Georgia’s quarterback issues no worse than most opponents

Aaron Murray (with offensive coordinator Mike Bobo) may be a freshman but he won't be overmatched by most opposing quarterbacks next season.

Aaron Murray won't be overmatched by most QBs. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Kickoff to Georgia’s season is exactly four months away (Sept. 4 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette), so I figure it’s not too early to discuss match-ups. Specifically: quarterbacks. I bring this up because the excommunication of Zach Mettenberger, combined with Logan Gray’s uncertainty whether he even wants to stay in Athens, reaffirms that the starting job belongs to freshman Aaron Murray.

This makes Dogs’ fans nervous — not because Murray isn’t talented but because there’s really no safety net should he face-plant. So what I thought I’d do is walk through Georgia’s schedule and see just how big of a concern the quarterback match-ups are.

Here goes:

♦ LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE: I don’t know. I don’t care. Louisiana-Lafayette is in the Sun Belt. Am I going to be concerned about a quarterback in the Sun Belt? No.

♦ SOUTH CAROLINA: In theory, Stephen Garcia should give the Gamecocks an advantage. But he has been erratic and now coach Steve Spurrier is openly questioning the player’s level of commitment and threatening to throw the starting job open for competition. A motivation attempt? Maybe. But that doesn’t mean Garcia doesn’t have issues.

Here's Arkansas's Ryan Mallett, seen with coach Beelzebub.

Here's Arkansas's Ryan Mallett, seen with coach Beelzebub.

♦ ARKANSAS: Ryan Mallett. OK, this one is a slam dunk for the opponent. Mallett is one of the top quarterbacks in the nation (3,627 yards and 30 touchdowns last year) and could have turned pro as a third-year sophomore after last season. He will lead one of the SEC’s top offenses, unless Bobby Petrino creates a minor distraction like bolting in midseason.

♦ MISSISSIPPI STATE: Chris Relf is a first-time starter. He saw only limited action last season, sitting behind a guy (Tyson Lee) who finished with four touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Relf is a talented runner but nobody is certain about his ability to lead an offense. He has a lot to prove.

♦ COLORADO: The returning starter is junior Tyler Hanson, who showed improvement last year. But the Buffaloes have gone backwards in the last three seasons under coach Dan Hawkins (from 6 to 5 to 3 wins). His cumulative record:16-33. Hansen’s key numbers last season: 8 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, 33 sacks. Ouch.

♦ TENNESSEE: Jonathan Crompton is gone. You can determine if that’s good news or bad news. A senior, Nick Stephens, left the team. That likely leaves junior college transfer Matt Simms (yes, Phil’s son) as the starter for coach Derek Dooley. Simms’ only competition is true freshman Tyler Bray. Hey, the Dogs may actually win this game.

♦ VANDERBILT: Chris Low, ESPN’s terrific SEC blogger, put it best after spring football: “Nobody won the quarterback battle, and it’s not because everybody was so effective.” The three names in the hat: Jared Funk, Larry Smith and Jordan Rodgers (another JC transfer). FYI: Vandy was last in scoring and next to last in offensive yardage in the SEC last season.

♦ KENTUCKY: Senior Mike Hartline has an impressive major: kinesiology. Not sure what else. He returns from a knee injury that wiped out half of last season and he’ll likely win the starting job. Before getting hurt last year, he was 79-for-133 with 6 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.

Tech's Joshua Nesbitt is 1-1 against Georgia. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Tech's Joshua Nesbitt is 1-1 against Georgia. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

♦ FLORIDA: The starting quarterback will not be Tim Tebow, who has completed his seeming 12 seasons of eligibility. But don’t get too excited. John Brantley may be pretty good. He is more of a classic throwing quarterback, and showed it last year when he did play: 36 for 48, 410 yards, 7 touchdowns, 0 interceptions. Then again, most of that damage against Troy and FIU. So yes, there are questions.

