Will Murray flourish or wilt in the spotlight?

Let's go ahead and put the ball in Aaron Murray's hands. (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

Let's go ahead and put the ball in Aaron Murray's hands. (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

I know many UGA fans at this point are tired of talking about the Zach Mettenberger situation, especially since it doesn’t look like we’re going to get the full story about why Mark Richt kicked him off the team any time soon.

There are a lot of rumors circulating, but no one in a position to confirm what happened is talking. Suffice it to say from what we’ve seen of Richt over the years, you have to assume that when additional information about what happened in Remerton reached him, it crossed some boundary that made tacking on a few more games’ suspension not enough punishment. Possibly the head coach found out he’d been lied to.

I do know one thing: Richt wouldn’t throw this kid’s UGA career away lightly. He’s bent over backwards to near-contortionist levels to give players a second chance in the past.

He anguishes over having to deal with wayward players. After the Touchdown Club of Athens meeting last week, I was thanking him for the classy way he’d handled the taxi incident allegations and the sorry saga of Montez Robinson. Richt said he appreciated it and shook his head over the Robinson affair. You always hope that you can turn a kid like that around, but sometimes you can’t, he said with a sad look on his face. “And you wonder why you couldn’t connect with him completely.”

Added Richt: “I really hate that it was so public, too.”

Well, I said, that’s the other side of the coin for big-time college athletes. He agreed. Some, he said, love the spotlight and flourish in it. He was probably thinking of Jeff Owens, David Pollack and others. And then there are those who don’t like the attention at all. “Take A.J. Green,” Richt said. “He doesn’t want anything to do with all that. He just wants to play football.”

Mettenberger, obviously, fell into the group who didn’t handle the spotlight well. And whatever he did, his story is, I think, over at UGA. I’ve heard speculation that maybe he could go away to Georgia Military for a year like Odell Thurman did and then come back to Athens, but I think that’s highly unlikely. Usually when that’s a possibility, Richt says so from the start. Plus, Mettenberger probably would just as soon start over at another program.

So we’re left with Aaron Murray and Logan Gray. Some still hold out hope that Gray the “athlete” will prove to be an SEC-caliber quarterback, and there’s always that possibility, but if he winds up as the Dogs’ starter, I think you’re talking more of a caretaker QB until Murray develops or someone else steps forward. Sort of Joe Cox with less of an arm but more scrambling ability.

No, it’s more than likely that Murray is UGA’s best bet behind center. A year ago, everyone was sky-high on the prospect of him playing quarterback for the Dogs. But the fact that he’s a bit short and has been injury-prone, plus his lackluster showing this spring, has cooled fans’ ardor for him quite a bit.

I’m hopeful, though, that he’ll yet rise to the occasion, as Erk would say. You know he’s a tough competitor just based on the way he came back from a broken leg to lead his high school team to a championship. He showed some really good moves at G-Day but kept overthrowing wide-open receivers.  Perhaps the competition with the strong-armed Mettenberger had Murray pressing too hard.

We’ve seen that situation at QB before. Remember how awful D.J. Shockley looked at times when he was battling the cool field general David Greene for playing time? Richt usually built a certain number of guaranteed series into games for Shockley (when he was healthy), but D.J. often looked like he was trying too hard, as in that awful interception he threw against Florida. And when he had to relieve the injured Greene against Tech. (Greene, you’ll recall, had to come back in to save the game.)

Once the job was his, however, Shockley relaxed and became the superb quarterback Richt had always thought he could be.

Perhaps that will be the case with Murray, too. Which makes me think it might be better if Richt and Mike Bobo go ahead and make Murray a clear-cut No. 1 on the suddenly tiny QB depth chart as soon as possible, rather than let the battle go on deep into August. So he can get that monkey off his back and settle down.

The spotlight is on Murray now. Keep your fingers crossed he’s able to handle it.

331 comments Add your comment

Bud Kilmer

April 20th, 2010
10:59 am

Never show weakness, the only pain that matters is the pain you inflict.

meh

April 20th, 2010
11:09 am

I think the “Murr” is gonna end up being a pretty QB for the Dawgs.

PeachJam

April 20th, 2010
11:26 am

They need to name Murray #1. Good article Bill.

TommyP

April 20th, 2010
11:33 am

Murray will get the job and would have been even if Mett would’ve stayed out of trouble.

Mett….let’s just say he needs to keep his hands in his own pockets. His parents ought to be highly embarrassed.

