Talking with the QBs: Mettenberger sees key as ‘who can … take us to national title’

OK, on to the second in the series of interviews with the quarterbacks who’ll be battling this spring for Georgia’s starting job. . . .

The three candidates — Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger and Logan Gray -– spent some time last week chatting with the beat writers who cover the Dogs. Re-listening to those sessions as I transcribed them over the weekend underscored for me how interesting and important spring practice will be. (By the way, spring practice starts March 4 and ends with the G-Day Game on April 10.)

I posted a full transcript yesterday of the interview with Murray — if you missed it, please look for it here — and later today I’ll post the interview with Gray. For now, here’s the interview with Mettenberger, a strong-armed 6-foot-5 passer from Oconee County who (like Murray) was invited to the prestigious Elite 11 quarterbacks camp in high school and who (like Murray) was redshirted as a UGA freshman last season.

So what is your view of the quarterback competition?

Mettenberger: Ultimately it’s up to Coach [Mike] Bobo. But all three of us are going in saying we’re going to work as hard as we can and whatever he decides after spring, we’re just going to go with it.

How much do you think you’ve improved since your first day on campus?

Mettenberger: I think 10 times better than when I came in. My body is starting  to mature. I’ve changed a lot. I’ve lost a couple of pounds. I’m working really hard. I’m doing everything Coach Bobo has asked of me. We’ll see how spring practice goes. We’ll see on the field how I’ve done.

What’s your weight now?

Mettenberger: 237. When I first came in, I was like 255.

How would you describe your mindset, your emotions, about the competition for the starting job?

Mettenberger: It’s definitely a big spring for us three quarterbacks. It’s pretty much going to determine who’s going to be the quarterback for possibly the next couple of years. We’re all really excited about the competition, and we’re all pushing each other to do the best we can. And whatever happens happens. We’re still going to be friends at the end.

Do you look at it as completely even among the three of you going into spring?

Mettenberger: I think in everyone’s opinion, Coach Bobo and us three, we’re all tied right now. Logan [Gray] is probably No. 1 going in, the first couple of days, just because he’s older and has been there longer. I don’t really know what to expect; I just know all three of us are going to go in and work as hard as we can.

Do you feel more confident than last summer?

Mettenberger: It’s night and day to where I was. I mean, I came in and worked my tail off. I’ve never been a slacker by any means. But I’m starting to mature and finally getting a knack of the offense and getting time with the receivers and just picking up the game speed of college football in the SEC. Right now I feel great. But I won’t really know until spring ball comes and we put the pads on.

What do you think will be the most important criteria in determining who wins the starting job?

Mettenberger: I think there are two. I think it’s overall leadership — who the guys can gravitate towards and really follow, someone who can lead us to the promised land and take us to a national title. And also knowing as much of the playbook as we can and trying to be as smart as Coach Bobo with the playbook because you want to be like Peyton Manning out there just making audibles and just know[ing] everything that’s going on around you.

How do you and Aaron help each other?

Mettenberger: We knew each other from camping with each other at Elite 11. . . . Aaron’s a great guy and a great friend, and if I need help I can trust him to help me out. And what we’re going through right now is helping us both a lot. If we were at a school by ourself, we maybe wouldn’t push ourselves as much as having a guy in the same class competing for the same job. Aaron has been a really great thing for me since I’ve been here.

The starting quarterback will step into an offense with the 10 other starters returning.

Mettenberger: Whoever gets the job is definitely stepping into a very experienced offense.  . . . The offensive line is finally upper classmen. . . . We got guys like Ben Jones and Clint Boling who know the offense just as well as Coach Searels. For me and Aaron, if we don’t know something, a guy like Ben or Clint can tell us. . . . To have those mature guys around us really helps out a lot.

Are you a more accurate passer than you were last summer, when some of your scrimmage statistics didn’t look too good?

Mettenberger: I’ve never felt like I was an inaccurate passer. People have always said I’m a gunslinger, not accurate, don’t know where ball is going, but I definitely feel like I can throw the ball as good as anybody and as accurate as anybody. It all comes back to my footwork, which … has gotten just as good as the other guys’, if not better. My accuracy in [last year's] G-Day Game and all that other stuff –- you know, some were dropped passes. And a lot of people weren’t there to see it; they just saw the stats; they didn’t get to see all the plays. I’m not going to blame it on dropped passes, but right now I have a grasp on the offense and I know what I’m doing. So it should just be easier for me to play pitch-and-catch with my receivers.

