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

FroDawg77

January 7th, 2010
2:49 pm

Hope CMR remembers that he started a redshirt freshman in his first year as coach and that worked out pretty well…love Logan, but not as a QB…

Peaches

January 7th, 2010
2:49 pm

I’m unsure about the snap taker but I’m as tipsy as Mariah Carey about the Smart guy coming in to replace the hispanic gentleman to be over those nice boys on defense.

jerry

January 7th, 2010
2:49 pm

Shawn: It’s not you.

LSUnAtlanta

January 7th, 2010
2:52 pm

“SECAgainTOnight

LSUnAtlanta…..Your coach did not beat us this year. I believe it was the disgraced SEC officials who have that honor.”

Ok I will speak V E R Y S L O W L E Y for you uga fans.

Did the refs make you miss those three tackels that would have stopped Scott from scoring? Also Why was LSU able to stop uga on the SAME PENALTY?

jerry

January 7th, 2010
2:53 pm

It seems logical that if Smart were the first choice and UGA has offered others, then Smart must have turned them down.

shawn

January 7th, 2010
2:54 pm

Joe Cox had balls batted down b/c his release was incredibly slow, not only b/c of his height. A. Murray has been noted as having an exceptionally quick release.

John

January 7th, 2010
2:55 pm

Mettenberger will never start at Georgia…take that to the bank!

Will Muschamp

January 7th, 2010
2:56 pm

Sweet Home Alabama, shouldn’t you be tailgating in preparation for your Texas size beatdown?

TybeeDawg

January 7th, 2010
2:57 pm

It’s more than physical tolls and knowing the playbook…you have to be cool under pressure. And it does not matter how well you know the playbook if you cant make the right reads and the right decisions. I don’t see Mett as handling all that…yet.

shawn

January 7th, 2010
2:58 pm

Dallas Morning News and Onlineathens.com are reporting Todd Grantham (cowboys D line coach) has been contacted about the DC job. thoughts on Grantham?

LSUnAtlanta

January 7th, 2010
3:01 pm

SECAgainTOnight

Funny how you uga fans forget that the same peanalty was called on LSU. Also if LES won all those games with Saban’s players then Richt won all those games his first 3 years with Donnan’s players.

shawn

January 7th, 2010
3:03 pm

Hey AJC, two areas for you to improve upon.
1. Consult an IT company about speeding up your website (a larger server or something.)
2. Make these blogs continous where you don’t have to refresh the page to update user comments. Make it more of an instant messaging type service. Then users could actually carry on more of a debate / conversation. Its 2010, time for some improvements, don’t get complacent. Online is the future of your newspaper; invest in it.

Thanks and keep up the good work.

poopdawg

January 7th, 2010
3:09 pm

Mcdawg , don’t worry about Murray’s height. The difference between Cox and Murray is Murray’s ability to move and find the passing lanes. (see UGA’s spring game)Go to youtube and look at Murray’s highlights(high school.)

gt

January 7th, 2010
3:10 pm

aaron murray.he has the “it” factor. not like peyton manning, but even bigger- like daddy- archie manning. anyone old enough to remember him? remember the smart mouth ut lb saying in pre season that year “archie who?” anyone remember the score. 37-0.

murray has it – saw him in hs.

two kinds of athletes – winners and losers. winners find a way to win- like we used to.tarkenton, lastinger, the junkyard, hogue,etc. murray has that kind of way about him.

let us all thank God we are not LSU , UT, SC, GT, MIAMI FANS. YOU GUYS EMBARRASSED THE SOUTH. ALSO AUBURN, WHO CHOKED BUT NORTHWESTERN CHOKED ONCE MORE OFTEN.

GO DAWGS GO DAWGS GO DAWGS AND GO ALABAMA TONIGHT!

dirty

January 7th, 2010
3:12 pm

I say we call the QB battle MGM

FroDawg77

January 7th, 2010
3:13 pm

LSUnAtlanta – what is a tackel? You are right about CMR with Donnan’s players…like Urban Crier with Zook’s, Saban with Shula’s, Less with Saban’s…even Stoops with Blake’s players…the list goes on (and on)…on field coaching counts for something…

Hmmmmm

January 7th, 2010
3:13 pm

It sounds like it will be a fun GDay game. Is there a date for that yet? I can’t find one anywhere.

NCAA

January 7th, 2010
3:14 pm

I hope you people were alive and were old enough to watch and know what was going on in the 1980 National Title Game because that is the only National Title you are going to see that the Dawgs are going to play in or win.

DawgBuzz

January 7th, 2010
3:14 pm

What a terrible situation for the Bulldogs – Murray, Mett & Mason. Hopefully we will make every effort to play two of these guys a good amount in lesser games next season. Murray should start but they need to get Mett in there as well ( more than one lousy rep a game ). I really hope Logan gets to play if he goes to WR.

