Logan Gray still might be fielding punts? Really!?!

If Logan Gray isn't the starting quarterback, he'll likely remain Mr. Fair Catch. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

If Logan Gray isn't the starting quarterback, he'll likely remain Mr. Fair Catch. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Punt returns were an up and down thing last season for the Dogs.

While Prince Miller was always a threat to break a long one and did just that a few times, Georgia spent a good portion of the season not even trying to return punts, sometimes even sending backup quarterback Logan Gray in to fair catch when he wasn’t backed up deep in his own territory. And everyone in the stadium knew Gray wasn’t going to even attempt a return.

Will we see improvement in that aspect of the game in 2010? Hard to tell from the way Mark Richt was talking Tuesday as spring practice resumed in Athens.

On the one hand, Richt indicated that speedy but undersized Carlton Thomas, who is working No. 3 at tailback behind Caleb King and Washaun Ealey, is likely to be used on both kickoff and punt returns. That sounds like a great move, as Thomas is most dangerous in open space.

But at the same time, Richt said that if Gray doesn’t win the starting QB job, he’ll likely be back there again fair-catching punts. “When we’re backed up and you’ve got a guy at his heels on the 10-yard line to decide should I field it or let it go, he did a very good job of that last year, and that’s kind of a hard thing to teach,” Richt told reporters.

As Seth Meyers might say, really, Mark Richt? Really!?!

I’m with the Senator on this. There isn’t anyone else on the roster other than one of your quarterbacks who can judge when to catch a punt and when to let it roll? Or wave his hands over his head and cleanly catch the ball?

On top of that, Richt said of Gray: “I’m not counting him out for any other special teams, either. Just depends on how this QB race goes.”

That should be a troubling thought to anyone who paid attention to Gray acting as the safety on the Dogs’ woeful kickoff return team last season. When the other guys were breaking a long one, as happened all too often, Gray was usually well out of the play. Which is just as well as he didn’t show much in the way of tackling skills. Not that you’d expect him to. He’s a quarterback!

Even with Jon Fabris gone, the thinking still seems kinda fuzzy in Athens when it comes to special teams.

88 comments Add your comment

1eyedJack

March 17th, 2010
11:09 am

No no no! I won’t say it.

TuckDAWG

March 17th, 2010
11:23 am

Absolutley right bill why in the h@#L would logan be back there! We need guys who are trouble for opposing teams back there like the Dawgs of old CMR has go to let go of the past for the present to bloom! GATA!!!!! GOOOOOOOOOOOOOO DAWGS!!!!!

H DAWG

March 17th, 2010
11:24 am

MAN-UP AND RETURN THE BALL TO HELP THE O WITH BETTER FIELD POSITION !!!

JimDog

March 17th, 2010
11:25 am

Sounds like the coaches are already hedging their bets with Logan. I liked the picture from practice yesterday of Mettenberger passing. Did you see how high his release point was over his head? He is exactly the prototypical NFL quarterback that we need.

SOGADOG

March 17th, 2010
11:31 am

Logan Gray needs to be focused on developing as a quarterback. Mettenberger is out at least one game and Murray is injury prone. Also, Gray has the most experience of any quarterback. Gray doesnt need to be wasting time and risking injury on special teams. He needs to develop his quarterback skills to the max. The coaches need to develop Murray and Gray as the number one and two quarterbacks, put Mettenberger on the scout team, and bring in Hutson Mason as the number three QB and hope he can redshirt. But hey, I am just an arm chair quarterback.

Gator Eater

March 17th, 2010
11:39 am

I like CMR, but his conservative attitude sometimes disappoints me. Wish he will be more like Les Miles: LET DAWGS GONE WILD!!

NC Dawg

March 17th, 2010
11:44 am

Sounds like a consolation prize to me. Gray won’t be QB, so Richt is putting him wherever he can on the field. Get some speed back there and return it to the house!

knoxdawg

March 17th, 2010
11:50 am

Sounds to me like NC Dawg is right, Gray won’t be at QB come end of spring practice. He needs to be on the field in some capacity and if we want a fair catch then so be it. However, it would be great to find someone who could break a long return and still make the fair catch if needed.

Daniels Dawgs

March 17th, 2010
11:54 am

Your mean FAIR catching punts!!!