In your mind, do you see yourself as the starter for the season opener?

Mettenberger: Yes sir.

Would you agree that the three candidates for the job all bring a different game to the table?

Mettenberger: Yes sir. You got Logan, who is a super athlete. If quarterback doesn’t work out for him, he can go change to another postion. It’s a little different for me and Aaron both. Aaron is a little more mobile than me, and he might be a little more accurate. But I think my size and how I can throw the ball is definitely something that I have that the other guys don’t. So I’m just going to use what I have to my benefit.

Also: Aaron Murray talks about the quarterback battle.

Coming later today: Interview with Logan Gray.

Please follow me on Twitter for the latest UGA news and notes.

126 comments Add your comment

Eaassyy

February 15th, 2010
10:08 am

How bout his footwork? I would assume better since dropping the weight. First?

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

February 15th, 2010
10:10 am

Let the games begin

Ryno

February 15th, 2010
10:10 am

I know Murray might have been rated higher – but I think Zach is the guy. To many physical factors in his favor and his arm is just as good as the other candidates.

Spike

February 15th, 2010
10:15 am

Seems like a nice respectfull young man. I like the “yes, sir” answers. This is going to be a heck of a battle this spring and summer.

Bobby

February 15th, 2010
10:16 am

First, Good Interview

Stephen Harrison

February 15th, 2010
10:16 am

This kid will prolly be the best Pro prospect of the 3 He reminds me from all I have seen of Ryan Mallet the way he stands in the pocket big & tall with a strong arm

Stanfield

February 15th, 2010
10:17 am

I personally hope that Mettenberger wins the starting job. If he can progress and have an outstanding spring, I would love to see a quarterback with his size leading the Dawgs. I also think that very few fans give him a realistic shot of winning the starting job behind center.

Bremen Dawg

February 15th, 2010
10:22 am

It going to be a battle and I think Logan should go ahead and move to wideout. I think you may see Bobo use two QB’s

c'mon man

February 15th, 2010
10:24 am

I think Metzzy is our guy as well.

Appears more athletic than Greene and that is saying a lot. Greene is my favorite QB in the Richt era. Go DAWGS!

Tim Tucker

February 15th, 2010
10:29 am

Eaassyy:
Zach had an interesting comment, I thought, about his footwork:. “It all comes back to my footwork, which … has gotten just as good as the other guys’, if not better.”

About Zack Mettenberger

February 15th, 2010
10:31 am

With Zach, you’re getting a 6′ 5” QB who has the strongest arm of the Georgia QB’s. He can wing it a mile downfield. His size is the prototypical Pro Style QB like Eli Manning.

Zach is accurate, completed more passes than Murray, 62% verses 61% for murray.

About Zack Mettenberger

February 15th, 2010
10:34 am

Zach threw for 19 TD’s in 2008 against only 6 int’s. That over a 3.0 TD-to-int ratio.

And he completed over 62% of his passes.

dawgingatorville

February 15th, 2010
10:40 am

not sure how to feel about the upcoming season, hate that it may take ANOTHER season before things turn around. This is all Richt’s fault for not planning ahead that the QB would leave after his junior year. Where was the planning? Now we have to start novice QBs two years in a row? I think the 2011 season will prove to be OK though, so the sky isn’t falling, but it is getting embarrassing….

TXDawg

February 15th, 2010
10:43 am

Footwork does not = 100% of what’s needed. Which one has the smarts? Which one can read the defenses better? Which one has the intangibles and that internal drive to dig down deep and pull out everything necessary to be a great QB (I.e. John Elway, Joe Montana, Steve Young, Brett Favre)

About Zack Mettenberger

February 15th, 2010
10:45 am

Zach had a terrible G-Day game. It wasn’t just dropped passes. It was also int and sacks.

He went 0 for 3, 1 int, 2 sacks.

Gray went 9 for 13, No Int’s, 5 sacks.

Murray went 3 for 5, no int’s, no sacks.

atl-xmen

February 15th, 2010
10:46 am

i like arron over metts but not by much. both are smart but the one who knows the playbook better will win the starting job. also i like murray’s mobility reminds me of drew brees where he usues it to pass down field or to get the short 5 yards for first down when the receivers are covered. can be very annoying for defenses. i see murray starting and metts a close second. not a bad problem to have when you have 2 great qbs pushing each other.

