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

Youbetcha

January 7th, 2010
1:19 pm

LSUnAtlanta – Would Richt get credit for the 2005 SEC Chipper? That is what I thought! Now beat it you Nerd!

Really?

January 7th, 2010
1:22 pm

AceDawg- you must have not watched UGA football over the last couple years. Drops were a problem years ago but we have certainly gotten better at catching the ball over the last couple years. Aron White is the only guy that I can think of this previous season that had more than a few drops.

dawgfan(not sec fan)

January 7th, 2010
1:27 pm

Hook’em Horns!!! Enough already with the “I’m pulling for Alabama for SEC reasons” bit. I hope Texas beats the brakes off of Alabama. I am a Dawg fan, not a SEC fan. Do you really think someone in Montana is gonna think the SEC is not a good conference if Texas wins? People, THEY DON’T CARE! Even if they do care, why do you care what some cowboy in Montana thinks about SEC football. Pull for the dawgs if your a Georgia fan and pull against our rivals. If Florida was playing Russia in checkers, I would pull like hell for Russia!

UGA rotated tons of Of frosh and red sh frosh

January 7th, 2010
1:30 pm

UGA detractors ………… look at the number of red shirt frosh and true frosh that played for them last year. They were green and frankly, they remind me of the 78 and 79 UGA teams that preceeded the 80,81 teams. We just got better over the years with that crowd.

Experience is very,very important but GOOD is more important and UGA has some good to great young uns. If you follow football at all, you know this to be true. We shall see. We shall see, now won’t we?? Here are just a few names my friends. Just a few:

Rambo, Tyson, Dallas Lee, Murray, Aaron M, Rontavious, Orson, Lynch, Marvelous Marvin Brown, Smith, and too many more to name. They are good to very, very good. DEPTH IS KEY TOO.

Tebow? Great, very great player and also ………….G-O-N-E, like Meyer. HAHAHAHAHAHA

Tech? Dwyer and that laughing stock DE Morgan are gone. I sure hope bay bay # 9 stays put and nesbitt, too.

2Cents

January 7th, 2010
1:31 pm

Let’s see… you got a 6′5″ guy with a rifle arm. Or a guy who’s 6′ with lots of ’spunk’ – which to choose? Those big programs, one ones that win lots of championships, seem to always choose the bigger talent. You know, they use coaching and all to get them up to speed and let ‘em rip.

So it’s obvious. UGA will pick the smaller kid.

dawgfan(not sec fan)

January 7th, 2010
1:39 pm

Hook’em Horns!!! Enough already with the “I’m pulling for Alabama for SEC reasons” bit. I hope Texas beats the brakes off of Alabama. I am a Dawg fan, not a SEC fan. Do you really think someone in Montana is gonna think the SEC is not a good conference if Texas wins? People, THEY DON’T CARE! Even if they do care, why do you care what some cowboy in Montana thinks about SEC football. Pull for the dawgs if your a Georgia fan and pull against our rivals. If Florida was playing Russia in hopscotch, I would pull like hell for Russia!

KeithB

January 7th, 2010
1:40 pm

I am a fan of the big, prototypical pocket QB. Saying that, I like Metz. I think UGA will employ a ‘Bama like offense. With backs like Ealey and King, just turn around, give it to one of those guys, carry out your fake, and watch them go. It the event that you have to pass, go play action and pick a color: Green, Brown, White or (Rogers, obviously not a color, but worth throwing it to). If that O line holds up, you should be in good shape, offensively (defense is another story). I think what matters more than how good UGA is, is how far down to earth UF is.

(78 DAWG, don’t get too crazy! Remember being pre-season #1?, didn’t work out too well)

All UGA

January 7th, 2010
1:42 pm

Too bad we didn’t have one playing last fall. Now more growning pains. Richt had better be careful or he wont be around for them to mature. Why worry about the redshirt since they probably wont be around all 4 years anyway.

Flo-Ri-Duh!

January 7th, 2010
1:42 pm

Murray will be the starter unless Mettenberger has improved 200%. Accuracy is more important than the ability to throw the ball 70 yards. Logan Grey seemed to regress last year and should be at WR.

RealDawg

January 7th, 2010
1:50 pm

Hey LSUnAtlanta,

At least we have a coach who can tell time…….looks like the “Mad Hatter” has on his cap too tight!!!!

I wouldn’t brag too much about the LSU KittyKats since their offense ranking was 112th this year….lol

KeithB

January 7th, 2010
1:51 pm

dawgfan(not sec fan), I am so proud of you!!! Now if the rest of the pillow fluffers would follow your lead, this would be an ok place!

