The Red & Black’s sports editor Augusta Stone spoke with Fox Sports South college football analyst James Bates, who followed incoming quarterback Jamie Newman while Newman played at Wake Forest. Bates gave his evaluation of Newman and previewed what Georgia football has to look forward to from the graduate transfer.
Augusta Stone: What are the biggest strengths Newman brings to Athens?
James Bates: I don't think it'll ever be a problem for him to learn a new offense [or] to make that new offense his own and feel just as comfortable as he was at Wake Forest. [Wake Forest] was an offense that — if you’ve ever seen them — it was different really than anything you’ll ever see. They run a lot of the run-pass option, but they do it with a big delay in the backfield. It's really kind of fun to watch. As a quarterback, if you're ever going to get panicky and frustrated, it would be in that offense, but never once did you ever see him where he where he's just Helter Skelter all over the place. He was cool and calm all the way through, and he was a lot of fun to watch.
Stone: Will it be difficult for Newman to take over Georgia’s offense and fully implement his own style in one season?
Bates: I think he’ll be just fine. If they're opening the door at Georgia, they believe in you as a player. When guys transfer in, sometimes I would think the main concern has to be when you got a guy that’s mature, established, a senior — is he going to get along with the rest of the team? Is he going to be able to lead the guys, some who have been here for three or four years? I think the leadership will be there. I think it’s no question at all that he’ll be able to not only pick up the offense but to run it at the same time. When good coaches have a player of his caliber and a chance to coach him, they’re willing to kind of change a little bit of what they do. And I know they’ve got those kind of coaches at Georgia. I would expect [Newman] to pick it up just fine. But I would also expect to see a few tweaks here and there. Newman throws a really pretty ball, and he had some good receivers to throw to at Wake Forest, but he also can tuck it and go. I think it'll be interesting to see how they do change a little bit just to take advantage of everything he brings to the table.
Stone: Where are some areas Newman can develop during his time at Georgia?
Bates: [Newman] has relationships [at Wake Forest], and he understands all of the guys that he’s thrown thousands and thousands of balls to. I think he would have to get in there and just go over the top with the extra reps. He’s going to have to get with these receivers. He is going to need to throw more than the average senior just rolling in there who’s been around these guys for so long. Different guys approach their route running a little bit differently, and different guys have different strengths. He’s got to learn to have a feel for his receivers that way. That’s where I think the extra work with him should go into early on.
Stone: Do you think SEC defenses will pose a greater challenge than what Newman faced on the other side of the ball in the ACC at Wake Forest?
Bates: I don’t see that being an issue. I wouldn’t think that would be anything that anybody would notice, including him. I’ve seen him play on the same field with the best of the best. The talent that surrounds him will be second to none [at Georgia], so I don’t think he’ll skip a beat in switching conferences. I think there’s pretty good players in both [the ACC and SEC].
Stone: For those who didn’t watch much Wake Forest football while Newman played there, which game would give the best glimpse of Newman’s talent?
Bates: There might be a couple more, but the one that definitely comes to mind is toward the end of the year in the Duke game. He had  yards of total offense. He just did it all. As it was, he was [often] top of the ACC in total offense, so it wasn’t like a one-time fluke. I think that game would be one where you could really go and appreciate the talent that is showing up on Georgia’s doorstep next season.
Stone: What do you make of the early Heisman Trophy hype for Newman, and is it too early?
Bates: That’s what you’ve got to do in this day and age. They can’t wait until Week 3 and say, ‘Hey this guy’s looking like he may have a chance.’ He’s an incredible athlete, and he’ll be one of the best quarterbacks in college football again this season — just as he was last season — so why not?
This interview was edited for length and clarity.