If G-Day fans could pick, Dogs would have a QB

Zach Mettenberger presents Georgia's coaches with something of a dilemma. (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

Zach Mettenberger presents Georgia's coaches with something of a dilemma. (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

As the Diamond Dogs and Ole Miss battled in extra innings about three hours after Saturday’s G-Day football game, a guy sitting behind me hollered at a friend who was leaving the baseball game.

Naturally, he wanted to talk football.

“If we had to play tomorrow, who’d be the quarterback?” he asked.

His friend didn’t hesitate. “Mettenberger!”

The guy behind me concurred. “That’s what everyone’s saying.”

And, indeed, Zach Mettenberger’s showing at G-Day was the talk of the folks all around us as we filed out of Sanford Stadium Saturday afternoon and walked through campus to the baseball field.

The consensus was pretty clear: Mettenberger, who absolutely cannot start the first game of the season because of a suspension and who was denied a chance to play with the first-string offense on Saturday, nevertheless won the game and was the people’s choice as the quarterback who ought to start.

Or as one fan put it while trudging up Sanford Drive after the game: “Mark Richt and Mike Bobo have a mess on their hands at quarterback.”

Obviously, Mettenberger had the best day statistically, going 6 of 10 passing for 150 yards and two touchdowns, compared with Logan Gray’s workmanlike 10 of 17 for 132 yards and one TD, and presumptive front-runner Aaron Murray’s disappointing 10 of 22 for 96 yards, no score and one interception.

But it wasn’t really the statistics that wowed the G-Day crowd. It was Mettenberger’s rifle-like passes that several times threaded the needle through coverage, and the fact that while he may be the least mobile of the three quarterbacks, he looked the most comfortable under pressure, smoothly stepping up in the pocket to avoid blitzing defenders and delivering his passes with zip and precision.

The other two QBs looked more harried, particularly Murray, who not only threw a pick on an ill-advised attempt to avoid a sack but also threw a couple of panicky passes that seemed to accomplish nothing more than letting someone else take the hit. Murray also overthrew most of his long passes.

Another factor appeared to be that at 6-foot-5 Mettenberger had an advantage in seeing over the pass rush and downfield, which on this day seemed to make up for the fact that he is less likely to roll out or keep the ball than Gray or Murray.

The fans I overheard or talked with after the game all were surprised that Mettenberger didn’t get a shot behind the first-string line late in the game, a decision by Richt/Bobo pretty universally interpreted as part of his punishment. As if the coaches were saying: “You might have had the best day, but you’re still No. 3 in the QB battle until you’ve served your suspension.”

Which is probably fair, but nonetheless is frustrating. As one fan walking behind me pondered, “What if he’s still the best quarterback when the season starts? He can’t play in the first game. Do you then throw him in against South Carolina without any game experience? Or do you continue to start your second-best quarterback just because your best one got arrested?”

A mess, indeed.

We don’t know, of course, what Richt and Bobo are thinking, but unless Murray really turns things around in August and shows a lot more than he did on Saturday, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Gray, who spent most of G-Day playing with the first-string unit, got the starter’s job by default. He is, after all, the only QB with real-game experience.

But I’m becoming more and more convinced that by the end of the season, the starter will be the lanky kid from Watkinsville who may have taken himself out of the starter’s race with his poor decisions off the field but who made a lot of converts among the nearly 39,000 at Sanford Stadium on G-Day.

As Artie Lynch, who caught a 39-yard scoring strike from Mettenberger with 12 seconds left in the first half put it after the game: “The kid’s been gifted with an NFL arm and NFL size.”

Saturday was his day to shine. I don’t think it will be his last.

162 comments Add your comment

astrouga

April 10th, 2010
11:05 pm

astrouga

April 10th, 2010
11:06 pm

astrouga

April 10th, 2010
11:06 pm

astrouga

April 10th, 2010
11:06 pm

Go Dawgs

April 10th, 2010
11:09 pm

A crowd of 38,000 watching a sloppy half-speed game that, in the grand scheme of college football, is without meaning or wide spread interest… if it weren’t for all the pretty coeds in attendance, I might have mistaken the Dawgs’ spring scrimmage for an ACC Championship game. ;-)

Dave

April 10th, 2010
11:18 pm

One TD for each of his fake IDs.

SSG Desert Dawg

April 10th, 2010
11:24 pm

I’m mad I missed it…3 month to go…maybe I’ll make it to the South Carolina game.

PeachJam

April 10th, 2010
11:32 pm

Murray is not out of it yet. The kid has talent.

Mett's fake ID

April 10th, 2010
11:35 pm

If G-Day fans could pick, Dogs would have a QB… thank God they can’t.