♦ IDAHO STATE: A Big Sky team that went 1-10 last year. See: Louisiana-Lafayette.

♦ AUBURN: The Tigers are going with another transfer, Cameron Newton. His name may sound familiar. He prepped at Westlake High in Atlanta and then went to Florida. During his redshirt sophomore season, he was arrested for stealing a laptop. Then he tossed it out of his dorm room window to hide it from the police, which I’m guessing negated the warranty. He spent last year at a junior college in Texas, presumably with a new laptop. For the record, he is big (6-6, 242) and has some talent, but obviously untested.

♦ GEORGIA TECH: Joshua Nesbitt represents one of the few solid returning starters Georgia will face. He runs the Jackets’ offense well and, for what it’s worth, is 1-1 against the Dogs as a starter.

So Georgia fans: Do you feel better now about how the Dogs match up?

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and on Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

Earlier post: Tuesday Countdown : Vicodin, hookers, Valdosta banning?

219 comments Add your comment

Billy O

May 4th, 2010
1:37 pm

Just take it one game at a time……that’s how you win in the SEC.

candawg

May 4th, 2010
1:38 pm

EW

May 4th, 2010
1:44 pm

good article, new view on the QB situation and new information in the offseason, well played.

DC Braves Fan

May 4th, 2010
1:50 pm

I feel better the QB situation for about 15 reasons: AJ Green, Tavarres King, Orson Charles, Aron White, Bruce Figgins, Arthur Lynch, Kris Durham, Rantavious Wooten, Clint Boling, Trinton Sturdivant, Ben Jones, Cordy Glenn, Josh Davis, Caleb King, and Washaun Ealey.

We can stretch the field with a guy who is one of the two best college receivers, another guy who is a great deep threat, terrific TEs, and a solid OL that returns a couple of guys likely to be high draft picks. We also have a good slot receiver and very capable running backs. Our QB doesn’t have to be great. That is what distinguishes our situation from SC, MSU, Arkansas, Tennesse, etc. The only team on our schedule that comes close to returning the all-around offensive firepower and matchup nightmares we have is Florida. That will be a game for the ages if the Dawgs decide to find a defense in 2010.

Angus

May 4th, 2010
1:50 pm

Per the photos, Mallet is 3′ taller than Murray and that’s not Nesbitt, but is a horse-collar.

gdawginkalamazoo

May 4th, 2010
1:51 pm

“…..a third-year sophomore …”

Damn, it felt like my sophomore year lasted three years. I feel hungover just thinking about it.

Dawglasville

May 4th, 2010
1:53 pm

Not really. I won’t be shocked if we win 11 or win 7. Too many unknowns. Calvin Johnson was still a top NFL pick (or real close) with Reggie Ball throwing to him so A.J. will help. Play action and q.b. keepers should also help. The thought of Murray getting hurt is scary but I guess it is the same situation at Florida, Tech or all the other schools if they have to bring in a back up. I don’t know if anyone has a D.J. Shockley in the wings.

Clay

May 4th, 2010
1:53 pm

Don’t think Murray is 6′1″ cause Bobo is standing behind him and still looks inches taller. Doesn’t matter I guess. I just hope he can stay healthy all season.

Jeremiah Masoli

May 4th, 2010
1:54 pm

Auburn likes laptop thieving QBs? I’m transferring in!

gdawginkalamazoo

May 4th, 2010
1:55 pm

Putting it that way Jeff this season might not be so bad. Granted we have to get off the bus when we play UT. That’s something that hasn’t happened the past few years. The new D will hopefully pound these guys.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

May 4th, 2010
1:56 pm

I would feel a lot better if I knew how fast the D is going to gel and hold up its side of the battle. but that is the almost million dollar question isn’t it (get it almost a million)

Crack Head

May 4th, 2010
1:56 pm

WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

WHERE BE DA DAMN TENNIS BALL POLISHING ROCK!!!!