Don’t laugh, but I am a NM Lobos fan. (I know, I know…) But, I dare you to go to Albuquerque and find me someone rooting for BYU…IN ANYTHING!! Aint happenin’ cap’n!

option smoption

January 7th, 2010
1:52 pm

c’mon, all due respect, you are way wrong. Mettenburger couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. All this is just talk. Murray is the starter unless he gets hurt. And if Gray was moved to WR and Murray got hurt, they would move Gray back to QB. Mett NEVER plays at UGA. If he does, we’re in for another year like the one we just experienced…

TampaDawg86

January 7th, 2010
1:58 pm

I talk to Aaron Murray quite a bit. He has a good head on his shoulders and is ready to lead the Dawg Nation to multiple championships. I for one am quite upset he didn’t get the starting nod this season and a true freshman to get more experience. Look what happened with stafford he left early and wasn’t even redshirted. Watching Aaron in Highschool he is the leader the Dawgs have needed since Shockley left. When he is on the field everybody knows and he is going to get the Job done. He came his senior year after breaking something in his leg early to bring his team to the National Championship. Not to mention that big athlectic guy that wears number 7 at TE was his main target and those two were nasty in highschool! If Zach gets the job I’m happy for him but I think Murray is the man for the job!!! Go Dawgs!

Youbetcha

January 7th, 2010
1:59 pm

I see Gray throwing the ball to Green, Brown, White, and a few Blacks next year!

TampaDawg86

January 7th, 2010
2:00 pm

edit from my post above.. he came back from breaking something in his leg earlier in the year to lead his team to the State championship!

Saint Clarkston

January 7th, 2010
2:00 pm

Ray Goff was the SEC player of the year in 1976. Those who say
he doesn’t know football are idiots. Did he excell as a head
coach? No. But he’s been in the arena.

Lame Little Kitty

January 7th, 2010
2:00 pm

UGA better not try my stunt I mean my method by offering Nash Nance a scholarship to get Da’Freak, but if Da’Freak doesn’t sign first, I will pull Nance’s offer… But dont tell anyone of my evil ways. hehehe

OZZFEST

January 7th, 2010
2:02 pm

BROKEN RECORD….RICHT FAILS TO PREP “NEXT YEAR’S QB”…GEORGIA PROJECTED AS HAVING A REBULIDING AS A RESULT”…SO WE START OFF RANKED #18 AND HAVE A VERY SLIM CHANCE TO GET INTO THE TOP 4 TO MAKE A BSC BOWL.

ALSO BROKEN RECORD MATERIAL….ASST AD AUTHUR JOHNSON SCHEDULES MISS. JR. COLLEGE FOR 2011 SEASON & AGREES TO PAY $1.8M.

WTH?

TampaDawg86

January 7th, 2010
2:02 pm

Saint Clarkston Ray Goff was actually 46-34-1 at Georgia. He wasn’t the greatest but had a winning record!

Dawg Fan

January 7th, 2010
2:04 pm

Murray could be a lot like Drew Brees with his size and pinpoint accuracy. I say give him a shot. Mettenberger looks like a big time QB but I’m not convinced that he is big time. Oconee County was not very good when he QB’d there. Murray took his team to a state championship in Florida. Mettenberger had the inside because his mother works for the athletic department. I’m not hating, just stating facts.

dawg it

January 7th, 2010
2:07 pm

there is a old saying that all ways rings true. ” If you have three or four quarterbacks you ain’t got ONE” maybe we could focus on that giant LACK of a defense, and the lack of a DC. Kentucky cant wait to play us again. I think I’ll cover up my Ga. tatt and pull for Bama again next year.

Hutson Mason

January 7th, 2010
2:10 pm

Enter your comments here

Florida Dawg

January 7th, 2010
2:10 pm

One thing we know…top high school performance at quarterback does not always equal top performance in college. And good college quarterbacks are not always make it to the next level.
I think we had better recruit another so-called top quarterback now…I’m not convinced with any that we have going in to 2010.

dan

January 7th, 2010
2:11 pm

Well who ever they put in there, I just hope they’re able to make good decisions with the football.I’m tired of seeing turnovers and INT’s cost us games! I was really pretty dissapointed in Joe Cox’s inability to make good decisions in the pocket. I mean the guy had 5 YEARS to learn this offense!And he didn’t perform any better than a rookie QB would have. Let me put it this way: I suck at math! If all I did for 5 YEARS was study word problems, by the time the test comes, I’m going to at least know how to do word problems if nothing else! Cox should have been able to run that offense in his sleep! Either Joe Cox didn’t put in the work to get better or the coaching staff doesn’t do a good job of getting their backup QB’s ready to play. Could it have been both?

Yep!

January 7th, 2010
2:13 pm

dawg it- or get the GA tatt removed altogether. Seems pretty WT to me.

Hutson Mason

January 7th, 2010
2:14 pm

The next QB at GA is me baby!!!! Never mind I am a three star recruit and threw 5 picks in a playoff game. Dawg nation I want to be just like my hero Joey Cox Baby!!!!!!

tampa dawg

January 7th, 2010
2:15 pm

Watching Aaron play his high school ball here, you can’t convince me or make me believe anyone will beat him out at QB, He is just too talented to take a back seat to a guy named mettenberg. Aaron didnt comr back from a broken leg to lead his team to state championship for nothing, u will see.

