Coming into spring practice 2010, the widely held opinion was that Georgia’s most intriguing storyline would be how the DAWGS adjust to their new defensive coordinator, coaching staff and scheme OR how the competition at quarterback would play out. ‘Round these parts we believe in bone-rattling, will-breaking slap-yo-mamma and make you like it DEFENSE. Up to this point we have spent much more time talking about defensive line stunts and blitzing linebackers than who will be looking to take advantage of the opportunity to throw the ball to AJ Green or hand it off to Washaun Ealey and Caleb King. However, there is no denying the importance of the QB competition and we are just as interested in who ends up taking snaps in Athens the next few years as any other DAWG fan out there. The right to lead a team must be earned and between the lines…on the proving grounds…is the one and only place to stake a claim to the starting spot as the DAWGS top signal caller.
SPRING PROVING GROUNDS IV: QUARTERBACK
The coaching staff has thrown the competition to be Georgia’s starting quarterback open and it is a three-man race between Logan Gray (Jr), Zach Mettenberger (RFr) and Aaron Murray (RFr). Well, it was.
Mettenberger was arrested recently for underage consumption/possession of alcohol, disorderly conduct, obstruction and two counts of possessing fake identification. Although there were times since the end of the 2009 season that I thought I was the only one in the DAWGosphere that gave Mettenberger any chance at all to compete with a real chance of earning playing time in the fall, it seems he has ended that talk all on his own. Given his physical skill set, I believe Mett may be the best pro prospect of the bunch down the line. However, given Coach Richt’s history of dealing with incidents like this one, a suspension is almost definitely in Mett’s future and the only question is how many games it will be. While I still expect Mett to become a fine football player possibly win the starting job outright in years to come, I believe any impending suspension will effectively eliminate Mett from consideration for the starting nod for the DAWGS to open the 2010 season.
That leaves Gray and Murray to battle it out.
I’ll admit that when Gray originally signed with Georgia I was excited at the prospect of the DAWGS having another QB with some mobility that would have a couple of seasons to learn the system before taking over as the starter, possibly much like DJ Shockley had done for the DAWGS a few years ago. Although he is a fine athlete, I don’t think I would put Gray in the same category as Shockley. To this point, we haven’t seen anything from Gray that would make those of us in the DAWG Nation clamor for him to be anointed the starter. Then again, Gray has not really had a chance to show what he can do when given a full opportunity to run the show. It is very possible that given the chance, Gray will step up and earn the right to lead the DAWGS this fall.
Courtesy Kelly Lambert
Murray seems to have it all…fantastic prep record (including returning from a broken leg to lead his team to a state championship as a senior), mobility, a better-than-average arm and reports are that he is a tireless student of the game. His toughness and work ethic alone are enough to garner my respect. Murray seems to have that unquantifiable quality known as “it” that makes a player special and it appears he is the odds-on favorite to earn the starting job in the season opener, even without having played a down at the collegiate level.
Courtesy Kelly Lambert
Much like the offensive line situation, quarterback play could prove to be the primary hindrance to an otherwise efficient Georgia offensive attack. If the DAWGS can determine at least a solid front-runner for the starting job during the spring, the more likely a starter can be installed in fall camp and the quicker the offense can find its rhythm once the season starts. In my opinion, this situation calls for decisive action from Coach Mike Bobo and Coach Mark Richt. Although there aren’t as many moving parts as the offensive line scenario, it is hard to argue that there is a more important position on an offense than quarterback. Everyone can say the right things about “doing what’s best for the team” and talk about how “each guy brings something special and different to the huddle” but an offense needs that leader…that one leader…to look to when the game is on the line. The sooner that leader steps to the front of the line and is identified by the coaching staff the better.
I have long held that if you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have one and I am always uneasy when I hear a coach say that he is open to any kind of quarterback rotation. Coach Richt is on record as saying that he is open to a rotation if necessary, but that he will name a starter if someone steps forward and earns the job outright. I really don’t think that will happen. This competition will head into fall camp. Best case scenario, the coaching staff will see enough in the spring to get a good idea about where the competition stands heading into the fall. From there, we will have to hope that the oppressive heat of a Georgia August will temper the mettle of the competitors and that the DAWGS coaching staff can then shape a leader of men that will be charged with leading the Silver Britches to victory “between the hedges” as well as bearing the weight of the crown of a nation longing to embrace him…the DAWG Nation.