There had been rumblings all week out of Athens about changes afoot. The recent production from Georgia offensively was disappointing, and a QB controversy fire that seemed to be extinguished against South Carolina became a raging inferno after gas cans called Alabama, Tennessee, and Missouri hit their mark. And after stories started breaking yesterday afternoon, more and more outlets starting running with Georgia sitting down starter Greyson Lambert and going with....
Faton Bauta. Yep, not highly touted and rifle-armed sophomore backup Brice Ramsey. But 6'3, 220 pound junior Faton Bauta is said to be getting his first start of his career at the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party on Halloween tomorrow.
So, what does it mean?
For starters, it doesn't mean good things for the two backups. Greyson Lambert lost the job after the offense began to stall once Nick Chubb sat, and an increasing habit of hitting the hands and numbers of folks in the wrong color jersey. Also a junior, like Bauta, Lambert can provide starting experience off the bench that most college teams lack, but his second chance at being a full time starting QB at the major college level appears to have ended poorly.
Brice Ramsey has now lost the job twice, and while it's easy to speculate how someone so talented with the arm is getting skipped over, there is obviously something lacking that Richt has needed to see from the Camden County product that his eyes haven't seen since he last took the opening snap in silver britches at the Belk Bowl.
For Saturday, it may well mean a very different Georgia offense. And an offense we have likely never seen under Brian Schottenheimer in his years of offensive coordinator experience, and possibly haven't seen from Richt since the last time he had a first time ever starting QB in Jacksonville.
As Harrison Martin discussed back in September, Bauta brings a different skill set than pocket passers Lambert and Ramsey to this offense. Don't make a mistake and think Georgia isn't going to throw the ball, as Malcolm Mitchell will almost certainly remain in the game plan, and an increased use of TEs like Jeb Blazevich and Jackson Harris could also get the offense back on track to the success it was seeing earlier in the season. Georgia will also likely need to hit an early play over the top to loosen up a strong defense that will almost certainly look to pack the box even more come Saturday.
But Bauta brings a running threat those two don't, and could signal a shift in style. Bauta, in theory, can bring a physical, inside running presence while runners more suited to working the edges like Sony Michel, and perhaps a now healthy Isaiah McKenzie, can focus on sweeps and getting into space. This move could signal more shotgun read options, or perhaps a return to the formerly highly successful pistol offense that also works a lot off QB reads, quick developing runs, and play action. Now, whether this move ultimately turns the offense into a sequel of 2005, or Georgia adding a new wrinkle in search of a spark to catch flame, remains to be seen. Bauta will assuredly be tasked similarly to Joe Tereshinski in 2005 of not turning the ball over, keeping the chains moving, and letting our defensive playmakers, offensive weapons, and talented return men do their thing.
But one thing it certainly did do is change the mood in the room. The last three games saw Georgia's offense go from bad to worse, and a bye week gave the coaching staff a chance to change course. Figuring out what happens next is anybody's guess though. Will Bauta step up now that he's finally been given the chance after years of hard work? How will Georgia's offense adapt with the change in QB skills? Does this mean Richt is taking more control over the offense? Can Georgia football ever have nice things again?
What do you think will happen with Georgia's offense Saturday, and going forward into next season now that the staff has decided to change course mid stream?