ATHENS — Georgia has the quarterback and the coaching expertise to flip the offense.
From Terry Bowden’s perspective, that should be enough to get a new-look offense off and running by next fall.
Bowden was holding court wearing Clemson gear two days before the College Football Playoff Championship Game at the event’s media day function.
The fact he’s now a graduate assistant with the Tigers does nothing to dilute Bowden’s knowledge or experience flipping an offense to a mobile quarterback.
“Once you make the decision that’s where you need to go — and you see a lot of the pros doing it now, you see college teams that make that move — it starts with a quarterback that can do that,” Bowden told DawgNation.
“I think the other parts of that block with the right assistants,” the 63-year-old former Auburn, North Alabama and Akron head coach said. “You have to have people that know what they’re doing in that capacity. And you’ve got to have a quarterback you believe in.”
Georgia certainly checks all the boxes.
The Bulldogs return mobile quarterbacks in redshirt junior Stetson Bennett, redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis and incoming freshman Carson Beck.
The biggest offseason player addition, however, has been Wake Forest graduate transfer quarterback Jamie Newman.
Pro Football Focus ranks Newman the No. 3 returning quarterback in college football and recently projected Georgia football the preseason No. 3 team.
Bowden, 63, knows all about high rankings after winning his first 20 games as the Tigers’ head coach after replacing Pat Dye before the 1993 season.
Georgia snapped Bowden’s streak with a 23-23 tie at Auburn in 1994, and Bowden lost his first game as the Tigers’ head coach the following week to Alabama, 21-14.
Bowden left Auburn halfway through the 1998 season with a 47-17-1 record.
After 10 years out of coaching working as a television analyst, Bowden returned to coaching at North Alabama, a Division ll school where he was 29-9 with playoff appearances each three seasons.
Bowden moved on to Akron from there, ultimately resuscitating the Zips’ downtrodden program with an 8-5 season in 2015 that included the program’s first-ever bowl game victory.
More history was made in 2018, when Bowden’s Akron team beat Northwestern for the school’s first win over a Big Ten team since 1894. The Zips, however, finished 4-8 and Bowden was fired.
That led Bowden to the opportunity at Clemson, which came with the graduate assistant provision.
It’s been a snap for Bowden, who graduated magna cum laude from West Virginia with a degree in accounting. Bowden did postgraduate work at Oxford University in England and earned a law degree from Florida State.
“Thirty-seven years ago, I graduated from law school, and the next year I became a football coach, and we didn’t have internet, and we didn’t have computers,” Bowden said, putting his unique situation in perspective.
“Thirty-seven years later, in order to be a coach on the field, I have to be a student. So I got accepted to Clemson grad school, and I’m getting a Master’s in athletic leadership. I’ve got two classes this semester and they are online … and that’s been kind of fun.”
Bowden seems to think offenses that employ mobile quarterbacks are apt to have more fun and success on Saturdays.
“I don’t feel like you need to go to a running quarterback, but you must have a quarterback that’s mobile, and Joe Burrow is mobile,” Bowden said, tying he conversation into the game he was preparing for at the time.
“The guy can scramble, but he’s not a running quarterback. He is a drop-back, classic quarterback that has what you need.”
No doubt, Burrow put on a show against Clemson in the CFP Championship Game.
Georgia fans are yearning for an offense with the same explosive elements and big-play potential.
Bowden explained how a running quarterback changes the dynamics by simple math.
“Anytime your quarterback runs the football, it gives you one more blocker,” Bowden said. “And if they’ve got any safeties sitting up high upfield, that evens you up pretty good in the blocking department.
“So once your quarterback either scrambles well, or you devise a few plays that allow him to run, you have created plays that are in (your) favor for the offense, in numbers, that you just don’t have when the quarterback is just a fake or a disguise.”
Georgia will indeed put the quarterback run back into the RPO element this coming season.
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