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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fleeting Thoughts: G-Day Edition

(* Note: Check out Fletcher Page's take on Saturday's defensive performance HERE or ready my story on Georgia's QB battle HERE.)

Just a handful of fleeting thoughts today, since it is still the spring and truly, we shouldn't take too much from one glorified scrimmage...

-- First off, Zach Mettenberger deserves all the credit in the world. Not because he outplayed the other two QBs yesterday or has vaulted into the lead in the QB race, but because he's simply miles ahead of where he was at this time last year. He's a kid who has worked to get better, is finally in a steady, consistent system, and it shows.

-- That said, the message boards will be filled with "Mett's our starter" statements for the remainder of the offeseason, no doubt. Just remember what those same message boarders were saying about Mett a month ago.

-- Aaron Murray will be keeping that in mind, too. “In the end, it’s not the fans that are making the decision," Murray said. "It’s the coaches. So you can’t worry about all the people talking. As a quarterback, there are going to be people talking all the time. So whoever gets the starting job, throughout the year there’s going to be criticism.”

See, the awful interception he threw right into Marcus Dowtin's chest wasn't the only reason Murray seemed a bit Joe Cox-esque yesterday!

-- Seriously though, if you look at the little things -- as the Senator did in his post today -- Murray looked pretty good. His throws were off, and it was pretty obvious he was pressing. Perhaps he felt the pressure of knowing he was supposed to be the favorite and he was getting his first snaps in front of a crowd since last year's spring game. But his release and footwork were good, for the most part he made good reads, and as Artie Lynch said, he's made for this job.

“Aaron is like almost a father out there," Lynch said. "He’s wise beyond his years. I’m like, this kid is just a born leader.”

-- Of course, the obvious problem is that lingering suspension of Mr. Mettenberger, which Richt admitted yesterday "would be a factor" in coming up with a post-spring depth chart.

The bottom line is that Murray will almost surely get the start Week 1, and unless he flubs completely against ULL, he'll get a shot in Week 2. Now, maybe Georgia will end up giving more than one guy a chance to start this season as it did in 2006, but I don't think that's good news for Bulldogs fans if that happens.

So here's the thing: Right now, I think you can still make a good case that Murray is Georgia's best QB overall, and deserves the starting job. But you can't argue with the logic that Mettenberger has made huge strides very quickly. And I've said from the beginning, Murray may be a better college QB, but Mett's got NFL talent. So it'll be interesting to see how this plays out down the road -- not just against ULL or South Carolina, but for the next four years.

Because, as Mark Richt said, there are no guarantees in this battle for the long-term, but the guy who is starting against South Carolina in September is going to have a leg up, not just in 2010 but for the foreseeable future.

“I don’t think there’s any guarantee that whoever starts the first game is going to close it out the rest of their career," Richt said, "but he’ll definitely have the best chance to do that.”

-- And I mentioned Murray potentially being a bit nervous about the crowd. Jakar Hamilton admitted that playing in front of that many fans was something the rookies had to take notice of. “Coming from GMC, we probably had about 300 fans," he said. "Here, it’s thousands. So I was real hyped.”

-- There is almost nothing we can take from the defensive performance Saturday, because the defense showed us almost nothing. "We didn’t use none of our plays today," Bacarri Rambo said. "We were just in our base stuff."

-- That said, we did see seven sacks in the game, including two from Cornelius Washington. He and Justin Houston looked very good, and that was coming from base formations. Not only that, I'd say for at least 50 percent of the plays, they lined up with their hand in the dirt as Georgia ran a nickel formation with four down linemen. And on top of that, it's hard to say how many more sacks should have been called, but the QBs can't be tackled, and Richt told refs that, if there was any doubt, to let the play continue.

-- That was the case on the first scoring drive of the game when Logan Gray scrambled for a first down after Brandon Boykin had him dead to rights on a corner blitz. Boykin was hot after the play, and Gray ended up throwing the Red Team's lone TD a few plays later.

-- Speaking of tempers flaring, I'm not sure what to make of the Washaun Ealey-Nick Williams tussle. Funny though that those were also the same two guys on Georgia's end involved in all the controversy from last year's Florida game -- Ealey getting his eyes gouged and Williams for hitting Tim Tebow late.

-- I continue to be impressed with Kwame Geathers, who I thought looked good at the nose position yesterday. Kiante Tripp's name was called a few times, too.

-- Carlton Thomas had a great spring by all accounts, but just two days after Mike Bobo praised Thomas for being able to hold on to the football better, he fumbled on a run up the middle. I feel a bit bad for Thomas, because he's a kid who, because of his size, probably has to take three steps forward for every one step back.

-- The running backs didn't score a single touchdown this spring in any of the three scrimmages. Perhaps there's something to that, but more likely it was a matter of coaches knowing what they had in Caleb King and Ealey, but needing answers to plenty of questions about the QBs.

-- And finally, I believe Richt when he says it's nothing too serious with King's knee injury. I have some concerns about any sentence that involves the words "Josh Davis" and "shoulder injury" though. Richt says he doesn't believe it's serious, but man, that would be very bad if it turns out Richt is wrong.

