Here’s Kimberley Nash’s perspective on five of the biggest UGA recruiting stories that people are talking about this week:
1. Is UGA looking to add mobility at the quarterback position?
Last Saturday, after UGA’s 9-6 win over Mizzou, three things were made all the more clear: 1) UGA is truly hurting at quarterback if Greyson Lambert is their best option, 2) the running back rotation is going to miss Nick Chubb’s powerful presence, and 3) the tight ends look a lot like my great-grandmother’s china — pretty, but in no way intended for use.
Honestly, Lambert is so frustrating, and Brice Ramsey so unpredictable, that I’ve heard some question whether Faton Bauta could be any worse? Remember when I said Lambert is their “best”option. Keep that in mind.
The quarterback situation is ugly for UGA right now. No doubt about it.
That said, I understand the desire to at least see what Bauta can do, especially based on what Lambert and Ramsey. You figure, at the very least, a quarterback with mobility would make 3rd-and-6 a bit more interesting to watch, rather than the interception/sack fest that Lambert and Ramsey have brought thus far.
That could be why UGA is looking to, potentially, add a dual-threat to go along with 2017 4-star QB pledge Bailey Hockman (Powder Springs, Ga.), who is already committed to the Bulldogs. Unrated dual-threat quarterback Malik Cunningham (Montgomery, Ala.) was offered by UGA on Tuesday.
UGA’s actual intentions for Cunningham is anybody’s guess, but the quarterback position needs an infusion of talent going forward. That much is clear.
2. What exactly is the rotation at running back?
As I watched Brendan Douglas take a handoff, on a 3rd-and-13, against Mizzou last Saturday, I found myself wondering, Seriously, why would they use Douglas in that situation?
Douglas is a worker, no question, but he’s not going to claim 7 or 8 yards, in that situation, against that defense. He’s more the guy you turn to when it’s late in the game, the defense is already tired, and the rushing lanes are starting to open up like another strip mall on Highway 316.
That particular night, though, with Lambert being Lambert (i.e. a hot mess), Mizzou’s defense was feasting on UGA runners like it was their last meal. None of them were finding room.
Even so, why not use Quayvon Hicks and take your chances? He was meant to be used as back-up tailback that day, as well, and there were several plays where his lead blocking skills were so effective, he actually managed to get too far out in front of the running back trailing him.
It’s amazing how quickly a strength starts looking a lot less strong when a key injury hits.
The running back depth doesn’t look nearly as prestigious now that Chubb is out for the season. He is truly UGA’s best runner between the tackles. Neither Sony Michel, nor Keith Marshall can fill that role. That’s not who they are now, nor who they have ever been. They excel at a different type of run game, and forcing them to become what Chubb has been is like trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.
From a recruiting standpoint, though you’d have to figure 4-star running back commit Elijah Holyfield (Atlanta) is smelling the opportunity, to come in and play from day one.
3. Will UGA have another wide receiver commitment soon?
I could say something about that 5-star guy from Archer High School, but I think enough has been said about him for the moment, so I won’t even mention his name.
On the other hand, 3-star wide receiver Grant Holloway (Chesapeake, Va.) also has UGA in the mix, and he’s trying to decide between them and Florida. He says it’s such a close battle between the two programs that he wouldn’t even be able to decide if put under serious
Holloway told Rivals.com’s Dan McDonald, “If you held a gun to my head and made me pick between them, I guess I’d have to go to the local community college because it is so tight.”
It is worth mentioning that Holloway really enjoyed his official visit to UGA, knows he would be able to run track there (something he said was a must for him), and is aware that his potential major (Business) is offered at the school’s Terry College of Business.
You’d have to figure those factors would coalesce into something spelling c-o-m-m-i-t-m-e-n-t…then you remember you’re dealing with 17- and 18-year old kids and decide it may be better to just wait and see.
