December 31, 2009

QB battle will last well into spring

Once the drama involving who becomes Georgia's new defensive coordinator is yesterday's news, all thoughts will turn to the next big story on the Bulldogs' horizon - who will be the starting quarterback in 2010?

That's another good question.

Thursday, head coach Mark Richt was asked by UGASports about the impending battle, which is expected to be decided between Logan Gray, Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger.

Although Richt could not say if a decision would be made by April's annual G-day game, he's going to have his eyes peeled for some very specific qualities that he'll insist Georgia's new starter to posses.

"I think the things I'm going to be looking for, are a guy who can hit his targets, a guy who can make great decisions, a guy who can handle the pressure of the job," Richt said. "It's the same thing I look for when we're going recruiting. I think whoever wins that job has to have a very good respect for the football."

In other words, Richt wants Georgia's new quarterback to cut down on the turnovers.

Last year, starter Joe Cox was intercepted 23 times.

"We know the quarterback, of all positions, usually has the most turnovers be it a sack, fumble or interception, whatever it may be," Richt said. "I think it's going to be a very difficult thing for these young men because they want to do something great to win the job, but they also have to understand that the ultimate respect for the football and not being careless with it is a big part of the job description.

"So I think that might be the biggest thing for them to understand. Yes, we do want them to make plays when they present themselves, but when you're in a situation when you've got a bad play for whatever the situation, let's not turn it into a catastrophe by throwing it up for grabs or try to be hero in some way. I want them to run the system, I want them to be experts at it, I want them to be able to get us in the right running game, the right protections, I want them to be able to hit their target, but I also want them to have a high respect for that football, just as we do with anybody who touches the football."

Of the three, Gray has the most experience having played in 12 of Georgia's 13 games last season, albeit with limited time under center.

Gray completed 5 of 12 passes for 31 yards with two interceptions and Richt has said he will get an opportunity to compete for the starting quarterback job. However, Gray has also been rumored to either A, considering a switch to another position or B, transfer to another school.

"I think he's trying to make a decision right now. I don't know for certain what he'll come up with but we will respect what he wants to do and only time will tell," Richt said. "We didn't put a timetable on that, either, I'm sure he will be thinking that through in the next few days and weeks and he'll have an answer, certainly before spring ball begins."

Richt happy, but not satisfied

No, Richt isn't satisfied with his team finishing 8-5.

However, based on what might have been, finishing out the season with victories over Georgia Tech and Texas A&M was a positive step in the right direction.

Winning eight straight games for 13 consecutive years wasn't bad, either.

"I think that was positive for the program. I think finishing with the big victory over Georgia Tech, which was, and is, a Top 10 team. That was a big day for our program and certainly to finish the way we did Monday was big, too," Richt said. "You always want to finish on a positive note and I think when you have a group of guys who will not give in, won't quit, won't surrender to adverse times and times I think it's a sign that your program is strong. I've never had any doubt about that, but people have a picture in their mind of what should be, and we do, too. (8-5) wasn't the greatest season in Georgia football by any stretch, but I liked the way we finished and I liked the way the guys battled to the very end."

Richt mum on position changes

Besides Gray, it's been mentioned that several Bulldogs may be in line for position changes next fall.

But Richt wasn't ready to speculate Thursday.

"I do think there's a possibility of a couple of things, but if I say it publically it becomes a big issue and causes people to be uncomfortable maybe before they want that decision to be made public," Richt said. "I'm not saying there's some certainty, but there's been some thought about that as a staff because what you want to do at this point of the season is to get everybody in the right spot that will give them the best chance at success for themselves, their future and for Georgia this upcoming season."

One other player who could switch positions is running back Richard Samuel.

Samuel, who was passed on the depth chart by both Caleb King and Washaun Ealey, could get a look at linebacker when spring drills get underway in March.

Richt asked about Leach firing

Wednesday's firing of Texas Tech coach Mike Leach for his treatment of receiver Adam James following a concussion has been the hot topic of conversation in recent days.

Thursday, Richt was asked to give his opinion of the Leach situation and whether the scrutiny coaches like himself are under affects the way they do their jobs.

"It won't change one thing in what we're trying to get accomplished out there on the field. I want our coaches to push the young men to be their very best. Not many young men can be their best unless someone pushes them beyond their comfort zone but there's a way to do that which is within what I think every parent and players believes that should be done," Richt said. "Our goal is to get after 'em, but love 'em, too and let them know that our goal is to help them become the best player and best person that they can be."

Leach was fired after he threatened to sue Texas Tech after the university suspended him following allegations that he locked James away in an equipment shed and later an electrical closet.

While Richt wouldn't comment on the specifics of the Leach incident, he did speak to the ways he tries to motivate his players to reach their ultimate potential.

"I will say this, football is a very emotional game, a very physical game and sometimes in the middle of competition things are done and said that nobody is proud of at any time. That's not to say that everybody's perfect in their approach," Richt said. "I think the best coaches are teachers, guys who can communicate what these young men need to know. To be able to motivate in such a way that it will get them to reach their peak performance. There are different ways of motivation. Some guys respond to motivation that's maybe a little bit more positive and guys respond to a little bit more of a negative approach. There might be a little bit of a mix in there, but when I say negative I'm not talking anything that would hurt a kid, that's the main thing."

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!