Defense gets G-Day game ball

As a fan experience, a glorious spring Saturday in Athens watching football at Sanford Stadium could hardly have been better. The Redcoat band played, some familiar names from the past took the field for the alumni flag football game before the annual G-Day scrimmage, and with 42,000 fans and ESPN on hand it was a bit more of an event than your usual spring game.

OK, it would have been nice to see some more points scored, and probably if the Dawgs’ receiving corps hadn’t been afflicted with a case of the dropsies, that would have happened. Joe Cox, Logan Gray and Aaron Murray all had some very nice passes end up among the day’s six drops. On at least a couple of those, it looked as if the receivers lost concentration or short-armed it because they were anticipating being hit. The drop near the goal line by Israel Troupe was particularly disappointing for the Black team, as Gray had delivered a perfectly thrown ball.

And despite the occasional spurt, the running game never really got on track until diminutive Carlton Thomas showed his stuff at the end, including the day’s lone touchdown. Actually, the running game didn’t really get many opportunities until the second half of the abbreviated game.  

But at the same time, after the lows of last season it was encouraging to see Georgia’s defense having its way most of the day with an offense, even if it was ours. Both the first and second defenses pressured the quarterbacks all day, notching up 10 whistle sacks, with the notable efforts of Justin Houston at defensive end and Marcus Washington at middle linebacker being cause for celebration in the Bulldog Nation. I just hope their success, along with the negative-yardage plays recorded against Caleb King and some of the other backs, aren’t an indication that our offensive line isn’t going to be as good as expected.

Overall, the day was a success. For those, like my brothers and me, who got there mid-morning, the alumni game was a hoot (more on that below), and letting the Black team wear black jerseys opposite the Red team’s red was a nice touch (the quarterbacks wore the white road jerseys instead of their practice greens). I was glad (and I’m sure ESPN was, too) that Mark Richt decided to let them play 10-minute quarters in the second half after going for only 8-minute quarters in the first half.   

The quarterbacks generally looked pretty good, though the drops had to be frustrating. They mostly kept the offense vanilla, except for a couple of Joe Cox razzle-dazzle plays in the first quarter. On the first play from scrimmage, a flea-flicker pitch back to Cox resulted in a long completion to A.J. Green. And later Caleb King threw a halfback pass back to Cox on a nice play that was negated by a flag for ineligible receiver. Logan Gray impressed a lot of folks with both his throwing (on the mark even when they weren’t caught) and his patience in the pocket. A lot of times young quarterbacks with his running ability tend to get impatient and try to improvise too much, but Gray was steady. Aaron Murray also showed flashes of what’s to come, particularly on a really nice roll-out for a long completion (which unfortunately was then fumbled by the receiver). Murray also had one batted down at the line, indicating perhaps he’ll be more comfortable moving than dropping straight back. Zach Mettenberger, who played behind Cox on the Red team, showed some arm strength but had a rougher day, with no completions and an interception. Still, he generally managed the offense well. If I had to bet on who’ll redshirt this season, though, I’d put my money on Mettenberger.

Since there were no kickoffs or punt returns, we didn’t get much of a look at the special teams. Blair Walsh, Jamie Lindley and Andrew Jensen (whose dad Kris, a former coworker of mine, was at the game on crutches) all made field goals. Considering no one was rushing the kicker, the punts were a bit of a disappointment, with projected starter Drew Butler averaging just 35.3 yards per kick. 

Among notable plays of the day: Despite dropping two balls, tight end Aron White held on to three, including a really nice catch in the final quarter. When he jumped up holding the ball aloft, the crowd gave him a bit of an extra cheer and a grinning Cox slapped him on the helmet. … Black team tight end Derek Rich made a couple of impressive catches. … Caleb King did have a few nice runs, but he also got nailed in the backfield for a loss a couple of times. He didn’t seem as explosive as Thomas. … Shaun Chapas had a couple of impressive runs at fullback. … Bryan Evans made a good move on the ball in snagging the game’s lone interception. … Bacarri Rambo broke up one pass with a particularly hard hit. … A.J. Green was back to receive one punt, though there were no returns. Makes you wonder, though, if he’s being considered for punt return duty. And even though this was an intra-squad game, competitive juices still were flowing and Green and Black defender Brandon Boykin mixed it up at one point and had to be separated. 

