April 11, 2009

Still a learning process

For freshmen quarterbacks Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger, Saturday's G-Day game was an eye-opening experience in many respects.

Growing up in nearby Oconee County, Mettenberger would annually make the pilgrimage from Watkinsville to Athens to watch Georgia play. But as the youngster would quickly attest, it's a lot different being on the field than sitting in the stands.

"It is a lot different than just watching the game," Mettenberger said. "When you're on the field the crowd sounds a lot louder, but went out there and just tried to treat it like another practice and tried to have fun."

Mettenberger, who split time with Murray running the Red Team offense, did not complete a pass in three attempts and was intercepted by free safety Bryan Evans, although he was the quarterback when the Red Team scored the game's lone touchdown on a 20-yard run by redshirt freshman Carlton Thomas.

Murray's afternoon was more successful.

The Tampa native completed 3-of-5 passes for 62 yards, including a long of 43 yards to walk-on wideout Marquise Brown, who had the ball stripped at the 5-yard line of the Black.

"My goal is to get better every day. The first day I was out there for practice I was flinging the ball over people's head, I'm rushing my footwork, doing the wrong drops, this and that," Murray said. "I was a mess. I was everywhere. My goal is to make corrections, watch film with Coach (Mike) Bobo, Logan (Gray) and Joe (Cox). I think I've progressed but I've still got a long ways to go."

Head coach Mark Richt seemed to say just as much during his post-game press conference.

"People want to talk about them competing for starting positions but you can't compete for a starting position until you understand what you're doing," Richt said. "There big race right now is to learn enough between now and the fall to where they really truly can compete. But that's why you come as a midyear, to get enough information so when the fall rolls around it's not the first time you're getting the information."

Richt said that their day will come: Just not quite yet.

"Both those guys have done well. For whatever reasons, the balls that Zach have thrown have dropped more than the ones Aaron has thrown," Richt said. "Both have proved to me that they're very intelligent, that they're good fundamentally, that they can hit their target and that they have bright futures but right now they've got to continue to learn what to do."

When the Bulldogs open their season at Oklahoma State, barring an injury, Cox will be the starting quarterback.

Saturday, Cox completed 9-of-16 passes for 105 yards with three of the six drops suffered by Georgia receivers on the afternoon.

"We did some good things but we've still got a lot to work on and everyone is aware of that," Cox said. "We'll look at everything we did wrong, watch a lot of film, make those corrections and do everything we need to do as a team to improve."

Gray held his own as the Black Team Q as he completed 9-of-13 throws for 91 yards.

"It was pretty different going out there and scrimmaging in front of fans," Murray said. "I was pretty nervous, but once I got a couple of plays in I was able to calm down and have some fun."



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