The Curious Case of Aaron Murray

This blog post was originally going to be a recap of the Mississippi State game, but you all saw it and saw the same game I watched, and have read other more in-depth reviews in the blogosphere. The Defense played outstanding (again), the offense got conservative in the 2nd half (again), Aaron Murray was inconsistent (again), the special teams left some points on the field (again), but overall the Bulldogs dominated a school from Mississippi and got a 2 TD win over an SEC opponent (again).

I sensed less discontent over a two touchdown victory against Ole Miss than I did over Mississippi State, despite State being a far superior team. The biggest thing I took away from Saturday was Aaron Murray had a bad day, and UGA still won. In his previous “bad games” against Florida, UCF, Boise State and South Carolina, the Dawgs lost. Murray had a very pedestrian day against the Bizarro Bulldogs, Stephen Garcia-esque, and the Bulldogs still won. They weren’t 100% dependent on the Quarterback to win them a game, and most of the time if you turn the ball over 3 times in a game, you are going to lose. So I am glad that, on a day when the Dawgs weren’t playing their sharpest for 60 minutes, they won. Last year, we would have lost a game like we played on Saturday. Check back on the blog later for a breakdown of exactly how great the defense has been.

So, about Aaron Murray: what the crap? I chalked up the Florida game last year to nerves, and he came alive in the second half. But why did he have such a terrible game against Mississippi State? Should we as a Bulldog Nation fear that our QB spent too much time around Joe Cox? Can throw a heap of TDs but unfortunately a heap of INTs also? Or is it just a fluke? I mean after all, he entered the game with an 11-3 TD to INT ration and was on pace to throw nearly 3,000 yards this season. Was it a bad day or is this a growing trend?

Not so fast my friend. Aaron obviously has the talent. He can make all the throws, is accurate and can throw the deep ball well. He has great feet and is athletic. Murray’s talent is NOT the problem.

So, if talent is not his issue, it must be something else. It clearly is his confidence, or rather, his mind. Why?

I submit that it has everything to do with him getting the crap knocked out of him and getting hit a lot. Murray has already been sacked 13 times this season, which is only better than Vanderbilt and Kentucky in the SEC. That is an average of 2.6 per game. And it looks like even if he doesn’t get sacked, he takes a shot. I have seen Murray get up gimpy during the South Carolina and Mississippi State games. Murray was sacked twice on Saturday, but I sure thought it felt like more. I think that has a lot to do with his inconsistency.* Don’t believe me? Don’t think that a QB getting beat up takes it toll?

David Greene is the best QB in UGA history, and went from having an outstanding season and having a veteran offensive line in 2002 to an inexperienced one in 2003 while posting mediocre numbers. While Greene had more passing yards, his TDs to INT ratio was a pedestrian 13-11. Not very good, especially looking at what he did the year before. It is not that Greene suddenly lost some skill set. The reason David Greene took a step back is there was no running game, was having to throw it a bunch, he got sacked 42 times, and didn’t have Fred Gibson for several weeks.

(Another thing to note for you all you Bobo bashers: During this time, you’ll notice Greene doesn’t have many TD passes, and we didn’t have much of a running game. How did we score? A whole lot of field goals. Billy Bennett didn’t become the All-Time leading scorer in the SEC on just PATs.)

Corbindawg loves me a chart. I love a graph even better, but didn’t have time to screw around in Excel. This chart shows the dramatic drop off in production that David Green had from 2002-2003, and the correlation of the increased amount of sacks.

Passing Yards TDs Completeion % Ints Sacks
David Greene-2002 2924 22 57.5 8 24
Aaron Murray-2010 3049 24 61.1 8 24
David Greene-2003 3307 13 60.3 11 42
Aaron Murray-2011 (through 5 games) 1100 13 61.5 6 13

Yes, Greene was hit more in 2003 than Murray was. And the pace is not that much off of what was happening a year ago. It may just be me, but it still just feels like Murray is under much more pressure and is getting hit a lot more? Here is this quote from Coach Richt:

Asked what he thought of his signal caller’s performance, head coach Mark Richt said: “”Hot and cold. He’s getting knocked around too much. We didn’t protect well. We were improving on that issue but we regressed today.”

