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“That first year, on almost every play, somebody was helping him,” coach Mark Richt said. “Now, he understands everything very well.”

Green can sure tell the difference from freshman to junior.

“I didn’t even know where to line up half the time,” he recalled. “Now, I feel like the old man. I’m telling the young guys what to do. I’m helping our young quarterback out.”

There’s still a potentially major snag hanging over Green’s season.

The NCAA is investigating Georgia amid allegations that players from several schools attended an agent-hosted party in Miami. There’s been reports that Green is the target, though he insists he’s never been to the city and is getting ready for the season as he always does.

In the meantime, he’s declining comment until the NCAA finishes its work.

Of lesser concern is the fact that Green will be working with his third starting quarterback in three seasons. He’s gone from No. 1 draft pick-to-be Matthew Stafford to journeyman Joe Cox and now to promising redshirt freshman Aaron Murray, who knows that guy wearing No. 8 could make the learning curve a lot easier.

“With A.J., you can pretty much throw anything at him and know he’s going to catch it,” Murray said. “He’s that safety valve. If I’m in trouble, he’s going to give me a shot to get out of it.”

The two worked together extensively over the summer, honing their timing and getting comfortable with each other’s tendencies. They hope all that extra work will pay off when the No. 23 Bulldogs open the season Sept. 4 against Louisiana-Lafayette.

Georgia is coming off a disappointing 8-5 season and eager to show that it can still compete with Southeastern Conference powerhouses such as Alabama and Florida. This will likely be its final season with Green, who’s already projected by many as a top-five pick in the 2011 NFL draft.

Murray sure wishes his favorite receiver would hang around for his senior year.

“You never know. There might be a lockout,” the young quarterback said, trying to sound hopeful. “I won’t complain too much if he stays. I keep going, ‘Lockout! Lockout!’”