Run the damn ball

April 20th, 2010
11:34 am

Personally, I think “Air Georgia” should be grounded for a year or two. There is absolutely nothing wrong with running the football with a veteran offensive line and (at least) two talented backs. Alabama went with this approach in 2009 and I would say it worked fairly well for them. Let Murray grow into the role while handing off to two of the SEC’s finest. Unfortunately, our offense is run by two ex-quarterbacks who love to throw it. Good coaches, but a bit pass happy in my humble opinion.

droopydawg

April 20th, 2010
11:36 am

As bad as Murray looked in the G-Day game, Logan Gray has looked that bad or worse every time he has touched the ball under center in a game scenario. It is too bad he will never end up playing WR at UGA because of Mettenberger. BTW, I have to assume that either Mettenberger had some new alcohol problems in ATH or else he lied to Richt as Bill suggests. No way he gets kicked off solely for a misdemeanor arrest.

droopydawg

April 20th, 2010
11:37 am

I agree with Run the Damn Ball…no reason we cannot pound the ball to set up play action. I seem to recall play action worked pretty well for us in the past…

Bud Kilmer

April 20th, 2010
11:39 am

The hard work of so many, sacrificed by the disrespect of few.

Do the Dirty Nerd

April 20th, 2010
11:45 am

No techies posting the baseball score yet?

Dawg Stephen

April 20th, 2010
11:48 am

Credit where its due Bill. Good post today, very good indeed. Awesome job.

Cuz

April 20th, 2010
11:51 am

Good article Bill. You have to know that player dismissals bother CMR. I would expect no less.

Laughing out loud at the idiots

April 20th, 2010
11:55 am

This is just too much. First Murray is the second coming for the Dawg Nation. People worshipped him even though he had NEVER thrown a pass in a game. Then he played the worst of the chosen 3 and everyone was throwing him under the bus because of Mettenberger played the best of the chosen 3 now everyone is pinning their hopes again on him. Did you not see how nervous he was at G day and how difficult a time he had seeing over his linemen? Prediction; he will start the first game and it will be much closer than it should against Louisiana Lafayette and Logan Gray will start the first SEC game against Carolina. Just sayin…………

Ca$hville Dawg

April 20th, 2010
11:55 am

I don’t care who’s the QB is as long as he know how to win and don’t makes stupid mistake.

Delbert D.

April 20th, 2010
11:57 am

Again, Murray needs to be able to do what McElroy at Alabama can do; make plays, no need to be flashy. Too short? Then why was he the #3 nationally coming out of high school? Georgia appears capable of being a more balanced run-pass team this year.

Laughing out loud at the idiots

April 20th, 2010
11:59 am

Yes too short Delbert, if you sat in the endzone like I did you would have seen just the difficulty he had seeing not over the D line but his own line.

Bud Kilmer

April 20th, 2010
12:01 pm

You wouldn’t know anything about dedication…teamwork

Paul Jonhson

April 20th, 2010
12:02 pm

We are getting ready to demolish your little qb named murray in your place. If he wasn’t better than joe cox then he must be trash HAHAHAHA

Do the Dirty Nerd

April 20th, 2010
12:08 pm

If you start prepping for the UGA game right now you just might have a chance. Maybe you can figure out how to stop an off tackle run from the I before November. Then again, probably not. Who runs this state?

And just so you don’t have to, 25-6.

mike on lake hartwell

April 20th, 2010
12:09 pm

30 – 24

8 of 9

pathetic losers.

Ca$hville Dawg

April 20th, 2010
12:09 pm

Stupid FK, you need to get a life.

Paul Jonhson

April 20th, 2010
12:11 pm

Mett was the better qb and all your rednecks know it. Murray is trash another 7-5 year

Whiznot

April 20th, 2010
12:12 pm

Mettenberger was the victim of an evil conspiracy perpetuated by Valdosta’s gator and seminole supporters. The nefarious lying ba3tards from that God forsaken hellhole hate everything and everyone north of Hahira. Right now the cretins who bore false witness to eliminate the Dawg’s most dangerous weapon are laughing their asses off. If Zach had been smart he would have partied in Albany where a Dawg QB is appreciated.

jd

April 20th, 2010
12:13 pm

Run the ball….. With King’s injury history and Ealey’s temper… Unless Samuel is some kind of Ray Lewis at LB, he will be turned into a wasted scholarship. What a waste of someones career.

