Dogs may be in for a quarterback battle

In the minds of many fans, Georgia’s quarterback situation for next season is pretty clear-cut: Aaron Murray will be the starter, Zach Mettenberger will be the backup and Logan Gray, the only QB on the team with any game experience, will yield to the inevitable and switch to another position, possibly wide receiver, in order to get more playing time.

Nice and neat.

Aaron Murray (Bob Andres / AJC)

Aaron Murray (Bob Andres / AJC)

But that scenario might be in for some rewrites. First, the coaches indicate that whether Gray moves or not is up to him. You’d think he’d want to go into spring practice in the position he’ll play next fall, but he might decide to give the quarterback job one more try, at least through G-Day. And, who knows, if he’s still at QB come September, Mark Richt might decide to play it “safe” and at least start out the season with Gray.

That would not be a popular decision, but Richt has gone that route before with Joe T. back in Matthew Stafford’s freshman year.

Also, fan expectations might be shaken up in another way. Despite the fact that Murray got off to the faster start last spring and received more of the practice reps this season when Joe Cox took Wednesdays off to rest his arm, not everyone is convinced he’ll be Georgia’s starter. The other night on “The Dawg Report” on CSS, Kelin Johnson and Ray Goff seemed to think Mettenberger is likely to start because Murray fell behind in learning the offense while missing several weeks of practices last fall suffering from triceps tendonitis.

Murray is the more mobile of the two and more of a threat to run, but some observers think he’s a bit short. He’s listed at 6-foot-1, but that might be using the elastic ruler that’s often applied to quarterbacks. Still, he could counter that with his ability to roll out and throw downfield, which we saw in last year’s G-Day game.

Height certainly isn’t a problem for 6-foot-5 Mettenberger, who hails from Oconee County just outside Athens. I saw him play once in high school and he clearly towered over everyone else on the field. I also was impressed with how far he could throw. He has an NFL-caliber arm and reportedly throws a more catchable ball than the early Stafford did, but he came to Georgia needing more development than Floridian Murray, who played among a richer talent pool in high school. Mettenberger’s footwork, in particular, wasn’t very good.

Zach Mettenberger (Bob Andres / AJC)

Zach Mettenberger (Bob Andres / AJC)

“I think it’s going to be a race,” receiver A.J. Green told the Athens Banner-Herald. “Both of them look real good. Zach’s probably got the bigger arm, but Aaron is just prepared like he’s going to be a starter.”

Departing receiver Michael Moore said in the Athens paper that “Mettenberger is a prototype quarterback with a cannon of an arm. He’s like the Ryan Mallett-type kid if he gets everything together as far as mentally knowing the playbook. Aaron Murray is like the nitty-gritty guy with the pinpoint accuracy and has a little bit of mobility.” Not forgetting Gray, Moore adds: “Logan is just a guy that’s been here that has more mobility than all of them and is more of a dual-threat that puts a lot of stress on defenses.”

Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo has said that Murray needs to continue to work on progressing through his reads faster and understanding the offensive concepts, as well as getting used to working under center, since he operated out of the shotgun in high school. Mettenberger, Bobo says, has improved tremendously at not trying to rely just on his arm strength and putting more touch on the ball, but needs to continue to get quicker on his feet. Helping with that is that he’s trimmed down to about 232 pounds from 249 when he arrived at UGA.

Said Bobo in the ABH: “It’s going to be a fun spring.”

And Moore said he “wouldn’t be surprised if they go into the fall not really knowing who it is.”

Frankly, I’m hoping Gray goes ahead and makes the move to receiver or flanker. He has athletic ability but wasn’t at all impressive in his infrequent turns at quarterback this past season. And you’ve got to conclude that if Georgia’s coaches had thought he was capable of making a difference in a disappointing season, they would have played him more.

There no doubt will be rough spots in the Dogs’ quarterback play this fall, especially early on, because of the lack of game experience. But I think there’s a lot of upside in the choices Murray and Mettenberger offer Richt and Bobo. Whoever is the starter will have the advantage of working behind a veteran offensive line that proved adept at protecting the quarterback even when it was underperforming early last season. And in Washaun Ealey and Caleb King, the QB have a couple of backs who improved tremendously this past season and look to get even better.

