Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Countdown to the Countdown: #3 (Eric Zeier)

Friday, May 29th marks 99 days until Georgia and Oklahoma State kick off their 2009 seasons in Stillwater. Leading up that date, we are counting down the Top 25 UGA football players of the past 25 seasons.

3. Eric Zeier (1991-1994)
  • Led UGA in passing for 4 straight seasons (1991 through 1994)
  • All-time leader at UGA for single-season pass completions: 1993 (269)
  • 2nd most career pass completions in UGA history: 838
  • Has the top 6 best single-game passing yardage performances in UGA history
  • Has the top 2 best single-season passsing yardage totals in UGA history: 1993 (3,525); 1994 (3,396)
  • 2nd most career passing yards in UGA history (11,153)
  • 2nd best single-season completion percentage in UGA history: 1993 (63%)
  • Best career completion percentage in UGA history: 60%
  • Tied for most single-season touchdown passes in UGA history: 1993 (24); 1994 (24) - tied with DJ Shockley (2005)
  • 2nd most career touchdown passes in UGA history: 67
  • 4th highest career pass efficiency rating in UGA history: 137.08
  • 4th best in SEC history in career total offense (10,841 yards)
  • 4th best in SEC history in career passing yardage (11,153 yards)
  • 544 yards passing vs Southern Miss in 1993 (UGA and SEC record for passing yards in a single game)
  • All-SEC: 1992 (AP 2nd team, Coaches' 2nd team); 1993 (AP 2nd team, Coaches' 2nd team); 1994 (AP 2nd team, Coaches' 2nd team)
  • All-American: 1994 (AFCA Coaches', Playboy)

Zeier was the quarterback during the most prolific passing era in UGA history, which certainly contributed to his monster statistics. But make no mistake, he was one of the most talented and highly regarded quarterbacks ever to play in Athens, and still is to this day.

After transferring to Marietta High School from Germany, where his father was an Army Colonel, Zeier became one of the first high school players ever to graduate early to enroll at college in time for spring practice. (Of course, that is more commonplace now.) His first start as a true freshman was under the lights at Sanford Stadium against the Top 10 Clemson Tigers in 1991, a game the Dawgs won by 2 touchdowns. He'd start the final 7 games of that season at quarterback for Georgia, and every game after that until he graduated. Zeier never lost to Georgia Tech during his career. He finished his career with 67 UGA records, and 18 SEC records, before being selected in the 3rd round of the 1995 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. He'd play 6 seasons in the NFL for 4 teams (including the Atlanta Falcons), before retiring to pursue various business ventures. Currently, Zeier is the color analyst for the Georgia Bulldog Radio Network for all football games.


Hobnail_Boot said...

So you've got what, Pollack and Hearst left?

Guessing you're not impressed with the most recent #1 NFL draft pick.

JJ said...

Good job, Hobnail. The only question left is who's 1st and who's 2nd out of that group.

I probably should have had Stafford somewhere in there. I'm plenty impressed with him, and always have been. That would have been a controversial pick for sure that would have generated some discussion.

Otto said...

EZ.... making bald college kids feel cool for years!!

I don't think Stafford deserves to be on the list. His numbers don't back it up. This is not a 'who has the best potential' countdown.

JJ said...

Actually, Stafford's career numbers in 3 years put him right up there just a notch below Greene and Zeier on the all-time list of UGA quarterbacks. Like him or not, Stafford stayed on the field and played his ass off, put up great numbers and managed to steer clear of the Athens Clarke County police department in the process (which sadly, means something in this day and age.) I think he was also was 3rd on the all-time wins list as a UGA starter at QB behind Greene and Buck for his career. Not too shabby.

DRM said...

How different would the numbers have been if the wr would have actually caught the ball staffords freshman year.

JJ said...

Good point DRM .....unfortunately I don't think many fans appreciate what Stafford meant to the program. He was never going to be the most popular player as long as Moreno was on the roster, so naturally he was underappreciated.

I believe we're all about to find out very, very soon just how valuable he was to this team.

Worm said...

