Tuesday, August 22, 2006


In a move that didn't really surprise anyone, yet still apparently caused a stern reaction on the Dawgvent (according to Bruce Feldman, who quotes SuthnDawg, whom we must presume is the canary in the mine that is DawgNation public opinion), Joe Tereshinski is going to be starting under center for Georgia against Western Kentucky. The more I thought about Georgia's prospects for this year when doing my initial top 25 poll last week, the more bullish I was on the notion that Tereshinski was the obvious choice and that Georgia would do quite well with him under center. Here are my reasons:

1. Georgia isn't starting chopped Matt Suhey under center. I'm just not buying Paul Westerdawg's argument that JTIII is Greg Talley to Matt Stafford's Eric Zeier. JTIII, people forget, was a four-star recruit (per Rivals) and might have been higher if he wasn't a Dawg Lifer and had instead extended out his recruitment until Signing Day. I can't say that I remember Talley's recruitment, other than the fact that he came from Valdosta, as did Buck Belue, so obviously, Georgia was headed for a national title in 1990 when Talley was paired with a star freshman running back from a small Georgia high school. Talley threw for 871 yards and four touchdowns as the starter for much of 1990, so it wasn't as if he lit the world on fire. But wait, you say, JTIII wasn't exactly a world-beater against Florida last year...

2. JTIII's performances in 2005 aren't a good indication of what he'll do in 2006. Remember the last look we had at D.J. Shockley in 2004? He was busy doing his best to give the game away against Tech in Athens. He threw a nice deep ball (to Sean Bailey, if I recall correctly) at the end of the first half, and then couldn't manage a first down in the second half. It was all the bad things about Shockley in one half: indecisiveness, leading to hurried throws while falling backwards against pressure. David Greene had to make a heroic return to drive the team for a field goal to pull Shockley's chestnuts out of the fire. It was this memory of an inept Shockley keeping my brother and I from getting out of a cold rain that led me to opine last season that Blake Barnes would be the starter for Georgia by the end of the season. I didn't buy Mark Richt's argument that Shockley would be much better running an offense tailored to his skills, instead of the Greene offense. As is obvious now, I was wrong. Fast-forward to this year, when the same pessimism surrounds JTIII. Our last memory of him is the performance against Florida, but it bears recognition that JTIII was placed in an impossible position.

There's a great cover story in this month's Atlantic Monthly making the point that we have essentially beaten Al Qaeda. Their operations have been significantly curtailed and decentralized, their leadership are hiding in caves in Pakistan, and they have been unable to come close to duplicating their attacks on 9/11. The point of the story was that the greater risk for the United States now is overreacting to Al Qaeda by taking excessive countermeasures (spending $5B in response to the anthrax threat to the mail service, for instance), rather than Al Qaeda attacks themselves. Mark Richt would do well to read this article, because his play-calling against Florida last year was analogous in that the damage to Georgia was found more in his reaction to starting his back-up quarterback by throwing almost exclusively on obvious passing downs. If Mark can avoid such a fate this year, then JTIII will look much better.

It also stands to reason that JTIII, just like Shockley, will look better in an offense that is designed to his talents. Shockley looked good in the shotgun offense that Richt tweaked last year, and JTIII did not look as good in that offense. Even though Georgia probably used different plays in the Florida game last year, the offense was still used to practicing the Shockley offense. This year, JTIII will be running some version of the David Greene offense. If JTIII can make decisions and throw as accurately as Greene (not impossible), then Georgia will be fine and then they can start Stafford as a true sophomore, which would be a better situation.


Trey said...

JoeT3 was handcuffed by Richt's playcalling last year. Richt has even said as much. If Tereshinski manages the game, can find the open receiver, and get the offense in the right play, then UGA will have a fine season.

peacedog said...

Some of the other freaking out has ignored the fact that:

1) Stafford's new position on the depth chart is 3 (a or b, depending on how you want to look at it), which is higher than it has been previously (at least when "officially stated").

2) Coaching staff continue to praise Stafford - and he's apparently making strides. Richt said something to the effect that he just doesn't have everything at "100%" yet, and so on defense a complicated look could force him to hesitate and that can blow up a play. This is a shocking development to anyone who has watched football in the past 50 years.

3) There's talk that the staff seems a touch frustrated hat nobody has overtaken JTIII. I take this to mean they feel there re people with more talent who they expected to do it but haven't. But I don't think they're upset about JTIII being #1 right now, either.

4) We have some time before WKU (not to mention SC), the depth chart could change before then. The announcement last week was not the depth chart for this season (though it might end up that).

In all, reviewing everything, it appears the coaches are somewhat pleased with Stafford's progress. He had a down scrimmage last time out but I suspect it might have been due in part to the defense getting especially jiggy. Barnes, who has gotten press for "making strides" appears to have taken a step back since his great first scrimmage; I hate it for him but that's the way it is. So he's sort of falling down teh chart right now.

I'm still worried aobut the linebacking, but we can discuss this another day.

LD said...

OT, sorry...

Chelsea and Werder Bremen (and Levski Sofia). They didn't make things easy for ya', did they?

LD said...

But E might be the toughest group, IMO. Lyon, Real Madrid, Dinamo Kyiv and Steaua Bucharest. There are some cold weather games in the group phase, and Kiev and Bucharest are not fun places to go (and both are open air, unprotected stadia).