The No. 1 QB at G-Day can’t be No. 1 for Georgia’s opener

Aaron Murray hands off. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Aaron Murray eyes a handoff. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

ATHENS — If you wanted clarity, you came to the wrong scrimmage. The quarterback who looked the best at G-Day is the quarterback who cannot start against Louisiana Lafayette on Sept. 4.

“I think today was a big day toward determining who will be the starter,” said Aaron Murray, but it wasn’t.

Zach Mettenberger outplayed both Murray, who’s considered the front-runner, and Logan Gray, who’s the only Georgia quarterback to have worked in a collegiate game. But Mettenberger, because of his arrest last month in Remerton, must serve at least a one-game suspension.

“Well, he can’t play in the first game,” Mark Richt said. “So that would be a factor.”

Richt declined after the game to name a No. 1 quarterback, but Georgia plans to release a post-spring depth chart, perhaps within a week. And that will be a big deal. Because Richt isn’t in the habit of changing his mind about his quarterbacks.

In the 10 years this coach has worked here, only in one season — that being 2006, when Joe Tereshinski III started the season as No. 1 but Matthew Stafford finished and even Joe Cox got a start — has the pecking order changed because of performance. Richt went out of his way Saturday to stress that the first-string quarterback headed into August won’t necessarily be No. 1 for Game 1: “We’ll gauge where we think they are, but that won’t tell you who’s going to start the first game.”

Then, minutes later: “I don’t think there’s any guarantee whoever starts the first week will be the starter the rest of his career. But he’ll have the best chance.”

Steve Spurrier will change quarterbacks on a whim. Richt has shown no such inclination. He stuck with David Greene when D.J. Shockley mounted a challenge, and last season he resisted the urge to remove the redshirt from Murray when Cox turned into a turnover machine. Richt, we must remember, was himself a quarterback and has coached quarterbacks — including two Heisman winners and one who was the NFL’s No. 1 draftee — for a quarter-century.

In sum, he knows what he’s doing and why he’s doing it. What Richt said he seeks in a quarterback: “Can he hit his target? Can he process all the information he has to process? And can he handle the pressure of the job?”

Of the three quarterbacks in contention, Murray arrived with the biggest hype. But he was the only quarterback not to lead a scoring drive this G-Day and the only one to throw an interception.

Asked to handicap the race, Murray said: “Zach did great. Logan did great. I think we all looked good … Zach definitely had his best performance.”

Said Gray: “I don’t know if anybody has done enough — or maybe we’ve all done so much — that I don’t know if there’s a clear-cut No. 1.”

There probably isn’t. But there is a clear-cut No. 3. Owing to his suspension, that’s Mettenberger. Per Georgia policy, he wasn’t available to the media afterward — a suspended player can’t meet the press — but the tallest of the three quarterbacks was seen leaving the locker dispensing the highest of high fives to teammates. And why not? He completed six of 10 passes for 150 yards.

But Mettenberger didn’t work with the first-string offense — or against the first-team defense — and that was another hint. Both Gray and Murray did, and Murray got a long look with the No. 1 unit in the second half. He was 8-of-19 for 96 yards with the Red team — he had been 2-for-3 for zero yards with the Black squad — and was less impressive this spring than he had been on G-Day 2009.

Which might mean something, but probably not. The post-spring depth chart, whenever it is unveiled, figures to have Aaron Murray atop it. Quarterback is the most important position on any team, but for Georgia it’s even bigger: The Bulldogs return 10 starters on offense. Their only unproven one will be the guy under center.

144 comments Add your comment

Atlanta Jacket

April 10th, 2010
6:23 pm

Where are all the bulldogs?

Atlanta Jacket

April 10th, 2010
6:25 pm

Not that I care, but I think Murray will prove out to be the starter. It will be interesting to see if Richt relies more on the running game that so dominated my jackets – he should. I’ll go out on a limb and say Uga finishes around 9-4 (loses to UF of course, USC, GT and a surprise in there somewhere).

Not Disappointed

April 10th, 2010
6:28 pm

I’m happy for local QB from Oconee! Good luck young man. Except againt me Jackets!

Ramblin Wreck!

Albert the Alligator

April 10th, 2010
6:32 pm

Atlanta Jacket, i think they all went to get refunds on their “Aaron Murray for President” Tee shirts. Of course, the guy that they all said he was better than and played better competition in high school than was 15-19 passing, 2 TDs, 200+yards, 0 ints in HIS spring game. And that despite having to play behind the 4th team center who was a tackle a little over 2 weeks ago…I think reality is starting to set in…already….that they are NOT gonna win the spring football national championship.

