Despite Greene's success, Shockley could see more timePosted: Saturday August 09, 2003 2:08 PM
Updated: Saturday August 09, 2003 5:37 PM
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) -- Winning the 2002 SEC championship with a two-quarterback system did not earn Georgia coach Mark Richt a permanent pass on questions about the system.
Richt said the issue of finding enough playing time for starter David Greene and backup D.J. Shockley may not seem as controversial now as last year. Even so, the coach said he knows what to expect from critics if the offense struggles in its Aug. 30 season opener at Clemson.
"If we get beat because either one of them plays crummy or makes one bad decision, it will be because of the two-quarterback system," Richt said. "I'd rather blame the system than a player, so thats OK."
Greene, a junior, is entering his third year as Georgia's starter. He shared time with Shockley last year after being named Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year in 2001.
Even though Greene was named first-team All-SEC by the conference coaches and The Associated Press last season, Richt has hinted that Shockley's playing time could increase this year.
The issue inspires heated debates outside the team, but all involved insist the competition is between good friends.
"The best thing is how good Shockley and I get along," Greene said. "It'd be different if it were two guys who didn't like each other and didn't respect each other's play. But we get along great."
Richt still spends much of his time on the practice fields and in team meetings with the quarterbacks.
"There's a camaraderie that I think is special in [quarterback meetings]. I just don't see those guys having problems. They really like each other. They respect each other."
The mutual respect is important, because if either player sparked a controversy with a negative comment about the two-quarterback system, there would be great potential for other players to begin taking sides behind Greene, the classic drop-back passer, and Shockley, who boasts a strong arm but also is a dangerous runner.
"All it takes is one of those two guys to say 'It stinks,' publicly or privately, and you have yourself a controversy," Richt said.
"The beauty of those two guys is they really love Georgia. They have a high respect for each others ability. They're mature guys who can handle the pounding from the media on the issue."
Tight end Ben Watson concurred. "I guess it's just a real tribute to what kind of guys they are, what kind of parents both of them have and how unselfish they are. They are both team-oriented guys and they put their personal agenda on the back burner."
As a 2000 Parade magazine high school All-America pick from North Clayton High School, Shockley was a top recruit who might already be a starter if he had signed with another school.
As Greene became established as the starter in 2001, when Shockley was held out as a redshirt, Shockley faced questions about a possible transfer. He considered transferring again after last season before he finally put the issue to rest.
Despite Greene's status, Shockley plans to earn more playing time this season. "I am looking forward to the expectation of my playing time growing," Shockley said Saturday. "There is an eagerness and an anxiousness to finding out how much I will play."
Shockley's playing time appeared to be on the rise before he suffered a broken foot against South Carolina early last season and missed four games.
Richt said Greene is established as the starter, but that Shockley is ready for more playing time.
"Our quarterback situation I believe is as good as any in the nation," Richt said. "I believe David Greene is one of the best players in the country today, and I believe Shockley has the potential to be just as good."
Other players seem comfortable with the system.
"We won a championship with them last year," Watson said. "I guess if it ain't broke, don't fix it."