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May 18, 2010

Profiles in Hope: Freshmen QBs at UGA

If I were ranking the freshman years of Georgia QBs over the past 20 years, I'd put them in this order.
    1. Quincy Carter (9-3) - stunning FR year. The next two...not so much. Highlighted by the legendary performance at LSU.

    2. David Greene (8-4) - The Boston College and South Carolina games were brutal. Otherwise, a tremendous year highlighted by the Hobnail Boot win.

    3. Eric Zeier (9-3) - Transitioned to full-time starter after the big win at home vs. Top 10 Clemson. Dark spot on the record was the loss at Vanderbilt.

    4. Matt Stafford (9-4) - Tremendous hope inspiring performances vs. Auburn, Georgia Tech and Va Tech. As well as rag tag outings against Colorado, UAB and Kentucky.
What I found interesting when looking back at those seasons was the biggest determining factor in that Year 1 performance wasn't the natural ability or intelligence of the player. That was certainly a factor, but the quality of the supporting cast around had a tremendous impact on their overall success.

Let's look at their supporting cast:
    1. Quincy Carter in 1998
      OT - Matt Stinchcomb - 1st Round Draft Pick
      OT - Chris Terry - 2nd Round
      OG - Jonas Jennings - 2nd Round (Soph on this team)
      WR - Champ Bailey - 1st Round
      RB - Olandis Gary - 4th round
      RB - Patrick Pass - 7th round (Jr on this team)

    2. David Greene in 2001
      OT - George Foster - 1st Round
      OT - Jon Stinchcomb - 2nd Round
      WR - Reggie Brown - 2nd Round (FR on this team)
      WR - Fred Gibson - 4th Round (FR on this team)
      TE - Randy McMichael - 4th Round
      RB - Verron Haynes - 5th round
      RB - Musa Smith - 3rd round (Soph on this team)
      FB - JT Wall - 7th round (Jr on this team)

    3. Eric Zeier in 1991
      OT - Bernard Williams - 1st round (FR on this team)
      OT - Alec Millen - 7th round (JR on this team)
      RB - Garrison Hearst - 1st Round (Soph on this team)
      WR - Andre Hastings - 3rd round (Soph on this team)

    4. 2006 Matt Stafford
      OT - Ken Shackleford - 6th round
      OG - Chester Adams - 7th round (JR on this team)
      TE - Martez Milner - 4th Round
      WR - Mohamed Massaquoi - 2nd Round (Soph on this team)
      RB - Thomas Brown - 6th Round (INJURED in '06)
Now...check this out:
    2010 Aaron Murray

      OT - Clint Boling (30+ starts. All-Star)
      OG - Cordy Glenn (20+ starts. All-Star Candidate)
      OG - Chris Davis (30+ starts. Role Player)
      C - Ben Jones (20+ starts. All-Star Candidate)
      TE - Orson Charles - will play on Sundays
      WR - AJ Green - will play on Sundays
      RB - Two above average or better backs with experience
      OT - Trinton Sturdivant (if healthy potential all-star)
The point -- As Mark Richt said last week, Aaron Murray doesn't have to be a hero. He simply has to play solid football and let the offensive pieces around him do the heavy lifting. When you have solid tools to work with you can make magic happen.

It's also worth nothing that 3 of the last 4 freshmen QBs won 9 games. So the predictions from the peanut gallery of a 7 or 8 win season because UGA has a freshmen QB seem more than a bit pessimistic.

See Also:
-- Georgia's strongest and weakest units - Chris Low ESPN



A Lost Arcadian said...

Mike Cavan lost a ton of talent around him from his soph (1968) to his jr (1969) years. My dad swears the talent at WR and OL made Cavan look like a world beater in 1968, leading the Dawgs to an SEC title, only to be merely average in 1969 & 1970, going 5-5-1 in both his Jr & Sr years. And for all intents & purposes Cavan was a frosh/redshirt-frosh when he started as a sophomore since freshmen couldn't play at that point in time.

So if you want to take that metaphor further back than Q. Carter . . . the Dawgs have won an SEC Championship w/ what was effectively a redshirt-frosh. Here's hoping . . .

Go Dawgs!

South FL Dawg said...

Exactly. The biggest thing that jumps out is how they can play lights out and then leave you scratching your head. There's a reason why they call 'em "rookie mistakes" ....avoid them and you've really got something.

Nice work on the blog and go Dawgs.

Chris S said...

Not so sure I agree talent doesn't matter--any freshman who starts at QB is usually pretty high on the talent chart to begin with. Zeier, Greene, and Stafford all went on to become great college QBs. Carter had plenty of talent, too, though he never matured.

That said, the indicators are Murray has as much talent as anyone in that group with the possible exception of Stafford (whether he has the leadership skills of Greene or Zeier remains to be seen), and he definitely has the talent around him, so I agree with what I think is your basic conclusion--if Murray stays healthy, UGA has nothing to worry about on offense this year.

Personally, given the schedule, I'm expecting UGA to go 11-2, so Murray might end up with the best year of the bunch.

Sam, Dawg Fan said...

It is worth noting that Murray could be better prepared than Green. Green had a red-shirt year. Murray has a red-shirt year plus another spring practice. More time in the system to me would be a good thing.

Anonymous said...

By "nothing" do you mean "noting?"

Regular Guy said...

I do think the other big point in all this, which Richt brought up the other day, is that technically Murray is more "seasoned" than all the guys on that list. Some of those guys enrolled early (Staff/Zeier), one redshirted (Greene), but none of them enrolled early AND redshirted. If I remember right, though QC was older due to baseball, he didn't even have the benefit of a spring practice before his freshman year. So Murray already has 6 months to a year or so more time in the "system" than any of the other guys you've listed. I don't know how you quantify the significance of that, but I don't think it can be ignored either. Six months to a year is a really long time when you're learning a system, watching film, going through the S&C program, etc.

I'm not saying Murray is gonna come out of the gate looking like a 3 year starter, just that I think his level of preparation is going to be much higher than a lot of people seem to think.

Paul Westerdawg said...

Clarification - its a typo above. It should say "it's wortj noting...". Not "its worth nothing"

I can't fix that typo on this wireless browser.

Also, I wasn't saying that talent doesn't matter. I was saying that the supporting cast matters more than most folks think.

Anonymous said...

Much like any freshman QB, he'll have his moments of brilliance and his moments where we all want to kill him. He'll beat someone he shouldn't and lose to someone he shouldn't. And the key test will be whether he's playing better at the end of the year than at the beginning, which he certainly should be.

Mr. Sanchez said...

FR or SR QB, I agree completely that supporting cast is a huge deal on QBs. Very few QBs unless you're Michael Vick, can be an offense unto themselves. Especially pocket passers like Zeier and Greene, you need a running game for play action, an OL to pass protect and open holes, WRs to make plays. IMO, a QB is only as good as their supporting cast no matter what age they are.

One thing on your list though that bothers me Paul. 8 or 9 wins is nice, but I'm at 10 or bust right now. Maybe I'm getting spoiled, but with the extended seasons of 13 games (if you go bowling), I wouldn't be happy with a 4 or 5 loss year. I just wouldn't. I understand those things happen, and I'd tolerate it I guess would be the word to use, but I damn sure wouldn't be satisfied or happy with winning 8 or 9 games this year, freshman QB or not.

John From Texas said...

Like your synopsis, Westie. Now, if the O-Line can avoid the all-too-familiar injury issue.

Reptillicide said...

You can add Clint Boling to the "will play on Sundays" group. He is a good one.

Anonymous said...

Quarterbacks don't win games. Defense and a solid running game wins game. 'Nuff said . . .

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