Spokesman for the SEC East

April 20th, 2010
12:13 pm

It show is lookin good fo the rest of us! I feel a festivus for the restovus.

SEC fan

April 20th, 2010
12:13 pm

Hope doggies can run the ball this year. If not, their opponents will set records for tipped passes/interceptions. Maybe they can hide him behind thier line for qb sneaks since he’s also so sturdy and not injury-prone.

Going to be fun seeing the anguish out of humperland this year. They’ll be wishing they could get to Shreveport.

droopydawg

April 20th, 2010
12:14 pm

I love how overconfident Tech fans are. You have had one decent year in a decade, and you still couldn’t beat UGA or win your bowl game. Plus, you lose almost every good player on your team to the draft. CPJ is a good coach, so Tech will be in the ACC hunt most years, but this isn’t Pete Carroll’s USC, the 14-year FSU run, or even Richt’s dogs. The Jackets are simply a good, not great team with little to no fan base.

Jackson

April 20th, 2010
12:15 pm

Here it is in a nutshell. Murray — shorter than your prototypical QB, lacks Pro Caliber arm strength is athletic but can be prone to injury… facts in evidence. Therefore, for UGA to have a successful offense we have to be able to execute three things extremely well. 1. Run the ball effectively… line it up and pound it. 2. Murray will need to change launch points… play action boots(please bring Greene back to teach how to properly hide the ball in play action), waggles, and roll outs… 3. Execute the bubble screen/quick hitch patterns to perfection.
If we start seeing freaking quick tosses and shotgun read options against UL-Lafayette its going to be a horrible year. Also, look at how many times the play starts under center versus shotgun. Richt and Bobo have gotten way to shotgun formation happy. Under center enables more of a run first approach and defenses have to adjust to it.

Spokesman for the SEC East

April 20th, 2010
12:15 pm

SEC fan, 5-7, not bowl eligible, Richt gets fired and UGA hires Chris Peterson from Boise State, book it.

Paul Jonhson

April 20th, 2010
12:17 pm

@Whiz not He should have partied With big ben they know how to get you off down there.

Chris

April 20th, 2010
12:17 pm

Murray has skills or he wouldn’t have been invited to the elite super 11 camp. Drew Brees is too short. How tall is Murray anyhow? While he did look nervous, he threw a couple of frozen ropes as well. All he has to do is execute the offense with all that junior and senior talent on that side of the ball which is easier said than done.
To quote Parcells, it’s not how many yards you run for that’s important, it’s how many times you commit to run the ball.

The schedule will make life easier this year. Unfortunately, I can’t think of a single freshman quarterback (David Greene, Manning) that ever won anything of substance.

Dawgbone

April 20th, 2010
12:18 pm

it’s a good thing the O-line has to bend over at the line or else Murr wouldn’t have any idea what the D was doing. and for the record, i thought Cox was too short also. if i’m not mistaken, he had a whole lot of balls knocked down last year…they’re the same height, by the way…and no, they wont be moving the pocket around to get him in space a lot, that’s not what the offense is “trying to do”, per CMR and CMB…

as far as Mett, spoiled brat who thought he could do what ever and get away with it..i hate that, because he was the better of the three. no worries about him tho, he’ll end up in Columbia or Oxford and come back to torch us. those two schools don’t care what you’ve done as long as you can play football..

I’m hoping H Mason comes in and shows us he’s the man…pipedream, i know…

bigdawg

April 20th, 2010
12:18 pm

I think that this year’s QB doesnt have to throw 24 TDs like Cox did last year. He just has to avoid throwing 17 INTs like Cox did last year. the offense is stacked at every spot: one of the elite OLs in the nation, THE best WR in the nation, and two of the top RBs in the league. If we had Stafford or Greene this year there would be no doubt that people would claim this as the best O in the nation right now (except for maybe BSU or Bama). The great thing is-we dont NEED Stafford or Greene to still score 30 or more any given Saturday. Richt has proven that ANY week against ANYBODY and often when you least expect it, the Offense could very likely EXPLODE in any opponents face.

GO DAWGS SIC EM

I say this year we score more points on tech than they’ve won in the series, thats right

a 40 burger on the nerds

Chris

April 20th, 2010
12:19 pm

Good post Jackson. That’s what I was trying to say in some way, shape or form, but much better said.

