Shockley gets chance in 2 QB system

Richt has set himself up for second-guessing if problems develop, but he says he is convinced both quarterbacks are NFL-caliber players. He says it only makes sense to attempt to utilize both Greene, a pure drop-back passer, and Shockley, who brings the added dimension of speed.

ATHENS, Ga. - D.J. Shockley can't argue with those who might suggest that as the 2001 SEC Freshman of the Year, David Greene should not have to share playing time at quarterback.

As a true freshman last season, Shockley tried to look objectively at the quarterback situation. He reached the same conclusion: The job belonged to Greene.

Greene looked like he was putting a long-term hold on the starting job when he set Georgia records for most yards and touchdowns passing by a freshman. David had a phenomenal season,'' Shockley said. "You can't take that from him. Then you look at how everything was going and the situation he was in where he was in the starting position and there really wasn't a chance for me. At that time, that was a concern.''

Shockley didn't want to spend four years doing little more than just watching Greene play, so Shockley and his father, North Clayton High School coach Don Shockley, began making some phone calls during the 2001 season.

"It was a real situation,'' said D.J. Shockley of his interest in transferring to another school. The Shockleys examined the quarterback depth charts at Maryland and North Carolina and likely would have picked one of those schools if not for a promise from Georgia coach Mark Richt.

"When it came about, Coach Richt made it real clear, he took me aside and said ‘You're going to have an opportunity to play, even though David had such a great season, because you have athletic ability and talent,' '' Shockley said.

End of transfer plans.

"Just hearing I was going to have the opportunity was all I needed to hear,'' Shockley said.

So now Shockley and Greene are one week into their new co-existence in the two-quarterback system. Richt has been clear that Greene is the starter, but the coach has been equally firm in stressing that he plans to play Shockley early in every game.

The hope is both quarterbacks will be happy and productive. The reality is that no one, not Richt, Greene or Shockley, knows how this plan will play out.

Can two quarterbacks be happy?

I don't know,'' said Shockley with a smile. "We'll see.''

Greene is saying all the right things about putting the team first. Some players in his situation might be grumbling — if only in private. Greene won the job over Cory Phillips and Shockley last year and then completed 59.3 percent of his passes in leading Georgia to an 8-4 record.

Though overshadowed in the league by such quarterbacks as Florida's Rex Grossman, Tennessee's Casey Clausen and Mississippi's Eli Manning, Greene was named to The Sporting News Freshman All-America second team and he was the overwhelming pick as the top freshman in the Southeastern Conference.

Greene is not griping about a still-undefined plan to rotate quarterbacks this season, but he admits he does not know what to expect.

You've got to accept your role on the team,'' Greene said. "Being bitter about the situation isn't going to make the situation any better. Moping around is not going to help the team camaraderie. You've just got to take your role on the team and do the best you can with it.''

Richt has tried to assure players and fans that he has experience in keeping two quarterbacks happy from his days as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at Florida State.

"We had Brad Johnson and Casey Weldon that graduated the same year and both were draft picks,'' Richt said. "That worked out well. "Peter Tom Willis and Chip Ferguson were roommates and teammates and competed against each other their entire careers. So I've had experience with guys in the same class competing against each other.''

From 1987 to 2000, Richt sent five Florida State quarterbacks into the NFL.

Still, this two-quarterback system is new to Georgia, where two players haven't shared the job on a regular basis since the days of Ray Goff and Matt Robinson in the mid-1970s and Jeff Pyburn and Buck Belue in 1979.

Will Greene receive the bulk of the playing time as the starter, leaving Shockley to play only in certain situations?

Or might the two rotate in a more even distribution of snaps? If so, how will that affect Greene's rhythm as a passer?

"We haven't established what the role might be so be so I'm not sure,'' said Shockley, who added "every other series'' would provide him the playing time he hopes to earn.

Greene said two quarterbacks can be happy "as long as the team is winning.''

"No matter what, football is a team game and there comes a point in time where you've got to put the team first and worry about yourself after that,'' Greene said. "I think as long as the team is winning, I'll be happy.''

Greene and Shockley won't be the only players dealing with the quarterback issue. Other players at Georgia's preseason media day last week quickly learned that the quarterback competition is the hot story of the year.

At one point, receiver Fred Gibson rolled his eyes when asked about the quarterbacks. "I've been asked about that all day!'' Gibson. "Both of them are good, point blank.''

Says Richt: "I haven't been in a room where the question (about playing two quarterbacks) wasn't asked.''

Richt has set himself up for second-guessing if problems develop, but he says he is convinced both quarterbacks are NFL-caliber players. He says it only makes sense to attempt to utilize both Greene, a pure drop-back passer, and Shockley, who brings the added dimension of speed.

I would have to think if a defense has to prepare for David and Shockley, it's just going to take a little more time and a little more thought and everybody only has so many hours to prepare for a game,'' Richt said. "If we can give (teams) one more thing to concern themselves with, they may not get quite the bead on us as if we just had one guy.''

Richt says he has an idea how the playing time will be distributed but admits "I don't know for certain.''

"It could be by series, it could be by field position, it could be by down and distance,'' Richt said. "It could be a combination of those things. I've got to find out what is going to be the best way for us to move the ball in certain situations, and if Shockley being in the game will help us, then we'll do that. If it's just making sure he gets playing time, it may be by series.''

Added Richt: "I think it can work, I really do, if we don't make a bigger deal of it than it really is.''

In any case, Shockley says there will be no more talk of transferring.

"All I've been waiting for is the opportunity,'' he said. "I get a chance to do something to show my ability.''

Charles Odum can be reached here: >

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