September 24, 2013

What might have been


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Aaron Murray talks about facing off with Zach Mettenberger from UGASports.com on Vimeo.

It's a hypothetical question. But consider it, for a moment.

Had LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger never been dismissed from Georgia, would the two still be on the same team today?

Current Bulldog quarterback Aaron Murray doesn't think so.

"I doubt both of us would have stayed. I'm sure one of us would probably have left and you could have been talking to him right now," Murray said Tuesday. "Yeah, I doubt both of us would have stayed and tried to … whatever. One of us would probably have been gone and playing somewhere else."

Both members of Georgia's 2009 signing class, Murray and Mettenberger each redshirted that first fall before competing in earnest for the starting job in the spring of 2010 after Matthew Stafford moved on to the NFL.

"Anywhere you go there's going to be top quarterbacks. You're either going to have to beat out someone older or someone younger. You can't be scared, especially if you want to play at a big-time school like Georgia," Murray said. "Every day it was back and forth in practice. It was fun to watch. It was fireworks every day in practice. He'd go out and make a throw and I'd go out and make a throw … it was back and forth, back and forth. It pushed us to become better quarterbacks."

Head coach said dismissing Mettenberger was not an easy thing to do.

"It was very difficult. It's difficult anytime a situation gets to the point where I've got to dismiss a guy from the team, so to do it to Zach, knowing Zach for as long as we've known Zach, knowing his mom and dad, they're family to us," Richt said. "They're still family to the Georgia program, so it was very difficult. I think he understood, it wasn't easy for me, I wasn't easy for him but I'm proud of him, he responded to it, he went to junior college, did extremely well and was able to come back to a place like LSU which is a tribute to him and now he's put himself into a tremendous position for his future."

Richt said he hopes Mettenberger does well, just "not so much" on Saturday when the two teams face off at 3:30 p.m. (CBS).

"You dream for these guys when they have an issue. Like I was saying earlier, sometimes when guys have issues we can clean it up and have a great story here at Georgia, and when they have to leave I just hope they can move on and have great success," Richt said. "Nick Marshall, same situation. Michael Lemon at one time, he went to N.C. State and did very well. When guys have success like that, it makes you feel good."

Focus on special teams

Richt said he's paying added attention to special teams this week after last week's 99-yard kickoff return and subsequent blocked punt by North Texas resulted in two of the Mean Green's three touchdowns.

"First of all, we have to find out where we went wrong and correct it. The good news on all of it is that everything is very correctable. Our kickoff coverage team was having a tremendous season up until that play (against North Texas), and you don't want to define your whole season on one play, but it was significant. That's the thing about special teams - it's a one-play series. One mistake can cost seven points, and seven points can obviously cost a game," Richt said. "We were fortunate to have the issues on special teams that didn't cost us the game. If we can make decent corrections through us communicating better as coaches and also by making sure we have the right guys in the right spots, I think we can clean it up."

Adding more front-line players to the team are among the changes being considered.

"We want to get the best guys that can cover, no doubt," Richt said. "We want to be careful about it, but you'll probably see a little bit more of that."

As for long-snapper, change is still being considered there as well.

[db]Trent Frix replaced starter in the second half against North Texas, and according to Richt both are currently competing to see who starts against LSU.

"They're both working right now," Richt said. "We'll figure that out at the end."

Richt on the offensive line

Despite posting over 600 yards of offense, Richt said he still wants to see some improvement from his offensive line.

"We didn't get as much movement as we'd like to sometimes in some of the run game last game. We didn't have many issues with penalties or pass protection," Richt said. "We actually pass protected pretty well, but there were some times where we didn't get as much movement as we'd like in the run game."

[db]Todd Gurleyp/db] led the Bulldogs with 91 yards on 21 carries, but with the exception of a 39-yard run late by third-teamer [dbJ.J. Green, Georgia was unable to break off a long run like it did against Clemson and South Carolina.

"Coach (Mike) Bobo made a good point last night, saying that when you run the ball the way we try to run the ball, there's going to be some ugly, tough two or three-yard gains here and there," he said. "Every once in a while when you hit the crease, you have to have the perimeter block, and you have to have the guy make the other guy miss. You have to hopefully be able to take it to the house or get a big gain here and there because if a team is averaging six yards per carry, there's probably a couple of 80-yarders in there and a bunch of one, two, and three-yard runs along the way. You just want to make sure you reduce the yards the best you can and get your third down as manageable as possible to hopefully make those."

Injury update

Richt said that tailback Keith Marshall (knee contusion) will be able to play against LSU and he's hopeful that tight end (ankle) will be able to go as well.

"I think Keith will be fine, and Jay will probably give it a go today," Richt said. "Justin Scott-Wesley bruised his shoulder a little bit, but he'll be fine."
The prognosis isn't so positive regarding outside linebacker [db]James DeLoach who is recovering from a concussion.
"I'm not sure about (DeLoach)," Richt said. "We have to have him go through the concussion testing and all of that, and I don't think he'll go today. I would say he's out for right now."

This and that

Dawg Walk Saturday is set for 1:40 p.m. … Richt said he's not concerned that outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins is still looking for his firs sack three games into the 2013 campaign. "He's playing the run pretty good. He's coming off the edge and forcing quarterbacks to get up in the pocket. That's part of his job - containing the quarterback and getting him to move up in the pocket," Richt said. "Hopefully we're pushing the pocket up front to the point where we're disrupting the guy's timing and things of that nature. He's gotten a few knock downs, and he's playing hard. That's what we're asking him to do, and the sacks will come in time."


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