So… what stood out to you guys from G-Day? Other than ESPN3 blacking out the game in most places?


jlove said...

logan looked like his usual consistent self from all the practice videos and scrimmage stats ive seen. he only had one bad day and that was behind the 2nd team offensive line.

mett is of course the star from this game, but i see that suspension holding him back, and giving murray and gray a chance to win the starter more.

Anonymous said...

I don't know that one guy is necessarily a better college qb and the other is the nfl type. Seems like the nfl guy showed more poise which lynch also pointed, he did equally as well all spring and when the crowd showed up he was way above the others.

I'm definitely not giving up on Murray cause the kid is a winner but Mett is not going to quit fighting. He looked calm and threw two balls out of bounds instead of trying to use that cannon arm to force it in.

I only saw him throw one questionable ball to the middle of the field. We shall see..but I think Richt is handling this fine and with a veteran line they should lead regardless of who takes the snaps.

One thing is for certain..Logan is a good kid but he is not near the caliber these other 2 are from what I saw yesterday.

Kathleen said...

I'll donate my shoulder to Josh Davis if he needs a transplant.

I'll put out the empty milk jugs on gas station counters with his picture on it so we can make the shoulder bionic if we need to!

Caleb's knee means (almost) nothing without Josh's shoulder... Ergh.

Anonymous said...

David, you are heaping a little too much love on Mettenberger. He played against the 2nd team defense (which looks horrible in coverageO all day and he was afforded much more time by the OLine than Murray was. In contrast, when Murray finally got to play with the 1st team offense, he had 4 dropped passes. I'd rather have Murray as the starter based purely on talent. But the off the field behavior of Mettenberger really disturbs me. FIVE misdemeanor charges? It's funny how you point out last week that the guys are all getting different plays called when they're in the huddle, but you conveniently fail to mention any of the surrounding curcumstances this time around.

Furban8 said...

The only think I dislike about G-day is that now the Dawg nation will spend all summer fighting over who should be the starting QB.

Its a tough decision and fortunately it is because of two guys have talent and have performed well.

At the end of the day, all of the practices in the world will cannot duplicate the real deal. I have a feeling both Mett and Murray will see the field for one reason or another during he season and it won't be until the home-stretch of the season that we will have a clear cut #1 leader of the team at QB.

The Watch Dawg said...

Anon@12:14 -

Do you even have a clue what you're talking about? You act as if Mettenberger has gotten in trouble repeatedly, when in reality, it was ONE arrest in a small town where the barney fife's threw the book at him. He doesn't have off-the-field issues. You're either being disingenuous, or you just haven't been keeping up with what's going on at all.

PJ said...

Remember when CMR said that it might be co-1 and 2.

Co-1 : Murray-Mett
2 : Gray

I bet this is what he's going to say. Remember that the previous two scrim. are really important on this issue and from the number in those, Murray seemed to have a thin advantage, but I think G-Day tied the competition and confirmed that Logan would be 2nd option to any of these two. Anyway, is good to see that both are good so less chances of screwing te whole thing.

Conor said...

Hopefully this doesn't fall within the stupid question category: Is there a rule that says that Mett (should he named the starter) must sit out the first game? Could he start the season and then serve his suspension during the Idaho State game? It would be a bit disingenuous, but...

David Hale said...

Anon -- I'm not heaping too much love on Mett. His spring numbers were HANDS DOWN the best of the three, and this is from a guy that a year ago was going 1-of-11 in each scrimmage. It's not just about G-Day. He has been good all spring.

That said, I am on record repeatedly as saying that Murray is still the most polished of the three and the likely starter -- at least in the early going.

Mett deserves credit for making big strides. Murray is still probably the better QB. That's all I'm saying.

And WatchDawg is right... it was ONE arrest with five charges. That's a lot different from five arrests.

Furban -- You may be right on that, although for Georgia's sake, they should probably hope that isn't the case. A merry-go-round at QB would be a big setback for an offense that has 10 returning starters.

Ordep -- I'm not sure how it'll play out, but I will say that the depth chart will likely end up the single most over-analyzed story of the next four months.

David Hale said...

Conor -- Not sure if there's a rule, but Richt has already said he'll sit out the first game. Oh, and I don't read much into it only being a one-game suspension. That's actually pretty typical for this type of incident. Munzenmaier and Boling got the same thing, if I recall.

Anonymous said...

I'm 80% sure the rule is something like "if you get arrested, you must sit out for the next immediate game" ... and this rule comes from the AA and is not a Richt in-house thing. I almost want to say it is more than 1 game - something ridiculous like "1.2 games" sticks out in my mind. Am I completely recreating history here?

David Hale said...

It's 10 percent of the season, rounded down to the nearest game... and yes, that's through the AA. But Richt can extend a suspension, too, which he still reserves the right to do in Mett's case. I'm guessing holding that over his head now is a bit of a motivational ploy, too.

BZ said...