Not Disappointed

April 10th, 2010
6:33 pm

typos all of the place for me.. “Sorry, but the young man from Oconee County looks good to as starting qb for the dogs.”

Ramblin Wreck!

Pago Pago Trojan

April 10th, 2010
6:37 pm

We see another pre-season # 1 ranking.

stw

April 10th, 2010
7:03 pm

Why was the game only available on Comcast this year? Sounds like $$$ 1st and fans 2nd…

todd grantham

April 10th, 2010
7:03 pm

Mark, does it really matter? Anyone will be an upgrade.

No dog fans?

April 10th, 2010
7:14 pm

Interesting, this post has been up for over an hour and not one comment from dog fans. Maybe they got tired of Bradley bashing the dogs and went elsewhere. This one seems like a strange post to boycott since it’s one of the rare posts that takes no shots at them.

Bruce Mac

April 10th, 2010
7:17 pm

G Day, ho hum.

aztec

April 10th, 2010
7:18 pm

i was at the ga state panthers spring game today and i dont think nick saban will be shaking in his boots that week in november, but the other coaches on the panthers schedule might be shaking

Sprocketdawg

April 10th, 2010
7:18 pm

Many Dawg fans are still in Athens, or driving home.

blazerdawg

April 10th, 2010
7:26 pm

This Dawg fan just got in from Augusta….love the Dawgs, but G-Day is boring…most Dawg fans will focus after the beachtrip to St. Simons this summer.

Mike

April 10th, 2010
7:29 pm

best news from G-Day:

I saw about 20 rows up on the 50 yard line…half the time ppl there werent watching the game, but rather watching Todd Grantham chew the crap out of the defense. Every posession Todd brought the entire defense to a huddle at the bench and gave them huge talks…and a lot of expletives!

people were loving it, b/c one of our issues has been how soft the coaching is. Grantham will not let this D suck.

Dawgs2010

April 10th, 2010
7:37 pm

Could it be that the new Defense was much improved and the QBs were harrased by the “new” looks?

ASHEVILLE DAWG

April 10th, 2010
7:45 pm

The only thing a spring proves, is that it takes place during pollen season. Hope all the dawgies work hard from now til August, and stay out of trouble.

Southside Drug Rep

April 10th, 2010
7:46 pm

Jacket and Albert….we were at the game. Why are you two here on a beautiful Saturday? (Hint: GET A LIFE)

I hope we smack the bugs and gators this year. HBTD!

George

April 10th, 2010
7:47 pm

With Georgia, it’s always who can best hand the ball off to a good running back. Forget passing, their strength will always be running the ball. And, defense.

nola dawg

April 10th, 2010
7:50 pm

mark – enjoyed blogging with you today. I think the fact that Mett never played against #1 D is a huge point. A lot of the guys in the secondary on the #2s are walk-ons, special team guys. So I agree 100% that it is a strong “hint” that he didn’t play w/ the 1s.

I still think its Murray’s job. Remember this was just one of 3 scrimmages.. and if i remember right AM had strong stats during those. As AI would say, “we talkin’ about PRACTICE?”

Russ, the Temporary Mascot

April 10th, 2010
7:56 pm

Well, here’s one GA fan, and all I got to say is it was boring and itchy. They gave me a choice–let the paint just wear off by itself or go for the turpentine. So my butt will be white for quite a while.

P.S. I go for Zach as the starter. Any boy that can get caught drinking in a little town past midnight is definitely UGA material. Those jail doors in Athens will just about open themselves when he passes by. Passes—get it?

Melder

April 10th, 2010
7:57 pm

Mettenberger not getting any #1 time was a bit odd, if its punishment for the DUI then at least I get that but Mettenberger showed the most confidence in his ability by far and challenged the D. He saw guys that were going to come open and made the right read and throw. His throws were the most accurate and he showed incredible touch on his deep ball to Wooten. By far the player of the game.

Gray looked hesistant to throw the ball down the field and Murray appeared to just not see it at all. Murray’s INT throw was an absolutely brutal pass where he was under pressure and he just got rid of it to avoid a sack and threw it right at Dowtin. That is an inexcusable mistake to make.

tony

April 10th, 2010
7:59 pm

Mett looked real good out there today. Aaron Murray better go to a higher gear if he expect to secure the #1 spot. Good job Mett.

