Greene stays on target through freshman season

ATHENS, Ga. — The standards for passing accuracy at Georgia have come a long way in a short time.

Last year, Quincy Carter's highest completion percentage in a game was 59.25 — 16 for 27 in the opener against Georgia Southern.

Carter's best passing game as a junior would be considered an off day for Georgia redshirt freshman David Greene.

For proof, consider Greene's last game against Florida. Based on the standards he has set as a starter this season, Greene appeared to be off on some of his throws in the loss to the Gators, especially on some screen passes. For the game, he completed 25 of 42 passes — 59.5 percent — for 258 yards with an interception.

Best completion percentage in Georgia history
Player Year Percentage
Mike Bobo 1997 65.03
Eric Zeier 1993 63.29
David Greene 2001 62.87
Most passing yards for a Georgia freshman
Player Year Yards
Quincy Carter 1998 2,484
Eric Zeier 1991 1,984
David Greene 2001 *1,982
*Seventh-best total for a freshman in SEC history
"David wasn't as accurate as he had been in the other games,'' said Georgia quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo. "He missed a couple throws here and there. It looked like he was trying to throw harder instead of with touch. It seemed the biggest thing is he wasn't as accurate as he has been, and still he was right at 60-percent completion for the game.''

Added Bobo: "It's just in the first six games he was on about every pass he had thrown.''

Entering Saturday's 3:30 p.m. home game against Auburn, Greene has not thrown more than one interception in his seven starts this season. Carter threw five against South Carolina and three against Florida.

While Carter threw 10 interceptions with six touchdowns in seven starts last year, Greene has 11 touchdown passes with five interceptions, also in seven starts.

Come Saturday, however, Greene must win the comparison with Auburn starting quarterback Daniel Cobb, not Carter.

The matchup of starting quarterbacks is interesting, because Cobb is not the only one with a connection to the other team. While Cobb began his career at Georgia and will be making a return to Sanford Stadium, Greene comes from an Auburn family.

Greene's father, Rick Greene, and grandfather attended Auburn University. His sister, Leslie, currently attends Auburn. His grandmother, Fran Greene, lives in Columbus.

Greene says he grew up following the Tigers. As a senior at South Gwinnett High School, he made one visit to Auburn.

One reason Greene chose Georgia is the depth chart at quarterback behind Carter had been depleted. Cobb, Nate Hybl and Mike Usry all transferred from Georgia to other schools during Greene's junior season in high school.

Perhaps if Cobb had remained in Athens as the eventual successor to Carter, Greene might have had more reason to join his sister at Auburn.

"That (opportunity to play at Georgia) was one thing that helped my decision,'' Greene said. "You have to look and see if you could play in the future. I wanted to pick a place that felt like home to me. That's what helped me decide.''

Greene has downplayed his connection to Auburn this week, insisting he is treating this like any other game.

"I've got some family that went to Auburn but I'm not looking at this game any different than any other game,'' he said. "Nobody in the family is making a big deal about it. My sister said she'd root for me as long as I'm here, and then she'd have to go back rooting for Auburn.''

Greene ranks third in the Southeastern Conference with his average of 283.1 passing yards per game, and he ranks third in the SEC and 11th in the nation in total offense, at 286.6 yards per game.

"I think they have a great system and I think the kid (Greene) is pretty talented,'' said Auburn defensive coordinator John Lovett.

"He has some great receivers to throw the ball to, first of all. And Coach (Mark) Richt will keep them in two backs where they can protect him and he runs a lot of play-action. You can't just get a bead on him.''

Despite the impressive statistics, because No. 19 Georgia (5-2 overall and 4-2 in the SEC) has lost any realistic hopes of winning the SEC East, Greene gives himself only mixed grades for his season thus far.

"I feel I've had my ups and downs so far this season, which I expected,'' Greene said. "Of course you want to play perfect every game. I felt against Florida I wasn't quite as accurate as I want to be, but I guess overall for the season my only goal is to take us to the SEC championship game.''

With a strong finish against Auburn, Mississippi, Georgia Tech and Houston, Greene could challenge the Georgia record for best completion percentage in a season. Bobo set the mark (65.03) as a senior in 1997. Greene is within range, completing 62.9 percent of his passes.

Bobo, in his first year as quarterbacks coach, says Greene already is sure to be ranked as one of the top freshman passers in school history.

"I think no matter what happens, Greene has had an outstanding freshman year,'' Bobo said. "He's done everything we've asked of him and he gets better every week. I don't know how you rank them, but I think he'll be up there with the best freshman quarterbacks who have played here.''

Greene also can move up among the top freshmen in SEC history in passing yards. He already is seventh, only two yards behind Eric Zeier's total of 1,984 in his freshman year.

"I'm just trying to do the best I can here as far as winning games,'' Greene said. "If we can rush for 300 yards and throw it twice and win a game, if that's what it takes to win, that's what I want to do. The stats definitely don't mean anything unless you win.''

The stats do show Greene has adjusted well to Coach Mark Richt's passing offense.

"To do what he has done to this point, you have to have the kind of personality where you don't get flustered too much,'' Richt said. "I don't think he feels he played his best game (against Florida) but I don't think it affected his confidence.

"Everybody still believes in him, and he believes in himself.''

Charles Odum can be reached at

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