Michael G.

March 17th, 2010
11:58 am

Easy Bill. Remember, it’s still March. Do you really need to work yourself into a lather when the season won’t begin until September? Really?

Lucas O.

March 17th, 2010
12:07 pm

Ok guys, not that difficult to figure out. Gray is there to make the decision of fair catching the ball or letting it go into the end zone. Thats it!!! He won’t be running the ball. Idiots!!!

Delbert D.

March 17th, 2010
12:07 pm

Well, at least we all know that CMR will be decisive about it.

UGAgrad04

March 17th, 2010
12:13 pm

Jeez…am I the only one that feels that UGA could be in for a LONG season this year. I hope we’re bowl eligible, I really do.

Chris

March 17th, 2010
12:13 pm

What about Brandon Boykin? He’s done a great job on special teams.

JR Ewing

March 17th, 2010
12:16 pm

GA is lucky to have all of these QB’s. If I were Logan Gray, and I didn’t win the QB job I would transfer. Heck, I wouldn’t have even went to a school with several big time recruits at QB if I were one.

Steve

March 17th, 2010
12:25 pm

Somebody will get hurt, it happens to poorly discilplined teams. Just watch and see.

dawgs01

March 17th, 2010
12:29 pm

Why is Gray the safety on the kickoff team. This means we have a punter and a qb on the field at the same time when we are trying to stop our opponent. That means we really only have 9 other guys to block. Any good returner is going to stiff arm, juke, or run by a punter and qb. If Gray cant make it at qb, receiver, or safety then that just sucks for him. Dont put him on the field just so he can get some playing time this is not pee wee football.

Hmmmm

March 17th, 2010
12:29 pm

I love the headline: “Gray competes for spot as next year’s QB, also may be calling fair catches again next year.” He did call a lot of fair catches.

ATLGA Dawg

March 17th, 2010
12:32 pm

Why can’t he coach Carlton Thomas how to judge a punt? Isn’t this what we’re paying COACH Richt to do?

SquirrelDawg

March 17th, 2010
12:34 pm

JR EWING……..obviously you aren’t too keen on competition…..whatever happened to competing against the best, I guess you think the QB from Lassiter should have went somewhere else, I guess Nick Marshall from Wilcox County should go somewhere else as well….too much competition…..you must be a Trade School guy, they are known from running from competition, they have been running since 1964

Spike

March 17th, 2010
12:50 pm

Sigh, I miss Scott Woerner.

Debose

March 17th, 2010
12:54 pm

Gator Eater
March 17th, 2010
11:39 am

You must be starving Mr. “Gator Eater.”

http://www.motleycollegefootball.com/Images/defeatUGA.jpg

Jeff

March 17th, 2010
12:56 pm

Like I said….here we go again. Same old song and dance. Our special teams looked just like the Keystone Cops. Logan was a big part of that fiasco. same story…different year

kevin

March 17th, 2010
1:00 pm

Enter your comments here

kevin

March 17th, 2010
1:03 pm

No disrespect to Logan…but seriously…your name is Logan….lol and furthermore your skill-set doesnt fit SEC football and I blame Richt & Co for recruiting you. Im sorry. And fielding punts?? Please lets quit telegraphing our plays…We are the only college that does that crap….and I am sick of it. And furthermore why dont we have a special teams coach!!!! Richt ought to do it or something and quit splitting up duties….so lame….

Floyd

March 17th, 2010
1:10 pm

Read between the lines, folks. What this tells you is that Logan Gray has ZERO chance of ever developing into a viable QB option at Georgia. He has to get snaps now because ZM is going to sit a few games due to his arrest, but after that I think we’ll have heard the last of Gray’s name as part of the QB conversation.

Dawg Trainer

March 17th, 2010
1:17 pm

“Somebody will get hurt, it happens to poorly discilplined teams. Just watch and see.”

ahem…the Dawg Trainer at your service. As long as you roll over for Tennessee, the Dawg Trainer will be more than happy to help you win the rest of your games.

AceDawg

March 17th, 2010
1:19 pm

I was impressed when I saw Gray actually return a couple punts in 2008, but if his role is only for fair catches, yeah that sucks! If he doesn’t win the QB job though, they simply need to convert him full-time to a new position, maybe slot receiver assuming he can catch passes on the run.