Also noted: Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno were on hand as assistant “coaches.” … Falcons backup D.J. Shockley was signing autographs down by the hedge. … New basketball coach Mark Fox drew a nice ovation when he was introduced on the field before the fourth quarter. … While the alumni flag football game featured a mix of players from the distant past (one of whom was seen with a cigar in his mouth) and more recent grads, the Red team seemed to grow over halftime and definitely had more of the younger players. Not surprisingly, they prevailed 20-6 in what was billed by Richt as the “first annual” game when he presented the trophy. The only real problem was the difficulty in determining who you were seeing on the field, as alum Bobby Poss’ colorful “play by play” from the sideline was sporadic and at times difficult to decipher. His heckling of some of the players was fun, though. A bit of additional commentary was supplied by former QBs Preston Ridlehuber and Andy Johnson. Among the old Dawgs playing in the game were Cory Phillips (who showed he still has a pretty strong arm), Russ Tanner (who caught a touchdown pass), placekickers Kim Braswell and Jim McCullough, Dick Conn (the former defensive back, who was one of the quarterbacks for the Black team), Joey Hester, Jiggy Smaha (who commented to Poss afterward, “I got in for two plays and I didn’t die”), Amp Arnold, Kenny Bailey, Garrison Hearst, Tyson Browning, Bert Jones (who made an interception) and Charlie Dean. A couple of the participants went down with injuries, but as Poss noted brightly, “He signed his waiver, so it’s OK.”

62 comments Add your comment


April 12th, 2009
3:36 pm

Lowest scoring G-day since……2002. Fine with me. I don’t think we are likely to be rotating in 2 high school kids at QB, during a real game. Nor do I think we would be playing a squad comprised of all 2nd and 3rd stringers, which is basically what we had at times.

And nobody got injured.


April 12th, 2009
4:11 pm

logan gray impressed me way more than cox did


April 12th, 2009
4:43 pm

yeah me like g-day….me think murray gonna be real juicy and good….throws that ball like it be a candied yam….defense looked good too….cant wait for jeff owens to get back….he get up in an o-line like applesauce on a stovetop! goooooooo dawgs! meow


April 12th, 2009
4:52 pm

I most liked the new tradition…free admission.

Hunk Erdown

April 12th, 2009
6:09 pm

I was really impressed with the interior d-line on both sides, especially #93 Brandon Wheeling. Stuffing the run, batting down passes, qb pressure, and has a pretty good story of his journey to get here. He should be a big help in providing depth, and fresh legs for the starters.

can't catch

April 12th, 2009
6:37 pm

Your “O” would make most any “D” look good…..Saturday….


April 12th, 2009
7:29 pm

Them thare doagies bitter git reedy for them thare chickins or it will be embarussin. Gota ketch for one thang. Them boys did haive the dropsies yesterdee and it sure maide the defanse lookie reel gud. Hopes youins cain beet vandee reely gud too.youins mite not win too much this yer,

Fools Gold

April 12th, 2009
7:38 pm

Hey AltamahaDawg…. there were injuries yesterday, many mutt fans expectations were injured yesterday with the lousy scrimmage!


April 12th, 2009
8:01 pm

Reminder: The Dawgs’ offensive line was missing four players with injuries that started last year: guard/center Chris Davis, tackle Trinton Sturdivant, tackle Josh Davis, and guard/tackle Vince Vance. All are expected back in the summer. So temper your excitement and your disappointment in knowing that things will look much differently come August. Go Dawgs!!


April 12th, 2009
8:07 pm

Logan Gray was very impressive and poised.
Aaron Murray showed why he will be the starter next year.

We may have a punting problem.


April 12th, 2009
8:16 pm

Seems you obsession with UGA was not injured.

Diamond Dawg

April 12th, 2009
9:12 pm

Tough to get a good look at things this weekend. A lot of starters still out and new dawgs not in yet. Dont be surprised to see Aaron Murray eventually take over back up role.