Stafford should have been on this list for sure. QB is the most important position player on the field. The lack of titles and stuff was not an offense problem. His numbers are there. And I agree with JJ about how we will miss him very soon.

Otto said...

Maybe we will miss him maybe not?
I'm not going to throw Cox under the bus beore he has a chance to lead the 09 team. There is no doubt that MS was the most talented QB in UGA history but with that in mind what did it bring UGA? I know that he had a mismatched Oline throughout his career and his wr's did'nt help him but he also had some very questionable plays himself. His td/int ratio left you wanting as did his completion %. He had HUGE int's in HUGE games that cost UGA bigtime. I can see giving him a pass on those his Fr yr....not against GT and UF his Jr yr though.

Maybe I'm being alittle harsh but I can say the same to ppl that are discounting Cox before he gets his chance.
I can live without the ONE jaw droping pass he completed per game that left you saying WOW along with the TWO hair pulling, throw it to triple coverage INT's that left you saying WTF.
Guys, I will admitt that I am sorta playing devils advocate here(i have defended MS to Bop for the past 3 yrs)but I do get tired of the UGA fans that think MS is the best thing since boiled peanuts!!

JJ said...

I'm not looking to throw Cox under the bus either. It isn't Cox specifically that I have a problem with. It is Cox's limited skills combined with a potentially lousy defense, combined with zero running game. Stafford (and Moreno) overcame alot last year and the Dawgs still won 10 games. Terrible defense (worst I've ever seen), significant injuries along the OL, etc. Could Cox have done the same in the same situation? Would UGA have been able to win 6 games last year with Cox (or anybody else on the roster) under center? Doubtful in my opinion.

You're right, Stafford never won a title at UGA. Of course, it isn't like SEC championships have been growing on trees in Athens in the past 25 years. Greene got 1, Shockley got 1. That's it. Of course, UGA did finish 2nd in the nation in 2007 with Stafford starting all 13 games. Only one QB in the history of the program during the forward pass era can say that they did better, and that QB was more famous for turning around and putting the ball in somebody's gut than he was for throwing it. If I wanted to play devil's advocate, I could tell you that during that particular season('07), Stafford was the most successful QB in the history of the program. (Depending on the criteria we're using.) But, I won't tell you that because it would be a ridiculous statement. But is it ridiculous to say that he's one of the Top 25 players of the last 25 years based on that same criteria, and where he stands in the record books? Personally, I don't believe so.

Otto said...

you are more than likely right. It is a shame that #7 and #24 did not have a normal UGA Oline and they had the worst D in a decade as well. Who knows what would have happened with those 2 things corrected.
I guess I should not have said in my original post that MS's NUMBERS are not good enough to be in MY top 25. I was really thinking that his mistakes and decision making never improved like i wanted.
I don't know what UGA's record would have been last yr if Cox was under center. I do know that he looked better than MS against Colorado in 06 but then turned around and played horrible against Ole Miss the next week.

I also think it is very fair to say he deserves to be on the list. I'm sure that 8 out 10 Dawg fans would put him on the list. In my mind he just did not live up to the hype. Of course if he stayed one more yr you never know.
And no I am not upset that he left early....wise choice on his part.

I guess part of me is just glad to see the STAR studded era has moved on if that makes any sense. I really hope to see the guys playing for the guys lined up beside them....I think that has been missing lately IMO. I'm ready to get back to a ball control offense and a nasty defense that has been UGA's staple for success......hopefully the D gets back on track. That is the most important thing.

JJ said...

Otto - please remember that I am a long time Matt Stafford apologist. My view is a tad bit jaded.

I'm also extremely pessimistic about the 2009 season, which is why I'm placing so much emphasis on who's going to replace guys like Stafford and Moreno.

You make some very good points in your last paragraph. Where I disagree is the idea that a team without "stars" is capable of winning championships. The '02 and '05 teams were full of stars. Especially on defense. Pollack, Sullivan, Boss, Sean Jones....all stars. In '05 Quentin Moses had a monster year and UGA had the best secondary I can remember.

