As has been earlier reported, new Georgia offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer doesn’t resemble his predecessor, Mike Bobo, when he’s coaching up the Bulldogs’ quarterback corps.
While Bobo would get animated in a New York minute, or a badly-thrown pass second, and do a little screaming and yelling at the guy who threw the misguided pass, I didn’t notice anything like that with Schottenheimer in the barely 15 minutes the media got to observe the Bulldogs’ Thursday afternoon practice.
Rather, at the start of the passing drills, both “Schotty,” as the Bulldawg Nation is referring to their new offensive mastermind, and head coach Mark Richt were down on one knee, calmly watching their four signal-callers – redshirt sophomore Brice Ramsey, junior Faton Bauta, redshirt freshman Jacob Park and redshirt freshman walk-on QB Sam Vaughn – drill short passes to graduate assistants and trainers.
Then, they brought the Georgia running backs over to join the fun. Perfecting their handoffs was the order of this drill as the quarterbacks stuck the football in the belly of their tailbacks and fullbacks for inside-the-tackle runs. Only once did I notice a QB fake the ball to his running back and pull it out. That was when Faton Bauta ran the option and kept around left end. A flash of things to come this fall? Certainly, the 6-3, 220-pound Bauta is the most powerful running QB of this bunch and you may or may not know that in his prep-playing days in Florida, people watching his style of play often brought up the name of “Tim Tebow.”
“Check-down, check-down,” yelled Schottenheimer, indicating it was time for his quarterbacks to dump the ball to the running backs just across the line of scrimmage. Taking their deepest drops, each QB would suddenly spiral the football to the tailbacks no more than three yards beyond the line. When one Nick Chubb pulled in a quick pass over the middle, I could just envision a few bruised-up defensive bodies strewn in his wake as he went off on one of his patented, long, tackle-breaking runs.
After Schottenheimer then had the quarterbacks throw swing passes out of the backfield to the Georgia running backs, the next practice period brought Bryan McClendon’s wide receivers over to work on their timing with Ramsey, Bauta, Park and Vaughn.
In this drill, I noticed that Schotty had Ramsey and Bauta side by side and throwing simultaneously to the wide-outs. One would hurl the ball to a short-route receiver while the other would throw it deep to a receiver streaking down the left sideline. After their passes, Park and Vaughn would take their turns side-by-side throwing the same drill. Again, should we read anything into this? Does this mean Ramsey and Bauta are the top two in the QB pecking order right now? I only think two men, Schottenheimer and Richt, know the answer to this and they aren’t talking and likely won’t be indicating who their starting quarterback is going to be until the team breaks preseason camp in late August.
Before we were herded back into the Butts-Mehre building, I noticed the QBs going farther back on the field and throwing some really deep strikes to the wide receivers. In this drill, they all looked pretty much on target but then I saw senior WR Malcolm Mitchell have to reach behind his head one time and snatch a pass out of the air. Quite a good catch it was, I’d say, and let’s hope the oft-injured kid from Valdosta can revert to his sensational freshman and sophomore form and again become one of the premiere receivers in the SEC this autumn. Certainly, no one deserves that more than Malcolm Mitchell.
Prior to the running backs and receivers joining the quarterbacks for the passing drills, new assistant Thomas Brown was working on some unique drills with his running backs and McClendon was doing the same with his pass-catchers.
In a ball-security drill, Brown had the backs firing out low from a three-point stance with the ball tucked tightly under their other arm. At the same time, Brown and another coach would apply pressure on the ball in an attempt to strip it from the backs. And, get this, Brown at the same time had the backs carrying the ball for a short distance while leaping on one foot. “Always keep your head and eyes up!” the former Georgia tailback shouted at his charges.
A short ways down the same side of the practice field, McClendon was throwing high lob passes to his receivers as they started toward the middle of the field and broke sharply to the sidelines. At the same time, a student assistant was attempting to bat the ball away from the would-be receiver. Once, when sophomore receiver Isaiah McKenzie misplayed a ball, McClendon hollered, “Two hands, Isaiah. We don’t want no one-hand stuff.”
So again, just as we observed on the defensive side of the practice field on Tuesday where Jeremy Pruitt and his staff were on top of every move from their players, it was all business today as well on the offensive side of things. But I don’t believe I saw anyone quite as intense as Pruitt coaching offense out there this afternoon, and I guess that’s the way it should be when it comes to defensive vs. offensive coaching mindsets.
After Thursday’s practice, the Bulldogs’ second scrimmage of spring camp looms Saturday morning down between the hedges of Sanford Stadium.