4. Is the offense’s lack of production bad for recruiting?
I don’t consider having the most sophisticated sense of humor, but I do enjoy a good joke. And, lately, when I watch Brian Schottenheimer’s offense at UGA I feel a fit of laughter coming as I try to imagine what universe his playbook must hail from for him to craft such funny stuff.
And yes, I do find it achingly hilarious.
When I watch Greyson Lambert throw a screen pass on 2nd-and-9, then follow it up by trying the exact same play on 3rd-and-gazillion (because the yards lost the first time simply had to be an anomaly). I roll on the floor laughing because…so damn funny.
Yeah, that Schottenheimer’s a riot.
*wipes tears from eyes*
But, seriously, when you think about the notion of UGA wanting to sign at least five receivers in this class, don’t you start to wonder what they’re selling to make it sound good? I mean, if you’re a 5-, a 4-, or even a 3-star receiver, watching Lambert flail and fail on Saturday, are you feeling good about signing with UGA?
I’m not trying to be ugly, I’m just thinking out loud, because these are the types of questions I believe I’d be asking if I had my pick of 50+ other schools.
Alabama may not be a pass-happy squad, but they’re winning and will likely be in Atlanta
again come December. Auburn may not look as phenomenal as they did on paper a few weeks ago, but some folks seem to like whatever they’re selling (whether it smells right or not). Texas A&M may no longer be Johnny Football’s house, but man do they love to throw the football around.
Then we get to UGA on Saturday and they’re praying their kicker don’t miss because he was their only offense alllllllll day long.
Keep it real for me, would that excite you?
It’s any wonder all of these prospects suddenly can’t make a decision. UGA, right now, is the very definition of a box of chocolates: you have no idea what you’re gonna get. And, even funnier, Schottenheimer has managed to make fans who prayed for former coordinator Mike Bobo to leave, start praying for him to come back!
Now, if that’s not funny, I don’t know what is.
5. The offensive line needs more (nasty) players.
UGA offensive line coach Rob Sale has his work cut out for him. Where some may look at the current offensive line (the one with all that game experience) and say, wow, could you under-achieve any more than you already have? Others will look at the same group and say far too much blame is being put on their shoulders.
Place me in the latter group.
While the offensive line hasn’t been the best at run or pass blocking this season, you have to look at what they’re dealing with at quarterback. There have been numerous games where the protection for Lambert is there, and yet he still wouldn’t be able to hit water if he fell out of a boat.
What that has meant for opposing defenses is they can load up the box for what’s left at running back because, hell, Lambert’s not gonna beat them and they know it.
That said, Sale will lose John Theus, Kolton Houston, and Hunter Long after this season, with Brandon Kublanow not very far behind, and there isn’t nearly enough elite-level talent to replace that void. Even Richt has said as much.
If UGA is going to get better in the trenches, they’re going to need to bring in players that are stronger, nastier, and more capable of handling a double-team than the guys they’ve run out there so far.
They’ve targeted plenty of guys, but I can only see one or two of them actually keeping UGA in contention. 5-star offensive tackle Willie Allen (New Orleans, La.) has been on Sales’s radar from the start, but he’s not really a day one guy. And, despite how hard they were trending with him early on, there is still every possibility he could end up at LSU.
4-star offensive tackle Landon Dickerson (Hudson, N.C.) is one I’ve never been sold on because he never sounds excited enough about going to UGA. In my opinion, he brings them up like my mother brings up her trips to the grocery store: Kim, did you know they have that spaghetti sauce you love on sale this week?
Yeah, if he’s interested, he’s doing a great job covering up his excitement.
So, who is interested? Maybe 4-star offensive tackle E.J. Price (Lawrenceville, Ga.) is back in the picture. Maybe he never left and the whole saga with him was just a hugely overblown piece of recruiting myth.
Here’s what I do know: bad quarterback play, or not, UGA has to get more talent along the offensive line next season. They are too underwhelming, at the moment, and defensive fronts with any amount of speed, or strength, are going to continue to kill them in the trenches if they don’t get nastier in a hurry.
Kimberley Nash has blogged about UGA’s football recruiting since 2011.