CHAMPS

April 10th, 2010
8:02 pm

ACC Champs > SEC chumps

ATL Dawg

April 10th, 2010
8:16 pm

Tech sucks. Y’all are the whipping boy of the SEC, and we own you. Get a life and get out of our posts.

I will be a happy fan so long as Gray doesn’t take a snap all year. Go Dawgs!

RomeDawg

April 10th, 2010
8:17 pm

What do the yellowjacket and gator fans have in common? They both have nothing better to do on a Saturday night than talk UGA football. Most of us Dawg fans just rolled in from Athens!

blah blah

April 10th, 2010
8:36 pm

Ahh, but Georgia WAS the ACC Champion last year, remember? We beat South Carolina in the CG.

As for G-Day, yawwwwwn. Yes, Mett was impressive, but it was against second and third stringers. Murray will get the Plant-Orson connection going again and be the guy. And if not, it’s nice to know Zach is there too, because when it comes to arms and throwing anything but short out routes or screen passes, Logan is battling walk-ons for 3rd string there. Aaron & Zach are clearly 1 & 2 in my mind anyway…

Spring Scrimmage QB Stats

April 10th, 2010
8:39 pm

If anyone’s interested, here are the stats from the 2 scrimmages, plus the g-day today for the qb’s, 3 scrimmages total:

TD’S: 1) Mettenberger 5 2) Gray 3 3) Murray 2
Least Int’s: 1) Mettenberger/Gray (1 int) 2) Murray (3 int’s)
TD/Int Ratio:1) Mettenberger 5.0 2) Gray 2.0 3) Murray .67
Accuracy: 1) Mettenberger 64% 2) Murray 59% 3) Gray 53%
Yards: 1) Mettenberger 433 2) Murray 380 2) Gray 254

So the ranking is OVERWHELMINGLY Mettenberger #1 (he won every category)

Due to Murray’s very poor td-to-int ratio being a .67 (2x worse than Joe Cox’s), I’d have to put Gray #2, because td’s and int’s are about all that count for qb’s.

1) Mettenberger (By a LANDSLIDE)
2) Gray
3) Murray

Knowing the UGA Coaches, they’ll probably reverse this saying none of the 3 scrimmages mattered.

Sugar Hill Dawg

April 10th, 2010
8:56 pm

Fellas, fellas…calm down. Spring games are a great distraction for the student body (when I was at UGA – 1971-1975) we were able to take full coolers of malted beverages into Sanford and relax, watch the girls, watch some of the game, etc.). They really aren’t worth much else, except to determine who gets steak and who gets hot dogs. (I assume that tradition continues.) After the redshirts have the summer to hit the film room, get more of a clue, work out with the receivers, etc. THEN we’ll find out who’s who. I love the loyalty CMR showed Joe T III, but Stafford was a no brainer. I think the same situation will develop here. How many days until the ULL game?

brick

April 10th, 2010
9:07 pm

Enter your comments here

brick

April 10th, 2010
9:16 pm

Some of the Dawgs went to the G day game, can’t speak for all, I realize that you being a Tech fan don’t understand actually attending a game live, but maybe one day. But thx for your concern, Mett looked very good and had a great day, but I think his chance to be the started ended during spring break. As for as our record goes, I am thinking more alone the lines of 10-1 and sadly that 1 is probably to UF. I don’t understand the push for SC this year, we have more returning and beat them last year, I expect the same this year. And that big win by Tech, we beat UF more than Tech beats us and until we put together some type of winning pattern I won’t predict a win against them. It will be another 6-8 years before Tech gets to put one in the W column against us.

indianman

April 10th, 2010
9:17 pm

atlanta jacket you ask where are bulldogs they are in atlanta beating ga tech 30 to 24 remember

tim

April 10th, 2010
9:18 pm

just back from watching UF’s spring game……Brantley is a QB, and he’ll lite you sissies up in Jville

ga gator

April 10th, 2010
9:23 pm

Went to the game with friends and even though from Tampa and pulling for Murray, I felt both Mettenberger and Gray out played him. We sat in the endzone specifically to watch the QB’s and passing routes and at times you couldn’t see Murray behind the lineman. #27 at running back on the white team looked really quick and of course AJ looked like a pro playing with kids. Mettenberger thru a couple down the middle to the tight end that looked almost Stafford like. Time will tell and of course the coaches see a lot more than us fans, but from my perspective it certainly looked like Mettenberger improved a lot more over a year than Murray.

ga gator

April 10th, 2010
9:25 pm

brick, there were more people there today than at most Tech regular season games.

ga gator

April 10th, 2010
9:26 pm

tim, try to lay off the ranting dude. You must be under 35.

