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

FaninGA

January 7th, 2010
4:35 pm

haha UGA will suck again next year just like they did this year…a bunch of uneducated thugs! Also, how was shreveport? hahaha 8-5 8-5 8-5

GaGator

January 7th, 2010
4:37 pm

Bill Stanfill

Funny you should mention Brantley. He is a classic pro-style QB. He played in 7 games and his numbers were off the chart. He complete 36 of 48 passes with no INT. and 7 TD’s for a 75% completion total. His QB rating was 194.88(which are NFL 1st round numbers). I think the Gators will be just fine thank you.

Denver Dog

January 7th, 2010
4:40 pm

GaGator, he is indeed a good QB, and will do a fine job for the Gators. After all, look at his pedigree UGA. He has an uncle that started for Ga Tech too! So the Gators should be just fine.

MILLEDGEVILLE DAWG

January 7th, 2010
4:43 pm

If Logan Gray is the starting QB in the fall, I promise to cancel my football and basketball season tickets forever. Furthermore, I will parachute into Sanford Stadium naked along with all the 250lb plus male ticket holders that will follow me in this revolt. Truly he is not a candidate.

collegeballfan

January 7th, 2010
4:46 pm

The best move for UGA at QB would be to play the guy who hands off the the RBs better and who has the brain to walk up to the line and get out of a bad play/formation. If Richt elects to go with the “arm” and remains in love with Green at WR, UGA will win 8 games next year. Run the damn ball, play defense and win the Division.

Green can get his touches with a few passes, a few “wildog” plays and a few reverses. Heck, line him up at TB and run the toss sweep. But do not throw the damn ball 30 times a game, 15 passes is plenty.

GaGator

January 7th, 2010
4:46 pm

I didn’t know about the uncle, but his dad was an AllAmerican at Florida, kinda of like Butler, the punter.

Bill Stanfill

January 7th, 2010
4:48 pm

When I saw Brantley play, I thought he looked strong. But since he played so sparingly–and it was usually late game mop-ups–I wouldn’t take those stats too seriously.

Tired of Dawgs

January 7th, 2010
4:49 pm

You puppies might run the state of Ga, but that’s it! good thing you have Ga Tech to keep you guys happy. Your awful outside the state.

Hobnail Boot

January 7th, 2010
4:50 pm

1.) Murray = QB1
2.) Metz = QB2
3.) Gray = WR and Wild dog formation

bulldawgrob

January 7th, 2010
4:52 pm

Atl-fan,i dont know what player u spoke to that said zach is a better quaterback than Murray im a season tickrt holder and have got some connections and been told that Zach mettenberger is atleast 2 years away and needs alot of foot work before he is ready to start over Murray.as far as Mason he wont be ready for the fall.he is not coming in till the summer.remember Stafford came in for the bowl and stated in january because he graduated early and was there in spring.he was ready because he had 8 months before the season started to learn.

GaGator

January 7th, 2010
4:53 pm

Bill

Those stats would be great in practice.

PHIL

January 7th, 2010
4:55 pm

Bill, I always tell you when you write a poor article so I’ll tell you when you did well. You did a good job with this. Look forward to seeing more.

PHIL

January 7th, 2010
4:58 pm

How can you be a GAGator? That’s like saying I’m a tall midget. Or more to the point a patriotic treasonist.

shane#1

January 7th, 2010
4:59 pm

Mike Bobo said Murray studied the game more than any QB he had coached. Since Murray had a 5.0 HS GPA all that hard work will better prepare him to start. Murray also trains hard, he tied Cox, a 5 yr senior, as strongest QB in the UGA program. The kid benched 350, not bad for an 18 yr old. Anyone with a scholly at a Div 1 school is a better than average football player, so 90% of an athlete’s success at that level will depend on how hard he wants to work. I think Murray earns the job.

Bill Stanfill

January 7th, 2010
5:00 pm

gator–will Brantley be a junior next season?