Richt has tons of experience in coaching QBs and Bobo is a former Bulldog quarterback, I’m 100% they’ll do a better job of picking a QB than a bunch of hicks and some perverted ole men that came to watch the pretty girls.

Converted Mett Fan

April 10th, 2010
11:43 pm

Everyone around me at the game was very impressed with Mettenberger. I can’t wait to see what the offense will look like with a real QB under center. I think what will happen is that Mett will “win” the job and CMR will start Gray in the easy first win in the 1st game against ULL as the “Lifetime Achievement Award” (as CMR often does).

Also keep an eye on Reuben Faloughi the redshirt freshman DE – #95. He looks like a player!

greg

April 10th, 2010
11:57 pm

The kid has a good arm but terrible footwork!! Hell even Cox looked good last spring!!

Observer

April 11th, 2010
12:19 am

The crowd at G-Day is much different than a typical Saturday during the fall. Those of us who live, work and play in Athens don’t really care what the casual fan thinks about who the QB should be. Seeing all 3 guys in practice this spring, there is one guy who can make things happen. CMR & Coach Bobo will settle in on a pecking order and we’ll all see how it shakes down when 2 a days start.

Sam

April 11th, 2010
1:17 am

If Mett is the best guy then let him come in and play very early as soon as he is off his suspension. IIRC Stafford got his first sig playing time as a true frosh against SC. Mett to some degree is better off than Staff in that Mett has a red-shirt year.

RomeDawg

April 11th, 2010
1:24 am

Wasn’t Mettenberger playing against 2nd string Defense? That could help explain his numbers looking so much better than Murray’s .

chemdawg

April 11th, 2010
1:37 am

It’s not about his numbers you see. Mettenberger had some beautifully thrown balls, RomeDawg.

Joe Coxy's Moxy

April 11th, 2010
3:51 am

Yeah, half of you morons that post that Mettenburger is the best QB live in or around Athens and you want to see the local kid prevail. Facts are facts, he played against the second string defense, no denying that. The other two kids played against the FIRST string. Thank God Coach Richt will be the guy making the pick of our starting QB. I’m not taking anything away from Mettenburger but dang, leave your emotions at home and let the best kid prevail, don’t just root for your “hometown boy”.

Red

April 11th, 2010
4:55 am

Actually, Joe Coxy’s Moxy, I am one of those that “lives in or around Athens,” being a student at the University. Before attending the game on Saturday, I was also under the impression that Murray was the best QB, and my favorite to win the job, until I actually got to see them all in action.

For those of you that think Mettenberger only had a good day because he competed against the 2nd string defense, you obviously didn’t watch the game. It honestly does not matter if Champ Bailey and Deion Sanders are covering your wide receivers if you are overthrowing them frequently when they are open, which is exactly what Murray was doing on a handful of those throws. I’m willing to chalk that up to some nerves and possibly just an off day, because everyone has one of those once in a while. But if you had the first string defenders on the receivers Mett was throwing to today, it really wouldn’t have mattered. He had incredible touch on the deep ball, and as everyone knows he is capable of doing, he threw rockets to beat the coverage when needed. Accuracy was pin-point with good decision making, and I was pleasantly surprised with his ability to step up in the pocket to avoid the rush (which was consistently coming at all the qb’s) and show off his new and improved footwork. And if you are going to make the argument that ZM didnt face as good of competition, are you willing to admit that he was able to put up those numbers even though he didnt have the luxury that AM and LG had throwing to AJ Green, Orson Charles, and the rest of the first team offense?

So based on Saturday’s PERFORMANCE, the general CROWD’s consensus that Mett is in the lead does not have anything to do with him being the local kid whatsoever. As a matter of fact, one could make the argument the other way around, that people are trying to convince themselves that Murray is the man for the job, based on his elite 11 mvp status and gutsy high school performances.

The g-day game really changed my perspective on the QB race, although I can readily admit that it may not mean much considering there is a whole summer and fall to determine what could happen. I still think there is a lot more to Murray’s game that the fans did not get to see today, but that gap that the general fanbase thought was there between the qb’s seems a lot closer than most expected. I, like most dawg fans, just want the best man to win the job and lead our team to success. I trust Richt and Bobo and I think they will make the right decision, considering their experience and track record with quarterback success.

Oh, and Wooten is really looking like he’s going to be a stud for us out there.

Dawg Mark

April 11th, 2010
6:41 am

Seventeenth?