So, is this something we should be concerned about?

if Bobo and Richt can figure out a way to get him some more protection, then I would like to think the quarterback play will settle down some. If not, then the Dawgs won’t be as fortunate as they were this past Saturday. Or we will win a lot games like we did this past Saturday, since the defense is so good. Either way, as long as the team is winning, I don’t really care how they do it.

But I would rather it not be colorful.


*That inconsistency I speak of entered Saturday’s game with an 11-3 TD to INT ratio. So his perceived inconsistency was not that bad…


6 Responses to “The Curious Case of Aaron Murray”

  1. 1 nobie October 3, 2011 at 11:52 am

    I think you are right on the money. Murray’s troubles are a direct result of being pressured and hit way too often. Also, since other D-cordinators have seen this weakness we can expect more of the same from future opponents unless the O-line can give him a little more time to hurt the defense vertically. I am offically holding my breath for our patch work O-line.

  2. 2 ChaseDawg19 October 3, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    My deal with Murray is he’s not progressing. He’s still got the bad habits he had last season, I.E. holding on to the ball forever, locking on to one receiver, etc. Last season he was a threat to tuck it and run, this season he hasn’t been. It’s clear the staff has told him not to run as much and avoid hits. I think the defense sees that and no longer respect his running threat. To me, if getting hit was an issue, I’d think that Murray has a better chance to avoid contact by tucking it and sliding or trying to get out of bounds, rather than dance around in the pocket and get rocked. No one besides Orson and Mitchell can get open right now, and if whomever the play is intended for is bottled up, Murray has no where to go. I’d like to see the leash taken off him and just let him play. He doesn’t look comfortable in the pocket for an extended period of time. He’s itching to run. Whereas Stafford used to force bad throws instead of throw it away, Murray holds on too long and gets sacked. He needs to tuck it and get a couple yards and live to see another day, much like Stafford somewhat progressed to throwing it out of bounds.

    One more thing. Please stop rolling Murray out, especially to the left side. That’s the one constant he struggles with as far as throwing goes. Quack, quack, quack.

  3. 3 ericdawg October 3, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    If Murray is getting hit, and losing his control of the game because of this, then the more that Mason should come in to relieve him. I noticed him hobbling after a play in the third or fourth quarter last Saturday, which is very similar to that in the game against SC and which was mentioned as a factor in the fumble exchange between him and Crowell and eventual 7 points for SC. The coaches need to recognize this, or Murray for the sake of the team and UGA should take himself out. He already cost the team one loss–SC.

    • 4 Corbindawg October 3, 2011 at 9:17 pm

      I shouldn’t have to go down the laundry list of reasons why Mason is on the bench and Murray is the starter, but for starters, there was some consideration to RS Mason to help with class seperation. So the coaches must not think he is “the guy”. Also, Murray has the ability to scramble.

  4. 5 thewhiteshark October 3, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    It’s not just sacks as you referenced above. It’s the pocket collapsing way too fast, which disrupts timing and reads, and AM getting hit too much even when he gets the ball off . The tackles have got to step up.

  5. 6 bulldawg20 October 4, 2011 at 1:27 am

    UGA # 52 Total Offense
    UGA # 56 Passing Offense
    UGA # 46 Rushing Offense

    UGA # 7 Total Defense
    UGA # 4 Passing Defense
    UGA # 32 Rushing Defense

    UGA # 94 Sacks of Aaron Murray
    UGA # 53 Sacks of Opposing Quarterbacks

    UGA # 69 Offense making 3rd Down Conversions
    UGA # 2 Defense preventing 3rd Down Conversions

    UGA # 93 Interceptions Thrown by Aaron Murray
    UGA # 4 Interceptions by our Defense

    UGA # 76 Turnovers Lost 9 by almost exclusively Aaron Murray
    UGA # 21 Turnovers Gained by our Defense

    UGA # 61 Offense gaining 1st Downs
    UGA # 5 Defense giving up 1st Downs

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