Bill Stanfill

January 7th, 2010
5:05 pm

I’m pulling for Alabama tonight (with no great enthusiasm though I’m a lont-time SEC’er). But my LSU friends are hoping Bama gets stomped. They’ll never forgive Saban.

Bill Stanfill

January 7th, 2010
5:10 pm

No more activity here? I guess everybody just got off from work…

GaGator

January 7th, 2010
5:25 pm

Brantley will be a junior and to Phil, GaGator is a Gator living in Georgia.
And, by the way I have broken all my dawg friends betting the J’ville game.

Denver Dog

January 7th, 2010
5:35 pm

Ga Gator, his dad was an all american at UGA, and his uncle, Todd Rampley a pretty good QB at Ga Tech

Tech Man

January 7th, 2010
5:36 pm

What’s it matter who you got,if you have seasons like you have had latley!!!Tech is 4 and 2 against sec in the last too years.Uga pre season # 1 in 08 to what you got now!!

NotWorking

January 7th, 2010
5:37 pm

Remember Greene and Shockley? For better or worse, that’s what we’re in for next season. A starting QB (Murray) and a change-of-pace QB (Zach). Gray at wideout.

BravesFan4Life

January 7th, 2010
5:41 pm

Hand it off to Ealey and watch him go. We need to run the ball to open up the passing game. How many wasted plays and drives did we have this year? Too many. I hope Murray and Metz have to work their tails off to earn the job. Logan Gray – not an SEC QB. Great athete, but not an SEC QB.

Jim

January 7th, 2010
5:50 pm

Leave Gray and Murray at QB and move Mettenberger to tight end.

UGA fan 20010

January 7th, 2010
5:55 pm

Mettenberger will transfer to somewhere like LA Tech of FAU or MTSU by the time spring is over and Murray will become starter and he will be amazing by having Orson, AJ, Rantavious, Tavarres, and Darick as his receiving corps.

NotWorking

January 7th, 2010
6:22 pm

Platoon, Murray plays first 2-3 series, Zach’s a change of pace (ie, Greene/Shockley), Gray at wideout. SEC East champs. And, to the haters, get your own blog!

Old Dawg

January 7th, 2010
6:22 pm

I don’t know, but it’ll certainly be interesting to watch. Logan didn’t get enough of a workout in game situations to get much rhythm going, so it’s hard to tell. But I really like how the offense is stacking up with the improved running game, and with a ton of receivers…especially if Da’Rick Rogers keeps his pledge. If they run an option offense, then Gray or Murray have an edge. If they go more pro-style, then Mettenburger may have a shot.

TE is kind of an interesting situation. Both Charles and White are really undersized as prototypical tight ends, but they’re both pretty fast and talented. Bruce Figgins and Arthur Lynch are more typical, but still relatively unproven. Lot of choices, though.

Old Dawg

January 7th, 2010
6:25 pm

Sorry. Metten-berger. I must have dinner on my mind.

bulldawgrob

January 7th, 2010
6:33 pm

Tech Man when is the last time you won a bowl.you lost the orange bowl,last year yall lost to a 5 loss LSU team in Atlanta.CPJ offence is not that great.look how Iowa,UGA,and Miami shut it down!!The ACC is horrible in BCS games over the the years.BOSIE State and TCU of the Mountain west and WAC deserve to be in the BCS before the ACC does.ACC is so overrated.

Big L

January 7th, 2010
6:39 pm

If Bobo does not blend pro style with a spread, then he will be wasting Murray’s talents. Use what he is good at and let the NFL make him a pro style QB. it is little consilation knowing our QB’s do great in the pro’s. I want a championship. Let the pro’s develop his “Under center” skills. Sides last time I checke Manning and Brees to alot of snaps in the shotgun.

willie martinez

January 7th, 2010
6:48 pm

if logan could have beaten out cox as a starter CMR wouldnt be looking for a new DC

Big L

January 7th, 2010
6:51 pm

Murray makes plays with feet and arm. No question, he starts.