I think Dontavious Jackson earned some playing time this fall. He looked really good. Wooten is starting to make plays like AJ. Whoever the quarterback is I hope they can take care of the ball and just be smart with it. I'm sure we will be fine. Can't wait till September.

Furban8 said...

I didn't mean to suggest a QB merry-go-round. I only meant that the named starter could underwhelm in the real games and get benched or heaven forbid turn the ball over and get benched.

I agree that with 10 starters back on offense, it would be ideal to have a definite #1 guy but I just can't see this being the final on Sept 4. There are just so many unknowns.

jm from louisville said...

Did Mettenberger have any passing yards against the 1st team defense?

I'm pretty sure both his td's and almost all his yards came against the 2nd team D.

This is actually a pretty big factor considering I think our 1st team defense has several all-sec performers and our 2nd team looked like it had several walk-ons...

Anonymous said...

Gray got almost all of his yards off of screen passes.

Dr. Merkwurdigliebe said...

I'm surprised the AJC didn't lead with the following headline:

"Georgia Now Has A QB Controversy."

Gray's been steady all Spring, but doesn't bring the tools necessary to be a top flight SEC QB, IMHO. The battle should be between Murray and Mettenberger, both of whom have what it takes to be very good QB's. For my money this is a toss-up. Murray had WR's dropping 4perfectly thrown balls, but he made a critical INT. On the other side Mett did not take a single snap against the starting D, so it makes judging yesterdays performance that much more difficult. Mett did show good pocket presence and his shoes didn't appear to have 25 lbs. worth of cement in them, like last year. His long throws reminded me of Stafford. But let me remind everyone, let's see how he performs knowing he could get his head taken off in the pocket. Big difference.

Based on yesterday, we also have no more information than we did on Friday. I don't think I saw a single 4 LB set yesterday. I did see some better play from our DB's and overall better tackling.

I was not overly impressed with our OL, particularly in the running game. They didn't appear to me to be picking up where they left off last season. Perhaps playing our first game against Sister Mary Rottenshortz might give them some confidence.

Given what I saw yesterday, I have ZERO idea on what to expect for the year. We could easily lose 3 games this year. We'll see... this is very much a work in progress.

Anonymous said...

Mett was head and shoulders above the other two. And for those that keep saying he was playing against the 2nd team D, yes, he was, but, he was also playing with the 2nd team O, which not quite as good as the 2nd team D(imo). Here's how it plays out, Gray to start the first two games, Mett comes in and takes the spot during the USC game. We then have Mett, Gray(a back-up with some leadership), H Mason(whom we groom for a few years), Murray(who then transfers to USF in his hometown at the end of the season) just hide and watch...

Anonymous said...

Anon56, not sure what you are smoking.

My 2cents from what I saw Saturday.

#1 Nick Williams is a star waiting to happen. I haven't seen a UGA player bring that type of hitting and intensity in quite some years. The hit on the fullback he reminded me of the Atwater hit on Christian Okoye 100 years ago.

#2. Logan can't play QB in the SEC. His balls have no velocity and a tendacy to float even when on target. Great kid and team player just doesn't have the tools to be a SEC QB.

#3 All the QB's were inconsistant and inaccurate at times, however the obvious difference to me was Murray's legs. He made plays out of nothing by scrambling or side stepping in the pocket. We haven't had that in Athens since DJ Shockley.

#4 I've been watching football in Sanford Stadium since 1977 and that is the deepest most talent corp of recievers that we've ever fielded if you include the TE's.

#5 Kiante Tripp finally found a home. He's going to help us immensely this year and seems to be thriving at his new position.

#6 I saw more form tackles Saturday than I've seen in 3 years combined by the Dawgs. Kudos to CMR for addressing our needs and hiring coaches that stress fundamentals.

#7 Mett has done well the last 12 months progressing his game. He can be a legitimate #2 QB this year.

I think the media and fans need to realize this was just one scrimmage. I still believe the job is Murray's to lose. He has the intangibles, he just needs to understand he must manage the game, not win it as a freshman QB. His legs are going to create alot of opportunities for that recieving corp.


jlove said...

its kind of funny to me after all we have seen of all 3 QB's this spring; from practice vids, to scrimmage stats, to G-Day; you all still favor Murray just because of his hype. the starter isn't based on his hype. its based on more than just the stats too:

1) who knows the play book the best?
2) who has the most experience
3) who makes the best decisions with the ball
4) who is consistent

when you answer those questions, murray isn't the overwhelming answer. im not saying Logan should be the starter, but id stop banking on Murray so much. he's a favorite of mine too, but i just haven't seen what i need to see out of him for him to be the starter.

David Hale said...

jlove, I assure you, the last thing I've favoring Murray on is the hype. For one, I've spoken with Bobo and Richt about some of those other issues you mention, and Murray stacks up well. Secondly, I'v talked about the competition -- both on and off the record -- with numerous players, coaches and other sources. Before the season, I thought it was a battle that was overwhelmingly in favor of Murray. Now, less so. But it still favors Murray for many, many reasons that go well beyond hype.