Athens — Let’s talk some football this afternoon.
I’m at the Butts-Mehre building, planning to talk with a number of UGA football players. Hoping to chat with Richard Samuel about his move from tailback to linebacker, with Logan Gray about whether he intends to remain at quarterback for the duration, with Aaron Murray about whether his arm is 100 percent after last fall’s tendinitis, and others.
I’ll post updates through the afternoon. Please check back.
Richard Samuel seems very happy about the move to linebacker. ”I feel like I’ll be more comfortable, be able to play more freely at linebacker,” he said. He said coaches pretty much left the decision up to him about whether to remain at tailback or move to linebacker.
He said his biggest problem at tailback was blocking. “I couldn’t block correctly and keep a good pocket for the quarterback,” he said. With the play of Caleb King and Washaun Ealey at the end of last season, “my future wasn’t looking too good at running back.”
He said he’s gaining weight for the move to linebacker. He’s up to 230 now. His goal is to start at linebacker in the season opener.
For those wondering about the health of Aaron Murray’s arm: He says it’s 100 percent fine, thank you.
Limited by triceps and forearm tendinitis for a big chunk of his redshirt season last fall, Murray said he is not worried at all about his arm now.
Recounting last fall’s problem, he said: “I just tried to push through. It inflamed up and spread throughout the arm. I didn’t give it the proper rest I should have. If I had, I would have been out a week instead of going four-five weeks without throwing. I learned from that. This off-season I’m doing a lot more shoulder maintenance, making my arm strong, building the endurance.”
He said the arm didn’t bother him at all the final month or so of last season and through bowl practices. He said extensive medical tests revealed no problem beyond tendinitis. He said he’s currently throwing three or four times a week. He said he doesn’t expect any setbacks with the arm this spring.
But he did say the missed practice reps last fall “set me back a good bit.”
As for the upcoming quarterback competition with Zach Mettenberger and Logan Gray, Murray said: “I view it is pretty much anybody’s job to take right now. I’m looking forward to spring, going out there and working as hard as I can. It’s my goal to get that position. . . . It should be fun. It’s going to be interesting. Off the field, we are not enemies; we hang out, go out to eat. It’s not [a competition] where we will go out there in hatred. We’re just going out there to win a position. . . . Two days ago, Zach and I went throwing with Marlon [Brown], helping each other with footwork and mechanics. . . . It’s going to be a friendly competition, and in the end the best guy will win.”
OK, about all those rumors of a possible position switch for quarterback Logan Gray.
Gray said he expects to play quarterback exclusively in spring practice, and although he acknowledged giving some thought to a position switch, he said the rumors were overblown.
“I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t think about what my options were, but I just think it’s too early to make any decisions,” Gray said. “I’m just going to keep on playing quarterback. If there comes a time where I’m not going to be playing or contributing and I think I’d be better off somewhere else, then maybe I’ll make a decision.”
He said the coaches never approached him about a possible position switch for spring practice.
“It was kind of interesting [when] all this whirlwind talk started brewing up and everything,” Gray said, “because it seemed to me like Coach [Mike] Bobo was planning on me playing quarterback through the spring.
“I feel like obviously we’re looking for a starting quarterback, and I feel like I can compete for it. Last year, I didn’t get quite as much experience as I would have liked. But I feel like I’m ready to go this spring, and I’m excited about spring practice and what is going to happen.”
If there comes a time when it’s clear he has no future at quarterback, Gray said, “I’m not, like, opposed to playing receiver or trying to play defense.”
Still no official word on whether newly hired linebackers coach Warren Belin will coach the inside or outside ‘backers, although LB Chase Vasser said today, “I want to believe it’s inside, but not 100 percent on that.” Whichever group of linebackers Belin coaches, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham will coach the other.
Zach Mettenberger, whose shaky completion statistics in preseason scrimmages last summer caused some concerns in Bulldog Nation, said he is “10 times better than when I came in.”
The 6-foot-5 Mettenberger said he has lost 18 pounds in the past year, from 255 to 237, and has improved his footwork to the point that it is “as good as the other guys’, if not better.”
All three quarterbacks said they expect a highly competitive battle for the position in spring practice, which will run from March 4 through April 10.
“It’s definitely a big spring for us three quarterbacks,” Mettenberger said. “It’s pretty much going to determine who’s going to be the quarterback for possibly the next couple of years. We’re all excited about the competition, and we’re pushing each other to be the best we can. Whatever happens happens. We’re still going to be friends at the end. And it’s whatever Coach Bobo decides.”
Here’s wide receiver Marlon Brown summarizing the different styles of the three quarterbacks:
“Zach can throw the ball 100 yards. Zach has a cannon. And Logan, he’s been here three years and is real smart and so he knows the offense better. And Aaron, he’s just an all-around guy [who] can make a tough throw and he can run. They’re all pretty good.”
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