Albert the Alligator

April 10th, 2010
9:37 pm

tim…if you were there, no doubt you saw the place swarming with big time recruits. Jernigin, Gosha, Driskel, Pagan, Benjamin just to name a few. Also heard a strong rumor that the NCAA was there because of all the top recruits expected, just keeping an eye on things Nothing bad going on. Maybe they should be camping out at SoCal instead. Was looking for James Vaughters but didn’t see him, might have missed him. I’m sure he’ll be down over the summer regardless. It was cool to see Chris Leak on the sidelines tutoring Brantley, seems like a great relationship there. Alot of people around me were asking but I’m sure Tim didn’t want to show up and take the spotlight from the team.

Chris82Atl

April 10th, 2010
9:40 pm

dont feed into the spring game, cause these games are very misleading. afer the game in columbia, we should have alot better feel of where this yrs team is going.

CatsFly

April 10th, 2010
9:41 pm

how many at game?

frank james

April 10th, 2010
9:42 pm

Spring practice is about like Spring Training, it really doesn’t matter a heck of a lot. The fall is when everything will be decided. Depth charts don’t mean much right now and is really just something for the media and fans to discuss. Like the NFL it is way over analyzed. And Atlanta Jacket, the surprise would be if the Dawgs lose to Tech.

Kenneth

April 10th, 2010
9:48 pm

Was it just me or are the players not playing as hard with AM as they are with Gray and Mett? Even though Mett is in trouble he seems to have the team behind him.

tim

April 10th, 2010
9:49 pm

hey ga gator I’ve got corns older than 35 and from what I saw in the swamp this afternoon was impressive….I hate the puppies and have since scott broke my heart in 1980 so after watching Brantley today I’m very excited about another 40 point beatdown in Jax

ga gator

April 10th, 2010
9:57 pm

tim, well lets worry more about someone like Bama jamming it down our throats for 60 minutes. I’m almost 58 and I get excited too, but lets show some class and avoid the name calling. Thats all Im saying.. I would guess about 45 thousand, not quite half full.

LAdawg

April 10th, 2010
10:02 pm

I was at the game and was impressed with Mett’s awareness in the pocket. No panic; just stepped up and delivered. As far as his production against the #2 defense, Gray and Murray both played with the second team also and didn’t produce. I expected to see this great “athlete” in Gray, but it just wasn’t there. If he doesn’t play quarterback, the only way he will be able to help this team is to be our designated fair catch specialist.

kerry

April 10th, 2010
10:11 pm

tim, maybe Brantley looked so good because your defense left for the NFL and no one knows who your second new DC is.

Real Truth

April 10th, 2010
10:18 pm

Mett looked the best. I do not care what defense it was against. He has the strongest arm and was accurate. Not to bash, but Gray’s arm looked weak for the SEC and excespt for the TD throw threw behind and on the wrong shoulder of the receivers all day. Murray just did not look comfortable.

ga gator

April 10th, 2010
10:20 pm

kerry, Brantley is the real deal and the D will be fine.

tim

April 10th, 2010
10:21 pm

kerry…you’re precisely why I’m going to enjoy this years game so much we’ll see how the gators D does against your rookie qb…I love it ! spring ball brings out the talk early..ESPN has the dogs at #22 I think, and UF at #7..

The most interesting man alive

April 10th, 2010
10:27 pm

Kerry, I know who our DC isnt; he isnt the same fat slob that got fired by the Cleveland Freaking Browns.

ATL Dawg

April 10th, 2010
10:30 pm

tim… no one cares about you or your gaytors. brantley is a nanny – justin houston will have him on his back all day in jax. looking forward to the gators’ struggles this year… nothing i love better than a humbled gaytor fan.

dawgfan

April 10th, 2010
10:30 pm

Mett will be the starter and his first start EVER will be on the road at South Carolina. Pull that off and the sky is the limit for this guy. Watch and see…

Size, arm, and the total package. I was very impressed. Just no more partying in freaking Reamerton son.