Falcons to face Mettenberger, Mariota is out

FLOWERY BRANCH — Tennessee rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota was declared out of Sunday's game against the Falcons by Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt on Friday.

Former Georgia and LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who is from Watkinsville and played at Oconee County High, will start for the 1-4 Titans at 1 p.m. Sunday at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.

“I went back through the passes from him and the thing that jumps out for me was his arm strength,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “He can really spin it. That’s the thing that jumps out the most.”

Metternberger, a sixth-round pick in 2014, appeared in seven games last season, starting six. He completed 59.8 percent of his passes for 1,412 yards, eight touchdowns, seven interceptions and had an 84.4 passer rating. He was 0-6 as a starter.

“I’m excited for the opportunity,” Mettenberger told the team’s website.

Metterberger is a more traditional drop back quarterback. Mariota, who suffered a sprained MCL against the Dolphins on a low hit last week, is more mobile and the Titans had some designed runs for him.

The Falcons prepared for both quarterbacks this week.

“He has a strong arm,” safety William Moore said. “We obviously took a look at both of the guys. We don’t have that much tape on him, but at the same time, the plays that we have, he looked great in them. It’s going to be a good look from him. I’m sure that he’s prepared.”

Mettenberger was dismissed from the Georgia program after pleading guilty to sexual battery for his involvement in incident at a bar in south Georgia in April of 2010.

Southern Judicial Circuit district attorney J. David Miller said the charges “were the result of Mettenberger grabbing the breasts and touching the buttocks” of a 20-year-old female Valdosta State University student in the bar. He was sentenced to 12 months of probation and 80 hours of community service.

He apologized in a statement.

He transferred to Butler (Kan.) Community College before finishing his college career at LSU.