Bobo takes control of Dawgs' offense

ATHENS – Mark Richt has officially thrown Mike Bobo into the fire.

Richt named Bobo, Georgia's sixth-year quarterbacks coach, the Bulldogs new offensive coordinator Tuesday.

Bobo's first test? The Dec. 30 Chick-fil-A Bowl against No. 14 Virginia Tech and a Hokie defense that is ranked first nationally in total defense and scoring defense.

"I told Coach Richt, ‘Don't judge me on this game right here,'" said Bobo, who was running the plays as Georgia's quarterback just nine years ago.

He takes over for 51-year-old Neil Callaway, who accepted the UAB head coaching job on Sunday. Callaway will remain with Georgia through the bowl game, but Bobo's duties will begin immediately because Callaway also is tending to business at UAB.

"A lot of people will probably be concerned because I'm only 32, but I've been around football my whole life with my dad being a coach," Bobo said. "I'm just going to do what I always do, which is work hard and prepare. I don't think anything I'm going to do is magical. It's going to come down to us coaching our positions individually and making sure (the players) are ready to execute."

Bobo's promotion has eased Richt's sense of urgency to hire a new coach to fill the offensive line opening left by Callaway. He now hopes to hire a new assistant by the second week of January, when coaches are allowed to go back on the road recruiting after a holiday dead period, he said.

Richt knew Monday that he would name Bobo his offensive coordinator, he said. In fact, he knew it well before that. The only question was timing.

"I've been knowing for a while that he's going to be an outstanding coordinator and play-caller," Richt said. "He can see the big picture. I just think he's got all the tools."

The move assures Bobo will continue on as Georgia's play-caller into 2007 and beyond, Richt said. He will remain in his game-day spot in the press box.

"He needs to be in the box," Richt said. "Some guys can do it from the ground very well. For me personally to be up there and see the whole thing, there's nothing like it. I never really liked calling plays from the ground. I think there's a great advantage to being upstairs."

Quarterback Matthew Stafford was happy with the decision, describing Bobo as aggressive.

"I think Matthew is aggressive. I would not call myself aggressive," Bobo said with a chuckle. "He's the one that wants to be aggressive, and he's probably trying to put that in my head."

Bobo was given the team's play-calling duties before the Nov. 25 Georgia Tech game, a 15-12 Bulldog win. Stafford was impressed with that game plan, he said, particularly with Bobo's work on the last drive. A 7-yard pass play to Mohamed Massaquoi to convert a crucial third down came on a play Bobo had just drawn up that week, Stafford said.

"He's pretty gutsy to have confidence in a play that we'd run for one week onthird-and-the-game," he said. "He trusts the players to execute, and it's a good feeling."

Bobo had three years of coaching experience before joining the Bulldogs' staff, two as an administrative and graduate assistant at Georgia and one as the quarterbacks coach at Jacksonville State.

"I'll be around to help some if he needs it," Richt said, "but I really want to give him this opportunity to spread his wings a little bit and see what he's got. He's got some good ideas."

Richt indicated last week that he was eager to expand Bobo's role to assure keeping him on staff, but Bobo had no plans to go anywhere, he said.

"I really wasn't looking to move anytime soon," he said. "Georgia is where I wanted to be."

As coordinator, Bobo will be in charge of organizing the offensive staff meetings and making sure all the offensive coaches are comfortable with the game plan, but his on-field duties will not change.

"I'm really going to lean heavily on this offensive staff and try to keep this thing going that Coach Richt has built the last six years," he said. "It's not about me or the other coaches, it's about getting (the players) ready to execute the plays that are called."

Mike Bobo
Born: April 9, 1974
High School: Thomasville
FYI: Bobo is fourth all-time at Georgia in career passing yards (6,334) and third in all-time passer efficiency (137.13) … He was named the 1993 state high school player of the year by USA Today after completing 143 passes for 2,477 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior. … He set a UGA record by completing 19 consecutive passes in the 1998 Outback Bowl.

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