To start, it’s quieter when the Georgia offense is at work on Woodruff Practice Fields. Right now, at least, the consensus observation among the Bulldogs’ offensive players is that Brian Schottenheimer is less intense and fiery than their previous offensive coordinator, Mike Bobo.
But they also know they’re not even halfway into spring practice. So that opinion is subject to change.
“There’s a big difference,” sophomore quarterback Brice Ramsey said of his new coach compared with his old one. “They’re definitely different guys. Bobo is an up-in-your-face, rah-rah guy. Honestly, coach Schottenheimer’s not. But I guarantee you Schotty has that in him.
“He’s being kind of slow with us right now because we’re still trying to pick everything up. But come fall, if we mess something up we’re messing up this spring, I’m sure he’ll rain some fire on us like Bobo used to. I think he’s just feeling his way through it right now.”
And so it goes. When the freshmen join the ranks this summer, about 50 or so offensive players will play for a different coach than they expected to only a short time before.
Bobo, the Bulldogs’ offensive coordinator since 2007 and quarterbacks coach since 2001, left to become the Colorado State head coach in December. Schottenheimer, an NFL coach for the previous 14 seasons, was hired to replace Bobo in January.
For some, the transition has been a walk in the park. For others, it has been a little more jarring.
Count Ramsey among the latter. He was recruited by Bobo out of Camden County High and spent last season as the Bulldogs’ primary backup under the longtime coordinator’s tutelage.
“I didn’t believe it at first,” Ramsey said, thinking to when he got the news. “I mean, I thought it was a possibility and I knew he deserved it, and I was happy for him. At the same time, I was just wondering what was going to happen with the offense and everything.”
Here Ramsey sort of half-laughs, half-snickers.
“I had just felt comfortable with the playbook right when Bobo left,” he said. “I was like, ‘yes, I got this.’ Then, sure enough, I’m in a new system.”
Schottenheimer’s “system” has been one of the more surprising revelations for the Bulldogs since they started getting into detailed preparations for spring ball. When “Schotty” was introduced as Georgia’s coordinator at a news conference in January, coach Mark Richt said that there wouldn’t be any major changes to the offense. Schottenheimer even went as far as saying that he felt it would be easier for him to learn the Bulldogs’ current system than it would for him to teach a new system to his new charges
“Yeah, that was myth,” junior guard Greg Pyke said with a laugh. “We’ve definitely had to learn a lot of new things. A lot of the things are the same, they’re just called different things. So it’s just about learning key words. That’s why you have spring ball.”
Said redshirt freshman quarterback Jacob Park: “He’s kind of teaching everybody the same offense from the ground up. There are similarities. But terminologies and things like that have changed.”
Such subtle changes are good for some, not so good for others. Park, who spent last season running the scout-team offense during a redshirt season, sees it as a bit of an equalizer in his competition with Ramsey and Faton Bauta. For some of Georgia’s offensive players, it has been a bit of an annoyance and the cause of extra work.
“It’s definitely different, and I’ve had to study a lot more probably than I’ve had to do since I was a freshman,” said tight end Jay Rome, a rising senior. “Everybody’s basically a freshman or a rookie in coach Schotty’s offense. From that aspect I’ve had to do a lot more to get everything down. … But we’re attacking it with enthusiasm, and I feel like the offense he’s implementing here is going to work real well.”
Said Ramsey: “That’s the offense that’s in now, and coach Schottenheimer does a great job of coaching it up and kind of dumbing it down for us and putting us in the right situations. So it’s not too bad.”
Nobody outside of the coaches’ offices at the Butts-Mehre football complex be certain what Georgia’s offense might look like in the final analysis, and they might not even be sure at this point. But Schottenheimer has a pretty extensive body of work to guess from.While his offense’s struggled at St. Louis, his last stop, because of quarterback-health issues, his general reputation in the NFL was for producing powerful, run-oriented offenses. At Georgia, it would appear he inherits parts that fit.
Seven starters return from a Bobo offense that set UGA records and led the SEC in scoring (41.3 ppg). In addition to four offensive linemen, those returnees tailback Nick Chubb, a 1,500-yard rusher and the SEC’s returning leader in touchdowns (16) and three other tailbacks.
So while the names of some plays may change, the Bulldogs expect to operate in much the same way.
“They’re kind of the same, really,” Pyke said of the offenses, not the coaches. “With the great backs we have and the great offensive line we have right now, we’ll do another good job this season.
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