ATHENS –- Georgia coach Mark Richt said Tuesday night that he’ll decide by the end of this week how to discipline quarterback Zach Mettenberger, including how many games the recently arrested player will be suspended at the start of the season.
Mettenberger, who entered spring practice in a three-way battle for the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback job, was arrested in the early morning hours of March 7 outside a South Georgia bar on five misdemeanor charges: underage consumption/possession of alcohol, disorderly conduct, obstruction and two counts of possessing false identification.
Richt said UGA Athletic Association policy mandates a suspension of at least one game for an alcohol-related arrest “that sticks,” but the coach could impose more.
“I’m disappointed, first off,” said Richt, who commented publicly on Mettenberger’s arrest for the first time. The Bulldogs resumed spring practice Tuesday following a 12-day interruption for UGA’s spring break.
“I did spend some time talking with him,” Richt said of Mettenberger. “There is a little more information I want to gather before I make a final decision on what I’m going to do. I would certainly think by the end of the week I will have a final decision.”
Richt said he is “going through the normal protocol of talking to the young man and getting any information I can . . and talking with our administration. Anytime something like this happens, we always want to be in agreement on what we’re going to do.”
While a suspension of even one game would effectively reduce the competition for Georgia’s season-opening quarterback job to two candidates –- Aaron Murray and Logan Gray –- Richt said the arrest will not affect “at all” the amount of snaps Mettenberger gets with the No. 1 offense during spring practice.
Indeed, the three quarterbacks continued to divide snaps evenly at Tuesday’s practice. Gray took the opening snaps with the No. 1 offense in the first session of spring practice March 4, and Murray took the first snaps Tuesday, the second practice. Mettenberger will take the opening snaps with the No. 1 offense in the next practice on Thursday, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo said.
Of course, if suspended for the first game, Mettenberger’s role will be reduced in practice in late August. “Once we move into the phase of getting ready for the first game,” Richt said, “anybody who’s suspended, they don’t get any reps or any quality reps.”
“I’m very sad for what happened,” Murray said of Mettenberger’s arrest. “I don’t think it’s really going to change anything [on the team]. . . . . In the end, you just got to get past it. And everyday we’re still trying to get better -– him, me and Logan.”
Mettenberger, from Oconee County High School, was arrested in Remerton, near Valdosta. He was not available for comment after Tuesday’s practice.
“He’s been forthright with what has happened,” Richt said. “I believe he has been very honest. I believe he has been very remorseful. I believe he’s going to take his discipline like a man and move forward and prove to everybody this was just a one-time deal for him.
“He knows he has dug himself a hole, and he wants to climb out. He knows that what has happened this last week is not going to define who he is and define his career. What he does from this point forward will define that. So he’s very anxious to prove to everybody he’s a very solid person and a leader. We’re all disappointed, and we all know there are consequences for those kind of actions. And everybody knows that is what’s going to happen.”