Offensive coordinators gonna offensive coordinate, and the jury will be out on Jim Cheney in that regard until we see how the offense performs. I’m hopeful that last year turns out to be a low bar to exceed, as opposed to it being the new, post-Bobo normal.
But as much as we tend to focus on play calling and scoring, we tend to overlook the other part of Chaney’s job, that of position coach. It’s a big deal, too. You don’t have to look any further than last year, when none of Georgia’s quarterbacks appeared to improve over the course of the season, to realize that.
Fortunately, Chaney’s got enough of a track record as a quarterbacks coach to give me some reason for comfort.
During his four seasons as Tennessee’s offensive coordinator, Jim Chaney helped quarterback Jonathan Crompton improve throughout his senior year in 2009 and then oversaw the development of Tyler Bray.
After arriving at Arkansas in 2013, Chaney discovered a program that had enjoyed aerial success with Ryan Mallett and Tyler Wilson but was left with untested sophomore Brandon Allen.
Chaney is now the offensive coordinator at his third Southeastern Conference locale, and the situation he is encountering at Georgia is different from previous stops. The Bulldogs have an ongoing competition among Greyson Lambert, Brice Ramsey and Jacob Eason, with Lambert having won 10 games a year ago and with Eason the top-ranked quarterback nationally in the 2016 signing class.
“This is a little unique in that I think we have three kids who can go out and perform on the field, and I have not had three guys who can go out and play,” Chaney said Saturday in a news conference. “Everybody has their opinion on the quarterbacks. It’s a polarizing position. You get a victory, you get told how great you are. You get the losses, you get told how bad you are. That kind of comes with it.
“This also is a unique situation with the age group of these three kids we’re competing with right now to find out who is going to play and who is not, so it’s been a lot of fun.”
Chaney and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker were made available to the media Saturday for the first time since their hirings, which for Chaney was mid-December. New Georgia head coach Kirby Smart lured Chaney from Pittsburgh, where he spent just one season but had an impact.
Pittsburgh went 8-5 a year ago and finished runner-up in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Coastal Division with Tennessee transfer Nathan Peterman at quarterback and having lost All-ACC tailback James Conner before the season with a knee injury.
“One of the key reasons I went after Coach Chaney was his quarterback development,” Smart said. “I saw what he did at Arkansas and then with Tyler Bray and also the (Matt) Simms kid at Tennessee, and then he had a transfer come into Pitt last year. I have a lot of respect for his development at quarterback…
We all remember Beyond Crompton, but, as I’ve mentioned before, what Chaney did with Nathan Peterman last season at Pitt borders on the remarkable, especially when you consider he did it with the Panthers missing their stud running back all year. I have a little faith for 2016 that we’ll see more out of the quarterback position, regardless of who starts, than we did last season.