Saturday, August 23, 2008

Countdown to UGA-GSU: 7 Days

#7 Matthew Stafford, QB
6-3, 237, Dallas TX (Highland Park HS), Jr.
Stafford amassed a number of records and accolades in his time at Highland Park. Throwing for almost 9,000 yards and 92 touchdowns in 3 seasons as the starter, he was named Texas Player of the Year by many publications, and even National Player of the Year as a high school senior according to EA Sports. Upon arrival at UGA in 2006, he was widely regarded as the #1 quarterback prospect in America, and expectations were high. Those expectations haven't subsided since. While he competed for the #1 slot at quarterback heading into the 2006 season, senior Joe Tereshinski III ultimately won the job. After mop-up duty during the opener against Western Kentucky, Stafford burst on the scene when Joe T was injured in Columbia and was impressive in flashes during his road debut, although he did throw 3 interceptions. He didn't really start to show flashes of brilliance until the Auburn game that season, leading the Dawgs to a major upset (in a blowout) over the Top 5 Tigers in Auburn. During that freshman season, he completed 53% of his passes for 7 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The numbers were much better as a sophomore. While there were a few bumps in the road, the efficiency and game management really began to show itself in Jacksonville during the 2007 pasting of the Florida Gators. He finished his 2nd campaign by improving his completion percentage to 56%, and the TD/INT ratio to 19/10. His critics (of which there are many) point to his career being void of any 300 yard passing games. Most Dawg fans know that the emergence of the UGA running game (mostly Moreno) and the fact that Stafford has only played 2 seasons in Athens, are the biggest contributors to what some might perceive as "lackluster" numbers. Stafford should continue to improve by leaps and bounds heading into his 3rd season between the hedges. A 60% completion percentage, combined with another 2 to 1 TD/INT ratio should do just fine for the Dawgs to achieve what everyone expects (although his goals are much higher.) Stafford is on the preseason Davey O'Brien watch list, is just about everybody's 2nd team All-SEC selection in the preseason, shows up on a few Heisman Trophy lists, and is a likely 1st round NFL pick whenever he decides to come out.
Depth Chart Analysis: The unquestionable #1 at the quarterback position for the Dawgs. Richt believes that this is the year Stafford makes the next step, and he hasn't been shy to talk about it. "The Truth" (as the Georgia coaches have nicknamed him) may have actually had the most impressive fall camp of anyone on the roster. His incompletions have been few and far between during the scrimmages UGA has held thus far in August. Stafford has not only improved on the field, but he's become one of the vocal leaders of the program. Of course, every game hasn't been a highlight reel since he's been at UGA, and he'd probably be the first to tell you that. The loss of Sturdivant was huge, as we all know. But if the offensive line can play at the same level they did in 2007 (or better), expect Stafford and the Dawgs to have a very good year and "The Truth" will begin to silence his detractors.


Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention that he is 17-4 as a starter. Pretty darn good.

Especially when you consider the GPOOE lost 4 in one season as the starter.

I'm not sure Stafford will ever throw for a matter of fact, i hope he never has to.


It is so close now. So close. I've enjoyed the countdown.

JJ said...

Good point Strawberry. Yet another example of how he gets a bad rap.

I totally agree that I hope he never throws for 300. Every time I hear that argument my blood boils. 60% completion or better with about 200 yards passing (along with 200 yards rushing from Moreno and the stable) will be plenty.