Anyway—with Mettenberger running the offense, the Dawgs will roll up and down the field! He’s got a rocket arm and can move around in the pocket. He’ll be the starter on Day 1–count on it

Frank

April 11th, 2010
7:43 am

Dawg Mark, Mett may be the #1 QB on day 1 – but he is suspended for the 1st game. So actually he is the only one you can rest assured will not start on Day 1.

THWGT!!!!!

Nub

April 11th, 2010
7:52 am

Gotta like what ZM did with the deap ball….. The other QB’s better step up …… WooF!

Vinny D

April 11th, 2010
8:04 am

I’m with Red on this one. I was rooting for Logan, expecting to see big things out of Murray, and had low expectations of Zach. Other than Artie Lynch, who did Zach get to throw to? My pre G-day game order was Murray, Logan, Zach. Today, it flip flopped completely.

Justin Houston will be huge this year!

shane#1

April 11th, 2010
8:24 am

You don’t pick a starting QB on the basis of one scrimage. G-Day is just a glorified scrimage.

BuLLdawg

April 11th, 2010
8:40 am

Montez Robinson also is a great football player, and he already was suspended the first arrest for beating up a girl for the Texas A&M Shreveport bowl game, then when he beat up her car proving once again he is a coward he was then suspended for the first 3 games of 2010, and finally 2 Fridays ago now he picked up The University of Georgia coed student and threw her down repeatedly at McWhorter Hall and was only then kicked off the team.

Zach Mettenberger is only 1 of 2 who have made life very difficult for the coaching staff just since Spring Practice began with their multiple arrests on multiple charges, each.

Now, the Summer starts. God Help us in a season in which 9-4 or 10-3 seems the Goal in 14-game seasons nowadays, then we graduate 14 Seniors all Starters and lose 5 Juniors.

Looking at Aaron Murray’s longer passes including the one to Orson Charles thrown 12 feet high at the goal line, the pass downfield overthrown and the bomb he threw which hit the turf 20 yards from everyone, one gets the impression that Aaron Murray, who also was sacked multiple times, and who also threw an interception, no TD pass, still suffers from the sore arm.

RxDawg

April 11th, 2010
8:47 am

Mett looked good. Comfortable and accurate. Grey probably starts the opening game.

delusional

April 11th, 2010
8:54 am

Patrick must still be asleep with his blowup doll.

Me

April 11th, 2010
8:54 am

Man, last week all I was reading was how Murray was the second coming of Drew Brees and how he would be starting for the Gators if he had decided to go there. Yesterdays TOP Dawg…todays dawgfood.

BuLLdawg

April 11th, 2010
8:56 am

No.

Matthew Stafford was the only UGA Quarterback to play in EVERY GAME 2006.

You remember the year we LOST to Colorado, except we benched Matthew Stafford in favor of Joe Cox who beat Colorado by himself.

The Year we then LOST to the vols in a BLOW-OUT at Sanford Stadium.

That LOSS started a string of 5 Consecutive LOSSES vs EVERY SEC team.

The Year we then LOST to Vandie for God’s sake at Sanford Stadium.

The Year we then LOST to Florida like we always do.

The Year we then LOST to Kentucky to continue the string vs SEC East.

Your memory of 2006 is as fuzzy as your memory of both reported scrimmages this Spring Practice

Both reported srimmmages found Zach Mettenberger the Best QB.

ONLY I SAID before yesterday ZACH METTENBERGER SHOULD HAVE STARTED LAST YR

And, to all of you who say that you have complete confidence in our offensive coaching staff picking the best player to be our Starter, why should this year, this position be any different from all their GAFFES at that on offense that already have been proven to WRONG

Ogeechee Dawg

April 11th, 2010
8:59 am

Here is the reality:
1. It was the spring game – watered down and limited plays.
2. Mett looked good – against the 2nd string D – and had much more time to throw.
3. Mett did show vey good promise – but needs to serve his punishment for his bad behavior – he let his team down – and this needs to play itself out.
4.. Wootson is a stud
5. Gray was “workmanlike” looked much better and command over Murry – both ran the 1st string.
6. DO NOT bet the farm on the spring scrimmage.

4-1/2 months to go!!!

Delusional Dawg

April 11th, 2010
9:03 am

No, Patrick is too busy trying to come up with new stats…anything to defy the scoreboard. Last week he was citing stats about John Brantley’s low completion percentage in a scrimmage and how he was no good. Yesterday he was citing Brantley and how his high completion percentage in their spring game meant that the Florida defense was no good.