Plus, of course, Georgia’s quarterback will have the phenomenally talented Green as a target.

Coming off a year when the Dogs were hampered by too many interceptions, Richt has indicated that “respect for the football” may be the deciding factor in who the quarterback is.

Despite what Johnson and Goff say, barring any more problems with the tendonitis I still think Murray is probably more likely to start, mainly because he’s the more mobile of the two and he’s known for his on-field confidence and gung-ho attitude. But down the road, I can easily see Mettenberger, who seems more of a pro prospect than Murray, behind center for the Dogs.

How do you see Georgia’s prospects at quarterback in 2010?

311 comments Add your comment

LSUnAtlanta

January 7th, 2010
10:42 am

Doesn’t matter who UGA puts at QB its gonna be another 7-5 season for the Poodles!!

First?

January 7th, 2010
10:42 am

L-Dawg

January 7th, 2010
10:44 am

GLORY GLORY TO OLE’ GEORGIA!!!!

I HOPE TO SEE MURRAY TAKING THE SNAPS NEXT YEAR, BUT OBVIOUSLY SPEAKING, WHOEVER IS BEST FOR OUR PROGRAM, I WILL BE BEHIND 100%

THIS SHOULD MAKE FOR A FUN AND INTERESTUING G-DAY GAME THIS APRIL. WHAT A GREAT DAY TO LOOK FORWARD TO! HOPEFULLY WE HAVE WEATHER LIKE WE DID LAST YEAR, WHEN SPRING FINALLY KICKS IN AND WE FEVERISHLY MISS OUR COLLEGE FOOTBALL.

ON ANOTHER NOTE, GOOD LUCK TONIGHT TO BAMA. FOR SEC REASONS, AND I WOULD LIKE TO SEE KIRBY SMART GET A MNC, HOPEFULLY BEFORE HE COMES HOME.

{{{{{30-24}}}}}
8-1
60-39-5
{{{{{73-66}}}}}

WE RUN THIS STATE

GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

NC Dawg

January 7th, 2010
10:45 am

L-Dawg

January 7th, 2010
10:45 am

LSUnAtlanta………….

WE WERE 8-5 SCOOTER. DON;T BE MAD BECAUSE YOU COULDN’T HANDLE THE BIG 10 IN YOUR BOWL GAME.

el dawg

January 7th, 2010
10:45 am

NC Dawg

January 7th, 2010
10:46 am

Oops!

If Gray wasn’t good enough to play more this year, no way should he be the starter come fall. It would be Joe T. all over again. The better qb should start…period.

Robbie Murray

January 7th, 2010
10:47 am

There’s just something about the Murray kid. He just looks like the starting QB. Can’t wait until next season! GO DAWGS!!!

Cuz

January 7th, 2010
10:50 am

I look for a battle. I think Metz could be an awesome QB with the ability for the deep ball and AJ as a target. But Murray has the guts to will a win as proven in high school. Looks like fun and plenty of blog topics.
Logan should contemplate a move. Now me having said that, he will start and lead us to the SEC East. My words have bit me before.

TommyP

January 7th, 2010
10:50 am

Aaron Murray will be the guy. Goff doesn’t know what’s going on….he says Murray doesn’t know the playbook as well but all of the players have said all along this year that he seems so well prepared.

Aaron Murray will be the guy at QB.

gomdawg

January 7th, 2010
10:51 am

I think our coaches can make this decision. Like both them or maybe a two headed dragon ?????

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

January 7th, 2010
10:52 am

LSU- two words for you- TIME MANAGEMENT. it should be a great spring for the QBs, i prefer mettenberger just because of his arm and size. anybody think hutson mason will beat them all out and start as a true freshman?

