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

RxDawg

January 7th, 2010
11:46 am

Lol Cuz, compare the average size of O and D lineman back when Francis was playing to now. Still, I do tend to agree with you that the height of the player is slightly overrated. I usually look at Flutie to compare and how the NFL slighted him for so long.

P.S. I’m not a Tech hater so to say, but you know what the best thing about Tech losing is? We can blog.

Drew Bees

January 7th, 2010
11:47 am

I can understand why people would question Aaron’s height- being an undersized QB hasn’t really worked out well for me.

AUFAN

January 7th, 2010
11:47 am

I would love to see Metts get the job because i have witnessed how terrible he is. Trust me…..you want Murray.

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

January 7th, 2010
11:47 am

Who ever the starter is will have a treasure trove of toys to play with. The offense will not be a big problem next year. Now if we can fix what ails the defense……….

yogi2

January 7th, 2010
11:49 am

we need to play both Aaron and Zack

AUFAN

January 7th, 2010
11:50 am

To the guy who compared Mettenberger to Peyton Manning……..LAY OFF THE PEYOTE

Jaah

January 7th, 2010
11:52 am

Thnx RxDawg.
The proof that Logan won’t be the starter was when they “opened the competition back up” and the said the best QB would start and Cox took the field. That was when I knew we were in trouble. Mason will RS and Murray will start and Mett will transfer.

DC position, who do you guys favor? Or don’t answer if that is beating a dead horse.

Dave In Tampa

January 7th, 2010
11:53 am

Hey gang- LSUnAtlanta is a closet Techie. I know too many LSU people. He’s(or she) is not one of them. Just another Techie that knows they want nothing to do with UGA in the coming years. They know that they had their chance and blew it.

Go Dawgs!

Ward

January 7th, 2010
11:55 am

I’m excited to see what I feel should be a 3 man race, as I am not ready to write-off Logan Gray quite yet. Gray looked great in the G-Day game last spring. I know he had mostly poor results this year, but Bobo did not really put him in situations to succeed or to build confidence. With the exception of the Florida and Tenn Tech games, Gray would come in and run the same read option play that the defense was going to key on given he was in the game. He never really had back-to-back plays or a whole drive to show his skill set. The UF game was bad, but the entire team played bad and we did not put in Gray until late in the game and backed-up in our end-zone. So please don’t read a lot into that for him…I am excited about Murray because I think he has good leadership skills and will take care of the football, but I do see Mettenberger as someone who can be a star if he continues to improve his footwork and keeping his eyes down the field, while moving in the pocket… I really do see this as a bright spot on the team as we move to the future. I think by the end of 2010 UGA will prove to have one of the best QB situations in the nation.

DawgFan24

January 7th, 2010
11:58 am

I smell QB by Committee. Anyone else getting a whiff of this?

Jaah

January 7th, 2010
12:06 pm

I hate the idea of playing 2 qbs. I always thought it hurt Greene’s production.

Murray

January 7th, 2010
12:07 pm

Lets look at the teams that have really dominated lately (i.e. Texas and Florida) Yes Bama is in the NC but Florida and Texas have been the dominating teams in my opinion. Now lets look at their QBs, Tebow and McCoy, especially McCoy. They are mobile. After looking at film of Murray, he looks a lot like McCoy. Lets not forget the big arm that was under McCoy that transfered to Ole Miss and led the nation in interceptions. Lets also not forget the big arm that was at UGA that did not lead us to a championship. My point is is that in college football right now the mobile quarterbacks are the ones winning, and a mobile quarterback is the last one that led UGA to a championship. Also, its not like McCoy can’t throw. He has a good arm.

Cuz

January 7th, 2010
12:09 pm

Jaah, apparently, the new DC is still coaching ball as of this moment. That gives you, Smart, Muschamp or some Pro guy. Well, that is what I read.

Hey who wants a raise? Mark Richt’s number on your cell phone is worth more than solid gold.

d

January 7th, 2010
12:09 pm

right on AUFAN. Comparing Mettenberger to Manning? Come on

Paul's Johnson

January 7th, 2010
12:12 pm

I’d say this column is about 6 months premature. But I’ll say this much, if Ray Goof is considered a credible authority on next year’s Mutt handoff specialist, so much the better for your opponents.

superDawg

January 7th, 2010
12:17 pm

The key is the O line.With the tallant at RB and recievers UGA should be ok.Looking forward to next year with a better D .

stw

January 7th, 2010
12:21 pm

AJC STAFF: These articles would be 100 % better if you could delete those idiots who just want to be “first” or “repeat a score from the past”, etc. Evidently they have no life and should not be allowed on their mother’s computer.

hmmm.....

January 7th, 2010
12:21 pm

I think Murray starts, Gray comes in for the wilddog formations. Mett will get playing time and maybe in another year he steals the starting job. You think either will transfer??

