Monday, March 15, 2010

SPRING PROVING GROUNDS IV





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.

Glory, Glory.

6 comments:

Cojones said...

Exactly what was DJ's playing qualifications when he became QB? How many games had he changed by his play before he became QB? No more than Gray. Although you qualify him in your last sentence about Gray, I think too many of you want the "I told you so!" factor in the Fall. Let the QB chips fall for the coaches instead of trying to move them yourselves. Touting one player over another only serves to slowly demean the others. Let's hope that we have 3 well-qualified QBs ready in the Fall instead of promoting one such that if the others have to play they may end up not feeling "qualified". That doesn't do the team or the fans any favors. Each year we hear the pundits on tv waggle their fingers at a coach and stipulate that a team can't have more than one QB and the pundits have been proven wrong time after time- they just don't come back and write that they were wrong. It's up to our contracted coaches to determine what is best for the team and not pundit's opinions nor fan's opinions.

Have any of you writers that tout Murray for the job thought of the mind-set of players and fans if Murray has another injury and these "less than desired" players have to take over? It's "OK" to give your opinion of your favorite player, but cutting out the others is a job best left to coaches who will see that the unchosen ones still have their much-needed egos intact. The coaches don't need us to deflate others in our rush to install "our boy". Whether you intend to or not, the negativity and preconceived punishment of other players can only hurt, not benefit. I ask that future articles on the QB position be handled with kid gloves and leave the reader feeling that we have 3 different qualified players capable of leading every game to victory this year. The coaches will decide who is best, not us, and attempts to sway fans on this important decision is not good for us or the team.

Randy Powers said...

@Cojones

First, thank you for reading the blog and thank you for sharing your opinion so well.

As for my position on this topic, it seems I have failed to relay what I had intended to in this piece. Maybe that's because I was working on it deep into the early morning and I fogged my statements, but that's no excuse. I simply intended to lay out the race as I see it today.

I agree with you on Gray. Like I said, I liked him as a signee, I cheer for him as a player and I hope he does well. All signs point to the fact that he will be given every opportunity to succeed and that is how it should be.

When it comes to Zach...as I stated, it seemed to me that I was the only one out here that thought Mett could really challenge for the starting job this fall, but unfortunately he has put himself in a very difficult position to do that and it is only responsible to point that out.

As for Murray, I was not intending to claim him as my favorite choice. I agree that those decisions are for the coaches alone to make. I have no window into practice that you do not have and have no basis on which to make that decision. I have never seen him play except in video clips and I've never sat in a meeting room with him. However, everything I have read leads me to believe he is a physically talented, hard working young man that has done nothing to hurt his chances to start thus far.

I only hope that our coaches have all the info necessary to make the best decision possible regarding these three players and the starting position.

In general, I am with you 100% that we should support this program and it's players because they have earned our support. A DAMN BEAST!!! has never been and will never be a forum to outright bash the football program, the University of Georgia or the young men that have chosen to represent it. However, we will continue to do our very best to call things as we see them, especially when the topic is UGA. With that said, there is a difference between pointing out the facts of the QB competition as we know them and tearing the participants down. Attacking these young men has no place in this type of forum in my opinion. I have no attachment to any of these young men other than being a fan and I am rooting for each of them equally. I have full faith in the coaching staff to make the decision they feel is best and gives the DAWGS the best opportunity to win.

Again, thank you for reading and thank you for the engaging response. I hope your will read again in the future and share your thoughts. I read every comment that is left at the BEAST and I really value the input we receive.

A DAMN BEAST!!! is a labor of love driven by a passion we share with DAWG fans from all corners and we will continue to strive to do our best in the future. Glory, Glory.

MikeInValdosta said...

Zach owes everybody on the team an apology, but he especially owes one to Logan Gray.

With Zach's probable suspension for the first two games, Logan will be forced to remain at QB after it has already been decided he will not be the starter.

In stead of getting a jump on playing WR and pushing for playing time, he will be working with the QB's.

I m a big fan of Logan. I really want him to have every opportunity to make an impact. I truly believe this has stunted any chance he had.

Randy Powers said...

@MikeInValdosta

You know Mike, I had not even thought about that angle. Great point to consider.

WEDDING OFFICIANTS OF GEORGIA said...

REALLY FUN TO DISCUSS THE FUTURE - AND IT IT GREAT WITH COACH RICHT AT THE HELM!

Cojones said...

And I didn't end as positively as hoped. These 3 young men represent quite a bit of UGA's recruiting time and our forward look for the team. They may be joined by another who wants to wear the Red and Black while leading the team to the victories they are capable of winning (ALL games in our minds). They deserve all that is possible to let them realize that dream of QBing the Dawgs.

Mike, I always like to read your comments and don't always say that when arguing from a different point of view. My opinion is that Logan will still do what's best for Logan and the Team as he has done up to now. He can play any position that he is capable of without regard to anyone else's activities on and off campus. If he doesn't win the competition, he still can be used in a pinch (like Hines) and still play other positions...that is, if Zach can still compete for the job as well. Zach is currently being thrown out with the bathwater. Zach competing will actually help Logan find his niche and continue playing. There is nothing that Zach does that will affect whether Logan rides the pines or not. This morning Belue wrote and omitted Zach from his offensive competition for QB. Fellows, this is just not right. Zach has created his own milieu and we don't need to hit him while he is down. We don't need to hang heavier weights on anyone in this competition or it no longer is a competition.

May the best Dawg win for the sake of our Team. After all, that's what we all sincerely want isn't it? Let the coaches do the judgement that is a part of their job. Our job is to blindly cheer like maniacs every time they touch the ball. WOOF!!WOOF!! SIC"EM DAWGS>