RedandBlack

January 7th, 2010
10:53 am

I thought that Logan Gray played the best of all the QBs in last year’s G-Day game. Cox could not move the team in last year’s G-Day game and Richt/Bobo did not improve his play much during the regular season. Gray does not look to be getting a good look at the QB position for some reason. Also, look out for the Lassiter QB this summer. Go Dogs!!

ugatab

January 7th, 2010
10:54 am

Personally, I’d like to see Mett taking the snaps…that’s just me with no rhyme or reason. I think he fits more into Richt and Bobo’s pro-style offense, and like Brandon Smith said about “speed” – you can’t teach height. His arm cannon should help too, and footwork should improve if coached. Murray supposedly has the “it” factor, but I just don’t buy into that until “it” has done what Green did at UT leading up to the hobnailed boot play…either way, I like both guys…just pulling for Mett.

a

January 7th, 2010
10:56 am

It really is a tough call. Murray seems to be the more well-rounded, likely to win immediately QB. But in Mettenberger, we’d have a marquee quarterback who’s actually a local kid and has a lifelong love for the dogs – something that Stafford didn’t have (nor Moreno, for that matter), and I think it really showed. Mettenberger’s been waiting for this chance his whole life, and watching some of the best times in UGA football from righ down the road as he’s grown up playin. That’s a factor that I think people are far too quick to discard.

Gratefuldawghead

January 7th, 2010
10:56 am

Should have played Aaron or Zach last year!!!!

L-Dawg

January 7th, 2010
11:02 am

a…..

I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH YOU. IN MY MIND, SPENDING 4 YEARS AS THE STRTING QUARTERBACK FOR MY BELOVED DAWGS SOUNDS BETTER THAN WINNING A MEGA LOTTERY. I THINK ITS AN INVISABLE FACTOR FOR YOUR QUARTERBACK (OR ANY PLAYER FOR THAT MATER) TO BE A LIFELONG FAN AND TRULY SHARE THE PASSION WITH THE PEOPLE IN THE STANDS.

AS MUCH AS WE ALL LOVED STAFFORD AND MORENO, THEY WERE TRULY HERE FOR A STEPPING STONE TO BIGGER AND BETTER THINGS. HAD THEY BEEN FROM THE GEORGIA COUNTRYSIDE AND KNEW WHAT SEC FOOTBALL WAS TRULY ABOUT LONG BEFORE THEY SAW GAMETIME, I THINK WE WI THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP 2 SEASONS AGO.

DOES ANYBODY KNOW AARON MURRAY AND KNOW WHO HE WAS A FAN OF GROWING UP IN TAMPA???

DawginLex

January 7th, 2010
11:06 am

1.)Neither one was ready in 2009.
2.)Gray needs to move to WR
3.)I say play them both, kind of like Robinson and Goff.
4.)If we run the ball effectively and keep with the running game, neither one will have to throw the ball more than 20 times per game.
5.)Mason needs to redshirt and get stronger

Dylan

January 7th, 2010
11:09 am

My personal opinion is that Murray will start and Logan will move to Wide Reciever. He can catch the ball we’ve seen. He’s fast. He’d fit in good at WR. Whoever is the QB against Louisiana Monroe on September 4th is who I’m going to support.

Really?

January 7th, 2010
11:14 am

LSUnAtlanta – UGA finished 8-5 but nice try, You may want to worry about your coach having no idea how to manage a clock at the end of a game rather than who plays QB for Georgia we will be just fine. Oh and way to embarrass the SEC in the bowl game against the SLOW 10. I mean Really?

Joe M

January 7th, 2010
11:15 am

Hey LSUnAtlanta,

Are you kidding me? An LSU fan getting on any blog, anywhere, critiquing another team? With that loser HC ya’ll have and those gutless players ya’ll roll out there.

ARE YOU SERIOUS?

In our worst year it took an overzealous, typically awful, SEC official to help ya’ll win the game.

My God, this is almost like a Tech fan posting on here.

Please crawl back un-da yeaux rock suh.

BTW, we’ll all offer up some cash for you guys to keep Miles around for years to come.

