Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Underappreciated quarterbacks

Friday July 7, 2006

UGASports.com is killing some time this summer by having folks votes on Georgia’s best player. Of course we know who will win, but the process spawns some other interesting discussions.

Take quarterbacks. Georgia hasn’t really produced a clear “best” quarterback, and not many Bulldog signal-callers have had much pro success. Not many fans were around to see Tarkenton and fewer were there for Rauch and others from that era. Georgia’s offense during the successful Dooley years was based on the run, so you had quarterbacks who could run the option and pass every now and then. Since the McDuffie revolution in 1991, we’ve had a slew of passers come through the program but none has really had much success beyond Georgia. Without some clear stars at quarterback, some of Georgia’s better players don’t get their due sometimes.

Some quarterbacks make it easy. Manning, Leinart, Vick, Frazier, Marino…they all showed obvious talent in college and could be appreciated for their roles on some very good teams. For those with less-obvious talent or in systems that don’t lend themselves to gaudy numbers, it’s very possible to underrate some very good players.

Buck Belue. Critics will be quick to point out that “all he did was hand off to Herschel.” Sure. He also brought Georgia back off the mat down 20-0 to Tech in 1978, and he saved the 1980 season with a scrambling pass against Florida. Quarterbacks like Belue who might have been overshadowed by a superstar tailback or a dominant defense often aren’t appreciated. Even David Greene – no one in Division 1 has had more wins as a starter – gets slighted because as some fans put it, “most of those wins belonged to the defense”. Unbelieveable. It’s possible to give too much credit to the quarterback; football is a team game of course, and rarely can a single player overcome serious deficiencies elsewhere. Still, the quarterback is a focal point in any system, and there are reasons why teams have a bit more success with some quarterbacks than with others.

Jay Barker is probably the poster boy for this type of quarterback in the era of modern offense. Alabama in the early 90s had a defense you simply didn’t score on, and they relied on the run within a conservative offense. Barker as quarterback was seen as a guy whose job was simply not to screw things up. His team bested those of higher-profile quarterbacks like Shane Matthews and Gino Torretta. Faced with a deficit against Georgia in 1994, Barker showed off his arm and outdueled Eric Zeier in a comeback win. He finally received some overdue recognition as a senior with SEC and national honors, but you probably won’t find Barker on most people’s list of the Top 5 SEC quarterbacks of the 1990s. He should be high up on such a list.

Ohio State’s Craig Krenzel is a more recent quarterback from this mold. He was the man who handed off to Maurice Clarett, and most assumed that Ohio State was much too one-dimensional to survive from week to week. But they kept winning, and Krenzel was surprisingly at the center of a lot of plays that kept the Buckeye’s record perfect. In the end, it was fitting that this unheralded quarterback was the leading rusher in the national title game and scored twice. He was only 7-21 passing, but five of those completions were for first downs. Clutch. Clarett said, “He maybe doesn’t have the best arm out there, and he’s maybe not as fast. But, I’m telling you, when it comes down to it, he can play. I’d take him over anybody in the world.” He was talking about Krenzel, but he gave a perfect description for this type of underappreciated quarterback. They’re not superstars, but they’re leaders and, when it comes down to it, winners.

Comments are closed.