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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Notes: Brown's Progress Slow But Steady

Hype sets the expectations, but it doesn’t necessarily mean results will come in short order. That’s a lesson Georgia fans have learned all too well when it comes to receiver Marlon Brown, who was one of the most coveted prospects at his position two years ago, but thus far his career with the Bulldogs has amounted to just two receptions.

“Marlon is a little bit raw and has to fine-tune his skills,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “He’s getting close there, but he needs to practice.”

That’s been easier said than done for Brown since he first arrived in Athens last summer.

A hand injury set back his progress in fall camp last year, a series of nagging dings limited him at time during the season, and although he’s been practicing during conditioning drills, he’s donned a green non-contact jersey for the past week during spring practice.

That’s one of the frustrations, head coach Mark Richt said. This spring in particular, Brown seemed to be making steady progress. But the injury bug has made life a bit more complicated.

“I felt bad when he got hurt,” Richt said. “He looked so much quicker to me and a much smoother route runner this spring that he was in the fall. He’s made great, great improvement.”

Despite the setbacks, Bobo said Brown has kept a positive attitude. He’s as frustrated as anyone that he hasn’t earned more playing time, but that frustration hasn’t reduced Brown’s desire.

“All these guys tend to get a little bit frustrated if they come in and don’t play as well as a recruiting service or somebody ranks them,” Bobo said. “That’s just part of the process, and sometimes I think it’s good to go through that and learn how to have a little adversity and learn how to fight and push. Marlon’s a kid that has accepted that well and I haven’t seen anything that he’s a guy who is sulking or disappointed. He’s playing hard.”

So while Brown’s freshman campaign fell well short of fan expectations, he isn’t in his coach’s doghouse by any stretch. In fact, Richt may be the one person who might be the least surprised by the extended development time for Brown.

“I knew Marlon was going to take a little bit of time to get used to Southeastern Conference football,” Richt said. “But he really made great strides, and he’s a very physical football player, he’ll block, he’ll get after you, he’s got strong hands. He’s going to help us and I’m looking forward to seeing him blossom.”


Regardless of whether he wins the starting job, odds are Zach Mettenberger won’t be playing in Game 1 of the season for Georgia after an offseason arrest last month that will most likely result in a one-game suspension.

Mettenberger’s punishment has already begun, fellow quarterback Logan Gray said, and the redshirt freshman has already learned a valuable lesson.

“(Mettenberger) has finished up his discipline runnings in the mornings, so hopefully it’s letting him sleep more now instead of waking up early,” Gray said. “But it’s definitely helped him mature a lot. It’s got to be tough. He’s only 18, so he’s young just for a freshman, and especially with going through all the scrutiny he did. But I think he’ll keep on growing from it.”

Of course, there’s still the matter of the on-field dynamics of getting prepared for the season – something that would be complicated if Georgia needed to start either Gray or Aaron Murray in its first game, then make the switch to Mettenberger one week later.

That will be a problem, Bobo admits, but it’s an issue he’s hoping to avoid for as long as possible.

“Right now, we don’t want them looking ahead, and I want us trying to get better,” Bobo said. “We have a lot to get better at, and it’s too early to decide that. We’ll cross that bridge when it comes to it. In a perfect world, I don’t want to rep two or three quarterbacks before the first game because we’ve still got to get a guy ready. But all of that is the head coach’s decision, too, so we’ll see.”


One of the biggest things Bobo is still looking for in his next quarterback is a commanding presence on the field.

“I think all three have to work on that just because of being young,” Bobo said. “They’re in that role now of being that guy, and that was one of our main objectives this spring is we’ve got to take command of the huddle. That’s a work in progress with all three.”

Bobo gets no argument from Murray, who has never taken a snap in a college game and admits he’s still getting used to the idea of being the leader in the huddle with 10 other returning starters.

But while the role of field general at Georgia is still a bit foreign, Murray said he’s getting more comfortable each day.

“I think I’m slowly coming into that,” Murray said. “Leadership comes with confidence, and the more confident I feel, that will start to come out more. So I just need to concentrate on making sure I know what to do before I can tell everyone else what they need to do.”


-- Be sure to check out my story in today's Telegraph on the battle at safety among a diverse collection of Bulldogs.

-- And check back here later this afternoon for complete stats from today's second spring scrimmage.

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