Doc Reem

March 17th, 2010
1:26 pm

WOOOOWWWW….Are you seruious CMR? This is so frustrating to me as an Athens native and Bulldog fan. This should concern anyone that actually thinks we can turn the corner and compete at the highest levels in ALL aspects of the game. Notice I said ALL aspects, dammit Mark! This type of thinking makes me again question CMR and his aggresiveness. Punt return is an area where we could potentially makes the most improvement if the right replacements are inserted. But NOOOOO we can’t even make the most obvious coaching decision and allow one of our best athletes to excell at the postion. Carlton Thomas, Rantavious Wooten, Brandon Smith, Jordan Love, or Brandon Boykin would all be better. Once again CMR is trying to passify one of his beloved QB’s at the expense of the team ie. Joe Cox, Joe T, and now Logan Gray. CMR If you’re not going to play to win don’t play at all!

ATLGator

March 17th, 2010
1:36 pm

Gray is a pure passer. Did you see the way he connected with Spikes in the FL/GA game last year? You cant teach that.

DawgInMemphis

March 17th, 2010
1:39 pm

The biggest problem with Richt’s inability to ride the fence on this Logan Gray issue is that he is taking away reps from Murray and Mettenberger. Obviously the suspension of Mettenberger might be a factor now; aside from that, a good coach would make the tough decision and move Gray so that (1) the true contenders will be more ready to compete by getting more reps in practice and (2) Logan Gray can try and develop somewhere else. By being fickle and riding the fence, Richt is hurting everyone, Logan Gray included. The issue of where Gray should play should not be up to Gray, it should be up to Richt and he is shying away from it to the team’s detriment.

DawgInMemphis

March 17th, 2010
1:40 pm

Meant to say WITH Richt’s riding of the fence. (not inability—we know he rides the fence on lots of things)

dap01

March 17th, 2010
1:40 pm

UGA will be so much better next year without a special teams coach who had a terrible approach to special teams and a defensive coordinator who had a terrible approach to every game.

TommyP

March 17th, 2010
1:42 pm

Talk about getting upset for no reason! Are you kidding me people?

He’s back there to either fair catch the punt or let it go in the endzone. He has very good hands. He’s back there when the opponent is kicking from, say, midfield. 40 yard punt means it’s down at the 10. You catch the ball at the 10 and let it go if it’s behind you.

What’s the big fuss over that? He’s not going to get injured ’cause nobody is allowed to hit him. On punt returns anywhere else, we’ll have an actual return man back there.

Logan No QB

March 17th, 2010
1:54 pm

Let me translate:

Logan won’t be playing QB, so we’re trying to use him on special teams.

San Francisco Dawg

March 17th, 2010
1:55 pm

We will never become National Champions unless we get more aggressive on both sides of the line and special teams….! Hell, we won’t win a SEC Championship by being conservative…This is it for CMR…time to throw away the playbook and put something new in! Please!

Doc Reem

March 17th, 2010
2:04 pm

And another thing might I add….I remember one particular Punt Return during last years LSU game which ended up being a very povital game of our season. We had come out of halftime and had stopped LSU consecutively on 2nd and 3rd down inside the 10yrd line both times for losses forcing an LSU punt. Prince Miller is in the game as the punt returner. Logan had been inserted to fair catch all previous punts.

Anyway LSU punts and Prince Miller waves his hand and fair catches the ball inside the LSU 40yd Line and then takes off as though he forgot he just gave the fair catch signal. Of course refs blow the play dead. Prince is obviously upset because he saw it. I rewound the play and notice that an actual punt return had been called and set up perfectly with middle of the field opening up like my Uncle’s mouth when beer is present. I mean perfectly blocked folks! All he had to do was run forward and he would have had an untouched TOUCHDOWN. We endend up missing a feild goal or getting three points. Can’t quite remember. This confussion and ineffectivness came at a time when we were at our highest and most emotional point of the game at the time. It should be ingrained in our players heads that becasue momentum has turned in our favor here comes the big play. I have to blame that on the Coaching because of the musical chairs games being played with the punt returners. This allows no rhythm to be established. Therefore causing mental lapses in our players. Just think what a punt return touchdown at that time could have done for that game and our season. And if I’m not mistaken we did not return (ONE) punt the whole LSU game. Check it and see if you don’t belive me!

