ATHENS – When Brice Ramsey’s first interception happened last Saturday in the season opener against Appalachian State, there were audible groans from the Georgia sideline, and in the stadium. The second interception brought sighs, or silence, the sentiment easy to sense: poor Brice.
It’s been that kind of career for the former heir-apparent Georgia starting quarterback, who in his fifth year with the program never actually started at quarterback. But events of the weekend have left Ramsey once again just one play away from being the quarterback, which could happen as soon as Saturday at Notre Dame.
So Georgia’s coaches didn’t spend much time, if any, shaking their heads and feeling sorry for Ramsey. And they didn’t adjust the depth chart: Ramsey is the backup to Jake Fromm, and they’re getting Ramsey ready to play.
Unlike last week.
“I feel unfortunate for Brice because your (No. 3) quarterback doesn’t typically get any reps, so as the three last week it was not like he took practice reps,” coach Kirby Smart said.
Few, if any, reps. So when Ramsey was put in the game in the fourth quarter, and threw a pair of passes that were intercepted, he was running plays he hadn’t prepared to run. That doesn’t excuse it, but it does help explain it. This week, he’s been getting all the No. 2 reps, and some with the ones just in case.
“He went from getting no reps to getting all the twos reps. So he’s like a changed person,” Smart said. “It’s like, ‘Hey I’ve got to prove myself, I’ve got to do a better performance than I did last year.’ He certainly felt that way and we did too.”
Ramsey was throwing alongside Fromm at practice Monday and Tuesday, as the two passed to receivers in simple “throwing against air” drills. Stetson Bennett, the walk-on freshman, was on the other field, working with the scout team.
The team has two other walk-ons: Junior Sam Vaughn, who has been with the team for three years, and freshman John Seter, who joined this year. Both are 6-3, which is (officially) three inches taller than Bennett, whose program-listed height of 6-foot might be generous.
But there was a reason Bennett was the scout-team quarterback, imitating Notre Dame starter Brandon Wimbush: Bennett is fast. Which also makes him a potential option if … well, you know.
“He has all the intangibles to play the quarterback position,” said Sean Pender, who coached Bennett at Pierce County High School. “He just doesn’t have the height measurable.”
But Bennett is fast, and accurate, and always wanted to play for Georgia, which is why he passed on scholarship offers from Mercer, Southern Miss and others, according to Pender.
So far Smart has also been impressed.
“He has been a really pleasant surprise,” Smart said Monday. “He has great arm strength. He sees the field well. He’s not exceptionally tall, but you can ask our defensive players. He’s been a handful on the scout team. He has done a great job with that.”
But for now Ramsey remains the fallback option, as he was all the way back in 2014, when he replaced an injured Hutson Mason in the Belk Bowl, and the next year, when he replaced Greyson Lambert several times, including in the Alabama game.
It’s never quite come together at Georgia for Ramsey, who came to the program to play for then-coach Mark Richt and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. When Ramsey elected to transfer this spring, he changed his mind and was welcomed back. Right now that seems like a good move for both parties, despite the fourth quarter of the App State game.
Then again, if Georgia really gets desperate, it could try high school quarterback Mecole Hardman in the Wildcat. Or it could even turn to the player with the best pass efficiency rating: Terry Godwin, whose 44-yard touchdown pass in the TaxSlayer Bowl was the team’s longest completion of the 2015 season.
But ultimately it will come down to Fromm and Ramsey, the latter of whom did not suddenly forget how to throw a football.
“Both those guys have taken ownership, taken a lot more leadership. Certainly it’s a more heightened awareness when you know you’re the guy,” Smart said, speaking about Fromm, then adding: “It’s the same way for Brice.”