Before LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger returns to Georgia to play the Bulldogs on Sept. 28, he will face another former Bulldog, Auburn’s Nick Marshall Saturday in Baton Rouge.
Mettenberger was dismissed from Georgia in April 2010. six weeks after an arrest and Marshall was booted along with two others in February 2012 for a violation of team rules. Both landed at other Southeastern Conference schools after stops at junior colleges.
Marshall was a cornerback at Georgia, but is Auburn's starting quarterback.
The matchup of former Georgia players dominated the questions Richt got on the SEC weekly teleconference on Wednesday.
“I’ll definitely be interested to see what happens,” Richt said. “It will be very interesting to watch because I know both of those guys and I’m very interested to watch because we’re going to end up playing both of those teams as well.”
Add in Bulldogs starter Aaron Murray and that makes three starting quarterbacks in the SEC who were at one time at Georgia.
“It just turned out that way,” Richt said.
Richt said Marshall was first recruited by Georgia as a quarterback before the “thought of another position came up. He started to embrace that idea. We were more than fine to play defensive back, play corner. We thought he would be a tremendous cornerback. We knew he could play quarterback. We knew the skills that he had.”
Richt watched Marshall lead a game-winning drive for Auburn against Mississippi State Saturday in a 24-20 win.
He said he had a feeling before it unfolded that he could start making history at Auburn.
“I believe in stories of redemption and stories of guys coming back from making mistakes and all that kind of thing,” Richt said. “I kind of would like it to happen here at Georgia, you know. Sometimes a guy makes a mistake and you want him to turn it around while he’s here at Georgia but sometimes it happens at another time.”
Richt said earlier in his career he felt that a player should get that chance to come back and make it at Georgia but the longer he’s coached, he’s not as “bent” on it having to be with the Bulldogs.
“I realize that those kind of comeback stories can happen besides the school that they started out at,” Richt said. “I’m really happy for these guys.”
Matthews: `I feel like I can play better’
The gag order on Tray Matthews was lifted on Wednesday.
The freshman starting free safety from Newnan was made available by Georgia to speak to reporters for the first time since after signing day in February.
“They don’t want me doing too much, just trying to stay focused,” Matthews said.
There may not have been talk from Matthews, but there was plenty about him in the spring when he made big hits and locked down a starting job.
His services to play were doubt in the lead-up to the opener against Clemson after sustaining a pulled hamstring in the preseason. He also dealt with a shoulder injury and missed much of the August practices.
“Getting hurt when he got hurt was tough,” Richt said. “It was a lot of time he missed.”
Matthews turned out to be ready to start even if he wasn’t quite at full health.
“I feel like I can play better, but I’m still learning,” Matthews said. “My game, I’m not playing as fast as I can but I’m just getting better and better every game. I’m just expecting big things from myself.”
Matthews is fourth on the team in tackles with 12.
He said he was “hesitant about my leg” heading into the Clemson game.
“I ain’t going to lie about that, my hamstring,” Matthews said. “For the most part, I was pretty straight.”
He tried to run down Clemson’s Sammy Watkins, diving near the goal line on a 77-yard catch and run touchdown.
“I actually got the hair and the collar,” Matthews said.
Matthews says he gets texts from former Georgia safeties Thomas Davis and Sean Jones offering a critique.
“They said my time is going to come,” Matthews said, “to show the world.”
Rumph expected to miss another game
Jonathon Rumph’s Georgia debut will have to wait at least another week.
Richt said after practice Wednesday that Rumph “tweaked” his hamstring again.
“I don’t think he’ll play this game, unfortunately,” Richt said of North Texas.
The junior college transfer made a splash with two touchdown catches at the G-Day game after a quiet spring to that point.
Richt indicated that offensive lineman Kenarious Gates (knee, ankle) and tight end Jay Rome (ankle) remain on track to play Saturday.
This and that
Tim Worley will be Georgia’s SEC legends representative during the SEC championship weekend in December in Atlanta. Worley played for Georgia from 1985-88, leading the conference in rushing with 1,216 yards in 1988 and finishing his career with 2,038 yards. He was a first round draft pick by the Steelers in 1989 and played in the league for six seasons.
Richt said he did not know if junior college transfer defensive backs Shaquille Fluker and Kennar Johnson, who have dealt with minor injuries, would play for the first time this season on Saturday. “It’s a competition thing,” Richt said. “The faster you learn what to do, the faster you can truly compete. They’re new. They’re brand new.”