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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Backup QBs Need Snaps in '09

It would have been nice, Mark Richt has said repeatedly, to have gotten Joe Cox in for a few more snaps a year ago. There's no substitute for game conditions, and even for an experienced veteran like Cox, stepping into the starting role after four years of primarily clipboard duty is no easy task.

Still, turning to Cox this season is a luxury for Richt. No, Cox doesn't have the same arm as Matthew Stafford and no, he hasn't started a game in nearly three years, but he's hardly a rookie either. He knows the offense, he knows the SEC, and he's earned the job.

But what about 2010? After Cox leaves, things get a bit more dicey, and it's never too early to start thinking about the future. Or at least, it should never be too early for Richt.

Last season, Cox threw just 15 passes. No other non-Stafford QB attempted a pass.

Those numbers were exactly the same in 2007.

For the past two years, the backup hasn't seen the field often, but if Richt is going to groom a quarterback -- whether it be third-year sophomore Logan Gray or true freshmen Aaron Murray or Zach Mettenberger -- for 2010, he'll need to find a few more snaps for the backups this year than he has in past seasons.

“You want to but you’ve got to be careful of disrupting your starter and his rhythm," Richt said. "If you can find a way of doing it without disrupting your starters ability to feel comfortable and confident, then you do it."

Georgia's schedule -- which features just one non-BCS conference opponent -- won't make things any easier.

"The best way to do it is if you play well enough toward the end of the game you can get the guys some playing time," Richt said. "That would be the ideal way. But with our schedule, that doesn’t happen too often."

The upside to this year's cast of reserves is that both Murray and Gray offer a distinctly different look than Cox, making both ideal contributors for situational play calls. Both Gray and Murray are athletic quarterbacks, capable of beating a defense with both their legs and their arm -- an asset Richt said will likely find its way into Georgia's offense this season.

"If there’s a way to insert a guy in a situation or a down-and-distance or field position, that might be part of what we’d do and it would be comfortable for everybody," Richt said. "So that’s a possibility.”

As for Gray, who has yet to attempt a pass at the college level, Richt said he has been impressed with his progress. Gray missed a significant portion of last year's practice time while working on special teams, but this spring, Richt said his quarterback took a big step forward.

“He looked very good," Richt said. "I think it helped him a lot that we allowed him to be in all the QB meetings and the fundamental work at the start of practice. I think it paid off big time. If you didn’t know anything at all about Logan and you just watched that game as a casual observer, you’d say that guy’s pretty darned good. And he is good. I’m happy to see him do that and gain some confidence.”

For more comments from Richt on Gray, check out this video from the Macon Bulldogs Club meeting last week...


Richard said...

David, I appreciate and look forward to your posts. With Tony Wilson leaving, UGA's WR depth deserves a story. WRs are always tweaking something during the season so it is likely that a walk-on or two that will have to contribute at some point. Will it be Spellman, Marquise Brown, or someone else? Marquise Brown's bloodlines make him a compelling story. Maybe the miscues that Spellman and Brown had at G-Day will prove valuable lessons should they be cast in the spotlight in the fall. What do you think?

David Hale said...

Good point, Richard. Both Brown and Spellman had decent outings in the spring, so it's certainly possible we'll see some of them. I'll see what I can find out on that front -- but I also think we're going to see a lot of Orson Charles and Branden Smith playing WR, too.