuss who is the Best QB at UGA, then don’t limit the discussion to 2 guys who will never be in the discussion.


February 23rd, 2009
9:50 am


February 23rd, 2009
1:35 pm

hines ward hands down.. a real competitor


February 23rd, 2009
1:54 pm

Thomas Brown, thanks for the run down on all the UGA greats. Great post.


February 23rd, 2009
3:17 pm

Between Stafford and Greene I’d have to go with Greene. He won more games, had better stats, won an SEC championship and brought us out of the Donnan era, but the most important factor for me was this: when he dropped back to pass I never had a doubt that he would do the right thing with the ball. I just never feared interceptions. When Stafford dropped back I’d hold my breath and cross my fingers. To me he just seemed a little too confident in his ability to thread the needle in single, double, or even triple coverage. They were both outstanding, but I still choose Greene.


February 23rd, 2009
3:36 pm

One minor point following up on the excellent post by Thomas Brown above.

Trippi is listed as a halfback-quarterback in his official HOF bio. He actually only played QB in the NFL for two years. Also, his one year as an AA in college (1946) was as a tailback, not a QB.

Trippi is one of the top 5 Dawgs of all time at any position, but he’s not the best QB we’ve ever had by a long shot.


February 23rd, 2009
7:44 pm

i thought mike bobo was special

Thomas Brown

February 24th, 2009
6:44 am

That’s more than Matthew Stafford or David Greene, which was my point.

Chip Towers

February 24th, 2009
10:44 am

Yes, this was a blog I brought over from the old blog just in case more people wanted to weigh in on it. . . As I stated in the comments at the old address, it was really intended to be a discussion between Stafford and Greene. But I expanded it to include others in the headline and that created some intense debate, which we like. . . . The real rub on this is distinguishing between what they did in college and the pros. Tarkenton was awesome at Georgia but he split time with Charley Britt so his numbers don’t jump out at you. Conversely, Bratkowski put up great numbers but his teams weren’t very good. The same could be said to a lesser extend of Zeier. Anyway, it’s one of those great debates that will never be fully resolved. Rage on!

Jimmy Taylor

February 24th, 2009
4:15 pm

The question is who is the best QB ever at UGA not who won the most games. The best physical talent was clearly Matt Stafford. David Greene & perhaps Eric Zeir were more accurate but arm, release, touch all go to Stafford. I would have liked to have seen DJ Shockley’s stats in he played 4 years.

Thomas Brown

February 25th, 2009
3:38 am

I would like to go back to this Charley Trippi part of this discussion and if we are going to discuss 1946, hasten to correct the impression that he was only a runner in 1946.

1946, Johnny Rauch stated for the world his quote he repeated when he was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame. And that quote is that Johnny Rauch states for all comers that when he was at UGA, the Best Quarterback was Charley Trippi and not he, Johnny Rauch. I said that already but have to repeat because it was passed over. Johnny Rauch was taken 2nd overall in the 1st round of the NFL Draft. It would seem to me that if Johnny Rauch tells you Charley Trippi was the Best QB at UGA when he was there, that should not be followed by a post which states that Charley Trippi was NOT the QB at UGA. With all due respect, Charley Trippi absolutely played Quarterback at UGA and did so at a high level of success both in college and in the NFL.

1946 you say Charley Trippi did not play QB, yet, he threw the football in 1946 70 times for 622 yards passing including 5 touchdowns when recall again that if I was throwing the football in 1946 I would want to get the ball out to Charley Trippi.

The Most Outstanding Player in College Football 1946, Maxwell Award Winner, was Charley Trippi and this is because he was a great quarterback and a great runner.

Try it again please trying to pass off Charley Trippi as NOT a QB. 1946 you say sir, he rushed for 744 yards on 115 carries and threw the football for 622 yards on 70 passes. You cannot tell me or Johnny Rauch that Charley Trippi just ran the football in 1946 and was not in 1946 a QB at UGA.

1942 at UGA Charley Trippi threw for 567 yards on 58 passes. Charley also in 1942 ran the football for 672 yards. 1943, 1944, and half of 1945 Charley Trippi fought in World War II with my Dad. Charley returned to Georgia in 1945 mid-season, as did my Dad. Perhaps you know nothing of this Rivalry with Georgia Tech. But, while he was overseas defending this great nation with his Victory Medal in WWII, Georgia Tech played all their players except for Castleberry and also played every other person in Atlanta on the Georgia Tech campus whether they were students or not. Tech says they won the games 48 to Nothing and 44 to Nothing using players who were only stationed on Tech’s campus but who took no classes and were not students at Tech. All Charley Trippi did when he got back mid-1945 was THROW THE FOOTBALL FOR SEC RECORD 323 YARDS PASSING AGAINST GEORGIA TECH TO BEAT TECH 33 TO NOTHING.

