Han Vance on Georgia football: With mixed results, Georgia has had several one-year starters at quarterback during my time closely following the Dawgs (I first enrolled in Athens fall of 1990). I have written about the UGA football program for 13 years now, for media: BIG HAIRY BLAWG; Bulldawg Illustrated; UGA Wire, part of the USA TODAY Sports Network.
Jamie Newman takes the reins this spring, a graduate of private Atlantic Coastal Conference member school, Wake Forest, of the state of North Carolina. The former Demon Deacon is the presumed starter, competing with a former walk-on, a true freshman and a kid that had brain surgery for the key position.
Fact is: Kirby Smart is a very shabby 8-5 in his career without Jake Fromm. Fromm departed early for the NFL amidst offensive changes galore in the Classic City. 4-of-5 starters on the Great Wall of Georgia left the program recently, three going pro early and one returning to his home in Tennessee. A year after successful offensive coordinator Jim Chaney was, likewise, lured back to Tennessee, unsuccessful play caller James Coley was jettisoned: first “promoted” to co-head coach and then compelled to accept a lateral position at my grandpa’s school, Texas A&M.
Nobody much blamed Kirby for the bad non-hire – everybody should have. Instead of hiring a legit talented offensive coordinator, Kirby promoted from within and it majorly backfired. A 12-win team may not feel like a failure to a fanbase used to winning 10 and the Outback Bowl, but my assertion is UGA totally wasted a year with the best defense in the country, the best O-line in the country, a final season for the top NFL running back to-be drafted, scoring sporadically.
D’Andre Swift is gone, solid senior Brian Herrien is gone, the line is untested as a unit at best, only returning the center, who actually struggled to snap the ball well throughout chunks of the season. Yet, per always, optimism abounds.
Losing excellent offensive line architect Sam Pittman to be head coach at Arkansas is somewhat offset by the solid hire of former Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke, to run the trenches. I have always felt Kirby was WAY out of his depth in making decisions about offense, speaking like a one-note defensive coordinator to the media most of his head coaching career, or consistently talking about 17 year olds he admired instead of the actual current college men he was coaching.
He yielded to the actual experts.
Todd Monken is a proven successful offensive coordinator. He will get the athletes in space. The top running back returning has never cracked the 100-yard game threshold or busted any long runs in college, so thinking Georgia will automatically dominate on the ground like in the now-ended Gurley-Chubb-Sony-Swift era is extremely hopeful.
And today’s topic: one-year starter DJ Shockley did win the SEC but couldn’t complete the big run by losing close to old Auburn late at home and also blowing the lone Sugar Bowl ever played in Atlanta (due to Hurricane Katrina). His replacement due to injury for the Cocktail Party that year – JT III – lost that annual biggest game and looked to be a one-year starter to begin the next year. He blew a near-perfect half in the Tennessee game in Athens and never recaptured the early magic, as the Vols regained clear momentum in the SEC East series.
Nice guy Joe Cox took over after the Stafford era and failed to reach double digit wins in his only year. Greyson Lambert actually went 11-2 as a starter at UGA, the best winning percentage of the list. He was dumped by Kirby for NFLer Jacob Eason, who captained the team to an 8-5 failure of a season.