RxDawg

January 7th, 2010
11:16 am

I’ve always liked Logan Gray. You can’t ask for a better football attitude. I’m pulling for him to prove that he is our best QB. After listening to some of the player comments, it sounds like Murray will more than likely get it with a possibility of Zach M. taking over in the future. This is a nice “problem” to have dawg fans.

bulldawgrob

January 7th, 2010
11:20 am

our last souteastern conference came with DJ shockley at quaterback and Aaron Murray is a similar type Quarterback.Sometime big strong quarterbacks as Mettlenberg and Stafford force the ball too much i saw this as a season ticket and at the games with Stafford.Aaron Murray is more accurate passer and thats what we need at Georgia and his mobility want hurt.HEY UGATAB green might have had hobnailed boot but shockley beat LSU in the conference championship and he is not the tallest bigest guy at quaterback.

jp

January 7th, 2010
11:24 am

At least one should have played this last year. There is no reason Cox should have been out there. it’s true that neither was ready but they were both better options than cox. We could be 10-3 and not 8-5 with a decent QB throwing to Green and Moore.

Jaah

January 7th, 2010
11:24 am

I dont care if they are local or not….I just want a winner. Stafford had a big arm but couldnt hit the long ball to save his life. At first I loved Stafford’s “big arm” until I saw him miss wide open receiver after receiver. I am no longer sold on the “big arm”. Murray will start….book it. Who cares how tall he is? Stafford was 6 3….two inches is not that much of a difference.

DawginLex

January 7th, 2010
11:26 am

I too prefer a QB with mobility. Having 2 is nice because with mobility comes the risk of injury.

Play them both

Larvell Blanks

January 7th, 2010
11:29 am

An elastic ruler would make him seem shorter than he really is, not taller. So maybe he’s really 6′6″.

kl5

January 7th, 2010
11:31 am

Bill-

Can you post their senior high school year stats, td’s yards, int’s, don’t forget to include Mason?

My guess
1. Whoever protects the ball best will get the job.
2. Don’t forget about Hutson Mason, 55 td’s, only 5 int’s, 74% compl rate

Jaah

January 7th, 2010
11:31 am

JP, I couldnt agree with you more. Sometimes I think CMR puts too much faith in a guy just because he has been there for 4 years playing behind someone. It worked out for us once! Shockley. He also split time with Greene most of the time. If Murray is the starter, watch out for Orson being a future first round pick. He is an absolute beast.

Cuz

January 7th, 2010
11:31 am

They are using a fisherman’s ruler Larvell.

Good luck to the Dawgs in 2010

January 7th, 2010
11:31 am

Good luck to the Dawgs- I see a strong year in 2010. I only hope your team gets some better fans. Your true colors really showed this year, and it didn’t look good.

In the future- don’t personally insult your starting quarterback, the Joe Cox controversy really made me wonder about you fans.

Cameron

January 7th, 2010
11:32 am

I think Logan Gray has the ability to be a very good SEC QB. If they hadn’t stunted his development by putting him on all of those special teams units, then he may have been ready to play this year. If he puts in the requisite work this off-season, then he is a wild card in the race.

Murray came out of high school as a more polished QB, playing in a spread system, and has what everyone calls “it.” He is a little small, but is very smart and mobile. He is a great leader and I just don’t see anyway he gets beat out next year.

Mettenberger has a rifle, but played in a Wing T offense in high school. Supposedly his footwork was really, really bad, but has improved a lot. I just don’t think he is as ready as Murray is at this point. Plus, once Murray wins the job, I doubt he gives it up.

GW

January 7th, 2010
11:32 am

Hopefully the coaches will recognize which QB is best and not play favorites based on “love of the Dogs” or where a kid is from. That does not mean I’m against Mettenberger. Just play the one that gives you the best chance to win. Our fans will crucify either, and Richt/Bobo, after his first interception so self confidence will be a factor.

Jaah

January 7th, 2010
11:33 am

Who ultimately makes the decision to name the starter….Bobo or CMR? One of them needs to go with the mindset of playing the best QB only…its not about who has been there the longest.

