ATHENS -- Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger didn’t get a chance to say hello in person.
“We just said hi from a distance, but we didn’t really get a chance to chat,” Murray said.
But Georgia head coach Mark Richt did find Mettenberger, the player he dismissed from his team three-and-a-half years ago and who very nearly dismissed Georgia’s national title hopes Saturday.
“I told him the same thing I told Murray, ‘I’m really proud of you,’ ” Richt said. “I told them both they’re great players, ‘I’m really proud of how you played.’ You couldn’t ask either of those guys to play any better than they played. It was amazing.”
Mettenberger waited five years to finally play a game at Sanford Stadium, where he grew up wanting to play. He passed for 372 yards -- a career-high and the most by an LSU quarterback since 2002. The fifth-year senior was dominant, but it still wasn’t enough as Georgia won 44-41.
“It was really a great performance by both quarterbacks,” Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “It was unreal. I ain’t never seen a performance like that, just two quarterbacks like that, in my time at Georgia. It was unreal.”
“There’s some proud-father type feeling towards both of them,” Richt said. “We recruited them both, signed them both. We thought they both were gonna be special players. As fate would have it, they both got to play each other between the hedges in a phenomenal shootout where they both played their tails off. It was pretty impressive.”
Gurley sprains ankle
Georgia managed to win despite losing star tailback Todd Gurley midway through the first half with an ankle injury. Gurley sprained it after a 23-yard run, and was ruled out at halftime.
Richt said he didn’t know how long Gurley would be out.
“I have no idea on an ankle like that if Todd will play next week or not,” Richt said. “So those other boys will get reps I’m sure in practice.”
It was a big day for hitting the quarterback, as the defense benefitted from facing a pure pocket passer. Georgia’s defensive strategy was also geared around rushing Mettenberger and trying to force him into mistakes. He didn’t make many, but he did get sacked four times.
Jordan Jenkins, expected to lead the team in that category this season, finally registered his first of the season
“I’m definitely glad to have that damn monkey off my back,” Jenkins said. “I’m overjoyed.”
Junior Ray Drew and sophomore Chris Mayes each had their first career sacks. And freshman Leonard Floyd had one sack, bringing his season total to three. Floyd also had three tackles for loss.
Hicks get benched
Fullback Quayvon Hicks emerged as a force the first few weeks of the season, but he saw his playing time diminish n Saturday.
Why? Bobo said the coaches felt Hicks didn’t play well last week against North Texas, so backup Merritt Hall, who started most of last year, got more playing time.
“To be honest, Quayvon didn’t play as well as would’ve liked last week, and Merritt Hall’s been practicing great,” Bobo said. “I think we’ve got two quality fullbacks that do a nice job. And that’s a lot of pounding for a fullback, so you want to rotate those guys and keep them fresh.”