Spring practice 2010 ended and everyone anxiously awaited news as Coach Richt prepared to release his post-spring depth chart that would include a ranking of each of the three quarterbacks vying to land the starting spot for the DAWGS this season. Well, a lot changed before that could happen. Zach Mettenberger was dismissed from the team and…then there were two. Coach Richt dropped his list on us and red-shirt freshman Aaron Murray sat on top with Logan Gray coming in at number two. Soon thereafter we learned that Gray was considering a transfer to another school in search of playing time and what had been a three-man race was suddenly perilously close to becoming a one-man option. I created more than a little nervousness for this member of the DAWG Nation flooded with ideas of security coming only with my visions of Murray being tied to a wheelchair, wrapped in bubble wrap and rolled into a man-sized safe until the season opener. Eventually we found out that Gray had decided to stay and that he had done so for all the right reasons. For a moment I was easing back towards some level of comfort worried only that this now rekindled quarterback derby could possibly drag into the season, thus mucking up my preferred option of a clear-cut starter being solidified prior to the season’s opening kick-off. Then I heard that Gray and Richt were seeing eye-to-eye on a position switch to WR and I quickly reverted back to my paranoid ways, looking for all the bubble wrap I could find to ship to Athens.
An unforeseen byproduct of this melodrama playing out was that I found myself concerned that by moving to WR, Gray may have once again derailed himself in his attempts to see the field. Gray sacrificed valuable practice time at quarterback during his early years in the Classic City working on special teams units in an effort to help the team win and get in the game sooner. It is my opinion that this hurt his development in the long run when it came to competing for the starting quarterback position. His employing the “TEAM me” philosophy came back to bite him in the end. Now Gray hopes to make an impact at WR this fall, while still remaining an “emergency” option at quarterback (as I see it now). His actual practice time at each/either position is still to be determined.
Now there is a chance that this will work out well for everyone involved. Georgia needs every player that will to step up and be a reliable option at WR this fall. Gray has the athletic ability necessary to be a viable option, but will his knowledge of the passing game translate to him running good routes or catching a ball in traffic? I guess we will all find out together. There are recent success stories to turn to for hope in this scenario. At Kansas, Kerry Meier moved to WR after Todd Reesing was tabbed as the starter at quarterback and Meier was just drafted in the fifth round (165th overall pick) of the NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons…one round and 26 picks ahead of college teammate and full-time WR Dezmon Briscoe (6th rd, 191st overall pick). I just hope that Gray, by making this move at this point in his career, can still salvage some meaningful game action and help the DAWGS win and that he won’t just end up spending another year languishing…torn and straddling that line between two positions and not giving himself a good opportunity to succeed at one.
As for Murray, it’s his show. If he thought summers were hot in Tampa, just wait until he experiences this one. I know that young trigger man Hutson Mason is on his way to campus in a few weeks, but assuming Gray will be given every chance to make a successful move to WR, we all know that Murray will be the DAWGS starting quarterback in the fall. I’m a little torn with this situation. I’m glad it looks like there will be a definitive starter at QB headed into the fall and that Murray will have every opportunity to grow into his role as a leader of the team, but the DAWGS are now seriously lacking in not only experience at the position but sheer numbers as well.
It is a simplistic view to be sure, but if “should” and “ought to” write the story of the 2010 Georgia campaign Murray should benefit from being the only new starter on the offensive eleven and he ought to benefit greatly from a deep and veteran offensive line, a talented set of skill players and an aggressive defense that promises to provide several more offensive possessions as a result of the takeaway than last year’s offensive squad had. Murray’s job…make good decisions with the football, let your play-makers make plays for you and don’t turn the ball over. Sounds simple enough, but I have feeling that as good as we all believe Murray to be (because we’ve been told so by the coaches and seemingly everyone else) there still will not be much that qualifies as simple for the DAWGS new signal caller.
I’ve tried to express my feelings about Georgia’s current quarterback situation, but I really believe this is just the beginning. I am only one person. Just one DAWGS fan with one a lonely opinion. I deeply appreciate each of you that choose to read my thoughts in this forum, but it is a small voice and it is only May. Very soon there will be writers with a much greater audience than mine and well known voices that perceivably carry a much greater weight than that which I employ here that will have their say on this topic. They will opine at a dizzying rate and their perspectives will cloud the DAWGosphere, rising high and growing dark like the storm clouds driven by the scorching temperatures of a Georgia summer’s day, blotting out most every ray of positivity from the bright and shining sun rising on the day that is Georgia’s upcoming football season with a storm of questioning doubt. Voices like mine that are reasonable but hopeful will be much like the whisper of a child…not discernible in the fury of the storm.
Whatever pressure Aaron Murray is feeling right now he should dismiss as a happy day in the park. His slate is clean and he stands at a fresh and new beginning. We in the DAWG Nation are hopeful and positive. Coaches Richt and Bobo have every faith that he will continue to grow and develop into the leader the DAWGS need him to be and Murray knows he has done it before. It is everyone not bleeding red and black, everyone not lucky enough to call the University of Georgia home and everyone in the national media ready to fall at the alter of Saban or cuddle up to the new batch of reptiles in Florida that will rain on Murray’s parade. I will be putting my faith in Murray’s self-confidence and Richt’s tutelage and experience to weather the storm, but make no mistake….there is a storm a comin’.