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QBs keep competition going at G-Day

Photo by Christine Troyke

Photo by Christine Troyke

ATHENS -- Georgia came into G-Day with a muddy quarterback picture, and it's not much clearer after the game.

Redshirt freshman Zach Mettenberger stood out a little bit Saturday, completing 6 of 10 passes for 150 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the black team's 17-7 win over the red in Georgia's spring game.

"Mettenberger certainly had a nice day, there's no doubt about that," head coach Mark Richt said. "But I think they all did well. I'm going to be basically doing what I said I was gonna do, and that's looking at all 15 practices. ... We're going to gauge where we think everybody is."

On Mettenberger's first play from scrimmage early in the second quarter, he completed a 38-yard fade pass to Rantavious Wooten. Four plays later, Mettenberger hooked up with Rhett McGowan on another fade to the sideline for a 20-yard touchdown. Brandon Bogotay's extra point tied the score at 7-7.

Mettenberger also completed a 39-yard TD pass to Arthur Lynch 12 seconds before halftime for a 14-7 black team lead.

However, Mettenberger won't start the first game of the season Sept. 4 against Louisiana-Lafayette because of a suspension stemming from an underage drinking arrest in March.

Richt reiterated that the suspension was a minimum one game, but he said Mettenberger has done a "pretty good job" of remaining focused.

Junior Logan Gray, the lone upperclassman in the race and the only QB with game experience, had a good day as well. He was 10 of 17 for 132 yards and a TD with no interceptions.

In the red team's second possession, Gray led a nine-play, 68-yard TD drive in 5:28 to put the first points on the board. Gray found wide receiver Kris Durham in the end zone from seven yards out for the score. Carlton Thomas carried the ball four times on the drive for 41 yards. Gray and running back Washaun Ealey added runs of 10 and 5 yards on the drive, respectively.

"I got a lot of reps with the first unit and some with the second unit later on," Gray said. "So I was happy to get a bunch of different series with multiple guys and people competing, making plays. It was a fun day. ... I could take a few throws back here and there, but I was satisfied."

Aaron Murray, also a redshirt freshman, completed 8 of 19 passes for 96 yards and threw the only interception of the game.

"I think I'm all right," Murray said. "It wasn't my best day, but there are definitely some things I need to continue working on in the summer."

All three quarterbacks attempted to throw deep balls from time to time as starter Joe Cox did last year. Many of the long balls connected.

Murray's longest was a 22-yarder, Gray completed a pass to Durham for 34 yards and the Mettenberger-to-Lynch connection before halftime was the longest of the game at 39 yards.

"Obviously when you've got good receivers, especially with a guy like A.J. Green, you're going to want to try to stretch the defense vertically," Gray said. "We've always been trying to throw the ball downfield and let our guys make a play on it. I think today was just a continuation of trying to let receivers make plays and have big games."

Green, one of the top receivers in the SEC, caught three passes for 28 yards. It wasn't a standout day, but the junior was pleased with his performance.

"I felt like I did pretty good coming back from the sprain," Green said. "I felt like I performed good and my routes were pretty crisp."

Green, who played with Gray and Murray on the red team, was impressed with the performance of each quarterback Saturday.

"Oh man, a lot of (their passes) were nice and tight, especially Aaron," he said. "Logan had a couple of good balls, too. ... Mettenberger has that big arm and the touch, man. You saw that when he put it on the right shoulder of Wooten. He looked real good today."

Bogotay rounded out the scoring with a 32-yard field goal with 2:24 to go in the game.

On defense, GAC grad Christian Robinson started for the black team at middle linebacker. The redshirt sophomore made the first tackle of the game after a 23-yard pass from Gray to Tavarres King. Later in the drive on third-and-8 at midfield, Robinson deflected a pass to end the possession. He ended the day with three tackles.

New defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said Robinson has a bright future with the Bulldogs.

"I think he's a guy that has done a very good job for us," Grantham said. "I think he's improved. He's playing both inside 'backers for us because he's a smart guy. ... He can run, he has some cover skills and I think he can be an asset for us down the road. We've just to continue working on developing his fundamentals."

Notes: Junior Caleb King, a running back from GAC, came on strong last year. However, a knee injury kept him out of Saturday's game. Richt said King wouldn't have played if it were a real game, but he was not worried about the injury long-term. ... Dacula grad Jeremy Sulek, a redshirt sophomore linebacker, recovered a fumble by tight end Derek Rich in the second quarter. Shawn Williams popped the ball loose after a 30-yard completion, and Sulek covered it up inside his own 10-yard line. Sulek recorded three tackles in the game. ... The Gwinnett trio of Dallas Lee (Buford), Josh Parrish (Wesleyan) and Kolton Houston (Buford) gave Mettenberger protection on the offensive line during a TD drive in the second quarter. ... Brookwood grad Brian Brewer carried the ball three times for 6 yards.