Ben Fugitt

January 7th, 2010
3:22 pm

Regardless of who gets the start, this is a GREAT problem to have. Now if we had this problem at SAFETY!

DILLIGAF

January 7th, 2010
3:23 pm

dawgfan(not sec fan):

I agree totally with your 1:27 post.

I could care less for ANY other SEC teams, especially UF. I also could care less what anyone else from any other team or conference thinks about the SEC.

Go Longhorns!

UGA85′

LSUnAtlanta

January 7th, 2010
3:24 pm

FroDawg77

You are saying the same thing I am. So why do your uga brethern continue to say that Les won all his games with Saban’s players? It makes NO sense..And thank-you for the spelling error.

GOPACKGO

January 7th, 2010
3:25 pm

All you Hutson Mason supporters need to talk to any Colquitt County fan that attended his last high school game. WE DO NOT NEED him at UGA. HE is AWFUL. He lead his team to 3 offensive points and 5 interceptions in the playoff game. Who give a rats a$$ about records.

Bill Stanfill

January 7th, 2010
3:26 pm

LSU isn’t exactly known for excellence at the QB position. That’s been their achilles heel. (As most NFL scouts privately knew, Jamarcus Russell was vastly overrated.) And LSU doesn’t have any strong QBs in the pipeline either.

UGA fans have reasons for excitement with the competition between Gray, Mett., and Murray.

L-Dawg = Moron

January 7th, 2010
3:29 pm

How old are you, L-Dawg ?

bigeasy830

January 7th, 2010
3:29 pm

Mark Ritch and Mike DODO BoBo are screwing it up againg. Murray was the best QB on the team last year, coach him up you dummies, Try to prepare the kid to win it all in a couple of years. Put him in there take a few bad losses and then have him ready for the next season with some experience.

Kirby Stupid

January 7th, 2010
3:29 pm

Not only does the QB M&M boys have upside, but the have the great AJ Green, not to mention Marlon Brown will get better the tight ends have good hands and will be better and also the freshman Rogers should make an impact. But we know unless I come back an improve the “D” than the Dawgs want be better.

LSUnAtlanta

January 7th, 2010
3:30 pm

“(As most NFL scouts privately knew, Jamarcus Russell was vastly overrated.) ”

As did 95% of the LSU fanbase.

jaxdawg

January 7th, 2010
3:35 pm

I watched the dawg report the other night and Kelin Johnson said Murray will be the starter, not Mettenberger. Ray Goff was the only one who mentioned Mettenberger.

Bill Stanfill

January 7th, 2010
3:39 pm

We needed a QB in this class so Hutson Mason is a decent late signee. His stats are impressive but he played in an extremely pass-happy offense–so I wouldn’t take those stats too seriously.

I’m not sure what the problem is at LSU at with attracting quarterbacks. They’ve produced a ton of stellar defensive players.

RealDawg

January 7th, 2010
3:42 pm

LSUnAtlanta, just like UGA fans moaned about the call against AJ Green, I’m sure you whined and cried foul with the other KittyKat fans when Patrick Peterson’s pseudointerception against AL was called against you. You guys act like it’s a given that your second stringers in that game would have marched down the field to score.

Just remember, prior to that squeaker you won here in Athens, we won 3 straight against LSU including a beatdown in 08 when we hung 45 at your house.

Do yourself a favor and buy Les Miles a new watch!!!

LSUnAtlanta

January 7th, 2010
3:44 pm

I don’t know why we can’t get a top notch QB either, Althouh Matt Flynn was a highly recrutied QB coming out.

FBI

January 7th, 2010
3:49 pm

Ray Goff didn’t give Terrell Davis any playing time when he was at UGA, and turned down Elam as a kicker. Why should anyone care what he says about talent.

CJ Dawg

January 7th, 2010
3:55 pm

You fellas DO realize ur talking about 18 – 20 year old kids here? Ease up on calling this one or that one a loser. They are all DAWGS and I will pull like hell for any of them. ANY of them.

LSUnAtlanta

January 7th, 2010
3:56 pm

RealDog

Do I agree with the call in the LSU/Bama game? No I sure don’t…But I have never said it was the reason LSU lost the game, Like I believe you stated that the penalty was the ONLY reason UGA lost to LSU this year.

Maybe UGA and the Mighty Richt should have figured out how to gain more than 45 yards of TOTAL OFFENSE in the 1st half. And if LSU had a HC that could put a decent game plan together, UGA wouldn’t have even been in that football game and even you know it..

Do you know what me and you have in common?

Neither one of us went to UGA, you are just one of the bandwagon Puppies fan that jumped on in the last few years.

atl-fan

January 7th, 2010
3:59 pm

I recently spoke to a bulldawg player who said that Zach is a better quaterback that Murray. This is coming from someone who sees them everyday in practice. Furthermore, Logan does not have the respect from his teammates to be the QB next year, he will be a receiver.

