JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Faton Bauta era, however long it lasts, is officially on at Georgia.
Bauta was announced as Georgia’s starting quarterback on the video screen at EverBank Field. It was the first official acknowledgment after several days or rumors and reports that the redshirt junior would be getting his first college start.
Even then, however, there was some confusion: The public address announcer said the name of Greyson Lambert, who started Georgia’s first seven games. But Bauta was getting the first-team quarterback snaps during warm-ups, with Lambert at second team.
For more on Bauta and his background, you can read this story.
There was still a wrinkle on Bauta’s first play as the starting quarterback: He lined up at receiver, as Sony Michel took the snap in the Wildcat. (UGA clarified that Bauta did officially still get credited as the starting quarterback because he was on the field.) Michel went left for a long gain into Florida territory, but it was negated by a holding penalty. On the next play Bauta did go under center and completed a short pass to Michel, though it was a bit high and Michel fell down after an 8-yard gain.
They were his first meaningful snaps at quarterback in four years, when he was a senior in high school (Bauta has served as the holder on place-kicks the past two seasons). Bauta entered the game with five career passes at Georgia, all last season in mop-up duty, along with 10 career rushes for 46 yards.
There had been plenty of smoke in the week leading up to the game, but Georgia had declined to say anything. Mark Richt, on the pregame radio show that was recorded Thursday, said this when asked about the quarterback situation: “Ask me another question.”
The first firm indication came around 2:45, during pregame warm-ups: Bauta and Lambert took the field, and Bauta worked with first-team center Brandon Kublanow, and Lambert with second-team center Hunter Long.
After a few minutes they rotated, perhaps another indication of things to come. Lambert could still see action.
Through all this, meanwhile, Brice Ramsey was punting in the end zone. That could have been another indicator.