ATHENS — Georgia’s Faton Bauta is working at safety in practice this week and that’s not a ruse, according to coach Mark Richt.
In fact, Richt said the Bulldogs’ junior quarterback, coming off his first career start, actually volunteered to play safety on the scout team. He did it, Richt said, in order to “stay in shape” and to “give a good look” to the offense.
That said, Richt insisted Bauta is not eliminated from consideration to play quarterback against Kentucky on Saturday. It does appear, however, that he won’t get a second straight start. That battle is being waged this week primarily between Greyson Lambert and Brice Ramsey.
“We don’t know right now,” Richt said of who will start. “We’re repping a couple of guys, we’re trying to make a decision on who to play. Greyson and Brice have gotten most of the reps with the ones so far, but Faton’s gotten a few so far. So we’ll see.”
But when he’s not taking snaps on offense, Bauta is chasing around receivers as the scout-team safety. Richt volunteered that factoid when asked an unrelated question about Bauta’s competitive spirit.
“This week he went to Coach (Brian) Schottenheimer and said, ‘look, can I work some scout team? I want to make sure I stay in shape,” Richt said. “When it’s time for me to get reps on offense, I’ll run over there and get reps. But if I’m not getting reps on the offense, I think I can help the team by giving a good look on the scout team as a safety.’
“So he’s back there running around and getting the scout team juiced up, fired up,” Richt continued. “And when it’s time to take offensive plays he runs over there and takes offensive plays. That’s leadership to me. That’s competitive spirit. That’s a guy who wants to help Georgia win. And I admire that about him.”
Richt and the Bulldogs shocked everybody — but Florida, apparently — when they decided to start Bauta against the Gators this past Saturday. A third-teamer since he arrived at Georgia, it was Bauta’s first career start.
It did not go well. The junior from West Palm Beach, Fla., was 15-of-33 passing for 154 yards and four interceptions. The Bulldogs failed to score a touchdown for a second consecutive week.
Earlier in the day Wednesday, Richt said on the weekly SEC’s coaches teleconference call that part of the reason they decided to go with Bauta was to see if “everybody could keep it under their hat.” But nobody could.
News eked out two days before the game. And afterward, the Gators’ players and coaches said they were completely unconcerned about who was going to play quarterback for Georgia.
Richt was asked after Wednesday’s practice how important he felt deception and misinformation was in trying to build a successful strategy each week.
“If you make a change you prefer the other team not to know. That’s all,” he said. “If you make a change at the quarterback position and the guy might have just a little bit of a different style to his game, you’d just as soon the other team not know if you can help it. You don’t want to be sitting there have all this deception, but it’s one thing to be deceptive and it’s another thing to just not say.”
However, on Wednesday of last week, Richt admitted that “all three quarterbacks” were getting reps with the No. 1 offense. Bauta had not gotten any since preseason camp before that.
“A lot of times I’d just as soon not say,” Richt said. “… The less information the other team has the better. That’s just all there is to it. It’s just like in war. I mean, that’s why there are intelligence agencies trying to figure out what the other side is going to do. The less the other team knows the better. That’s all it’s about. It’s not about gamesmanship or trying to be coy or trying to whatever. You’re trying to not give the other team an edge. That’s all.”