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Thursday, September 17, 2009

2010 Addendum: Why I'm Not (Completely) an Idiot

Addressing a few issues raised in the comments about my post earlier today...

CLINT THOMASON writes: Are we already in "we'll get em next year" mode?

DH: Definitely not. As I said in the post, Georgia should not be looking past this year, but I do think you can do both. The game against South Carolina wasn't the right time to do it, admittedly, but just as the coaches look ahead to future seasons on the recruiting trail, Mark Richt and company should be aware of where they'll have holes in the starting lineup next season and consider getting some current backups ready for that action.

IRWIN R. FLETCHER writes: "the missing ingredient will clearly be an experienced quarterback."

I think the premise of the article is great...but the problem is that there is zero supporting evidence that an 'experienced' quaterback is needed.

-Sam Bradford started as a Freshman.
-Tim Tebow threw 33 passes as a glorified FB the year before he won the Heisman.
-Matt Flynn started one season..his senior year..and guided LSU to an SEC and National Championship
-Todd Boekman took Ohio State to the National Championship game his first year as a starter
-Matt Leinart led USC to the AP championship his first year as a starter
-Jason White had started 4 games and torn two ACLs prior to wining the Heisman in 2003.
-Mauck had 6 starts prior to 2003..when LSU won the SEC and BCS Championship
-David Greene did pretty well as a first year starter and won the SEC his second season
-DJ Shockley had 0 career starts..we all know how that turned out
-Craig Krenzel took Ohio State to the BCS Championship his first year starting

I think the axiom that you need an experienced starting QB is worn out. There are exceptions like Chris Leak and Jason Campbell...and certainly some of the guys on that list above continued to win as they played more games...but if a QB has the talent and the right scheme is in place, there is no reason not to expect great things in the first or at the very worst 2nd year of a QB's career.

DH: Irwin, I think you've only proven my point.

Tebow got action as a freshman and won the Heisman the next year. Bradford started as a freshman and Oklahoma was good but not great. The next year, he won a Heisman and went to the national championship game. Flynn got action the year before his national championship season, including starting LSU's bowl game. Shockley had no starts but got plenty of action in game situations. Greene was just 8-4 his first year as a starter and improved dramatically the next.

(EDIT: As always, I am, in fact, an idiot. Flynn started the bowl game against Miami for LSU two years before leading them to a national title.)

Is it essential to have game experience? No, but there is a distinct advantage to it. I'm not saying that Georgia should be starting Logan Gray or Aaron Murray. They absolutely must start Joe Cox. But getting Gray or Murray in for a few snaps per game can have a big effect in terms of getting used to analyzing a game situation, controlling the huddle, reading a defense, adjusting to the speed of the game --- all the little things that make a good QB a great one. And this isn't my opinion. This is what I've been explicitly told by quarterbacks and coaches. I'm inclined to listen to the folks who've been through it.

But, I'm willing to consider it further, so...

IRWIN R. FLETCHER writes: Reggie Ball as a senior sucked as bad as Reggie Ball as a Freshman. Game experience is a red herring. It isn't a trump card. It is only one piece of the puzzle.

That is why I think the logic of 'needing' to play one of the other QB's this year is flawed. It wouldn't hurt, but it also won't necessarily help. However, articles like this only increase the paranoia that we NEED to get them some snaps.

If Exhibit A is Reggie Ball, Exhibit B is the ND-Michigan game and Exhibit C is the USC-OSU game. Tate Forcier and Matt Barkley outplayed Clausen and Pryor. With the right QB in the right scheme and the right mix of talent and you can win. That is why I think the premise of the article is flawed and why the axiom of needing to find some snaps for your backups is outdated.

DH: Now come on, Irwin. I've seen "Fletch" and he was a fine investigative journalist who would never use Reggie Ball as justification for anything other than why you should never hire Chan Gailey as your head coach.

But again, I do understand your point. Experience isn't EVERYTHING. But it is SOMETHING. And while Forcier looked good, he was playing a bad Notre Dame team, not Florida or Alabama or LSU. And Barkley had some good moments, but he was hardly good. And are you picking either USC or Michigan to win a national title this year, even though they both play in inferior conferences?

I agree that a team can be good with an inexperienced QB. Look at how the 2006 Bulldogs ended their season. But also remember how the season began.

What I'm saying is -- and this is something Mark Richt has said repeatedly -- the window for a truly special season (the mythical national championship, if you prefer) is a rare one. Georgia struggled through a freshman (i.e. no experience) QB in 2006 and then was limited by an inexperienced line in 2007 and 2008. It's hard to get it all to come together.

Next year, Georgia has a chance for things to come together, but the inexperience at QB will no doubt be the biggest question mark the team faces. They could start answering that this season. I'm not saying they should or they will, just that it's something that deserves consideration.

ANONYMOUS writes: Could someone pass it on to the players that here in arkansas (Oinkville), all you hear is how UGA is gonna get a beat down this weekend. It's ridiculous. The hog fans are out of control saying that they have a big edge on offense with their sasquatch qb and that the defense and special teams are even. If we shut down TE D.J. Williams and stuff the run, game over. NO PICKS, JOE!!!

DH: Just in case I'm spending too much time looking ahead to next year, this should sufficiently refocus you to the task at hand Saturday.


Irwin R. Flecther said...

I'm not trying to get into a pissing match, but I proved your point?

How can I prove your point when you made no mention of Leinart or Krenzell? Leinart and Krenzell are like the Dude's rug...they brought the whole room together.

Bradford his first year was 'good but not great'? Whatever that even means, I'll concede it. However, since we are talking about team success, the Sooners won the big 12 by beating #1 Mizzou in the Big 12 title game, were in the discussion for the national championship game, and were #3 in the country heading into their Fiesta Bowl game with West Virginia ...with a QB that had never played a snap prior to that season. If only Bradford had gotten a few snaps during mop up time against SW Utah-Idaho Border Community College the year before they would have won the championship!!!

Uhh...I watched the 2006 Sugar Bowl and I'm pretty sure that was Jamarcus Russell starting against Notre Dame, but I can understand how someone would confuse the two. They are eerily similar in appearance, build, skill set. Sarcasm aside...Flynn did get some playing time his sophomore year (including the bowl game) and like Tebow, had valuable time at another position his freshman year. [Flynn was holding kicks. I think there is a quote somewhere from him where he explains how that time on the field as a holder really prepared him to start at QB. "Insert your own funny fake quote here."]

If someone wants to stick with the opinion that the only thing separating UGA from a special season next year might be getting Gray or Z-Mett or Murray some snaps in mop up, be my guest.

I'll stick with the fact that it hasn't prevented special seasons in the past and the opinion that the axiom of any experience=better QB is rooted in an old, Chan Gailey-esq dogma that hasn't been disproved but has been significantly damaged over the past decade.

David Hale said...

Ah, your trump card -- the Lebowski reference. OK, you've got me.

I guess we can agree to disagree on this, and I do see your point. I'm not saying that a few snaps throughout the season is going to make or break next year, but I think that getting some acclimation for the guy(s) who will be running the offense next year would do more good than harm. But it's certainly possible that I'm wrong.

And you're right about Flynn... I was thinking about the year before against Miami. Flynn did have 78 pass attempts prior to taking over at QB for LSU in 2007. So far Gray and Murray have a combined ZERO attempts.

Kirk Herbstreit said...

"And while Forcier looked good, he was playing a bad Notre Dame team"

Mommy! The man said a bad thing!

D.N. Nation said...

"And you're right about Flynn... I was thinking about the year before against Miami."

Flynn also got some reps in the SECCG when the game got out of control.