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Post The Georgia QB line of succession

Wednesday July 23, 2008

Aaron Murray has been all over the news this week with some standout performances at two major national prep events. Kirk Herbstreit gushed over Matthew Stafford yesterday at the Elite 11 camp. It’s a good time to be a Georgia quarterback.

Greene and Shockley proved to be a productive and popular tandem, but they might end up being the opening act for an unparalleled level of quarterback talent at Georgia. With Moreno, King, Samuel, and others Georgia’s traditional strength at tailback is as solid as ever, but now the quarterback position looks to be just as deep and talented. At the very least, Georgia might soon have its first first-round draft pick at QB since Johnny Rauch in 1949.

Whenever a high-profile position gets loaded with talent, the depth chart always generates a lot of interest. Who plays, who sits, and – sometimes – who transfers? That will certainly be the case at the key position of quarterback. Stafford is set as the starter for as long as he’s in Athens and healthy, but at some point in the next two years we will once again be looking for a new starter.

The big wildcard of course is Matthew Stafford’s senior season. Does he stay or does he go? His name is all over the mock drafts, and Herbstreit isn’t the first to consider Stafford first round talent. On the other hand, Georgia’s accomplishments and Stafford’s stats in 2008 will have a lot to do with his potential draft position. He’ll have to put up better numbers as a junior of course, but it’s not out of reach. JaMarcus Russell became a top draft pick by throwing for nearly 2,800 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions as a junior. Stafford threw for 2,523 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions last year. A few more touchdowns, a bit more protective of the ball, and he’s right there.

It’s impossible to know Stafford’s decision at this point, so we’ll look at the question from both possibilities.

If Stafford Stays

If Stafford returns for his senior season, the 2009 season is taken care of. The only questions will be further down the depth chart. With two seniors and a legitimate redshirt sophomore on the depth chart, it seems a near certainty that the two incoming 2009 freshmen quarterbacks would redshirt.

Things would become more interesting in 2010. Stafford and Cox would have moved on, and the contenders for the position would be:

  • Logan Gray (RJr.)
  • Aaron Murray (RFr.)
  • Zach Mettenberger (RFr.)

Gray would seem to have the advantage. He’d have seen at least limited action in 2008 and 2009, and the other two would be coming off of redshirt seasons and have only scrimmage experience.

If Stafford Declares for the NFL Draft

A quarterback competition in 2009 would involve the same three guys with one key addition.

  • Joe Cox (RSr.)
  • Logan Gray (RSo.)
  • Aaron Murray (Fr.)
  • Zach Mettenberger (Fr.)

At first glance, it almost seems like 2006 all over again. You have a career backup who suddenly rises to the top of the depth chart as a senior. Fans, perpetually attracted to that new recruit smell, will be likely more interested to see a pair of promising freshmen.

But I suspect that Joe Cox would do more to hold on to the job than Tereshinski did in 2006. The presence of Gray also complicates things, and it’s possible then that at least one of the true freshmen would redshirt. If you asked the Georgia fans who pay attention to these things, I suspect most would expect Gray to win the job if only on the basis of what they remember from G-Day. I would just hope that the situation doesn’t mirror 2006 in that the position is unsettled – to the detriment of the team – into the middle of the season. The depth chart at the end of the 2008 season will at least tell us who the favorite is going into spring.

The "cleanest" scenario seems to be if Stafford stays for his senior year. Gray would be ready to step in as a redshirt junior, and Murray and Mettenberger would continue to develop until their turn to fight it out as juniors. It might seem absurd to think that we’d have to wait until 2012 to see a quarterback as promising as Murray take the reigns, but isn’t that preferred to having to turn to a new freshman every four years or so? We value depth and the ability to turn over experienced players every few years at positions on the offensive and defensive lines, and Mark Richt looks to be setting up the quarterback position to do the same.

2 Responses to 'The Georgia QB line of succession'

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  • Chances of Stafford staying are minimal. If he does hang around, it means he either got injured or had a disastrous year. I looked at about 20 mock drafts a few days ago. Stafford was the #1 pick in about 25% of them them and was a top 10 pick in all but a few. This is a bad year for qb’s coming into the draft so everything sets up well for him if he performs as expected.

    Don’t see Moreno staying around either, but Gray and King will give people fits next year.

  • I disagree completely with the previous Greg..

    Stafford has stated on multiple occasions that he plans to be here for all 4 years. Unless we bring home some crystal from Miami, i think he stays for ’09. It has been extremely rare for the top college QB’s to leave early of late because its been shown time and again how valuable that extra year of college conditioning is. Think about it; Vince Young is really the only one that has left early and found success in the last few years.

    Also… There has been plenty of talk (even by CMR) about how athletic Logan Gray is and how he could provide benefits for this team in plenty of other positions. I think come 2010, our starting QB is Murray or Mettenberger.