LAKE OCONEE DAWG

January 7th, 2010
12:22 pm

LSUnAtlanta:
COULDN’T EVEN WIN YOUR BOWL GAME AND YOU COME ON HERE TALKING SMACK…..IF IT HADN’T BEEN FOR THE TERRIBLE CALL (AND LATER SUSPENSION) OF THE REFS WHO CALLLED THE CELEBRATION PENALTY ON GREEN, THE DAWGS BEAT YOU TOO…..TIGERS WERE TOOTHLESS AGAINST OLE JO PA…..

hmmm.....

January 7th, 2010
12:24 pm

I think Mason will be buried on the depth chart and not see much time. He shoulda gone to Miss St. He could have started and worked for Mullen

Observe & Report

January 7th, 2010
12:27 pm

Don’t forget that Gray was competing against a CWM D in the spring game. No wonder he looked good then but he didn’t look very good in mop-up duty this year. Can he play safety or CB? Looks like he likes contact and the secondary can sure use some help.

Froggy Dawgy

January 7th, 2010
12:34 pm

Yes they will, I said this a while ago and now with Mason it is going to be a bigger battle. Quarter Back Controversy hitting Athens Theatres Fall 2010. There will be one happy camper and three not so happy campers. Oh no, but what if the winner of the battle doesn’t perform then which one of the other three will it be? Will there be doubts? Yes. Will there be frustation from the other three? Yes. Will there be thoughts of transfer? Maybe. Will there be three young Quarterbacks ridin the bench for a long time? Absolutely. Good luck

tizzle82286

January 7th, 2010
12:35 pm

Im break down all 3 QBs with description most used, and who they most reflect in terms of UGA, NCAA and NFL.
Logan Gray 6-2 195 Ultra Athletic(in terms of QB) D.J. Shockley, Ricky Dobbs(Navy) and Dennis Dixon(Steelers).
Aaron Murray 6-1 205 Mr. Accurate…David Greene, Colt McCoy(Texas) and Drew Brees(Saints).
Zach Mettenberger 6-5 232 NFL Prototype…Matt Stafford, Ryan Mallet(Arkansas) and Joe Flacco(Ravens).
Comments?

Jaah

January 7th, 2010
12:35 pm

Enter your comments here

59bulldawg

January 7th, 2010
12:35 pm

Look we need to go with whoever gives us the best chance to win next fall and not get into a quarterback carousel. The coaches need to make a decision by the end of spring practice. Otherwise it could be another tough season!

Reptillicide

January 7th, 2010
12:37 pm

Bill,

you make an invalid comparison with Joe T., because Stafford was a TRUE freshman at the time whereas Murray is a redshirt freshman. Also, Bobo said as recently as a few weeks ago that Murray was the more polished player at this time, so I don’t think either Ray Goff or Kelin Johnson know what they’re talking about in regards to Murray falling behind because of the injury.

Murray will be the starter.

jack bull

January 7th, 2010
12:38 pm

those of you/us looking for a better D next year may want to take note that more times than not, when you make a coaching change, that first year usually takes a step back…just a thought.

DawgDad

January 7th, 2010
12:39 pm

With the depth of talent on-hand and proven top-notch QB coaching, QB is the least of UGA’s problems. I’ll be much more interested in seeing what the defense will look like. Priority #1, though, is finding a camera-friendly Dawg that can make it through a full season.

Joseph

January 7th, 2010
12:42 pm

I think Murray will be the starter but the dawgs need to continue to run and work in play action and also take the QB’s mobility into account when putting in the scheme. Should be fun.

Nerd Central @ North Ave

January 7th, 2010
12:42 pm

Good luck with your freshman quarterback next year. UGA will never get all the pieces together in one season. That is what makes you a middle-tier program.

mike on lake hartwell

January 7th, 2010
12:42 pm

bill,

there is a difference between joe t. starting the season
when stafford was here. stafford was a true freshman.
murray will be a redshirt freshman with a year of practice,
playbook, and some experience under his belt.

Reptillicide

January 7th, 2010
12:43 pm

a and L-dawg,

you guys are retarded. Every player comes to Georgia as a stepping stone, THAT’S WHAT COLLEGE IS. Saying that Stafford or Moreno didn’t love Georgia is about the most asinine thing a Dawg fan could say. You guys are the ones who said the exact same bullcrap about Joe Cox and listed his “love” of Georgia as the reason why he would be better than Stafford. Joe Tereshinkski III loved the Dawgs too, you know.

I swear…. some people are idiots.

J Smurf

January 7th, 2010
12:44 pm

Hutson Mason is a career clipboard guy. Should look great on the sidelines with his hat on backwards.

ThePoundPuppies

January 7th, 2010
12:46 pm

Not as if it matters who is the QB for the Pound Puppies next year. They can brag about beating a Texas A&M team starting some 18 freshmen with high hopes going into next season. There are 3 things that can help the Puppies and they are:

1. Meyer stays retired
2. Richt has a miracle performed on his backbone to motivate his teams to play with the heart of “wanting” to be a champion
3. Headlines out of Athens changes from arrests and how big of PIGS their fans are while tailgating (maybe they forget that Athens isn’t the trailer park they are used to)

Richt is SOFT (PERIOD)! His commercial for being Ford Tough makes me laugh because he should be the new Charmin man because he is Charmin SOFT!!! He’ll simply keep going to church and praying for the almighty to deliver on his inability to win big games.