Big L

April 11th, 2010
9:09 am

Afteretta threw his first big pass for bout 35 yards, he ran down the field and pointed at his arm , flexing his muscle. Confidence can make a real good QB , into a great QB. Now if he can just stay out of trouble. Drinkin is typical, so an arrest for that can be forgiven. Just don’t beat up a girlfriend or nothin.

poopdawg

April 11th, 2010
9:14 am

I do not feel we have a mess at the QB position. I think we have three pretty good candidates, yes someone is going to be dissappointed being at #3 on the depth chart. The Qbs should have been hit saturday ,until real bullets are flying its going to be hard to tell. Murray’s not out of the picture because of a few poor throws, he’s a warrior and he will be back.

DawginOH

April 11th, 2010
9:33 am

Great report, Bill. For those who were able to make it to the game: I’m happy to hear that Mett can throw the ball up and down the field a-la Stafford, but how was he in terms of ball protection? And how was the defense? What stood out the most?

BigDawgOnPorch

April 11th, 2010
9:44 am

At last year’s G-game, on the first play when Cox threw a long completed pass off the flea flicker, he was lucky that quarterbacks are off limit from being hit or the defensive back that came up the middle would have leveled him and the pass would not have seen air time. Cox later showed during the season while under extreme pressure his tendency to launch a pass to avoid a hit which led to costly interceptions and losses. Coach Bobo needs to instill in our quarterbacks that throwing a wounded duck pass to avoid a sack, will usually have bad consequences, so either take the sack or run with the ball

#2 BAMA FAN

April 11th, 2010
9:45 am

The Mettenberger kid has a throwing motion just like Kerry Collins of the TN Titans!!

chazzo

April 11th, 2010
9:45 am

I like Mett. Always have. My prediction was UGA winning the East with Mett at the helm.

But: Actually after watching the three yesterday where Mett clearly did better, I think Murray will be the guy. G-day rules do not favor Murray or Gray. Avoiding tackles and taking off and running don’t really work when you are essentially playing touch. Several are saying he looked harried, but I thought Murray looked sharp stepping up in the pocket, moving around, and completing some tough passes. He had a couple dropped also. If he can get the long ball under control, he’s a complete package.

I like all three of these guys. I think Mett and Murray will be co-1s or 1 and 2. Gray had a good day, too. That’s about the best that I have seen him. It will come down to intangibles like who can lead in the huddle. Who is the offense going to play for? It will ultimately be a chemistry thing. I hope it doesn’t continue into the season, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

chazzo

April 11th, 2010
9:56 am

BuLLdawg,

You do know everything, but you are clearly mistaken about the Dawgs losing to 5 SEC teams in a row. Simply did not happen. Check the stats.

Sat, Sep 02 Western Kentucky 15 - Athens, Ga. 48 – 12 (W)

Sat, Sep 09 South Carolina * 12 - at Columbia, S.C. 18 – 0 (W)

Sat, Sep 16 UAB 10 - Athens, Ga. 34 – 0 (W)

Sat, Sep 23 Colorado 9 - Athens, Ga. 14 – 13 (W)

Sat, Sep 30 Ole Miss * 10 - at Oxford, Miss. 14 – 9 (W)

Sat, Oct 07 Tennessee * 10 13 Athens, Ga. 33 – 51 (L)

Sat, Oct 14 Vanderbilt (Homecoming) * 16 - Athens, Ga. 22 – 24 (L)

Sat, Oct 21 Mississippi State * - - Athens, Ga. 27 – 24 (W)

Sat, Oct 28 Florida * - 9 at Jacksonville, Fla. 14 – 21 (L)

Sat, Nov 04 Kentucky * - - at Lexington, Ky. 20 – 24 (L)

Sat, Nov 11 Auburn * - 5 at Auburn, Ala. 37 – 15 (W)

Sat, Nov 25 Georgia Tech - 16 Athens, Ga. 15 – 12 (W)

Chick-fil-A Bowl
Sat, Dec 30 Virginia Tech - 14 Atlanta, Ga. 31 – 24 (W)

And, in 2007: UGA lost to SC and UT but beat everyone else in the SEC including Bama and Florida.

Wake up from your delusion, man.

hairydawg

April 11th, 2010
10:22 am

murray played the first half against second string and still looked bad

GaDawg

April 11th, 2010
10:23 am

HBTRSB???????

SOUTHGADAWG88

April 11th, 2010
10:56 am

Logan Gray looked great in last year’s spring game so I’m taking a wait and see attitude on the subject.Getting hit has a way of altering the equation.I don’t think we will know for sure until after the Ark game.

BobDog

April 11th, 2010
11:23 am

Red is right on the nose with his comments. Mettenberger exceeded my expectations. He seemed much more comfortable in the pocket, maybe because he could see over the D better than the two other guys, who had to take off quicker. Mettenberger showed some touch where needed, a very quick release, and zip when he had to fit the ball in tight spots. Very impressive.