Please do not come in here and try to tell me that Charley Trippi was not Quarterback or that he only played Quarterback in the NFL for only 2 years.

There have been numerous tremendous Quarterbacks at UGA. Mike Bobo’s senior season and Hines Ward were two more very special Quarterbacks along with Buck Belue. Maybe you were not there in JAX at the Gator Bowl when as the clock wound down, Buck Belue hit Lindsay Scott, Run Lindsay Run – who went on to play 4 years as receiver for the New Orleans Saints.

If you played QB at UGA, then by God Above, you were an UGA Quarterback with the title to this thread, UGA’s All-Time Best QB.

What you did in the Pros either adds to it, or detracts from the conversation of just how good a QB you in fact were.

All America Honors separates UGA’s All-Time Best Quarterbacks. Matthew Stafford nor David Greene were All-America Quarterbacks at UGA.

Please do not attempt to re-write history and pass off a NOT All America as The Best UGA Quarterback All-Time. Fran Tarkenton was All America Quarterback at UGA, and David Greene and Matthew Stafford weren’t. You can sit back and attempt re-writing it all you want. Modern Era. Talent. Won football games. Deep Pass. Matt Robinson’s Deep Pass was far better than Matthew Stafford’s.

Eric Zeier was All America Quarterback at UGA.

You cannot re-write that now and state that David Greene or Matthew Stafford is all we can discuss for UGA’s All-Time Best QB when neither ever were nor ever will be All America QBs at UGA. You do not know more than the All America Voters, which is why we have All America Voters. By the way, as when David Greene left and DJ Shockley came in, we will be better this year too with Matthew Stafford gone and Joe Cox coming in. And, that too is a test of the point that we must limit the discussion to just Matthew Stafford, David Greene and 1 other no one considers UGA’s All-Time Best QB either. Thank you very much.


February 25th, 2009
12:57 pm

arrington’s winning % was tops!!


February 25th, 2009
1:02 pm

what about bobo and quincy carter?

MA Merrill

March 2nd, 2009
10:33 am

Eric Zeier all the way! The only thing people say goes against him as being the all time best QB at UGA is that he didn’t win as many games. Well, if you look back, the teams he played with were some of the worst in Georgia’s history (I should know, I was a student there during this time)….except the 92/93 team where we went 10-2, losing to FL and TN by a total of 5 points. If Zeier had had this years’ team with those incredible receivers, he would have taken us to the National Championship!! He has my vote all the way! Best all-around QB Georgia has ever seen!


March 5th, 2009
8:13 am

Best UGA QB I’ve seen in person is Eric Zeier. It’s not Zeier’s fault he lost Hearst and Hastings after 1992 without significant players to replace them. Greene could manage a game alright but how many of those wins could we credit those great UGA defenses? A QB is not like a pitcher in baseball. A pitcher is a defensive player and earns wins by directly effecting the performance of the opposing team’s offense. A QB works with 10 other guys on offense to score points while 11 other guys on defense try to stop the other team and give great field position. Don’t forget the 11 on special teams. The point is football is the ultimate team game and is much bigger than the QB. To attribute wins to a single position player is an insult to the rest of the team. Consider how Buck Belue’s name comes up because of the MNC despite the fact that people always mention that great RB he handed off too so frequently. If you can’t mention the player on his own merit, why do it at all?

When it comes to making plays, take P44 Haynes for example. Greene didn’t draw that play up in the huddle. That play was called by Richt and executed perfectly by the OL blocking, Haynes running his route, Greene making a great throw, and Haynes making the catch. See my point about even single plays being too big to attribute to just one guy much less complete wins? The devil’s advocate argument would be that a great QB would have blown that UT team out and it wouldn’t have required a UGA comeback to win it.

I like what an earlier poster said; Greene is the best game manager, Stafford is the most talented, Zeier was the most complete package (lack of a supporting cast for his entire career), and Shockley is the biggest “what could have been” mystery. He was slammed so much when Greene was on campus but as soon as DJ became the starter it was simply amazing how comfortable the wins felt.

Summing up the QB’s:

Zeier – We wondered if the defense could slow down opponents to give Zeier a chance to win.

Greene – We wondered if a given game would be a complete blowout by UGA or if our offense would struggle mightly to squeak out yet another comeback. We knew we were in every game because of the defense.

Shockley – Felt complete confidence in the offense’s ability to score against anyone. What could have been had he not been injured in the UK game…

Stafford – Amazing offensive potential. Great job rebuilding in 2006 leading to an awakening in 2007 only to be let down by a lack of team leadership in 2008. Story of the era, lack of a true team leader.

Old Athens David

September 20th, 2009
11:09 pm

Well I have seen everyone mentioned play back to Bratkowski (OK, I was in 1st Grade), and my vote is for Greene. Otherwise it would be Fran. A serious winner and serious talent which he confirmed after leaving UGA.