Dorsey Hill

January 7th, 2010
11:34 am

I’ll admit it if I’m wrong, but not only do I think Murray will be the starter in the opener he may leave as the best to play the position at UGA. The kid reminds me of Zeier with much better legs.

bulldawgrob

January 7th, 2010
11:35 am

LSUnAtlanta,you lost 4 games that i know of Florida,Alabama,and Ole Miss on poor clock management.also lost to Penn State.thats 4 loss and UGA we did have 5 losses.not much difference there since the confernce admitted the reffs made a mistake in the georgia /lsu game.last year LSU lost 4 or 5 games worry about LSU and your coach Les miles who won the most of his games with coach nick sabans tallent.you have no reason t be comenting on here.

Jmayne

January 7th, 2010
11:35 am

Murray is the guy. Played vs better competition. Mobile. Still has an arm in his own right. And he broke his leg and came back in the state championship to win it in his final game in high school. Murray should be the one.

kl5

January 7th, 2010
11:36 am

Logan highly touted coming out of High School, amazing athlete

Zach sort of a Peyton Manning type guy.

Murray highly touted out of high school.

Mason set the Georgia state records.

We need a really smart guy to learn this system, which one of these guys is smart?

Larvell Blanks

January 7th, 2010
11:36 am

Also known as a girlfriend’s ruler, Cuz.

Otto

January 7th, 2010
11:37 am

When was Logan given a chance to throw the ball? WLOCP where UGA was being blown out?

Murray strikes me as on of the many FSU dual threat QBs over the past decade they try to win it on their own and more times than not come up short. Besides Bobo does not have the creativity to use him. Mettenberger has more of a chance of overcoming Bobo’s stale playcalling just by being able to see the entire field.

If Murray does win it I hope Zach transfers it would be a waist for him to play backup all 5 years in Athens.

Logic

January 7th, 2010
11:38 am

Mettenberger played in 2 games in the wing T as a sophmore, thats it. Pro I as a jr and SPread as a sr.
Will be a fun battle.

Bride of Chucky Knapp

January 7th, 2010
11:38 am

What an awesome problem to have! UGA has four solid QBs. Wonder how many Tech has?

Cuz

January 7th, 2010
11:39 am

Another small mobile quarterback, Francis Tarkenton.

RxDawg

January 7th, 2010
11:40 am

Jaah, I’d imagine Bobo makes the call. He is our Offensive coordinator and former QBs coach. That said, if Richt just really wanted to step in overide Bobo he certainly could, but he won’t.

a

January 7th, 2010
11:41 am

4.)If we run the ball effectively and keep with the running game, neither one will have to throw the ball more than 20 times per game.

EXACTLY, DawginLex. Give me a game manager who doesn’t turn the ball over. Basically, give me Greg McElroy’s equivalent.

LSUatlanta

January 7th, 2010
11:41 am

IEEs Quier Don De

kl5

January 7th, 2010
11:42 am

Bill-

Any of these guys:
1. leadership skills- any of these guys win a state champ or two in high school?
2. ball protection–which one has shown an ability to protec the ball–fewest int’s in high school?
3. Accuracy- who has shown the best completion % in high school?

chiefdawg

January 7th, 2010
11:46 am

Ah, hope springs eternal. The plight of a Dawg fan, wait ’til next year.

kl5

January 7th, 2010
11:46 am

4. intelligence–need to be a quick learner, it’s a pretty complex offense

Preston

January 7th, 2010
11:46 am

Yeah LSUnAtlanta, without the horrible celebration penalty that the SEC apologized for and ultimately got that officiating crew suspended after the same crew cost Arkansas the Florida game, UGA wins that game so…. whatever. Anyway, looks like UGA has a very good problem to have. Three great QB’s battling for the starting job. Our defense will be MUCH better too so look out everyone. Still hoping the Air Force guy (can’t remember his name) gets serious consideration. His stats were extremely impressive with lesser talent than what we enjoy here in Athens. My guess as far as the QB situation is exactly what Bill mentioned in the first paragraph. Murray is going to be the man! Maybe with a special teams coach that will concentrate solely on ST, Logan can showcase his mobility returning kicks and as a WR. The future is very bright for UGA!