Fools Gold

April 12th, 2009
9:22 pm

AltamahaDawg….. I guess you havent cleaned them rose colored glasses in a while…….Yes Im obsessed with the UGA funny pages, makes good fodder in the college football world. Gee I wonder what Richt thinks now if potential recruits out west watched that lousy performance yesterday on ESPN. Sorry guys our coaches havent recruited talent to catch footballs. That would be another good excuse!

Tech sucks

April 12th, 2009
10:11 pm

I was actually amazed at how much better Logan Gray looked than Joe Cox…. at pretty much everything.

S.E. Dawg

April 12th, 2009
10:21 pm

Fools Gold
If you think this is the team we’ll field in the fall, then I don’t know what color glasses you’re looking through. It was a typical G-Day game and I’ve been to several. And what’s it with you jumping on AltamahaDawg. He always has good post.


April 12th, 2009
11:17 pm

SE Dawg, well I appreciate that.


April 13th, 2009
4:32 am

Dawgs will be fine when all of the walking-wounded return for fall practice.
it is very hard to judge the qb’s when so many passes were dropped or fumbled,and many offensive lineman did not dress out either.

it will look much different in the fall.


April 13th, 2009
4:33 am

Guys, the only way to deal with anti-UGA bloggers is to simply realize how pathetic they are for being on here and ignoring them. They’re obviously fans of teams that UGA spanks most of the time.


April 13th, 2009
4:39 am

Aaron Murray is gonna be the man sooner than most think! No disrespect for Cox or Gray (who are both good), but that kid is the real deal! I hope the coaches don’t waste the precious little time that they can play him like they did with Moreno.


April 13th, 2009
6:51 am

Gray throws the ball-MOST IMPRESSIVE – footwork!!!

Jimmy in Gainesville

April 13th, 2009
7:11 am

It’s not a laughing matter but Willie Martinez is such a loser that he lost in the G Day Game. Willie is my number one concern in the fall. Our season balances on his efforts. I think we’ll look back at the end of the year and realize that Willie should have walked this year. I don’t like his coaching, I don’t like his inability to adjust, I don’t like his lack of fire, lack of intensity and lack of motivation. I just don’t think he’s the guy for Georgia. Mark Richt’s loyalty and kind heart will cost us dearly in the fall. I still say “Willie needs to go”.

William West

April 13th, 2009
7:20 am

I saw Murray play two games in high school one before he got hurt and one after, the first game he had to run for his life every time the ball was snap, you could see how good he was. The second game was in his final game, he got a lot more protection, he was great. He is going to be a great quarterback at Georgia


April 13th, 2009
8:13 am

Preston you are right on. I know Cox is the #1, but if he struggles, I hope we dont waste Murray’s freshman year like we did Knowshon’s. The good players will only be here 3 years; so to hold them back for a year is to waste 33% of their career. If Knowshon had started in 2006 and even if he did only enough for UGA to get past the missed FGS against Vandy and Ky (while kicker was hurt, resulting in 2 awful losses) we would have been 10-2 even in that year.

can't catch

April 13th, 2009
8:18 am

knocker…that is a big “if”.


April 13th, 2009
8:23 am

Murray hasn’t even learned the system. Let’s go with experience and get him ready for the future. What could anyone have not liked about Logan Gray??? He looked great back there.

plainville dawg

April 13th, 2009
8:31 am

Ditto, Gray was the most impressive QB!

big dawg

April 13th, 2009
9:07 am

well i said it on friday, i was worried about dropped passes, and of course, i’m still worried…and one thing to keep in mind about gray and cox saturday, cox was throwing into the wind with gray having the advantage of the wind to his back, and yes it does make a big difference. especially with the high winds saturday..and i really hope that was why butler was struggling some, although i think i’m being optimistic on that.. we really need to send someone to poland to find us a punter..or maybe australia and get us a rugby dude.

Lobbying for Murray

April 13th, 2009
9:23 am

Murray’s quick release really impressed me. His decision making was good, and I thought he was hands down the most impressive QB. Cox looked like the incoming freshman. I hope CMR requires Cox to actually earn the starting QB rather than solely basing his decision to start Cox on seniority.