OHHHH YEEEAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!

kappellmeister

May 4th, 2010
1:57 pm

Thanks, Jeff. You are really on a roll today. Between you and the Count I have had a few LOL’s today. Pretty sure I, you, and a few beers would all get along pretty well.

MagnaCarterGT

May 4th, 2010
1:57 pm

Angus is right, that’s A-back Marcus Wright in the picture, who appears to be getting horse-collared by Vance Cuff.

JB

May 4th, 2010
1:59 pm

UH no, you got Florida wrong….Read any Gator blogger on here and they will tell you Brantley is battle tested…………………………….You got it right. Talented, yes…battle tested, NO.

JB

May 4th, 2010
2:01 pm

Murray is the size of Drew Bree’s…… he did pretty good this year.

dougdawg

May 4th, 2010
2:01 pm

i got axed recenly when i referred to lemay as the dawgs ‘trojan horse’ as far as recruiting. he will destroy the dawgs. he will never start here; he will make da’rick look like a saint. he is only for himself; just read his comments. remember when hershel wore that shirt saying ‘team yes, me no?’ he meant it; not in this case. sad, sad.

Jeff Schultz

May 4th, 2010
2:02 pm

Folks: Original Tech photo was mis-ID’d in the caption in our archives. I posted it without really looking at it. Oops. It was quickly subbed out. Thanks.

GeoffDawg

May 4th, 2010
2:03 pm

I don’t know about Arkansas. Mallett’s got a nice beer gut developing in that photo.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jeff Schultz, Jeff Schultz. Jeff Schultz said: Georgia's questions at QB are no worst than most of their opponents. http://bit.ly/93l6gr #Georgia #Bulldogs [...]

JB

May 4th, 2010
2:06 pm

Drew Bree’s is 6′0″ & 209 lbs as listed on the New Orleans Web site FYI. Murray will be fine. Like Drew, he is a winner.

Russ, the Temporary Mascot

May 4th, 2010
2:10 pm

I think UGA will be fine at quarterback as long as they don’t paint his a$$. I was doing fine as mascot until they pulled me into an electrical closet and painted my a$$ white. What kind of school paints a little dog’s a$$? I can see some more players leaving and some potential mascots turning their backsides on this program. One thing UGA must learn . . . a$$ painting is in poor taste.

Valdostan surrounded by nothingness

May 4th, 2010
2:13 pm

Ho, hum, still boring down here in Valdosta.
Ingram’s Feed store was closed yesterday fo
the VSU football celebrity gof tournament
yesterday at the VCC. Glad to have
had ol’ VSU alumni and Falcon, Jesse Tuggle playing, ol’ UGA
alumni David Greene, Cavan, two former VHS and
UGA quarterbacks, Lastinger and Talley; ol” Billy
Martin from Tech and a host of other football celebrities.
They all said they had a great time and it was good
to get away from all the crime, hustle and bustle of
the big cities. Taking them on a wagon ride today thru
downtown Valdosta showing them all the latest
plows and harrows we have.

God hates gingers

May 4th, 2010
2:14 pm

Petrino is a soulless ginger bastard that deserves to burn in hell like all the other god forsaken gingers….

JB

May 4th, 2010
2:16 pm

Russ, the temp………………..funny stuff.

JB

May 4th, 2010
2:17 pm

any good Q in Dosta ?

Michael

May 4th, 2010
2:20 pm

Unfortunately QB’s don’t play against each other. I’d be more interested in seeing your take of how well Murray might stack up against all of those defenses.

anotherdawg

May 4th, 2010
2:26 pm

Russ, I think the entire UGA team, plus 90% of Georgia fans would be just fine with getting our a$$ painted, as long as we keep winning!

JB

May 4th, 2010
2:27 pm

Can’t wait to see the other defense when we line up in a 4 receiver set and three of them are TE’s. Oh course AJ will be the only only wide out who is usually doulbe teamed OR draws thier best cover man. Yes, are tight ends are that fast and athletic.