Don’t let you Puppie Pride cloud your judgements. What I have sad is true when you actually put the pride aside and look at the facts. How many of you threw “Tebow Is Gone” party’s???

traf dlo

January 7th, 2010
12:46 pm

I don’t care what “it” is,Joe Cox had never lost a game in high school,how’d that work out this past season?I say put them all together and put the best performer on the field regardless of whether he is a true freshman or 5th year senior.

30 Year Drought

January 7th, 2010
12:47 pm

Last year was Florida’s year, this year it is Bama’s year, when everybody on this blog is dead it will be the Dawgs year.

LSUnAtlanta

January 7th, 2010
12:47 pm

Hey BulldogRob

SO then by your assessment of Les winning with Saban’s players, then All of those games that David Green won while Richt was there need to go to Donnan since Donnan was the one that brought Green there and not Marky Mark. Also Richt can no longer claim the 2002 SEC Championship because that was won with Donnan’s players.

See how anything can be turned around..

longDawg

January 7th, 2010
12:48 pm

I like LG but what if he became a safety He has speed and good ball handling skills

longDawg

January 7th, 2010
12:52 pm

LG could be the next GREAT WHITE HOAGE

UGA Fan

January 7th, 2010
12:53 pm

I had a Tebow is gone party but then I realized that #12 John Brantley is going to light up our defense too so I cut the party a little short. Murray and Mett will have not played in a game in almost two years come September……….against high schoolers, that is what I am most worried about.

5Dawgs

January 7th, 2010
12:54 pm

I agree with Murray, the winning qb’s are the mobile ones!! I also heard Georgia has been in contact with Todd Grantham (Dallas) about the DC job?? Don’t know if there’s any truth to that but that’s what I heard??

UGADawg4Life

January 7th, 2010
12:55 pm

I’m a Aaron Murray fan but he’s compared to Tony Romo and I really don’t like that. Plus he’s more of a spread qb. Mettenberg’s good , too. I say let ‘em battle it out in the G-Day game. CMR needs to stop this inheriting jobs stuff move gray to WR. I personally think AR or ZM should have started last year . A plus side to that was the both were early enrollees so they got a jump start on the playbook. UGA as a easy schedule next season so tey won’t have to deal with that much. Good article Bill.

Glenn

January 7th, 2010
12:56 pm

I will be surprised it you don’t see both playing at the start of the season. Both have things they can improve on and both have there strong points. Which ones develops the “it factor” first will have the upper hand. The DAWGS would be favored to win the SEC if they had a proven QB. That’s why I was wanting somebody to get in there this past year to get some playing time. This can cost us down the road more than it would have this year. Time will tell.
GO DAWGS !!!!!!!!!!

78 DAWG

January 7th, 2010
12:57 pm

Murray was a 5 star recruit so he’s heisman material. Faster and more accurate than tebow. Rivals and Scouts are never wrong. DAWGS should be a preseason top 5 with the way we handled Texas AM, which has one of the top offenses in the nation.

1eyedJack

January 7th, 2010
1:04 pm

Which ever one can scramble to his right and throw back across his body to a receiver on the left ala Belue to Scott, he’s my man.

lastgrad

January 7th, 2010
1:06 pm

sounds to me like there is lots to hope for next year with all these QBs. I am much more worried about our defense, kick coverage and strength conditioning for next year. We need to get back to the kind of defense we once had. Just take a look at which teams lead the nation in fewest yds per game on defense and compare those teams to who is in the big bowl games. TCU, AL, TX, FL, Defense wins games. QBs make headlines.

four good QBs

January 7th, 2010
1:08 pm

that could not beat cox.

C'mon

January 7th, 2010
1:10 pm

Did anyone pay attention? Did anyone read this blog?

Mettenberger will have the best shot at starting…Why?

1) Logan Gray is a dual-threat….Mike Bobo calls Mark Richt’s pro-style offense. There is no way it’s going to change to the spread.

2) Aaron Murray is on the short side and not making quick enough reads. At best, he’s going to go into next year as the back-up. More likely is that he will transfer out if he doesn’t win out. He’s no DJ Shockley…

3) Mettenberger is a local kid, has good size, a big arm, and is the prototype QB to run this offense. Under center, he’ll be making the following progression reads: Green, King, Durham, Wooten….how hard is it to get one of them the ball?

Seriously people…

AceDawg

January 7th, 2010
1:14 pm

There’s something in the water at UGA that gives receivers butter fingers. Our guys are so talented – I hope they overcome it for once and give our QB’s some super-caliber guys. Green is obviously super-caliber, but other top UGA receivers started out better and got worse as they drank the UGA water – Edwards and Gibson both got worse in my opinion – Massaquoi got better.

dawgmaniac

January 7th, 2010
1:17 pm

All three of them are the next coming of Herschel. They all are sooooo talented that picking between them will be impossible and the one not chosen will challenge for Heisman as the running back. Never ceases to amaze me that Georgia fans have such a high opinion of their players. From what I read, I surmise the DAWGS could be in trouble at QB next year.