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A Look Back on Aaron Murray: Best QB in UGA History

As we prepare for Aaron Murray’s last home game Between the Hedges, let’s take look back at his career.  I know that many out there will probably do the same thing and delve deeper than I will, but here it is from my perspective.  I wanted to do a series of how bad the UGA defense is, but I wanted to spend my time this week focusing on the positives of Aaron Murray.

This will be the first in a series about Murray.  First off, Aaron Murray is the best quarterback in UGA history.  No question about it.

Many may point to David Greene as the best quarterback in UGA history.  Some may give that honor to Buck Belue because of his National Championship.  Buck Belue may have won a National Championship, but anyone who goes 1-13 in the National Championship Game didn’t really contribute much.  Anyone who knows anything about UGA football knows Herschel Walker was the reason of the Dawgs’ success, not Belue.  Not to diminish Buck, but his claim to fame is throwing to Lindsay Scott and that play was as much on Lindsay as on Buck.

Some point to David Greene’s, for lack of a better word, moxy.  Greene no doubt was a cool cucumber and led many game winning drives.  But the pillar of UGA’s success during the Greene era was the defense.  How many times did UGA win a game on the back of the defense during his tenure?  In fact, 16 times during Greene’s four years as a starter, UGA scored 20 or fewer points 16 times.  During Murray’s tenure, the UGA offense scored 20 or fewer points 6 times.  3 of 6 came in his first year in 2010, when the offense didn’t have many weapons. And I don’t discount what David Greene did here.

In the 17 losses in Aaron Murray’s tenure, the offense scored 27 or more points in 10 of the losses.  In 6 of 17 losses, UGA scored 30 or more points.  Needless to say, if the defense played better during Murray’s tenure, his resume would be a lot better.

Now, the SEC is a different animal now than it was 10 years ago.  I recognize that.  Offenses across college football are more prolific and this is just a sign of the times.  But the overall point remains that in many of the losses UGA has had over the last four years, more often than not the offense and Aaron Murray have done its part.

I posted last year Aaron Murray shouldn’t be at fault for Georgia’s losses in “big games” against ranked opponents.  That talking point is trite and over blown.  Just this past Saturday against Auburn, Murray went 33/49 (67%) for 415 yards, 9 rushes for 37 yards and 4 total TDs.  The Dawgs didn’t finish the drill, but you can’t say Murray didn’t show up in the big games, despite what Chuck Oliver says.

How would this season be if we didn’t have Murray?  Game winning drives against LSU and Tennessee, and put the team ahead against Auburn.  He made big throws in the final drive to run the clock out against Florida.

In recruiting, I don’t look as much as “stars” assigned by the services.  I look at who else has recruited the player.  If Georgia beat out Clemson, FSU, LSU, Florida, Alabama, etc…then I know the kid is pretty good.

Murray ends his career holding SEC records of passing yards, touchdowns and total offense.   The names he has surpassed are just ones like Greene, Tebow, Wuerffel, Manning, Couch.

A quarterback’s legacy is measured on championships.  Murray doesn’t have one.  Quarterbacks are put under a microscope.  It isn’t unfair, because it comes with the job and everyone knows it.

But you also have to look at the intangibles that can’t be measured on a piece of paper.  Murray has the leadership and heart you want in any quarterback.  There have been many greats in UGA history. Many great ones in the Richt era.  If I was drafting my all-time UGA team, #11 would be my first choice at QB.

His last game at home is Saturday night.  Let’s send him off with the raucous reception that he deserves.


Two Views

Let’s play a game.  Answer the following multiple choice question:

Why did Georgia lose the game Saturday?

A) The tipped pass that was caught on Auburn’s last play of the game

B) The offense not playing well in the first half

C) The defense sucking

D) All of the above

There are two answers to this question.  The correct answer, for which you will receive full credit, is “A”.  If you answered “D”, then you will only get partial credit.  Georgia lost the game because Ricardo Louis caught a deflected pass that fell in his hands perfectly in stride.  That was the winning play.  Now, all the other things were a factor, but not the reason.  Becuase if Georgia had won the game, we’d all be grumbling about it but be glad we won.  Why should one play, that 999/1,000 times fall to the turf, change the narrative.

The narrative of the game should be this:  Georgia dug themselves in a deep hole, mostly through their own fault but with some help from the refs.  Through good fortune and tough play, the Dawgs were able to come back and take the lead thanks to gutsy play from Aaron Murray.  The Dawgs then lost on a fluke, Hail Mary play.

All this isn’t to give the coaches, specifically Todd Grantham, a pass or free ride.  I certainly will get to Grantham later this week or after the season.  The defense has been worse than bad.  But, that is a 30,000 foot view.

I agree to an extent with what my counterpart Lugnut Dawg said in an earlier post about stop blaming bad luck as an excuse, but it is not that simple.  Folks love to point fingers and assess blame to someone.