About Zack Mettenberger

February 15th, 2010
10:50 am

Zach has a wicked sense of humor. Sort of a Will Farrell character. You can see it in the video interviews he does. Man, the dude is funny. He can use that to build his leadership and attract guys to him. Kind of the way Vince Young helped Texas stay light and play so well. Kind of the USC attitude of having fun. Richt should really like that.

atl-xmen

February 15th, 2010
10:51 am

whats to be embarrassed about? richt has another top recruting class and we have 2 great qbs. starting a red shirt freshman is not a bad thig when you have upperclassmen around him. look what greene did. i wasnt planning for stafford to leave early i was hoping he would stay all 4 years. richt didnt plan for injuries on the oline the past two years but not one coach plans for injuiries.

Who will start as UGA QB?

February 15th, 2010
10:59 am

Maybe Spring should serve to narrow it down to the top 2 QB’s.

Then let the top 2 battle it out on the field during our first few games.

Let them prove it on the only place that matters–against SEC defenses.

Nash Nance's Dream

February 15th, 2010
10:59 am

The windows are closed, so I’m not sure how I got through them, but I am floating outside my house…other things distract me, as I see the mist depart as I move over Calhoun. I don’t know where I am going, but soon I am zooming across the state, and suddenly in the distance I see a water tower that says “Athens-Clarke County”. I slow, swooping down over UGA’s campus, seeing the buildings as they zoom under me. Soon, I am over Sanford Stadium, and I can see a night practice going on.

I see the qb/wr group at one end of the field, and I see three qbs throwing and I know I am here to see something important. Watching these guys throw, I realize that UGA has three qbs who can play, and I want to compete…I drop onto the field, and pick up a football. At first, no one knows I’m even there…I throw passes but the wrs don’t even look at me. Then a coach comes over and tells me I have to step up my game. I try to throw harder, and still I’m not even noticed. Murry and Mett are hitting all their targets, and yet no one looks my way! I throw five more, as hard as I can, but they all just hit the field and skitter away. Now I’m frightened! I’ll never be this close again to playing big time college ball! I reach over to a manager and pick up a clip board. It feels so right, so warm and comfortable in my hands! I know I will be holding a clipboard on the field at UT, and it feels so right. The next thing I know, I’m no longer at Sanford Stadium, but at Nieland Stadium, holding a clipboard, calling in plays to the other guys that will be leading this team to a 7-5 record. I see Da’Rick making a play here, a drop there, a play there. This…this is good, so right, with the clipboard in my hand.

I wake up, and I am holding a clipboard. I know I made the right choice.

Bryan G.

February 15th, 2010
10:59 am

I kind of like the kid’s confidence he shows in this interview.

Larry

February 15th, 2010
11:00 am

Nice interview series here, Tim.

Seems like Mett has already come a long way, but I will be very surprised if Murray isnt QB 1 in the fall. Kid has mobility and accuracy in spades, and he wasnt the top prospect in the country for nothin.

SouthGa Dawg

February 15th, 2010
11:01 am

If Zack catches on to playbook quick, he will be the guy

Alabamadawg, who's never going back to the Outback Restaurant again !!

February 15th, 2010
11:04 am

Personally, I’m pulling for Logan Gray, I think he brings the most to the table…but, I’m not sure how much I trust our staff to make the right decision…( thinking about Joe T. and Joe Cox ).

J Dawg

February 15th, 2010
11:05 am

Murray will start and be successfull, if we run the ball effectively, and the line protects him, he is a smart kid, and is very atheletic. I also think that he is not scared, which was Joes main problem, he did not want to get hit at all. It showed any time anyone got near him he would panic(not a good attribute in the SEC) you are gonna get hit in this league. Zach or Aaron will be fine with me, who ever does the best and the team and coaches feel is the better leader. Logan, do youself a favor switch positions, your a good athelete help the team elswhere.

Go DAWGS!!!

What if?

