Is Schottenheimer here to stay?

The Georgia Bulldogs have had a disappointing year thus far in the 2015 season. A season that has included a span of three out of four games of scoring 10 points or less, blowout losses to both Florida and Alabama, inconsistency at quarterback, and losing the best offensive threat in the conference when star tailback Nick Chubb went down for the season with a knee injury. This is also the same season the UGA beat the Steve Spurrier lead South Carolina Gamecocks 52-20 and had playoff aspirations. So where does this leave UGA? They can still finish the regular season with 9 wins and have the possibility of a bowl win to eclipse 10 wins, that classic Georgia season.

The question starts getting asked, can UGA win it all with Mark Richt at the helm? Will they be able to overcome the curse that seems to follow? My answer is yes, but I do not believe that it will be with Brian Schottenheimer as the offensive coordinator. At the conclusion of last season Mike Bobo, former offensive coordinator, was hired away as a head coach to Colorado State University. He led Georgia to record breaking offensive seasons in 2012, 2013, and 2014. He was handed the play-calling duties from head coach Mark Richt in the 2006 Chick-fil-a Bowl against Virginia Tech and never looked back. His development of quarterbacks was felt by the success of Aaron Murray becoming the first UGA QB to pass for 3,000 yards in three straight seasons, and the first SEC QB to do it in four straight. It also shows in how he made Hutson Mason a quality signal caller, you could see his fingerprints all over it. He finally got his running back he could rely on in Todd Gurley in 2012 and his offense could not be stopped after that.

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Schottenheimer, contrastly, has an NFL resume of being pretty average and seems to take a more business approach to coaching these young men. I believe that this has hurt the development of UGA’s quarterbacks as a unit. Understand that I am making this assessment after not even a full season with Schotty at the helm, but if you look at the offseason and how it was handled, you can’t help but wonder what could have been. There was a battle for the open QB spot in the spring and they had nothing definitive about who was leading, then bringing in a transfer QB and adding to the ambiguity of the position. It seems as though there has been no progression to the offense over the course of this season as well as at quarterback. The best that the offense has been since the Chubb injury has been when they have run the “Wild Dawg” formation with wide receiver Terry Godwin taking the snaps and deceiving the defense with the unconventional look. Is there really  no scholarship QB who can run the offense well enough to take the pressure off of the defense?

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I believe that there needs to be a change at the offensive coordinator position. I think a promotion from within would be the best outcome. They could promote current wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon, current running backs coach Thomas Brown, or current tight ends coach John Lilly to offensive coordinator. This would help recruiting since there would be continuity in the same offense and it would give Richt another opportunity to develop his next great assistant from the ground up while also finding a new QB coach to help develop the position and focus solely on that. All of those candidates I mentioned are qualified and have the resume to be considered for a position like this and if you look at last season’s bowl game in particular, John Lilly called the plays since Bobo had already left for Colorado State and the offense was explosive. This season just shows what a great loss Bobo was to the UGA program and offense.

Why is this Richt’s time?

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Most of college football fans know about the success of Georgia Head Football Coach, Mark Richt, but he may be more well-known for what he has not done. Richt is the elder statesman in the SEC, as he has been at UGA since 2001, but Richt’s main critics point to his inability to get to the “big game”, as he rarely has his team in real contention for a national title by season’s end. The famous end to the 2012 SEC Championship game against Alabama, where the Dawgs found themselves just “five yards short” of the National Championship. The others seem to be less haunting, but in 2002 against Florida, the undefeated bulldogs saw Richt bring starting quarterback David Greene off the field to make good on his promise to DJ Shockley. Only, the stage may have been too big at the time for young Shockley he threw a game changing interception which left a blemish on an otherwise great season and the SEC Championship was not enough to propel them to the BCS Championship game.

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The good news is, that coming off of a disappointing season, this is where Richt seems to be at his best. He starts the season just out of the spotlight and slowly gets his team to believe over the course of the season. This season the Dawgs will be replacing the face of the program for the last four years in quarterback Aaron Murray. His replacement, who took over for the last two and a half games of the 2013 season, Hutson Mason is a fifth-year senior who has been Aaron Murray’s backup for the past four years, and in that time, he has created a buzz throughout Bulldog nation for his accuracy in practice and his knowledge of the offense.  In recent years, 4 out of the last 6 BCS National Championships have been won by teams win a first year starting quarterbacks. The defense on the other hand, is returning 9 of 11 starters off of a struggling unit from a year ago and under the new defensive coordinator, from the reigning National Championship defense, Jeremy Pruitt is ready to maximize this group’s sterling potential.

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So, why is this Richt’s time? It’s simple, he doesn’t have to be in the top two this season, with the new college football playoff going into effect, all you need is to be in the top four. Now, I’m not saying that Richt would be incapable of leading his team to a Championship, but this format plays into his strengths. He usually has his team playing its best football by season’s end and with the new landscape of the SEC, having so many new quarterbacks, leaves the door wide open. Richt is a molder of men and it usually takes the growth of a season, so if there is an early loss, it will not derail this teams goals.