There are dozens of big plays that change the narrative.  Belue to Scott.  Johnson’s TD catch against Auburn in 2002.  A.J. Green blocking a game winning field goal against AZ State in 2009.  David Pollack’s INT against South Carolina in 2002.

Just think if Pollack hadn’t made that very lucky play then.  That was a lucky play.  We don’t talk about how bad the offense was, or that the vaunted defense that season let South Carolina drive the length of the field before fumbling the last play of the game.  The big play by Pollack is what won the game.

Against Alabama in 2007, the thrilling OT victory and Stafford hitting Mikey Henderson on the first OT play is what we remember.  We don’t remember how Alabama was down 10 points in the 4th quarter and came back to tie it.

There will be plenty of time to pick apart what went wrong.  But in the end, shit happens.  Sometimes the lucky plays go your way.  Sometimes they don’t.


Dawgs Win Saturday

I feel confident about the Dawgs’ chances on Saturday.  I haven’t had time to blog into much detail this week…a sick baby and out of town appointments 4 days cuts out the amount of time you can sit down in front of the computer.

But some quick thoughts about Saturday:

-With all the JFK themed documentaries on TV now, butchering this quote seems appropriate.  I’ve seen Cam Newton play.  I’ve watched stories on Cam Newton.  Nick Marshall, you are no Cam Newton.

-Either way, Auburn is going to get killed by Alabama.

-I view Auburn’s offense like Georgia Tech’s.  Not much throwing, and a triple option of handing it off, quarterback running or passing.  I think you have got to load the box, contain the outside runs, and force Marshall to beat you with his arm, something I don’t think is capable of doing.   However, I look for Malzahn to air it out some more just becuase it is what we aren’t expecting.

-Getting Bennett back against Florida was huge.  4/5 of his catches were moving the chains, and twice he converted 3rd down.  Conley, if healthy, provides another solid hand, possession receiver.  That will be helpful moving the chains and eating up time of possession.

-I just like the fact that everyone is looking towards the Iron Bowl.

-Dawgs win:  34-30


Thoughts on Saturday

My ESPN 3 password was screwing up. I live in Macon and WSB blacked out the game in favor of infomercials, and I couldn’t get the game on the dial radio in my house. The only way I could have heard the game was by driving around in my car. So, I had to follow the action on Twitter. So, some 30,000 ft thoughts.

-I wish Murray could have broken the TD record in Jacksonville.

-While on Twitter, I saw a lot of discontent in the early going. If UGA started 31-0 and finished 14-6, there wouldn’t be any discontent.

-Mason was good….but despite what the message boards suggest, Murray is the man.

-One more thought on Murray. He won’t win an SEC Chanpionship, but he is the best quarterback ever to play at UGA. Greene, Shockley, Belue, Stafford are all good. But if I was drafting an “all Georgia” team, Murray would be my pick for QB.

-After sleepwalking early, Georgia beat an inferior team and the back ups got reps. No serious injuries that I know of. Get ready for the task of beating Auburn.

-Speaking on Auburn, the Dawgs can beat the Tigers. Need Gurley at 100%. Marshall threw it only 7 times against Tennessee. I have a feeling we’ll see him throw it a little more.

Other games of note:

-LSU is good…Alabama is just elite. Again. And their offense is the best it’s been under Saban. They are just unbeatable right now.

-Nebraska and Virginia Tech are quickly becoming my least favorite teams to pick. They may supplant Iowa, which is no easy feat.

-While following the Dawgs on twitter, I watched most of the Florida game. I didn’t think they would/should fire Muschamp last week. Don’t know what to think now.


The Battered Battling Bulldogs

And you thought Dye’s ‘Man Enough’ comments were insulting…

And you thought Dye’s ‘Man Enough’ comments were insulting…

Then again, this comes from the coach who would keep Gene Chizik over 10 Nick Sabans. 

GA-FLA Review: Feelin’ Good Again

I was feelin’ good again to leave Jacksonville with a victory.  Georgia has now won 5/10, 4/7, and three in a row.  I have been present for all but one of those victories, the lone exception being in 2011.  Each one is special in its own way, just like each defeat is respectively agonizing.  The drive back from SSI sucks, win or lose.  But it is exponentially better following a victory.  It still sucks, but not quite as bad.

Fair warning, this post will be lengthy, as it will probably be one of the few I get to do this week.  Work responsibilities have me off the grid and living out of suitcases and in hotel rooms for the next four days, so posting will be sporadic at best.