Steve Spurrier

April 20th, 2010
12:20 pm

I love this. With my Defense it will be ugly for the puppies i mean dawgz

Reality Dog

April 20th, 2010
12:20 pm

Losing Mett is no big deal—murray is clearly the better player and would have started anyway. Now, with no competition, murray can focus on the real thing and get ready for a big year. Mark it down—the Dawgs will upset Florida in 2010!

gpa

April 20th, 2010
12:24 pm

I agree with some posters above in that we’re going to have to lean on our RBs to be successful with a 1st year RS Frosh QB, but if AJ stays healthy all year and we aren’t at least trying to get him the ball 10-12 times a game, we are not doing a good job of utilizing our best talent.

DB

April 20th, 2010
12:25 pm

Just as TommyP said, Murray would’ve been the QB even if Mett stayed out of trouble. Thank goodness we don’t have fans in charge of naming the starting QB after one glorified practice.

UGA Fan

April 20th, 2010
12:25 pm

Murray will get the job done. He has it. Don’t worry about one game you saw. He will be the man.

Dorsey Hill

April 20th, 2010
12:26 pm

Murray is the same height as the defending Super Bowl Champ’s QB. Murray is the same height as Zeier was and he did ok at Georgia. I think Murray is going to be a very, very good qb at Georgia. David Greene had bad Spring Games too. In fact he had one that was far worse than anything Murray has done. Of the things we need to worry about for 2010, I just don’t think the qb position (barring injury to Murray) is the area of most concern. I’m much more concerned with how thin we are at OLB and how inexperienced we are at OLB. I’m also concerned about our two DE positions and what level of production we can expect from those guys. Bend but don’t break is over, but we have to be mindful is that the opposite of that is don’t bend and risk breaking. You can’t have any weak links in this new system and not get burned. We are going to face a lot of coaches that can identify and expose any weaknesses.

DirkDawggler

April 20th, 2010
12:26 pm

We’re doomed. Murray is a hack. We should punt on first down.

I’m far more concerned with how the defense will gel than how Murray will do. The kid will be fine as along as he doesn’t force anything. In this offense, he can be somewhat conservative and still have big success. Just stay out of trouble, kid.

gpa

April 20th, 2010
12:27 pm

And also, to Spokesman for the SEC East: I know it’s 420 and all, but you should seriously post before you puff, not the other way around.

Dawghater

April 20th, 2010
12:27 pm

Yea, all the puppy dawg fans who touted Zach and the next Stafford have jumped on the Murray bandwagon. These would be the same “Joe Cox for Heisman” crowd from last year. You did watch the spring game, right! You might want to be asking the question of Richt why he did not plan better for Stafford’s departure! Enjoy the run game in 2010. And Shreveport will let you tailgate anywhere you want and you can leave as much trash in the street as you want. Woofy, Woofy!

Armchair QB

April 20th, 2010
12:28 pm

The biggest loser could be Logan Gray. If he loses the QB battle, he is guaranteed to not see the field at any position unless Murray blows it. Shame his athleticism will now go unused as we have no insurance behind Murray to let Logan risk injury playing receiver or some other position.

Spokesman for the SEC East

April 20th, 2010
12:29 pm

Reality Dog, the Gators won’t be one of your 5 wins, but Tech and Idaho State will. hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha, this is just too funny.

Dirty dawg

April 20th, 2010
12:29 pm

@Reality Dog Mett was a 6ft5 qb that could see over the defense and make some unbelievable throws. Murray has all the hype but is not the answer. I am a dawg to the hurt but the reality is not looking good. Home grown talent is what we need give the kid from Lassiter a shot

Spokesman for the SEC East

April 20th, 2010
12:30 pm

Dawghater, he planned; it was Joe Freaking Cox, hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

bigdawg

April 20th, 2010
12:32 pm

Spokesman for the SEC East wont mention how many starters Georgia returns and how many the Gaytors lose. Hes no representative hes simply a Gaytor in disguise using a neutral name (just like the “neutral” Jacksonville) so Dawgs wont rip him instantly upon reading his name.

dont feed the troll kidies

Yoda

April 20th, 2010
12:32 pm

Thinking of Murray QBing UGA…got Gas…I think the 2 are related!

JC

April 20th, 2010
12:33 pm

Bill, do your homework. Gray’s arm is much stronger than Cox’s.

bigdawg

April 20th, 2010
12:34 pm

Dorsey Hill makes better points than anyone ive heard on this blog all preseason