JB

May 4th, 2010
2:28 pm

Double teamed….that is….geez.

JB

May 4th, 2010
2:29 pm

their ……….I need to go

BG

May 4th, 2010
2:32 pm

UGA will spank them tech nerds again. Whats New???

Gingers should die

May 4th, 2010
2:36 pm

Petrino is soulless ginger that deserves to burn in hell like all the other worthless god forsaken gingers…..

Ted Striker

May 4th, 2010
2:37 pm

From the looks of that list, looks like the majority of opponents are going to have a guy behind center whose goal is to “manage the game.”

Ted Striker

May 4th, 2010
2:40 pm

p.s. Are those Petrino’s pasty white legs, or is he wearing those old timey white nurses stockings?

JB

May 4th, 2010
2:42 pm

what’s with the “foot boot” Mallet is wearing ?

goatD

May 4th, 2010
2:47 pm

You can’t worry about injuries. We’re all 2 injuries away from being Mississippi State……including UF and ‘Bama.

Whopper Dawg

May 4th, 2010
2:48 pm

I hope we game plan with a little more Vince than normal, running game, kicking game and defense.

Leon "Pooch-Kick" Trotsky

May 4th, 2010
2:49 pm

Jeff, that idiot Stalin is still missing the snap count.

Mel from SouthWest Atlanta

May 4th, 2010
2:52 pm

ah ah Perry…get yor carpet baggin fool out of Atlanta….you know what Ru Ru? Tim Tebow is a fruit…Welcom to Loser Ville

Steven

May 4th, 2010
2:53 pm

Auburn’s “obviously untested” quarterback led his team to win the Junior College national championship. It’s not like he’s fresh out of high school. Learn to do some relevant research before posting an article.

Also, his charges were dropped on the laptop incident.

Nothingness

May 4th, 2010
2:56 pm

I would say that folks in the Valdosta area are pissed at you but the sad truth is nobody reads your stuff nor the AJC any longer. Have fun in the unemployment line soon!

Dawg78

May 4th, 2010
3:00 pm

I think we lose to SC,Ark and Florida. I think the tech game will be a toss-up for sure. We could beat them and we could lose to them just as easy. Not sure why many Uga fans think tech is easy to beat. Out of that 7 game win streak there were some games that could have gone either way folks. We run the 3-4 now and so does tech, so our defense will be no advantage either. It will come down to slowing down that option. I think tech has a much tougher schedule than we do, and that could help them as the season plays on. How many ranked teams are on our schedule? Not many…florida and tech may be the only ranked teams we play all year? Sc may or may not be ranked when we play them. It’s a weak schedule and i still see 3 losses for sure and maybe 4. Our fan base is a bit unrealistic if you ask me.

Boro Dawg

May 4th, 2010
3:04 pm

kinesiology is nothing but physical ed. get real jeff

gdawginkalamazoo

May 4th, 2010
3:08 pm

I guess Petrino’s legs prove that there are no tanning beds in hell.

JB

May 4th, 2010
3:10 pm

Dawg78………. please turn down if Richt wants you to pep talk the team…….Whew…..

sprouse27

May 4th, 2010
3:10 pm

Dawgs have a pretty light schedule this year, and Florida has a tough one. So does the Tide. But really, do we see the Dawgs beating Florida and if they do, can they beat Alabama? Like the Dawgs, but I just don’t see it. We’ll have another 8-5 / 9-4 season and a mid level bowl.

Jeff Schultz

May 4th, 2010
3:11 pm

Thanks Kappell. Always up for a few brews. Maybe we can make that happen.

Jeff Schultz

May 4th, 2010
3:12 pm

Ted Striker — You’ve got coach spin down pat.

Jeff Schultz

May 4th, 2010
3:13 pm

Leon Trotsky — Stalin still has eligibility yet?