ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia coaches haven’t offered much publicly on the competition for the No. 2 quarterback job.
Each contender exudes a different vibe with one practice to go before Saturday’s G-Day Game.
Brice Ramsey is generally upbeat.
“I feel great about how my spring went,” the redshirt freshman said. “I’ve definitely excelled on the field and in the film room. That redshirt year helped me out so much.”
Faton Bauta is candid when asked what he’s learned about his game so far this spring.
“I’ve learned I have a lot to work on still, believe it or not,” the redshirt sophomore said. “I learned that I do have some inconsistencies in my game and I have learned that it’s going to be a process to fix it and it’s definitely not an easy task.”
It’s no surprise that both want to be more consistent with fifth-year senior Hutson Mason in the starting spot.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Ramsey was 9 of 21 for 114 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in the second spring scrimmage last Saturday.
The 6-3, 216-pound Bauta was 1 of 5 for 1 yard and an interception. Each was 2 of 11 in the first scrimmage.
“There is no set guy right now,” Mason said of the race between Ramsey and Bauta.
Ramsey, a drop-back passer, has the strongest arm on the team.
Bauta is athletic and has a work ethic that those around the program say rivals former Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray.
“We call him the Tim Tebow of UGA,” receiver Blake Tibbs said of Bauta, who rushed for 30 yards on four carries last season.
They are competing not only to be the backup this year, but also to get ahead for the starting job in 2015.
“It’s a unique situation just because you’ve got two guys that bring two different things to the table,” Mason said. “It really just depends on which way you want to go with your offense.”
Ramsey said offensive coordinator Mike Bobo told him his arm is about the strongest he’s seen at Georgia since Matthew Stafford, who finished his Georgia career in 2008 and was picked No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft.
“He tells me every day a strong arm is nothing without the mental aspect of football,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey is trying to make better decisions on where to go with the ball.
“Sometimes I miss the easy throws getting too excited,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey didn’t play football until a coach saw how strong his arm was in an eighth grade P.E. class in Kingsland, where the Maryland-born Ramsey moved to from Chicago.
“The next week, spring ball was coming up and I was on the field,” Ramsey said.
His father and uncle played soccer at Wingate (N.C.) University. The uncle, David Hayes, played for Major League Soccer’s D.C. United and Chicago Fire.
Brice also played soccer at Camden County, where he was also a kicker/punter on the football team.
Georgia offered him a scholarship his junior season before he ever started a game at quarterback. He committed at Dawg Night after hitting the camp circuits in the summer after his freshman and sophomore years.
“We had seen him a bunch,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “We knew he was running an offensive system (the Wing-T) that we weren’t going to see all of the things that we needed to see but by coming to camp we were able to see the raw ability to throw the football, his size, even the size of his hands.”
At his request, Bauta has worn a regular jersey in the Bulldogs’ two scrimmages, making him open to getting tackled.
“The biggest reason is you want to treat it like as much of a game as possible,” said Bauta, who moved to West Palm Beach, Fla., before his senior high school season after playing for a private school in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“It’s a game, I might as well go live and not have any questions about whether I was sacked here or sacked there. ... It helps with the whole mentality of, ‘Play the game. Don’t worry about anything else, don’t worry about guys tagging off on you.’”
Ramsey turns 19 Friday, but doesn’t sound like he has anything big planned for his birthday.
“Just getting some rest for the G-Day game,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey was the only other quarterback besides Mason to work with the first-team offense in last Saturday’s scrimmage, two players said.
“I’m just out there every day just thinking of the things I can get better on and just trying to improve my game,” Ramsey said. “Not worried about where I’m at on the depth chart.”
As of now, Bobo said he isn’t tailoring the offense to take advantage of Bauta’s ability to run.
“It’s not like you’ve got Nick Marshall or Michael Vick, and you’re going to tailor your whole offense around that guy,” Bobo said. “I’m not going to change everything we do to center it around the quarterback when we’re centered around more of a run-game and that sort of thing. If that guy becomes the guy, and he’s the best guy, then you’ll see things more tailored for him.”
Mason said he isn’t sure if the battle for the backup quarterback spot will continue into the summer or if it will be settled after spring practice concludes.
“Coach Bobo knows the pro-style offense and that’s what he’s coached for years,” Mason said, “and so it’s about who can adapt to his system.”