Athens — A.J. Green remembers what it was like a year ago at this time: “just going out there and playing, not really knowing the plays, not able to read defenses and stuff like that.”
You’d never have known it from his stats, but Green says what you saw last year was not the full A.J. because his knowledge of the system was limited and his groin was bothering him all year.
He says he’s “smarter” and “healthier” now.
“I know the plays and know the system also,” he said. “I’m pretty comfortable.”
And: “It will be good to go out there without my groin hurting me in the middle of the game.”
All in all, Green thinks the improved knowledge and health, plus a year’s experience, have made him “much better” than a year ago. And remember, he led the SEC in receiving yards as a freshman a year ago.
Other things will be different for Green this season, too, of course. He won’t have Mohamed Massaquoi as a fellow receiver, for one thing. And he’ll be catching passes from a different quarterback.
Asked the difference in catching balls from Joe Cox vs. Matthew Stafford, Green said: “Joe not as much heat, but he’s got a great touch. I think it’s easier. Joe throws a good ball.”
Green’s 2009 season starts Saturday against a team, Oklahoma State, that also has a star receiver on its side, Dez Bryant. Green insists he isn’t concerned about any kind of personal showdown. “It doesn’t really matter to me, as long as we come out of there with a victory,” he said.
“When I was in high school, I saw [Bryant] play a couple of times [on video],” Green said. “I know he’s a real good receiver. On YouTube, they were comparing me and Julio [Jones] and him and all that.”
Green is interested to see how the rest of Geogia’s receiving corps unfolds on Saturday. Aside from him and fifth-year senior Michael Moore, the Bulldogs are looking for young talent to emerge, ASAP. Among those in the mix are Marlon Brown and Rantavious Wooten, two freshmen whose knowledge of the system is probably about the same as Green’s was at this time last year.
“Any one of them could have a breakout game,” Green said, “because that is the kind of potential they both have.”
As for himself, “I’m not as nervous as I was last year.”