David Greene’s departure left Georgia with a big hole. D.J. Shockley can’t waste any time trying to fill it.
Shockley and the 13th-ranked Bulldogs face a good test right out of the gate in their 2005 season with a matchup Saturday against No. 18 Boise State.
As a three-year backup to Greene, the winningest quarterback in Division I-A history, Shockley played in 26 games with no starts and completed 67 of 133 passes for 967 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also rushed for 329 yards and three scores.
Shockley saw his most significant time at quarterback in last year’s regular-season finale against Georgia Tech. He stepped in for Greene at the end of the first quarter and struggled, completing 5 of 16 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown in the Bulldogs’ 19-13 home win.
“Shock right now is spectacular,” said Joe Tereshinski III, likely to be Shockley’s backup this season. “He’s come out and worked every single day, in the meeting room and out here on the field. With his leadership skills, I mean right now he’s at the top of his game since he’s been here and he’s ready for it.”
Shockley may need to be at his best to keep the Bulldogs offense on pace with the Broncos, the nation’s second-highest scoring team last season.
Boise State quarterback Jared Zabransky is the WAC’s preseason offensive player of the year. He threw for 2,927 yards and 16 touchdowns last year, and ran for another 13 scores.
Just as the Broncos are with Zabransky, the Bulldogs seem comfortable with Shockley as their leader.
Georgia is concerned with keeping him on the field, especially since Tereshinski has never played quarterback collegiately and only has special-teams experience. Shockley, whose willingness to run leaves him exposed to big hits at times, missed four games in 2002 with a foot injury and was lost with a knee injury six games into the 2003 season.
Making Shockley’s transition more difficult are the departures of top receivers Reggie Brown and Fred Gibson, both selected in the NFL draft. Sean Bailey and Bryan McClendon look to fill that void along with junior tight end Leonard Pope, who had 25 receptions for 482 yards and six touchdowns last season.
Shockley does have the benefit of a solid rushing attack. The running back duo of Thomas Brown and Danny Ware combined for 1,567 yards and 12 TDs last season.
Georgia’s defense, meanwhile, has a tough task in trying to replace some standouts on defense, including safety Thomas Davis and defensive lineman David Pollack. Senior Greg Blue takes over for Davis, and Quentin Moses replaces Pollack on the line.
“I’m under a lot of pressure,” Moses said. “A lot of people are looking at me to replace Pollack. But this was a guy who accomplished so much. It’s not like he was just a good player. Let’s say he was just someone who had a good, productive senior season and went on the NFL. Those sort of guys leave every year and someone else steps up.”
While the Bulldogs are coming off a 9-2 campaign, the Broncos went 11-0 in 2004 before a 44-40 loss to Louisville in the Liberty Bowl ruined their perfect season.
Zabransky is among 20 returning players who started at least one game with that team. Boise State now enters a season nationally ranked for the first time in school history.
“We’re trying to get better and reach the next level,” said Broncos offensive tackle Daryn Colledge, a fourth-year starter. “We’re not just trying to win the WAC.”
Boise State, which has never faced the Bulldogs and has never even played a game in Georgia, has gone 0-3 all-time against SEC schools.