There seems to have been a large contingent blindly favoring Murray. I think most people, regardless of where they are from, want to see the best QB play.

BobDog

April 11th, 2010
11:37 am

Another comment regarding Mettenberger’s suspension. Who will South Carolina’s defense have to prepare, a mobile Grey or Murray who played the week before; or a traditional drop-back passer with a gun in Mettenberger. This can be to our advantage.

Denver Dog

April 11th, 2010
11:46 am

Good Points for 3 QB

Tony Purvis

April 11th, 2010
12:46 pm

You are a jock sniffer

KappaDawg

April 11th, 2010
12:51 pm

I have witnessed many G-day games and have often come away with a different opinion of thing than they turn out to be. As I see it, we have a good problem to have…similar to the Greene/Shockley era. This is a good problem to have…imagine if we only had one qb we felt could lead the team and the other was a unproven true freshman walk-on. We all can hope for one guy or the other…all I want is one that is composed, intelligent and will not give the game away. Did we think Greene was the most talented? He was a leader and we never worried about him giving away the game the way Cox did. Murray & Gray clearly aren’t the passer Metterberger is…Metterberger clearly isn’t as mobile as Murray or Gray…but who is less prone to making the costly mistake? That spring game did not provide US with that information…hopefully Coaches Richt/Bobo does.

SEC QB Analyst

April 11th, 2010
1:39 pm

I think I would rather have Brantley at UF or Bama’s backup AJ McCarron of Bama then any of these 3 stooges. Brantley was and will be the real deal. He shined in limited action and in Florida’s scrimmage last year and was the gatorade national player of the year coming out of high school. AJ McCarron over at Bama was 21 of 28 for 230 yds, 3 tds, 0 picks in their 1st scrimmage. He won the backup job as a redshirt freshman last year by the midpoint of the season. Why is it that if Logan Gray is as bad as what we’ve seen (pick 6 UF game) that these other 2 clowns couldn’t win the backup job over him during the redshirt seasons. Its bad that its even gone this far and all 3 are even. We all know Gray isn’t very good and the fact that he is still in a 3 headed race for the job speaks volumes about how average the other 2 are.

Snellville Dawg

April 11th, 2010
1:52 pm

If Mett is in fact the best, then he should be the starter (starting in game 2 of course).

If that is the case in the end, I would bet that Gray would stay at QB, and he and Aaron Murray would split time in the opener. Just a guess, though.

Debose

April 11th, 2010
2:06 pm

Mr. Grantham, you can cross off one of your top defensive recruits from your class of 2011 list, Florida got Jeoffrey Pagan DE (Asheville, NC)

Sam Robards, Dawg Fan

April 11th, 2010
2:30 pm

First of all, I had a great time at the G-Day game. It was a beautiful day with great atmosphere. You can’t really ask for much more than that.

Now, on to the QB issue, no one’s going to say that Mettenberger wasn’t the best QB out there THAT DAY. “He’s your starter,” my dad, a Tennessee grad, said, “He’s your star.” Looking at the stats for all three scrimmages, I think he may be right, but the arrest* does complicate things since he’ll be sitting out the first game. Yeah, it’s just a snoozer team, but that gametime experience would have been a good for him to have, and it could have built some momentum going into Columbia the week after.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like Murray. Yeah, his G-Day wasn’t the best, but he’s still got what it takes to be an SEC QB. I’d start him in game one right now, and go to a Greene/Shockley-style 2-QB system until one (probably Mett) breaks out and takes the majority of snaps.

Gray, on the other hand, needs to be switched. Looking at him play yesterday, he simply can’t make decisions in the pocket and holds onto the ball far too long. Yeah, he’s had some gameplay experience, but, the way I see it, if he had SEC starting QB potential, he woulda beaten out Joe Cox last year when the competition was opened back up. He can still contribute to the team, just not at QB.

As for non-QB talk, I’m glad to see Durham play so well at WR. We’re going to be stacked at that position, but I still say one too many drops yesterday. Probably just nerves. We also didn’t run the ball too much, but I figured it’s because they wanted to give the QBs a chance to flex their passing muscles, so to speak.

Sam Robards, Dawg Fan

April 11th, 2010
2:31 pm

* Personally, I think the legal drinking age should be dropped back down to 18. I mean, I young man can enlist in the military and go to war at 18, but he can’t drink a beer? That’s plain messed up.

georgiadawg70

April 11th, 2010
3:40 pm

I agree with the first post, who cares.