Voice of Reason

April 13th, 2009
9:24 am

Very impressed by Justin Houston (a beast on the end), Sanders Commings (great in coverage), Logan Gray (footwork and accurate), Aron White (good route running and catching), Derek Rich(where did he come from, nice catches), and Vance Cuff (#25 for red, always involved in the play all over the field.)


April 13th, 2009
9:27 am

Logan Gray looked awesome!!! If the receivers could catch, his numbers would have been outstanding!! I really hope Richt plays the QB who performs the best this season…I really don’t want another situtation where he favors the senior because he feels he owes him even though he is not the best QB on the depth chart (i.e., Joe Tereshinski)…that was a disaster…

Voice of Reason

April 13th, 2009
9:29 am

Cox showed he knows the playbook and will do great at managing the game. He did pull a Stafford and overthrow one reciever though.

Voice of Reason

April 13th, 2009
9:30 am

oh, and i don’t want to forget Carlton… he could be a weapon this year

Voice of Reason

April 13th, 2009
9:32 am

loved the trick plays and the reverse (although it didn’t work, just wait until its Branden Smith with the ball!)


April 13th, 2009
10:15 am

Murray is on record as saying that he was hoping Stafford stayed so he could RS and learn. So he’s not opposed to the idea. It’s not like those guy just go take a year off. They still practise the same, just less the handfull of meaninless snaps in an actual game. I pray we dont need to play a third string Frosh QB this year.

In hindsight, Knowshon could have played as a true Freshman, sure. He might have been just enough to win a couple. But, how good was he at picking up blitzes then, or did he learn to do that his RS year? What is he had made a mistake on the play, or whiffed on a block in any one of the close wins in 2006 too. I just dont think he would have been in there enough to ever know.

John Waynesworld

April 13th, 2009
10:27 am

I agree with Money…I don’t want to see another Joe T3!


April 13th, 2009
10:41 am




April 13th, 2009
10:43 am

I was impressed with:

1. Logan Gray and Aaron Murray. I was actually impressed with both of them more than joe Cox. I think Cox is going to be fine next year but man is it going to be fun to watch Aaron Murray develop over the next few years. We better not redshirt him.
2. Justin Houston and Bacarri Rambo. They just made some great plays and they looked like they would kill someone if given the chance….which is pretty encouraging after last year.
3. Blair Walsh. He wasn’t rushed, but he made a nice 51 yarder. I think another year of experience is really all he needs. Now if only he can get that directional kicking down….
4. Carlton Thomas- He’s sooo little but sooo fast. He was really the only bright spot in the running backs group for me.

Things that worried me:

1. Punting- A can see a HUGE drop off from Brian Mimbs. I don’t think this is something anyone has really thought about becoming a problem but I can see it happening. They just didn’t go far enough for me. Mimbs saved us a few times last year with his huge leg and I don’t know if that’s going to happen this year. I hope I’m proven wrong.

2. Dropped passes- Honestly, I think this will sort itself out when we only have 1 QB throwing to the receivers instead of 4. It’s hard to have consistency when you have multiple QBs throwing to you, 2 of them being true freshmen.

3. Caleb King- I really hope he’s not going to just turn out to be a bust but he still didn’t do anything to impress me. He’s just not consistent.


April 13th, 2009
10:44 am

QBs looked great, looks like Mettenberger will be the one to redshirt and the recievers need to hang on to the ball. All and all it was a pretty good day. Most importantly no one got HURT!

Sanford Drive

April 13th, 2009
11:16 am

Agree with DawgGirl. Punting still looked like garbage, and that’s with nobody rushing the kicker. I’d really love it if we made the other team start BEHIND the 40 this year.


April 13th, 2009
11:46 am

Um, why would we NOT want to redshirt Murray and Mett? Logan Gray looked fantastic, and Cox looked quite able himself. We should redshirt both of them and then open up the competition next year. I’m telling you, though, Gray will have his day as starting QB before Murray.


April 13th, 2009
12:26 pm



April 13th, 2009
2:27 pm

Yah mon, defense gets the game ball. I suppose you win the SEC and MNC again this year.


