I know. With all of the excitement surrounding Mark Fox's basketball team, the Diamond Dogs, Georgia gymnastics, and loyal DawgSports readers battling the elements, you hardly even noticed that spring practice begins in Athens this afternoon. Oh, who am I kidding? Like me, you've probably been counting down the days since January. Spring practice has always been one of my favorite pages on the football calendar because, much like spring training in baseball, it's the time for renewal. Possibilities abound.
The only thing more abundant in the Classic City this spring than possibilities will be storylines. You will hear all about new defensive coaches, defensive players in new positions, even how Mark Richt is organizing the practice agenda. If you thrive on change, the University of Georgia football office is the place for you my friend. They've got it in spades.
Me? I don't really dig change. I prize continuity, which of course explains why I am so disconcerted by the fact that we'll be starting our third different quarterback in three seasons come September. That makes me nervous. Like, "Coach Dye, it's the NCAA on line one . . ." nervous.
I should be comforted by the fact that we have the most seasoned offensive line of the Mark Richt era. Not to mention two guys who, with apologies to the former walk-on quarterback in the Governor's Mansion, run this state. But I remember the last time I exhibited hubris in the face of quarterback uncertainty. The result? Losses to Kentucky and Vanderbilt in the same season, the untimely demise of Doug Gillett's toaster, and the realization that who takes the snaps really does matter. I will not exhibit such brazen optimism again. I will assume that whoever lines up under center for the beginning of the 2010 season has the pocket presence of a palsied goat and the howitzer-caliber arm strength of my Aunt Tessie.
Who in fact will take the snaps on September 5? I'm not sure. Based solely upon what I saw last season, what I saw of the 3 contenders in high school, and what I've heard from those who watch more practice than I do, I'd guess Aaron Murray. He has the Colt McCoy seal of approval. And unlike Logan Gray, I haven't watched him wander around Jacksonville Municipal Stadium doing a palsied goat impersonation.
To be fair, Gray entered the 2009 Georgia/Florida game under far from ideal circumstances. He responded, however, by doing nothing to make me think that he would have left Joe Cox in a better position had their respective roles been reversed. If Logan Gray were going to seize the reins in Athens, i believe he would have done so by now. And if Logan Gray emerges from the spring scrum as your starter, I would not be excited about that. Because it means that our two redshirt freshman bluechippers were unable to unseat a guy who has divided his time between signalcaller and not-so-secret-punt-fair-catch-specialist.
Zach Mettenberger is intriguing if only because the kid really does have a rocket arm. Seriously, if you've ever just watched him wing it down the field it is pretty impressive. Former Tennessee QB Tee Martin claims that Mettenberger throws the ball so hard it whistles as it goes by you, which is either very impressive on Mettenberger's part or a sign that Tee Martin needs to get a hearing test. Who knows which is the case?
But I believe Mettenberger was hampered by playing in a run-oriented offense until his senior season in high school. I don't know if he's been able to develop the proper read/reaction and throwing touch to beat out Murray and Gray. But again, it's not like a blogger like me has a lot to go on.
One near certainty you can count on is this: Mark Richt and Mike Bobo will not likely announce a clear cut starter at the end of spring drills. Sure, someone will nominally be first on the depth chart, but Coach Bobo made clear that this thing is going to be an open competition. And you get the feeling from all that has been said this offseason that every player will have to fight for every spot, including and perhaps most especially the most glamorous spot on the roster.
So that's my uneducated guess. Who do you believe will start the season at quarterback for the University of Georgia?