JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Greetings from EverBank Field, where the weather is not just nice, it’s downright hot. It’s supposed to be 82 degrees by the time Georgia and Florida kickoff at 3:30, but it felt every bit of that as I walked through the West parking lot to the media gate. I’d say if it stays this way — we all know how quickly it can change in these parts — the heat will be a factor on these teams today.
So, now that I’m here in the air-conditioned press box, the countdown is on. In the next couple of hours, we’ll find out whether Faton Bauta is indeed going to start at quarterback for the Bulldogs today.
That’s right, I’m not 100 percent convinced he is. Obviously there are a bunch of media outlets out there citing sources that the redshirt junior who hasn’t played a meaningful snap in his career will start in the biggest game of the season against the nation’s 11th-ranked team. I have sources who have told me that as well. But I also have a few saying that he’s not, that he’s just been getting first-team reps to prepare to be Greyson Lambert’s primary backup today. Same for my colleague Seth Emerson.
Mark Richt, when asked on the pregame show (which was recorded Thursday) if he could shed any more light on the quarterback situation, took a long pause before giving a one-sentence answer.
“Ask me another question,” Richt said.
So we wait.
If Bauta does get the nod, it will be the boldest move I’ve witnessed by Mark Richt since he has been Georgia’s coach. There have been others — the Gator Stomp in 2007, black jerseys, black helmets, onside kicks, squib kicks — but never anything quite this radical involving personnel.
I could almost understand it if the Bulldogs had showed up here with it as a secret. Could you imagine the shock and surprise if Bauta had trotted out there for the first play without anybody knowing it was about to happen?
But, from all indications, catching Florida off guard was not what this was all about. Supposedly, this is about Bauta practicing the best the last two weeks. This is about giving the fourth-year player a chance that he has earned from all his hard work. This is about trying to put some juice back into an offense that had lost it.
We’ll see soon. Love to hear everybody’s thoughts.
Here are some quick travel roster notes:
- Defensive lineman John Atkins is not on the travel roster, which is a bit of a surprise. He was expected to play after missing the Missouri game with a foot injury.
- Tailback A.J. Turman is not on the trip. There are three tailbacks here (Sony Michel, Keith Marshall and Brendan Douglas), but fullback Quayvon Hicks has the ability to play there.
- Speaking of fullback, Christian Payne is on the trip. He’s set to play for the first time since he re-injured his fibula against South Carolina.
- Other previously-injured players expected to play are indeed on the trip: OLB Jordan Jenkins and WR-KR Isaiah McKenzie being the most prominent.
- Among those not on the travel roster here are three others that are notable: ILB Natrez Patrick, CB Shattle Fenteng and CB Devin Bowman. There aren’t any known injuries for either of those three.
- Finally a kicking note: Marshall Morgan and Collin Barber are the only kickers or punters on the travel roster. No Patrick Beless or Rodrigo Blankenship. If they need another punter it would be Brice Ramsey, who was punting in pregame warmups. In fact, don’t be shocked if Ramsey punts either way.