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Thoughts on the QB battle after G-day game

April 10, 2010

All of us were looking forward to the Spring scrimmage, for two big reasons. One, to see the new 3-4 defense being installed by Todd Grantham and co. Well, the new defensive staff wasn’t about to give Georgia’s 2010 opponents get a good look at what they are planning on running this season, so we didn’t get much of a look at that… but we did get a good look at the 3 QB’s. I have some pretty strong feelings on what I saw out there today, so allow me to opine.

First off, let me say that I am extremely frustrated at how the snaps with the first team offense were distributed. Zach Mettenberger did not get a single snap with the “red” team, working solely with the “black” team second-team offense. I really think Mett should have gotten some snaps with the red team, in order to give the coaches a clear picture of where all 3 QB’s stand. Maybe it was part of his punishment for his Spring break arrest. Maybe they feel they can evaluate him based off of his work with the 2nd team. I don’t know. But from a fan standpoint, it sure would have been nice to see him throwing to AJ Green.

Now, as to where I think they will be ranked on the depth chart when Richt releases it this week.

3. Logan Gray (10/17, 58% comp., 132 yds, 1 TD) – I am not a Logan Gray hater. I’ve met him once, he’s a really cool guy, and I love his attitude and his work ethic. But it’s as simple as this: watching Gray run the offense, you get the distinct impression that we would be a very run-reliant team with him under center, and defenses would load the box all day against us, not worrying much about the passing game. That’s because Gray, while being smart and athletic, does not possess the arm strength or the velocity to make big plays with his arm. And if opposing defenses do not respect our deep passing game, we are going to be flat out ineffective on offense. I’m not saying that our other 2 QB’s are electrifying Heisman candiate QB’s at this point either, but their potential is greater by far.

2. Aaron Murray (10/22, 45% comp., 96yds, 1 INT) - I felt like Murray was trying too hard today. It is clear that his arm is very good, he can put plenty of zip on his throws and he can scramble too. But Murray struggled badly with his downfield accuracy today. He overthrew a wide open AJ Green at least 3 times, by 6 feet or more on all occasions. Most of the day he seemed to do fairly well under pressure, but in one instance, with a defender in his face, he tried to force a throw that ended up in the chest of a waiting linebacker, without an offensive receiver anywhere in the area. David Hale appropriately compared it to a Joe Cox INT. Murray will have the chance to win the starting job before the SEC opener, but he wasn’t the best on Saturday afternoon.

1. Zach Mettenberger (6/10, 60% comp., 150yds, 2 TD’s) – Ironically, the guy who will sit out the first game of the season was the one who looked the best in the scrimmage this afternoon. Mettenberger had it all going for him; accuracy on short and deep passes, velocity, pocket presence, even some mobility thrown in for good measure. I was stunned at just how much he seems to have progressed from when we last saw him in the G-day game of 2009. He looked crisp and confident. I pointed out to a buddy that he looked very Stafford-esque. The arm-strength that everyone has said he has is definitely not overrated, as is evidenced by the fact that he picked up 150 yards in the air on just 6 completions). What may win him more points with the coaching staff than anything was how at ease he looked. He never looked hurried or hesitant. And to be fair, he did play against the 2nd team defense, while the other two QB’s played against the 1st team D, but Mettenberger also was playing behind the 2nd team O-line and the rest of the 2nd team offense the entire time. It didn’t seem to phase him, as he made a great case for himself. The question is: will Richt see fit to make Mettenberger the starter, given that he will not be able to play in the opener against Louisiana-Lafayette? South Cackalacky is a tough game to get your first start in… but if he’s the best at the position, can you NOT start him?

I have this fear though, and maybe I’m just being paranoid, but I’m worried that Richt ends up starting Gray against South Carolina, because he has “the most experience,” and we fall into the same trap that we fell into in 2006 when Joe Tereshinski III was named the starter. Our new defensive coaches seem to have the philosophy that the best player should be on the field. I really hope that Richt changes his philosophy as well, and puts the best player, not the most experienced one, on the field when we take our game to Columbia for the SEC opener in September. Because if we go down that road (experience over talent) again… we may end up losing a couple of games before we finally get the best guy under center, and we may be out of the race for the East at that point. And make no mistake… if Gray is named the starter, it will be because Richt chose experience over talent.

Now… all that said, if the depth chart comes out this week and somebody other than Gray is at #1, I think that will go a long way to clearing up my apprehensions about the decision Richt will make in the Fall.

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