ATHENS, Ga. - David Greene was a 6-foot-3, 222-pound suburban Atlanta quarterback who threw left-handed when he became Georgia's starter as a redshirt freshman in 2001.
Current Georgia starter Aaron Murray is a 6-1, 209-pounder from Tampa who is right-handed, so nobody will confuse the two passing styles. Yet Murray, who is a redshirt freshman, is displaying many of the same intangibles for coach Mark Richt that Greene provided during Richt's first season with the Bulldogs.
"When David was in our meeting rooms the very first spring when we got to Georgia and were installing everything, he was just a tremendous student of the game," Richt said. "You could see that he was absorbing it, and he was able to verbally tell you what's going on. Then he was able to take it from the meeting room to the field.
"Aaron has a tremendous work ethic. You can tell he is learning it in a systematic way that when it comes time to make these decisions, he should have a better chance of making a good one."
Murray is the third freshman quarterback in which Richt has relied on heavily, following Greene and Matthew Stafford, who made eight starts as a true freshman in 2006.
Part of the absorbing process for Murray this summer involved meeting with Greene, who set a bowl subdivision record by winning 42 games as a starting quarterback from 2001 to '04. That mark stood until Colt McCoy of Texas topped it last year.
"One time we had a two-hour meeting where we just sat down and talked," Murray said. "We compared his situation to my situation. It definitely calmed me down a little bit."
When asked what soothing words he used, Greene said, "I think I just told him, 'I'm an old boy from Snellville, Georgia, and if I can do it, you can do it. You're a blue-chip player.'"
The two watched tape of Greene's play-faking ability, which was on display several times on a "44-Flyback Rooskie" call used in short-yardage situations. By drawing in the safeties, Greene found Terrence Edwards alone for a 56-yard touchdown in a 2001 loss to Auburn and passed to Edwards again for a 65-yard score in an '02 win over Vanderbilt.
"Auburn is the one that most folks remember, because that was the first time we ever did it, but I liked the one against Vandy more because their safety was like a straight-A student who made a 1600 on his SAT, so I figured if we could fool this guy we could fool anybody," Greene said. "Aaron had never heard of the play. He didn't even know what I was talking about, which goes to show how old I'm getting."
Murray also spent time watching footwork of Greene and Stafford, who left after his junior season and became the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NFL draft. Stafford showed up on Georgia's practice fields several times this summer and showed Murray some of the plays used by the Detroit Lions.
Richt said Murray is ahead of where Stafford was entering the '06 season because he has benefited from two springs and a redshirt season, but Murray isn't delving too far into comparisons.
"Those two guys definitely did a tremendous job here at Georgia," Murray said. "My goal is to go out there and be me. I can't be David Greene and I can't be Stafford. I wanted to take a couple of pointers from David and a couple of pointers from Stafford, learn from their film and hopefully implement those things in my game."
Greene is scheduled to co-host a Georgia postgame radio show this season, and when the Bulldogs are playing, it will be his turn to study Murray.
"I'm really impressed with his passion for the game," Greene said. "He's doing everything in his power to be ready for this season. I love being around him, because you can feel that excitement he has. He asked me a lot of questions because he wants to learn and wants to be as good as he can possibly be.
"I think a lot of that, because he didn't have to reach out to me, but he did. I like him. I really do."
Practice game set
The Bulldogs went through a 90-minute practice Tuesday in preparation for today's practice game at Sanford Stadium that will include SEC officials. It will actually be a simulated half, with those expected to play in the first half of the opener on the Georgia team and the remaining players on the Louisiana-Lafayette team.