More than one way to skin the quarterback cat

Just as a follow up to the last post, David Wunderlich makes a good point in comparing Smart’s approach to quarterbacks with that of Dan Mullen’s.

Smart has pursued a strategy of adding the best quarterbacks he can whenever he can. At first glance, that sounds utterly rational. Why would you not try to accumulate the best quarterbacks you can?

The reason, if you’re worried about such things, is it can disrupt the pipeline. Once you start down this path, it can be hard to return to stability…

Florida won’t be in that kind of situation because Mullen preaches development. Even as Emory Jones admits he expected to play more early, he also says he’s bought in on Mullen’s development plan. It’s too much to say that Mullen has resurrected the model from three decades ago when programs sought to sit quarterbacks for three years and only start redshirt juniors and seniors, but he’s been closer to that than what Georgia is doing now with the transfer portal giving and taking away.

So far things have gone fine for UGA. Fromm never missed time, Newman figures to be at least a decent stopgap if not more, and then it’ll go with either a 5-star junior, a guy Mullen wanted, or a 5-star freshman. It’s a higher-risk strategy, but it can work.

Mullen is going for the less risky traditional model where signees understand that they will sit and learn while their elders play. It’s hard to pull off as evidenced by the increasing number of quarterback transfers, but it means there is less drama about the future each year.

While I do think his “hard to return to stability” concern is a bit of a stretch — does anybody think Smart didn’t want Fields to stay in Athens so he would be the starter in 2020? — the rest is a good contrast.  I wonder how much of Mullen’s approach is colored by nine years at Mississippi State, where he pursued a wise strategy of building roster experience to offset a talent disadvantage.  Kirby has never been asked to operate under those conditions.

11 Comments

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11 responses to “More than one way to skin the quarterback cat

  1. Russ

    It’s becoming a lot like college basketball. Do you recruit a team of one and dones, like Kentucky? Or do you go the mid major route and develop talent? Personally, I think it’s going to be more like Kirby’s way going forward due to the portal. If a top guy does decide to stay and compete then great but otherwise prepare to reload.

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  2. Sam

    I’m not so sure Mullen’s method is really less risky. We don’t really know if Emory Jones will be able to play at a high/winning level if he’s QB1 at UF. He’s only played in spot/mop up duty. If not, then you have to throw in an even less experienced QB and hope they play above their experience level. In this day of win big now at a school like UF, the correction would probably be to grab an experienced transfer. And then Mullen is in the same place Smart is.

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    • The other Doug

      I agree. To me Millen’s strategy is riskier because Kirby recruits kids with the potential to be great (Fromm, Eason, Fields), but also goes out and gets guys who have already proven their value.

      Mullen is only working with what he recruits, and that’s not close to the level Kirby recruits.

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  3. UGA '97

    3 of the 4 teams in the CFP had transfer QB as their starters, so if the Mullet wants to be “The Paul Johnson of 3 decade’s old QB management” & turn his blind eye to an experienced Free Agent, then good luck to him. So Mullet’s just fine pulling in transfers at every other position, but if Wunderlich says that transfers create pipeline issues down the road, then what does that mean for the rest of the UF program? Mullet can only dream to have a QB as mature & successful enough as true freshman Fromm was, who then jumps to the NFL before his senior year. Mullet’s lost 2 QBS to transfer out and weve lost 2. Eason was Richt’s guy, Franks was QuackElwain’s, so really Kirbys lost 1 true transfer QB recruit in his 4 years and now pulls in 2 QBs with 6 combined college years. The Mullet has coached 2 diff QBs in 2 years, Kirby has coached 2 in 4. Word on Gator street is Jones may beat Trask & wind up as the starter, so if that happens, then thats 3 to our 3. By taking the same route as Oklahoma, LSU, Ohio State, etc at the QB position….big whoop, as long as we get to CFP.
    Oh and thanks to Wunderlich for pointing out that Mullet likely will not, b/c we all know what happens to hardheaded coaches like Johnson who chose not to evolve their programs while the rules, game, defenses, amd every other team passes them by. Gotta wonder if Mullet is similarly stubborn, when they wont even play a p5 non conf game outside of their own home state.

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  4. willypmd

    Well, his strategy is paying off with a 17 ppg scoring average at UF and 3 ppg scoring average per game at MSU vs Kirby’s UGA squads, so I fully support whatever he’s doing over there.

    I’d be surprised if they get to 17 this year…

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  5. TimberRidgeDawg

    I think its colored by the fact that he’s not a very good salesman when it comes to elite talent.

    Necessity is the mother of invention. He develops lesser talented QBs because that is what he has to work with.

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  6. Sanford222view

    It seems to me Kirby is trying to adapt to the new landscape of college football with the transfer portal while Mullen is hoping what he has always done will work out. Hopefully, Kirby is doing the same with the offensive scheme by bringing in Monken like he is adapting his roster management techniques. Kirby is a contradiction to me in that he is a leader and ahead of the game with recruiting and roster management but less so when it comes to making changes or adapting actual football tactics and strategies as we have seen with his willingness to adjust offensive scheme philosophies thus far. Surely, Monken is the beginning of changing that.

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  7. The Dawg abides

    A ton of difference between convincing an Emory Jones to wait his turn compared to a Justin Fields.

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  8. Mayor

    Smart was pursuing the same strategy as Mullen until Fields screwed everything up by leaving.

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  9. practicaldawg

    “the less risky traditional model where signees understand that they will sit and learn while their elders play” works much better when you’re working with low-rated talent.

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