March 3, 2010

Five questions that need answers

Is anybody out there ready for some football?

I know, silly question. So, ready or not, here we go.

Wednesday marks the first official day of spring practice and there's certainly no shortage of storylines to follow when the Bulldogs hit the field for the first of 15 workouts, culminating with the annual G-Day Game April 10 at Sanford Stadium.

By the way, there no admission to G-Day, but even if that weren't the case, there no doubt would be plenty of fans eager to get their first look at the 2010 Bulldogs, who will certainly feature a new look when they kickoff the season against Louisiana-Lafayette.

Today, UGASports examines five questions the Bulldogs will try to answer this spring, most of which will determine whether Georgia can rectify the problems which haunted the program a season ago.

Without further adieu:

Q - Who will win the starting quarterback position?

Is this the million dollar question or what?

Bulldog coaches and players are certainly taking great care to be as politically correct as possible when discussing this impending battle.

In an interview last week, both offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and head coach Mark Richt stated unequivocally that Logan Gray, Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger will each receive equal opportunities to lay claim to the starting job.

Each player brings something a bit different to the plan:

• Gray - Obviously brings the most experience to the competition after playing sparingly for the Bulldogs last fall. Gray's ability to improvise thanks to his running ability potentially is one of his obvious strengths.

• Mettenberger - The redshirt freshman has a cannon for an arm - literally. One of the early knocks on one of the former Oconee County star is that is footwork needs work. This is something that Mettenberger has heard all his life, but Bobo said last week that it's no longer a big concerned. According to Bobo, Mettenberger has improved tremendously in that area and with his improved knowledge of the offense, has put himself in position to challenge for the starting role.

• Murray - Smart, a leader, hungry to succeed. Those are some of the descriptions teammates give Murray, who when he signed with Georgia a season ago did so as one of the nation's more ballyhooed quarterback prospects. The Tampa native said recently he feels he now has a complete grasp of the offense, but realizes he - like Mettenberger and Gray - will need to prove it on the field.

It promises to be an interesting battle. Bobo says all three quarterbacks are in tremendous physical condition, but wouldn't say if the Bulldogs would be any closer to naming a starter once spring practice is complete.

Q - What impact will new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham make?

A - The answer to his question obviously won't be answered until the Bulldogs begin play this fall, however watching how players adjust to the new scheme and new positions will obviously be one of the major storylines to watch.

Players say they're excited about the changes they've seen thus far, but it won't be until the players get on the field that Grantham can truly start getting an idea of what he'll have to work with come fall?

Q - What can coaches do to eliminate the turnovers?

A - No doubt Richt and his offensive coaches are asking themselves that very question.

The Bulldogs were disgustingly bad in regards to turnovers (17 interceptions, 11 fumbles) and have to find a way to nip that problem in the bud. It wouldn't hurt the Bulldogs to find a way to finally curb some of the ridiculous penalties that bit the squad seemingly on a weekly basis. There's no better time to start that than the spring.

Q - Which of the defensive players will play where?

A - Along with making sure his players are picking up his 3-4 scheme, Grantham's other biggest chore will be to make sure he places his new players at positions that best suit their abilities.

Grantham has spent hours pouring over tape in attempt to make the wisest decisions, but it's still going to take actually seeing his new charges on the practice field before he can officially make up his mind.

Q - Will Richard Samuel make an impact at outside linebacker?

A - With the exception of the quarterback, Samuel's switch to defense will definitely be worth watching.

Many feel the former running back should have been tackling ball carries all along and he'll get his shot as an outside backer in Grantham's 3-4.

Grantham agrees that Samuel certainly has the physical tools, but could face an adjustment period since the junior hasn't played defense since his senior year at Cass High.

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