Thursday, December 21, 2000
Phillips getsHad the Georgia football team won one more game, perhaps Quincy Carter's postseason participation wouldn't be spent patrolling the sidelines.
The sophomore will open
at quarterback against Virginia
in Sunday's Oahu Bowl
By Paul Arnett
Instead of playing Virginia in the Oahu Bowl on Christmas Eve, the Bulldogs might have slipped into a later time slot, giving Carter that critical week of rehabilitation.
But the fates weren't kind.
Carter missed four of the final five games of the season, first with a shoulder problem, and then with ligament damage in his thumb that put his right hand in a cast until last week.
Georgia head coach Jim Donnan all but ruled out Carter for the third annual bowl game, saying he would make it official later today.
"It's not that big of a thing because we've been in this situation for the last five weeks," Donnan said. "We'll plan to go on without him just like we did the last three games of the season.
"He still isn't able to grasp the football with his right hand. If we were playing a week from now, it might be different. But we're not. We'll plan to start Cory Phillips."
Not that there's anything wrong with that. The sophomore from Hartwell, Ga., filled in capably for Carter, who was considered a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate at the start of the season.
In Phillips' four starts against Kentucky, Auburn, Ole Miss and Georgia Tech, the Bulldogs finished 2-2, including an OT loss against the Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
He has appeared in nine games this year, completing 89 of 158 passes for 1,093 yards and eight touchdowns. On the downside, Phillips also has a penchant for throwing interceptions. He has six, including two in the 27-15 loss to Georgia Tech to close out the regular season.
In that game, Phillips managed 435 yards, completing 36 of 62 passes, but he also had an interception returned 70 yards for a touchdown to help the Yellow Jackets to a 27-3 halftime lead.
"He also threw for 400 yards in his start at Kentucky to help get us a much-needed win," Donnan said.
"We're a different team when he's in there because he can't scramble the way Quincy can. But he's a very good drop-back passer, who is capable of making big plays."
In the win over Kentucky, Phillips not only passed for 400 yards, he also tied a school record with four touchdown passes. He shares the mark with Mike Bobo, Johnny Raunch and Eric Zeier.
Donnan can only hope Phillips has similar results against a Virginia team that Georgia beat two years ago in the Peach Bowl. Phillips watched from the sidelines that December evening, but believes playing the Cavaliers again on Sunday gives his team something of a comfort zone.
"What I remember most about that game was falling behind 21-0," Phillips said during yesterday's Oahu Bowl press conference at Planet Hollywood. "That certainly got our attention. We know they have a good team. Like us, they'll be very emotional. They'll want to go out with a win, just like we want for our coaches."
Like most of his teammates, Phillips wanted to see Donnan coach in the Oahu Bowl. Donnan recruited Phillips out of Hart County High where he lettered three years in football and was captain of the team. He also ran track and wrestled. But don't look for him to be in the open field that often. He prefers to pass, rather than run.
"Our offense is a little different when I'm in there because I don't like to run," Phillips said, then smiled.
"I'm planning on being the starter this weekend, which is really exciting.
"Being here has already been a lot of fun. It's a beautiful place. We plan to enjoy ourselves while we're here, but we also came out to win a football game. I'm looking forward to starting in my first bowl game. If Quincy can't go, I'm there."
Whether Carter returns for his senior season is open to debate. Right now, Phillips is the No. 1 guy, but that could change in the spring. As good as Phillips may be, he's still not in Carter's class.
"I've learned a lot from him," Phillips said. "He's very explosive and can beat you a lot of ways. It would be great if he comes back for his senior year. But right now, I'm not thinking about that. My main concern is getting a win on Sunday."
When: Sunday, 3:30 p.m.
Who: Georgia (7-4) vs. Virginia (6-5).
Where: Aloha Stadium.
TV: ESPN (pending sellout)
Tickets: Two-game packages (includes Monday's Aloha Bowl, 10:30 a.m.) $45-$50.