Josh Kendall

Offensive showdown: Pupil takes on the master

Brian Schottenheimer transferred to Florida to learn the Fun ‘N Gun from Steve Spurrier. Saturday, he’ll try to beat Steve Spurrier using an offense that looks very different.

“I think we’ve all changed since the Florida days,” said Spurrier, now South Carolina’s head coach. “Georgia still gets in the I-formation and gets their quarterback under center. We don’t do that much anymore.”

Schottenheimer, who became the Bulldogs offensive coordinator in the offseason, played his first season of college football at Kansas in 1992 and then transferred to Florida, where he served as a backup for Spurrier’s Gators from 1994 through 1996.

“I transferred from KU to Florida because I kind of wanted to go down there and learn the pro-style offense from Coach Spurrier,” Schottenheimer said during a rare appearance with the media in Athens. “And from that point on I never looked back.”

Spurrier does not remember Schottenheimer sitting at his knee going over the playbook any more than any other quarterback.

“Whatever he learned, he learned from watching,” Spurrier said. “We didn’t sit around and talk much about coaching with any of the guys. He was a quiet observer I guess you’d say.”

The highlight of Schottenheimer’s playing career was the first game of the 1996 season, when Steve Spurrier benched quarterback Danny Wuerffel and most of his starting offense after a slow start against Southwest Louisiana.

“I got mad at Danny and the first team offense, so I said, ‘Alright Schotty, you’re in, and I’m going to leave Ike (Hilliard) and Reidel (Anthony) in with you.’ He threw Ike a hitch and Ike dodged about eight guys and went 40 yards for a touchdown. Then I said, ‘Alright, Danny you and the other guys are back in.’ ”

It was the first touchdown pass of the Gators national championship season.

“Brian was a good backup player, and I think he always wanted to coach,” Spurrier said.

Schottenheimer did not learn Spurrier’s way with the media from his former coach. He rarely speaks to reporters covering the Bulldogs, and he was not available for an interview for this story, a Georgia spokesman said. He did meet with the media in Athens on Wednesday to discuss this week’s game and Spurrier.

“He’s the most competitive person I have ever met,” Schottenheimer said. “It would certainly be special to beat him. He’s just a good man.”

Schottenheimer and Spurrier last spoke this summer when Spurrier called his former quarterback.

“He called me out of the blue,” Schottenheimer said. “It meant the world to me. I look forward to seeing him and hopefully beating him.”

After his time at Florida, Schottenheimer, the son of longtime NFL head coach Marty Schottenheimer, began his coaching career with the St. Louis Rams. He coached wide receivers at Syracuse in 1999 and tight ends at Southern Cal in 2000 and then spent the next 14 years in the NFL before joining the Bulldogs in January. Schottenheimer was the Rams offensive coordinator for the last three seasons.

Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt was impressed with his hire during spring practice, he said.

“I was in almost every offensive planning meeting and most every quarterback meeting throughout the spring, and I can assure you that coach Schottenheimer is a great teacher,” Richt said. “He knows what he's doing and has a great process of going about his business, and (I'm) really comfortable with what he's bringing to the table.”

Spurrier “didn’t think too much about it,” when Schottenheimer joined the Bulldogs, Spurrier said.

“I can’t worry about all the coaches all over the place,” Spurrier said, “but it’s an excellent opportunity for Schotty.”

Georgia is seventh in the SEC in total offense two games into Schottenheimer’s career, averaging 428.5 yards per game. The Bulldogs are fourth in the SEC in rushing offense behind sophomore tailback Nick Chubb, who is averaging 154.5 yards per game.

“If you’ve got a running back like Chubb,” Spurrier said, “you might be a pretty good play caller.”