Tech Man

January 7th, 2010
6:57 pm

I have your answer to the Qb issue you have.I will be your next Qb,I have height and 240 lbs.Let me have the ball!!

boog

January 7th, 2010
7:16 pm

It will be Murray and it won’t be close. The guy is the real deal. The last person I want to hear from concerning anything UGA is Ray Goff… I still wince every time I think of him being the HC at UGA.

Tim

January 7th, 2010
7:19 pm

Don’t Care. Just Win.

Big L

January 7th, 2010
7:19 pm

Sorry tech man. We have recievers that need to make catches and our QB needs to be able to pass. You just don’t meet the requirements of a big boy QB. Enjoy the triple O .

Chipped Tires

January 7th, 2010
7:24 pm

Doesn’t really matter anyway on who the QB will be. AJ will be double teamed so no one else can really consistently catch the ball just like in the embarrassing G day game last year. It WiLL be another disappointing year for Dawg fans. Mark it down !

St Simons always looks on the bright side of life.

January 7th, 2010
7:32 pm

Who is better Devo or Kraftwerk?

Big L

January 7th, 2010
7:33 pm

Hey Chipped Tires, did you pay for them sour grapes, or you just still feelin that loss in Atlanta.

Bulldog Mike

January 7th, 2010
7:45 pm

Bill-

I’d love to see a series of future articles comparing #’s for the georgia QB’s:
1) yards 2) td’s 3) int’s 4) state championships 5) strengths/weaknesses according to scouts

P.S. I think you should change your headline to include Hutson Mason, although he might redshirt.

buzzDawg

January 7th, 2010
7:46 pm

Richt said during the year that Joe Cox at quarterback gave us the best chance to win. If that is true (and I trust Richt’s judgment), then Logan Gray was clearly a worse choice at the position. I don’t see how he can be our quarterback. Richt very publicly stated that Gray could opt to try for another position such as receiver. I have no inside sources but it appears that Murray should be the next quarterback. If the offensive line can jell, if King and Ealey continue to run like they did late in the season and if Green, Wooten, Charles, White, Brown, T. King, etc. continue to do well, it could be a very good year. The question mark aside from quarterback will be the defense.

WE USED TO RUN THIS STATE

January 7th, 2010
7:50 pm

Did UGA find a DC?

WE USED TO RUN THIS STATE

January 7th, 2010
7:52 pm

Since UGA dosen’t play defense why do they need a coordinator ?

Big L

January 7th, 2010
8:08 pm

Man, I can’t wait for G day.

Lake Oconee Dawg

January 7th, 2010
8:12 pm

Enter your comments here

Lake Oconee Dawg

January 7th, 2010
8:16 pm

Why did the Coach (?) Richt or Bobo not give a QB some game experience? If I plan to win and be around Athens for a while I think you need to win. Anyway just a question.
Somebody please submit an answer.

Lake Oconee Dawg

January 7th, 2010
8:22 pm

This is to the FaninGA who ever the dumb nitwit thinks he a Dawg predictor. Leave the thinking to the Coaches at UGA. They know what has to be done to win.

Jimmy

January 7th, 2010
9:05 pm

We will see Murray and Mett sharing time at QB this year.
They may each play a half to begin the year.
I hope we see them both in the backfield at the same time.
Wouldn’t it be great to run a wildcat with Mett and Murray or Gray in the backfield?
Teams wouldn’t know what we’d be running.

tony

January 7th, 2010
9:17 pm

The qb competition aint even close. Murray is the best qb in 2010, 11, 12, 13 and he was the best qb in 09 without a doubt. Fran Tarkenton is 6′0, Joe Theismann is 6′0, Doug Flutie is 5′10 and Drew Brees is 6′0. All 4 qbs are shorter than Murray and all of them played in the nfl so why are you making a big deal out of Murray’s height.

Happydawg

January 7th, 2010
9:27 pm

I think that we need to move Russ to QB

Reality

January 7th, 2010
10:06 pm

It doesn’t matter who the QB will be at that high school team. It’ll be another 7 or 8 win season….