April 13th, 2009
4:01 pm

I gotta agree with Ben. With Cox this year, Gray the next two years, Murray or maybe even Mett the next two years after that and whoever we recruit this year after that we will actually have a consistent PROGRAM led by the quarterback position. Murray is just not tall enough to leave early for the NFL. He will be here all 4 or 5 years unless he suddenly grows 3 inches and wins a/ some championship(s). If anyone has to replace Cox during next season it will be Gray. He has every bit of the tools that Murray has and will know the system well by this fall. I would almost like to see a situation where after Murray finishes up his eligibility we have a 5th year senior in Mettenberger who will be a NFL qb waiting to happen. Look at USC (west coast). Do you think that John David Booty was really more talented than Sanchez, HELL NO, but he knew the system and was more mature and ready to be a starter. Murray will have his day, and when he has it he’ll be ready. NO MORE TRIAL BY FIRE FOR OUR QB’s.

Great programs always have one in the wings. We are finally becoming that even with the inconsistency of the last few years. What has held us back in the past, besides injuries, was inconsistent recruiting in the early years. We’ve been about as consistent as it gets the last 3 or 4 years now. Players aren’t failing out, not a bunch getting kicked off the team, not transferring. We are getting better athletes with better character more consistently and we do have the coaching.

Just because Florida is a great elite program right now doesn’t mean we can’t be as well. They have been very fortunate to have all the pieces fall into place the way they have and you just can’t underestimate the impact that Tim Tebow has had on that. He alone has put them over the top. Urban Meyer is a very good coach don’t get me wrong, but he is feasting off of Tebow’s abilities. If Tebow gets injured or after next season Florida is still a good team, I don’t think they’re great without big Tim though. If the Dawgs can pull out a win against UF this season it will start the long awaited streak. If not this season, maybe next, maybe not, but in 2 or 3 seasons I feel we will have a more complete pro style team with more ways to win than just a few great players on offense. Both teams will have solid defenses when healthy but UF obviously gets the advantage when having to improvise with young players. This season will be the true telling sign of whether or not WM is capable of fulfilling his job requirements. Depth will not be an issue this season, and I really feel that we have more talent and depth than ever in the secondary as well as the rest of the D.

Just a tidbit, I went to both the UGA and GT coaches clinics over the previous weekends and I have to say that I don’t know how in the heck GT beat UGA. Top to bottom UGA is just better. Don’t get me wrong, I totally admire Paul Johnson and his system, hell I played for him. Fact is, UGA just has the total package from recruiting to the way they practice. The difference in the speed and level of intensity is night and day. UGA obviously had a real bad day that game or should I say that 2nd half. I highly doubt that will happen again.

BS Patrol

April 13th, 2009
8:34 pm

The defense got a game ball for that outstanding display? Times must be hard between the hedges.

Nobody scared of UGA

April 13th, 2009
8:57 pm

Or Joe Cox. UGA Will lose 3 games bet on it fleabags.

BS Patrol

April 13th, 2009
9:06 pm

DawgDude, You must have been dreaming. I’ll bet the level of intensity of a PJ practice is not in the same league as the swimming pool bowling practices. He is known for it.

Recruiting? This has been hashed & rehashed. To summarise, they haven’t panned out.

Speed? How come no one at ga can chase down a 220 lb tank like Dwyer from behind. Then they would have to bring him down which is another matter altogether.

You’re right about the 2nd half though. It won’t be that close next time. I’ve got my tickets. You?


April 13th, 2009
9:28 pm

hmm…DawgDude was actually inside both practices, and played football for the guy……but BS Patrol has that whole “I’ll bet” thing going for him, and he bought a ticket. So hard to know who to believe.

BS Patrol

April 13th, 2009
9:35 pm

Yeah Altamaha. I played for Vince Lombardi. 45-42!


April 14th, 2009
12:19 am

Dawg Girl32

What does it matter who throws the ball to the receiver? The receiver isn’t catching the QB he’s catching a football! What happens in a real game if the #1 QB goes down? Wouldn’t we still expect the receivers to catch the passes of the back-up? I don’t get your point.


April 14th, 2009
6:13 am

What we have here is another Jasper Sanks and another Joe T. Guess who they are. And another loss to you know who.