February 15th, 2010
11:09 am

Put Mettenberger on Murray’s HS team with Charles as his tight end, and what might he have accomplished? Don’t get me wrong, I love Murray (love both these guys), but people seem to be ready to anoint Aaron as the next great QB based on his HS stats, record and ranking. But put these two on the same team and who knows? I think it is going to come down to those intangibles… leadership, confidence, poise, etc. Should be fun!

jrmdvm1

February 15th, 2010
11:10 am

I for one hope that all three manage to develop to their potential. I hope that the ones who do not win the starting job get significant time on the field ( and not just with the “second string” ), so we are never just an injury away from virtually total inexperience.

Pattie the Proctologist

February 15th, 2010
11:21 am

Mettenberger is a UGA guy; he bleeds red and black and that’s what we need. Shame really that we can’t get all three of them in the game with a hybrid type spread.

How2fish

February 15th, 2010
11:22 am

Good place to be with 3 talented guys working for the job. Think it will come down to who knows the playbook best and shows they can lead the team..and stay healthy . Having guys with similar skill sets is always a good thing..well if they have good skills!

atl-xmen

February 15th, 2010
11:26 am

Logan will get his shot as he is the oldest and has earned it. just like joe t and joe cox they will have to lose the job. joe t lost it because stafford was the better qb hence he is starting qb as a rookie that should be a sr in college. joe cox didnt lose that job as he was the better qb last year. he could throw tds and and knew the playbook better than any qb on the roster. no telling how good joe’s number would have been if uga had running game and off line these new guys will be getting and the young receivers coming back with a year under their belt.

About Zack Mettenberger

February 15th, 2010
11:29 am

Zach was also invited to the Elite 11 2008 camp. He did well there. Won the award for strongest arm.

On the accruacy challenge, Zach finished tied with Gilbert, the Texas phenom. Zach also finished with 46 points on the accuracy challenge, just 2 points behind Aaron Murray who had 48.

To be invited to the Elite 11 camp says a lot about Zach’s potential. Scout says Zach has the BIGGEST UPSIDE of all the QB’s in his class.

WonderDawg

February 15th, 2010
11:31 am

Great interviews, Tim Tucker!!

About Zack Mettenberger

February 15th, 2010
11:35 am

Scout says he is:
1) biggest upside of class
2) mentally tough player
3) makes his teammates better
4) strongest arm
5) can punish zones and man-to-man coverage

atl-xmen

February 15th, 2010
11:39 am

The upside is because he is 6ft 5in

murray will be better than Metts but not by much. what murry lacks in size he gaines in his mobilty and just being a better athelete. drew brees does just fine at 6ft and if murry can emulate the same kind of game as drew he will be just fine as a pro./ metts doesnt have to worry about creating passing lanes as he is 6′5 and the pros love big tall strong arm qbs. if metts can play smart he will be fine too.

atl-xmen

February 15th, 2010
11:39 am

what does scout say about murray?

Correction

February 15th, 2010
11:39 am

Larry,

Murray wasn’t the top prospect in the country, he was the 3rd rated QB, the 46th rated player
nationally and 4th rated player in Florida.

BigMike Said...

February 15th, 2010
11:40 am

Sounds like CMR has a Vince Dooley Problem. Any of you “Old Heads” remember when UGA played Ray Goff and Matt Robinson? Goff was definately the better runner, but Matt, like Zach, had the better arm and got Drafted to play with the Jets. Logan Gray, Dawg fans let us not forget was the #6 ranked QB coming outta H.S, and I don’t think a couple of series in a UF blowout is a determining factor as to his abilities! This should be interesting to see, but I know one FACT, if Mike Bobo blows it with a #3,#6, and #10 ranked QB,s on his bench he must be gone as a O-Co-.ordinator.

Paddy

February 15th, 2010
11:43 am

I will wait till the 3rd interview in this series but I sure like what I am reading about the state-of-affairs of our QB situation right now. We always seem to sign good QB’s.

WonderDawg

February 15th, 2010
11:44 am

I just hope Murray and Mettenberger have a fair chance at winning the job. It obviously wasn’t a fair fight last season. Richt should let the top two play in every game so we have a really strong backup.

BigMike Said...

February 15th, 2010
11:44 am

Must admit that I like all of there attitudes, no selfish players in the crowd. Zach, Aaron, and Logan will all know that it’s little room for error when you have someone just as good as you on the sidelines!

Tailback U

February 15th, 2010
11:45 am

Agreed Wonderdawg, good interviews Tim.