GaGator

January 7th, 2010
4:05 pm

yeah, yeah, yeah, Urban Meyer won the National Championship with the Zooker’s players, but he also won one his. As a matter of fact his senior class that just finished
set THE all-time winning record for any class 46-7. H&ll, Georgia almost lost 7 this year.

UGA perfect storm question

January 7th, 2010
4:12 pm

Hello fellow dawg fans & dawg hatters,

What does everything think it is going to require for Mark Richt and company to have a great run like Alabama and Florida. Where UGA competes for let’s say, atleast 2 national titles in a 4 year span and be in the mix for BCS births for let’s say 3 our of 4 years. Is this realistic for UGA?

Jeff

January 7th, 2010
4:13 pm

Either way we are going to be in good shape. Richt did the right thing by redshirting both of these guys last year. I think both will play at times next year. Gray is not an SEC caliber QB, but he can help our offense in lots of other ways. Either way, a good O line and good running backs can make an average QB great. Not to mention the deepest and most talented WRs in the SEC in 2010. Whomever the QB is, they are going to have every advantage.

Bill Stanfill

January 7th, 2010
4:15 pm

It will be interesting to see how well Brantley does for Florida next year. Seems to me that he has real talent–but it’s hard to say because Urban hardly ever let him play, even when the Gaors were up 4 TDs in the 4th quarter.

CLEVON LITTLE

January 7th, 2010
4:15 pm

I think it may be another classic case of Greene-Shockley. Who won that battle??

RealDawg

January 7th, 2010
4:15 pm

LSUnAtlanta, as per NCAA stats, UGA total offense ranked 79th in nation(bad!!), LSU?—112th (SuperBad!!!). And you’re lecturing to me about offense???

And no, I NEVER said the AJ Green call was the reason we lost that game. We COULDA won the game, but in my opinion, the better team (LSU) of that game won. Just like the LSU-AL game, you COULDA won the game had the Peterson call went your way, but CLEARLY, the better team(AL) did win the game.

For all the hype about how much better y’all say you are, you were 9-4, UGA 8-5 and you were one very late TD away from losing 4 straight to UGA

So stick it where the sun don’t shine. You’ll be second fiddle in the West so long as Saban stays in Tuscaloosa and Les tries to figure out what day it is….

Gotta be painful, watching your ex-coach abandon you and take your arch rivals to the NC game!!!

Atticus

January 7th, 2010
4:18 pm

Height is BS. Just ask Drew Brees.

Murray played against MUCH better competition in high school than Mettenberger but either could start. If Gray couldn’t get time this year then he isn’t (shouldn’t be) the guy. We also don’t need to play 3 different QBs for 3 straight years. Go with the young guy that can play for 3 or 4 years. My guess is Murray but I think both could be good and will be needed and will play.

Todd - Dacula

January 7th, 2010
4:18 pm

Who ever startes will be just geeping it warm until the arrival of the elusive and strong-armed Wilcox County, Georgia quarterback Nick Marshall arrive to take over… :)

GO GATAH

January 7th, 2010
4:25 pm

Go Gator, 8-5 is not 6-7. In fact, Georgia holds the longest 8+ winning season streak in the Nation at 13. Remind me, wasn’t it Meyer just a few years ago that went 7-5 and lost to Michigan in the bowl game? Also, as good as the Gators have been over the last few years, Florida has NEVER has an undefeated season …something that Georgia has, as well as the winner of the ALA-TX NC game tonight. AU was undefeated in ‘04, and Georgia 13-1 in ‘02, 12-2 in ‘07. The only difference is Florida & LSU have had the luck of others losing in the same year which propelled them to the NC game.

Dawgdom

January 7th, 2010
4:27 pm

It doesn’t matter who the QB is if Bobo don”t bring HIS A game every game and use ALL of the weapons we have!

bulldawgrob

January 7th, 2010
4:29 pm

LSUnAtlanta,yes Mark won early with Coach Donans players.Coack richt ialso won the conference championship over LSU and les miles and david green and david pollack were long gone.face it buddy this was mark richts worst year at georgia.2007 went to the sugar bowl under coach richt with his on players and won.yall won the conference that year ubder Less MIles with coach SAban’s players.2008 LSU lost 5 games and got crushed BY GEORGIA AT LSU.2009 YOU LOST ATLEAST 4 GAMES BUDDY AND GOT THE REFFS BLOWN CALL AGINST GEORGIA.SO LSU is geting worst under Less Miles.

Denver Dog

January 7th, 2010
4:32 pm

lsuinatlanta, did they teach you how to tell time in Louisiana, or are your guys just stupid.

Two is better than one

January 7th, 2010
4:34 pm

Why not play them both like Green and Shockley until one steps up and takes the job?

clemcudtlhopr

January 7th, 2010
4:35 pm

We need a QB to turn around and handoff 90% of the time and then throw the 20 yard out and/or skinny post. I’ll take Mettz. Just hope he has a head on his shoulders.