Dawg Fan

January 7th, 2010
2:15 pm

Ozzfest,

I’m not sure if you are referring to Ole Miss, Miss State, or somebody else, but the non conference schedule for 2011 is Louisville, Coastal Carolina, New Mexico State, and Ga Tech. Arthur doesn’t have a whole lot of control over the SEC schedule.

Bon Bon

January 7th, 2010
2:19 pm

43th Both the boys are nice and wonderful. Couldn’t Mark have both of them play? It’s snowing….

Peaches

January 7th, 2010
2:20 pm

I agree that both are just adorable. Snow is nice.

lsuwho?

January 7th, 2010
2:21 pm

Hey LSUnAtlanta, please go back to the swamp. Or at least try not to choke on PSU c ock like that sorry bowl performance. Hurray you beat us after 3 loses in a row (with ref help no less), now go die in the muck.

freshd

January 7th, 2010
2:21 pm

go with the taller guy if they are even at all the other skills. i bet joe cox had at least 30 or 40 balls batted down at the line, this past season

LSUnAtlanta

January 7th, 2010
2:24 pm

RealDog

LSU’s 112th ranked Offense was STILL good enough to beat UGA!

And Before you say it was the refs fault, Did the Refs miss those three tackels when Charles Scott scored? Why was LSU able to stop UGA after LSU got the same penalty?

LSUnAtlanta

January 7th, 2010
2:26 pm

lswho?

Could you please speak up, Our two Crystal Balls are making to much noise for me to hear you!

Now go and finish your Mark Richt Circle Jerk..

Peaches

January 7th, 2010
2:26 pm

Did I read that correctly? Cox had his balls batted…

Intellegence

January 7th, 2010
2:26 pm

RealDog, you just got owned. Take it from a fellow Georgia fan… we lost, and it doesn’t matter how. LSU won… we lost. Get over it and quit acting like you’re God’s gift to Georgia football.

lsuwho?

January 7th, 2010
2:27 pm

Hey spike the ball again Jefferson, CoachHat don’t care bout no time left!

Gatorguy

January 7th, 2010
2:32 pm

BTW
(((((((((((((((41-17)))))))))))))
7 out of 9
17 out of 20

LSUnAtlanta

January 7th, 2010
2:32 pm

lsuwho?

Your right but he was still smart enough to beat you this year.

Sweet Home Alabama

January 7th, 2010
2:33 pm

too runts and a tight end.i wish we could play them today.i am serious,we could put 75 on them.anytime dogs…..

Bon Bon

January 7th, 2010
2:33 pm

I simply agree that tall is awesome but a nice tan is equally special,

BG

January 7th, 2010
2:35 pm

Murray baby!!!!

ToccoaDawg

January 7th, 2010
2:37 pm

May the best freshman win redshirt or true freshman that is

SECAgainTOnight

January 7th, 2010
2:37 pm

LSUnAtlanta…..Your coach did not beat us this year. I believe it was the disgraced SEC officials who have that honor. You had Nick Saban as a head coach. Coach Miles can’t win jack with his players. He almost blew it 2 years ago, and is very lucky he didn’t play UGA in the SEC Championship. Enough said

McDawg

January 7th, 2010
2:37 pm

after watching cox get pass after pass batted down and some of those interceptions i don’t believe he could see where he was throwing the ball-i am concerned about Murray’s height-but given the fact that i have never watched any of these guy practice i will defer to the coaches

All I'm Saying Is...

January 7th, 2010
2:40 pm

All I ask is that the decision is made based on performance and not sentiment a la Joe T III and the redhead.

A potent running game is the best way to settle in a new starter at QB in the SEC…and the status of the rushing attack is what you need to blawg about next Mr. King!

Dawg-n-Alaska

January 7th, 2010
2:42 pm

Nerd@ n.central;
Mid tier program? I believe tech proved they were mid tier in both the SEC and Lil’10. One bad year, we still run all over you and you cant stay away from our blogs. Why dont you and ole J.Shultz go figure out why tech sucks and cry about why your not going to get any offensive talented recruits!! You cant even claim success in Bball…Really!! I cant wait till next year between the hedges and yall start to realize that as long as you have CPJ you will never beat GA again. In 2 years, GA state will have a better program then you.

GSUGA

January 7th, 2010
2:48 pm

The defense will be better next year if the Offense runs the ball more and keeps the other teams offense off the field. We need a short passing game to complement the long pass. Hopefully Bobo will implement a good short passing game with a good running attack. They do not need to sit the three other RB’s on the bench either. It is a shame to waste good running backs.

shawn

January 7th, 2010
2:48 pm

Is it me, or is the AJC online one of the slowest sites around? Why is that?

jerry

January 7th, 2010
2:48 pm

Gray? Hell, he couldn’t even beat out Cox. Richt would be commiting coaching suicide to start him.