I don't see it in this year's team. Should be a good offensive line (although not great as I thought they'd be, since half of them haven't seen the practice field since last November.) You have one excellent player at a skill position, and then it drops off the table. I hate to say it, but the defense on paper looks like it could actually be in worse shape coming into the season than last year. If that is possible.

I do see alot of talent coming up that apparently isn't ready to contribute yet. Although I was saying the same thing last year. From the looks of things those same guys I was talking about last year still aren't ready, and that in itself is a negative proposition on a number of levels. Either they aren't developing properly or they aren't as good as we were made to believe they were.

For the first time in a while, I'm actually concerned that UGA doesn't have enough talent to compete in the SEC in a season. Combine that with some serious coaching deficiencies still in place, and you have a recipe for disaster.

RB said...
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RB said...

Wow - putting EZ on the list got everyone fired up about Stafford. I am not Stafford's biggest fan....I wish he was a better "leader" and was able to get us to Atlanta for a championship game. But, I don't think the Dawg fans realize how good he was. Dude was the #1 overall pick in the draft and he is not one of the top 25 players at UGA in the last 25 years??? For my own personal list, I would have to disagree. Especially when the biggest knock on him is that he didn't ever lead us to a championship. Like JJ said, How many QB's have since Belue? Exactly 2... Zeier is up there for stats - shouldn't Staff be up there based on stats too? I think Staff is getting a bad rap because of the expectations placed on him before he ever stepped on campus. Let's face facts - his FR year - we were in the only rebuilding year of Richt's tenure... His SO year - we ended up #2 in the country and NOBODY wanted to play us... And his JR year - we had the worst D that UGA has seen in a decade and the worst luck of all time with injuries on the OL, yet we still won 10 games becasue of 7 and 24.

I am as disappointed as much as anyone that we won ZERO titles with 24 and 7, but I will say that '07 was one of the greatest times I have ever had watching a Dawgs team.

JJ said...

Good post, RB. Can't disagree at all. If I had any cajones at all, I would have put Stafford in the list.

Otto said...


Im not saying UGA has not had stars before #7 and #24. I also think we have some stars now that are similar to 02 & 05(Rennie, Owens, Atkins, Green, Boling, Sturdivent ect) I am saying that they have not had them at the two most prolific positions on a team. MS was a star before he got on campus. He was going to be 'the first pick in the draft' whenever he decided to enter. He was a WAY bigger star on campus and across the nation than D. Greene. KM is the biggest star that has been on campus in the CMR era IMO. Yes, even moreso than who will be #1 tomorrow. Plus, Pollack is a one of a kind kid. What made him a star is the exact same thing that made him act like he wasnt a star(same w/ Greene)?????? That might not make any sense i don't know.
I just think there was to much focus on #7 and #24 the past two yrs thats all.
I also think #24 had a much bigger impact on the offense than #7 did. That is who UGA is going to mss in 09. I'm not talking about his yrds either....I think the three headed monster we will see in 09 will get yrds....much like KL,TB and DW did 3 yrs ago. KM brought the 'IT' factor that does not translat on the stat sheet. He will be missed.

I share your concern about 09. We might get the doors blown off us in Stillwater and start out 1-3.....who knows but CMR's history says that we will win 9-10 and be a top 10 team. I think it is a critical yr though.

The last half of 07 was the best I ever saw a UGA team play....it was something.
I'll still take DJ over MS to lead my team though.

Bop said...

Remember when you would expect Zeier to do something to win a game. You just felt he would carry Georgia at times. That same feeling never entered my mind with 7. As a matter of a fact, quite the opposite. I remember the feeling of shock when he made that play to beat Kentucky. 'Wow, he actually came through in the clutch' were my thoughts.

Just one guys jaded opinion so take it fwiw.

JJ said...

Yeah, I remember always expecting Zeier to do something to lead UGA to a win late in a game. It just NEVER happened. He'd always get in position but couldn't close the deal. Not always his fault of course.

I guess it is just perception. Zeier didn't have the measureables (or the supporting cast) so he got a pass. Stafford got no slack (and rightfully so), even though on more than one occasion he led the Dawgs down the field to win a game late.

Bop said...

Very true. Remember jj, I'm jaded.