First off, I had an awesome time.  I don’t get how people can go down to St. Simons or Jacksonville and not go to the game.  The game is the reason for the trip, and it should be of paramount importance.  However, what is so special about this weekend is the camaraderie of visiting with friends.  Our same crew of people has been tailgating at Georgia-Florida in the same spot for 10 years now, and we always have a blast.  I got to drink beer and hang out with good friends I now only see once a year.  Our circle has gotten spread out, with friends and former roommates all over the country.  But this weekend we always come together.  I probably won’t see some of the folks again for another year, but in 2014 it will pick up without missing a beat.  Just an overall great time and I am glad we can still come together and relive our glory days, laugh and tell old stories again.

I also had great seats.  Granite’s dad had a few extra tickets and traded his awesome seats for mine that were almost in Amelia Island.  I sat on the 20 yard line 10 rows up.  Phenomenal seats.

Now, some thoughts…

-As wild as the game ended up being, I think both teams deserve some credit.  I tip my hat to Coaches Richt and Muschamp.  Muschamp for getting the team to rally back in the 3rd quarter and for Richt keeping the team together.  Florida didn’t roll over and quit, and Georgia showed the resolve that we’ve come to expect from a Richt coached team led by Aaron Murray in handling adversity.

-With that said, if I am a Florida fan, I am pissed today.  One, for being a Florida fan.  But two, for the way the game ended on Florida getting a stupid penalty to clinch it for Georgia is maddening.  Of course, it is appropriate considering Florida leads the SEC in penalties.  It is clear reflection of Muschamp.  The man has no self-control or discipline and it reflects on his team.  Two costly 15 yard penalties in the 4th quarter was a big factor and it shouldn’t have been.

-Georgia made its fair share of mistakes also.  The Lynch fumble, the safety and the 12 men penalty were damning for sure.  The 12 men might be the most frustrating, but the defense redeemed itself and held strong.  Georgia could have come unglued, and I thought they would, but they didn’t.

-Folks around me were cussing Bobo.  Why cuss the best coach on staff right now I am not sure.

-In two of Georgia’s five wins this season, they have closed out the game with an 8+ minute drive.  Strong.

-Todd Gurley’s return was big.  No other way to say it.  He led the team in rushing and receiving.  Funny, how the best tailback in America and the best to play at Georgia in a generation can make a difference.    Though he was gassed, a 75% Gurley is better than most.

-Michael Bennett’s return should not go unmentioned, though.  One day I want to go back through game logs and verify this, but it just seems that most of Bennett’s catches convert to first downs.  Murray feels much more comfortable with him than the other receivers.  Just Saturday, Bennett had 5 catches.  4 of the 5 moved the chains, and 2 of the 5 converted 3rd downs.  He was sorely missed as much as Gurley.

-Rhett McGowan had several big catches and should be commended also.

-I agree with the decision to go for it on 4th down.  The call was gutsy, but that is what it takes sometimes.  It didn’t end up hurting us in the end.  One thing that infuriates me about Richt bashers is they say he is too passive or doesn’t want to win.  I liked the message it sent they were trying to win, instead of trying not to lose.  It didn’t work out, but I still like the guts.

-There were moments of ineptitude, but Georgia’s defense played overall pretty well I thought.  Take out the safety and the short field they were faced with after the Lynch fumble, and the defense held Florida to 10-11 points.  Now, I can’t say enough how bad Florida is on offense.  But the defense played pretty good overall and made big plays when necessary.

-Florida had the ball for the first 7:09 of the second half and came away with 0 points.  That stat is as important as any you will see about the game.

-Any further talk regarding the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party that focuses on Georgia losing so much in the 1990s and early 2000s should disappear.  The Spurrier mojo is gone.


It is easy to get caught up in what went wrong, and I am sure many will point to the mistakes that made a comfortable half time lead turn into a very uncomfortable second half. But for me, I enjoyed the hell out of the game and result.  Glad we won and especially glad to beat Florida.  Work some things out against Appalachian State and get ready for Auburn.

Go Dawgs!!!



JSW Arrested For Possession

JSW Arrested For Possession

Going by the precedent of JHC last year, look for a one-game suspension against Clempscum to start 2014. 

On The Road Again

Heading to SSI. Go Dawgs!!


Could Trey Burton Be A Factor Saturday?

Something I am worried about in this game, as I mentioned earlier in the week, is Florida using the bye week to insert some wrinkles in their anemic offense. Could they find a way to tweak their offense enough to catch us off guard early in the game?

One player I am afraid of is Trey Burton. Under Muschamp, Burton hasn’t been much of a factor. He made a few big plays for the struggling 2010 Gators-and had his best game ever against Georgia. He had 17 rushes for 110 yards, including a long one of 51. It seemed like in that game if the Gators need a first down, #8 was automatic.

Can Muschamp and company find a way to use Burton effectively? Haven’t done so yet. If there is one weakness that the Georgia defense has, it is containing a mobile quarterback (it was hard narrowing it down to one).

Keep an eye on #8 Saturday.



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