Sounds as if Murray’s height is comparable to Brees while

Zacks’s height is comparable to Mallet . If the talent level

is in any way comparable it is going to be a helluva competetion

this spring. G-day game can’t get here fast enough.

atl-xmen

February 15th, 2010
11:46 am

no worries about bobo blowing it. he will have the qb’s ready. will be up to the qb to take that job by the play on their field. gray was a spread optinon type qb coming out of high school. not really used to reading the def secondary. i think he would have been ideal for a ga southern , navy and now ga tech typ offense. unlike the guy tech has now, grey can pass aswell. i like greys arm and mobilty but he is not as good as arron. he might be there with metts though or a little better. but because he is a jr might be too late to stay a qb if he wants to play more.

Another UGA history lesson

February 15th, 2010
11:49 am

UGA has done just as well overt the last 50 years with soph or even frosh QBs. Mike Cavan carried UGA to the promised land in 68 with UGA 8-0-2 with a Sugar Bowl LOSS to Arkansas BUT a pre bowl ranking of like 4th. Not bad. Final was like 8th or so. Not bad, when compared to 67 and 69.

Andy Johnson in 71 did very well for UGA. 10-1 in 71 with win over NC in the Gator Bowl.

Ray Goff and Matt Robinson, both sophs, carried UGA to the Cotton and the Sugar in 75 and 76. In 78 UGA was undefeated with two ties or maybe one loss and our QB was a nobody … I think.

Belue did ok in 80 as a SOPH.

I might be wrong but John Lastinger as a Soph or maybe Junior carried UGA to Cotton Bowl win in 82 or 83 over #1 Texas. Always 10-9 in Dallas.

Lean through out the 80s/90s ( raising kids in this era, my old memory is cloudy ) and with David Green as a Frosh and Soph, UGA did well in 2000?

Stafford ( who I never liked ) did carry us to the Sugar Bowl and final #2 as a soph.

Not a bad soph QB history, ………….so let us look forward to the QB battle at UGA. Afterall ……………it could be Jumpin Joe Cox again. AAAAAAAAAAAGGGHHH #$@^%$ Thank God and Greyhound he is gone.

We have 3 QBs; UT has none.

February 15th, 2010
11:52 am

What the heck was DaRick thinking?

Who will start as UGA QB?

February 15th, 2010
11:54 am

Logan & Murray both outplayed Joe Cox last year in the Spring game, but Bobo and Richt stayed with Cox.

So if Murray & Zack both outplay Logan in the Spring game, it’s probably just a formality, Bobo will go with Logan regardless of the Spring game, just like last year.

patrick

February 15th, 2010
11:55 am

Murray or Mettenberger will be fine. I believe Bobo learned his lesson about running the ball. Both will be ok handing the ball off.

Larry

February 15th, 2010
11:56 am

Correction-

Thanks for the clarification. I was basing my comment on when he was being recruited by UGA and UF and was, at the time, considered the best QB in Fla and one of the top 5 in the country. Either way, he should have what it takes. That being said, I hope one of these kids really steps up and earns the job so that there is no doubt who should be under center in the fall.

atl-xmen

February 15th, 2010
11:58 am

i have to disagree with wonderdawg in that joe cox won that job out right. well at least the other two didnt do enough to win it in practice. i will side with richt and bobo that the starter last year should have been joe cox as he was our best chance to win. he almost won 10-games. a mess up by a true freshmen at running back in the ky game and a blown call by a ref in the lsu game and joe cox finishes 10-3. guys richt will always make the right choice when it comes to the team.well at least 9-10 times which is still pretty good.

atl-xmen

February 15th, 2010
12:01 pm

cox played fine in that g- game last year and both those qbs had all year to beat him out. they just didnt get it done.stafford got it done in 2006 with his knowledge of the playbook and how well he read the def. thats why he beat both joe’s..and him having a cannon of an arm didnt hurt either.

Correction

February 15th, 2010
12:01 pm

It really won’t matter who the QB is this year. Who ever it
is will only be asked to hand off (without fumbling), and throw
safe and easy flat passes or bubble screens.

This discussion should have gone on last year and allowed one of them
to get a year’s experience, instead of a wasted year with Cox.
This is another example of Richt making poor decisions as a head coach,
does any one remember Moreno. As a result the dawgs go in 2010 with no experience
at QB, but with good players every where else.

If Richt has any sense he will rely on a rushing
game and defense. There is no way any of these 3 are going to win games passing,
a year from now that will be a different story.