Don’t know if you caught any of the ‘Net buzz from the past couple of days, but it was feverishly reported in several quarters by folks who aren’t in the know that Jacob Park has practiced with the Ones. Whoa, dude… you know what that must mean!
Turns out, it’s even true. Because Schottenheimer’s rotating all three quarterbacks to get a feel for what he’s got to work with at the position.
This spring, Schottenheimer is rotating the quarterback depth chart every practice, each candidate getting a shot with the first team. For instance, Tuesday it was Ramsey’s turn to run with the first team, but on Thursday he will go to third team, the next day he’ll be second team, and so on.
This produces some challenges, admits Ramsey, as the first-teamers are more skilled and experienced and feature better offensive line blocking. But Schottenheimer wants every quarterback to have that advantage before he makes an evaluation.
That’s got to hurt a little bit for the once-presumed leader at the position. And it sounds like it does.
“I had just felt comfortable (with the playbook) right when Bobo left,” Ramsey said, smiling ruefully. “I was like, ‘Yes, I got it.’ And sure enough I’m into a new system.”
So, what do Schottenheimer’s options look like so far in the spring?
- Brice Ramsey. You’d still have to think that Ramsey’s experience still counts, so I wouldn’t go so far as to say that he doesn’t keep an advantage over the other two candidates. (Then, again, I’m not a coach who clearly thinks the competition serves a purpose right now.) But Ramsey’s primary critique of himself is an obvious concern. “The read, to my footwork, to what the play is, is the biggest thing for me right now.” He’s had a long way to go from his high school system to running a pro-style attack and there’s still a way to go on his journey.
- Faton Bauta. We all know Bauta’s story. He’s the mobile guy who’s arm strength is the weakest of the three. Emerson says Bauta doesn’t describe the current situation as a fresh start, just a continuation of competition at the position. (Although Weiszer quotes Bauta differently.) If that’s the case, Bauta’s already lost the race with Ramsey once before. You tell me what this sounds like: “It’s always an unbiased competition. We’re just out there playing ball. If he’s the better man, all right. But I came in here and was telling myself, ‘Whatever, I’m gonna keep getting better as a quarterback, I’m gonna keep improving, and I’m gonna go as far as I can.’ ”
- Jacob Park. The least experienced of the three. But that’s not what makes me nervous about Park. This makes me nervous about Park: “I created a lot of bad habits. I just (played) chuck-and-duck,” Park said. That’s something straight out of the Joe “I kind of saw Norwood and was like, hmmm, but I decided to throw it anyway…” Cox school of winging it. It may be entertaining, but I doubt the coaches share that point of view. At least Park is aware that he has to change his approach: “Now I’ve actually got to …make reads, sit in the pocket, pick up blitzes, not run around and chuck the ball all the time, make good decisions and throw completions,” Park said. “Now I’m playing actual fundamental football and not backyard football.” The obvious question is, can he do all that by August?
I can see why Richt maintains a decision about the starter won’t come until preseason practice in late summer. It will be worth watching G-Day for any indication the three are settling into the position; that may be a more important consideration than their relative physical merits. As will any indication of leadership skills they show in the time between the end of spring practice and August. Right now, your guess is as good as mine, or anybody else’s bulletin board speculation.
By the way, you can check out interviews with all three here.