RedPantsDawg

March 17th, 2010
2:09 pm

Groan. Was nothing learned from last year on special teams?

NC Dawg

March 17th, 2010
2:15 pm

Gray should be converted to WR and used in critical short yardage plays. He has good hands and I think that would be the best way for him to help and contribute to the team.

Timmy O'Toole

March 17th, 2010
2:17 pm

I love the status quo. I love the Georgia Bulldogs.

Doc Reem

March 17th, 2010
2:17 pm

For those of you say “What’s all the fuss about”. This is indicative of CMR’s approach to competing at the highest levels in ALL aspects of the game and in recruiting. This is why we have no Nat’l Championship under his direction thus far. The reason I’m putting so much emphasis on Punt Return decisions is because they are pivital points of the game where possesion changes and yardage can be be GREATLY affected. Some of you you may not have liked him but Deion Sanders showed us how big this part of the game can be if the right player is inserted.

Michael G.

March 17th, 2010
2:30 pm

Where is Allen Iverson when you need him? We’re talking about practice! In March! College basketball is not yet over, starting QB and defensive squad hasn’t yet been announced, incoming freshmen have yet to report and you fools are worried about fair catching punt returns? In March? Come on guys, can we stop being so melodramatic please?

how2fish

March 17th, 2010
2:38 pm

Dawg Trainer keep talking we have a little something for you this year.ATLGator got to have some stones to talk crap with a QB that has all that game time against Charleston Southern…I think this year the Gators eat a little humble pie…4000 5 star players..untried QB..interesting season.

Saint Simons

March 17th, 2010
2:48 pm

Tech 6 Uga 5 !!!!!!! hahahahahahahahahahaha

Bizzaroneck

March 17th, 2010
2:52 pm

Michael G — Why are you leaving comments then?
GatorEater — Les Miles? Really, really? He is one of the worst coaches in the SEC.

Everyone else is right. Why the hell is our HC talking about someone, who is competing to be our starting QB, fair catching punts during the 2nd spring practice? If the guy can’t play QB and that’s what it sounds like, go ahead and make him switch positions. Man up! Also, how bleeping hard is it to tell your PR to place his foot on the 10 yard line, if you step back let the punt go, if not catch it?

mhk52

March 17th, 2010
2:53 pm

All I have to say about this is WTH? We are never going to get back to winning the conference w/o using this vital part of the game. Look back, in 2002 UGA had Damien Gary returning punts and in 2005 it was Thomas Flowers. Both of these guys were All-SEC returners that averaged close to 10 yards a return and had returns for TDs. Mikey Henderson broke games open with big punt returns in 2006 and 2007. Prince Miller could have been someone like that but he rarely got a chance to return punts. Or how about Knowshon for that matter? Returned one punt in his career…and it was a 30 yard return and we never saw it again!

I think that Boykin or Braden Smith could be gamebreakers at punt returner. Everyone in the stadium knows that Logan Gray isn’t going to return the punt and that is one less thing that they have to worry about. Even if we only get a 5 yard return…that’s 5 less yards we have to gain on offense. And with a young QB this year, UGA needs to be finding all the ways possible to get some extra yardage this year.

Bremen Dawg

March 17th, 2010
3:29 pm

We might not see many changes on special teams. Special teams doesn’t seem to be where Richt wants to put much time into it with the best players.

I heard that Richt needs some more non scholarship walkons for special teams. Anybody up for that, you just need to have a little speed, be in good shape, and you don’t need to no how to tackle well.

Doc Reem

March 17th, 2010
3:40 pm

Good point mhk52. I think some of these people just like the idea of a big G on a helment and could care less product that comes with it!

Sanford Drive

March 17th, 2010
3:41 pm

“When we’re backed up and you’ve got a guy at his heels on the 10-yard line to decide should I field it or let it go, he did a very good job of that last year, and that’s kind of a hard thing to teach.”

Does anyone remember him ever actually fielding it? You’re killing me, Richt. What a joke.

McDawg

March 17th, 2010
3:46 pm

that is strange b/c we have had some guys the past few years who could break it-I would argue that BAMA won their National Championship on Punt returns throughout the season-