Georgia will start Faton Bauta at quarterback on Saturday against Florida, according to a Thursday report by Gridiron Now. Anthony Dasher, who covers Georgia for Rivals, also wrote Thursday that multiple sources told the site on Tuesday that Bauta would start for the Bulldogs; meanwhile, Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's DawgNation reports that he's gotten "conflicting information" on the situation.
Georgia head coach Mark Richt told reporters earlier this week that three Georgia QBs — Bauta, incumbent starter Greyson Lambert, and presumptive QB-of-the-future Brice Ramsey — have all repped with the first-team offense at practice this week. So it would not be a total shock for the Bulldogs to start Bauta, despite Lambert, a redshirt junior who transferred from Virginia during the offseason, starting every game for Georgia this year and Ramsey, a consensus four-star player in Georgia's 2013 recruiting class who is now a redshirt sophomore, playing sparingly in five games in relief of Lambert.
But saying that Bauta has had limited experience for Georgia would be stretching the definition of limited. In his four years as a Bulldog, Bauta has redshirted, completed four of five passes for 48 yards (against Troy and Charleston Southern in 2014), and recorded 10 carries for 46 yards and two touchdowns.
None of those stats have come in 2015.
Bauta's high school career was also a curious one: After starting and starring at Brookyln's Poly Prep early in that career, his family (which produced four other Division I football players) moved to South Florida — and Bauta enrolled at William T. Dwyer High, where he succeeded then-Florida quarterback Jacoby Brissett as Dwyer's starting quarterback. Despite interest from schools as high-profile as Alabama as an athlete, Bauta held firm to a desire to play quarterback in college, and ended up signing with Georgia and enrolling early in 2012.
Bauta, who reportedly ran the 40-yard dash in 4.54 seconds in high school, is reputedly the most athletic of Georgia's quarterbacks. Whether that's simply by default — neither Lambert nor Ramsey is much of a runner, and both have combined to lose 33 yards on 19 carries, with sacks included, in 2015 — remains to be seen. But it should be noted that Florida has struggled with mobile quarterbacks in 2015, allowing Tennessee's Joshua Dobbs to rush for 136 yards, permitting Mississippi's Chad Kelly to accrue 40 rushing yards, and giving up a crucial run to Kentucky's Patrick Towles.
If Georgia believes starting Bauta will allow it to be more effective on offense than it has been since losing Nick Chubb on the first play from scrimmage against Tennessee — the Dawgs averaged just 3.86 yards per play against Missouri last week — then starting him obviously makes sense.
Bauta sharing time with Lambert, something that had been rumored even before Gridiron Now's report, might still be more likely than the Dawgs revamping their offense entirely around a new passer, though. After all, Bauta being involved in any way probably forces Florida to account for a more mobile quarterback in its preparation, rather than counting on Georgia relying on a pocket passer.
In case you thought Jim McElwain's first trip to the World's Largest Outdoor Party was going to be a sedate soirée, you were sorely mistaken.