Position Plus/Minus: A detailed look at the Georgia football quarterback position in 2020
Every Tuesday, we’re going to take a deep dive on every Georgia position in the run-up to the 2020 season. Georgia figures to have one of the most talented teams in the country and the Bulldogs have a number of talented players across the board. But there are still some questions that have to be answered if the Bulldogs are to achieve their end goals.
This week we take a look at the quarterback position.
At the very worst, Georgia has four scholarship quarterbacks in Jamie Newman, D’Wan Mathis, Carson Beck and Stetson Bennett. If JT Daniels becomes eligible that balloons to five scholarship quarterbacks. In a season where depth figures to be as important as ever, it’s good to have numbers at the position.
And one only has to look at the SEC East last year to see the importance of having multiple capable quarterbacks. Georgia was the only program in the division that had the same starting quarterback for every game. Florida was able to withstand the loss of Feleipe Franks early in the season and still end up finishing the season ranked in the top-10. Given the new-look offensive line and the injury history of both Newman and Daniels, Georgia might need to rely on multiple quarterbacks to get through the season.
While the confidence might not be as high as it would be if Jake Fromm were still the quarterback, Georgia is going to have options at the quarterback position. And when overhauling an offense, that is certainly a good thing to have. Newman and Daniels, should he gain eligibility, aren’t replicas of each other, meaning Georgia will be able to tailor its offense to whichever skillset it desires. Newman is the better athlete, while Daniels operates more out of the pocket.
The downside of having multiple options at the position is that you enter camp without a clear-cut starter. This means quarterbacks will be splitting reps at the position during the month of August. And without spring practice, this makes these August practices all the more crucial for their development.
Georgia is going to have to find a capable starter among the potential five options while also making sure whoever the starter is gets enough reps with the first-team to feel comfortable. That is the tight window throw Georgia will be trying to make prior to the opener against Virginia.
The other bit of uncertainty that hangs over this position is whether or not Daniels will be eligible for this season. He has applied for a waiver after transferring from USC. But trying to predict which way the NCAA is going to rule on this decision is an impossible task.
If Daniels doesn’t get his eligibility, it should make things easier for Newman, who transferred in from Wake Forest. But if Daniels does get cleared, and particularly if he gets cleared before the month of August, the uncertainty over position will only grow.
PLUS: Throwing to George Pickens
Whoever ends up throwing the football for Georgia is going to have the benefit of throwing the ball to Pickens. The sophomore more than lived up to the hype in his first season in Athens, as he led the team in catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He was named the MVP of the Sugar Bowl and seems poised to have an even bigger sophomore season.
Georgia doesn’t have a great history at the receiver position with Terrence Edwards being the only receiver in program history to top 1,000 yards. Pickens figures to have a great chance at joining Edwards in that category so long as the former stays on the field.
Pickens will no doubt attract a lot of attention from opposing defenses, which should also free-up some of the other pass catchers on the team. While Dominick Blaylock, Demetris Robertson and the rest of the group are less than sure bets, this position is certainly better off than it was a season ago. That should help the new starting quarterback.
Minus: Questionable offensive line
All that was said about the receivers being better cannot be said for the offensive line. That was always going to be the case given the Bulldogs saw Andrew Thomas, Isaiah Wilson and Solomon Kindley all get drafted. Those three players were all multi-year starters and integral parts of Georgia’s success in recent seasons.
Factor in that Cade Mays transferred to Tennessee and the offensive line will look very different than it did in 2019.
Now the cupboard wasn’t completely left baren by Sam Pittman. Trey Hill returns at center and the Bulldogs have experience at guard with Justin Shaffer and Ben Cleveland. And Jamaree Salyer figures to take over one of the tackle spots and play well there.
But there’s still a ton of unknowns about this group and how it will play together. Like the quarterback position, this group was very much hurt by the lack of spring practice. With Virginia and Alabama both having strong defensive fronts, things won’t be easy for this group to start the season. And it will likely make things more difficult for the starting quarterback.
PLUS: Todd Monken
When you’ve called plays at the NFL level and been a successful college head coach, you’re probably a little over-qualified to be an offensive coordinator in the SEC. That’s what Georgia has in Monken, who takes over play-calling duties from James Coley.
Georgia needs to get more out of its offense and specifically the quarterback position. Having Monken on the sidelines should allow for that. He’s gotten strong performances out of the likes of Brandon Weeden at Oklahoma State, Nick Mullens at Southern Miss., and even Ryan Fitzpatrick in the NFL. He’s shown he’s able to elevate the play of his quarterbacks.
Monken’s offenses have relied on a vertical, down-field passing attack. That plays well into what Newman and Daniels are able to do as quarterbacks.
Georgia landing a coach of Monken’s caliber should be seen as a big win for the program and most specifically the quarterbacks that get to work with him.
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