UGA fans fired up? Worried? Yeah, we’re all that

Should Dawgs fans be concerned about Aaron Murray's practice stats? (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

Should Dawgs fans be concerned about Aaron Murray's practice stats? (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

Nine days and counting, and from what I’m hearing and seeing the UGA fan base is alternating between sky-high optimism and nervous fretting.

Take my friend Dan, who I was chatting with earlier this week. “Do you realize,” he said, “that we were three or four plays from finishing 10-and-2 last season?”

Dan put the onus for the Dogs’ disappointing 2009 showing squarely on the defense, and more specifically Willie Martinez. Which is why he’s so high on Georgia’s prospects this season. “We were that close last year and yet our defense was terrible.”

He believes that even with the Dogs having to learn the new 3-4 defensive scheme installed by Todd Grantham, “there’s no way the defense won’t be better this year.” And that means a better record, he believes, because Grantham’s more aggressive style should produce more turnovers than Martinez’s read-and-react scheme did.

Of course, quarterback play was also a problem at times last year. (I still wince thinking about that Kentucky game.) And with Aaron Murray starting out with no experience, some fans are feeling kind of anxious.

Like my friend JP. I got an e-mail from him the other day. The subject line: “I’m worried.”

What he was worried about was Murray’s showing in the scrimmages up to that point (not including Wednesday’s). Said JP: “Aaron Murray has now played 3 ‘games’ at UGA. In the G-Day game he was the third-best QB on the field and threw a terrible interception. In the first scrimmage he was so bad that Bobo publicly criticized him, and in the second scrimmage he was 8 for 20 with no touchdowns, and the offense was totally inept. The best thing Richt could say about him was he didn’t throw any interceptions. I hate to sound like Munson, but I sure wish he would show some progress. I’m afraid he might be one of those players who looks great in practice but can’t produce when it counts.”

In my reply, I tried talking JP down off the ledge a bit by pointing out that in the recent scrimmages Murray has been working behind a patchwork offensive line because of injuries and illness.

That was still pretty much the case Wednesday, when Murray had another OK showing, going 9-for-17 for 127 yards and no interceptions but chalking up a demerit from Mark Richt for getting sacked on a play when he should have thrown the ball away.

“He’s still learning. He’s still a freshman,” Richt noted.

But legendary Dogs QB Buck Belue offers a perspective that fans fretting about Murray’s practice stats probably ought to keep in mind. In his blog, he writes: “Get ready to hear all about Aaron Murray’s stats this season. I can hear some of these knuckleheads already, ‘Murray only completed 7 of 16 passes.’ What does it matter, if two go for TDs and they win?”

The bottom line on the quarterback, according to Belue: “What’s important is making plays that help the offense score points, which in turn helps the team win games. No one should expect Murray — in his first season as the starter — to go out there and complete 65 percent of his throws for 3,000 yards. This isn’t [Eric] Zeier in his senior season. This young man is just getting started. Aaron needs to focus on managing the offense, making good decisions, and hitting on some big plays that help them score points and win.”

Thanks, Buck. We needed that.

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139 comments Add your comment

DawginLex

August 26th, 2010
10:53 am

We have beat this to death today on the other blogs.

I can’t wait for a real game so we know more about what we have.

Fleming Island Dog

August 26th, 2010
10:57 am

First and Thanks Buck

Fleming Island Dog

August 26th, 2010
10:58 am

CTDawg

August 26th, 2010
10:58 am

Shreveport Bowl Champs baby!!!

August 26th, 2010
11:00 am

I am worried that we will go 5-7 and lose to Tech 223-0.

Just a fan

August 26th, 2010
11:01 am

I totally agree with Buck all he has to do is mange the game there is no need to throw it 30 times a game this year we have two great backs that should get a ton of carries

SupaE2009

August 26th, 2010
11:18 am

I’ve been counting down since day 75!! Ready 2 see the South Car game & wat our dfense really has 2 offer!! I think Murray will be ok with Green, King, Gray & Brown to throw 2!! See u guys in Athens next wknd!! DAWGS!! follow meon twitter @SUPAE2009!!!

UGA insider

August 26th, 2010
11:27 am

sssshhhhhhh! This article simply proves what I have seen with my own eyes and what others on the staff have privately told me. The defense Murray is practicing against is sick with talent, great coaching and depth! AJ struggles everyday against our athletic db’s and the rest of the receivers are scared to death of our safeties. The defense has kicked the #1 offense in the ass all preseason, so get ready for a very nasty UGA defense this year folks. As long as we can control the clock and run the ball we should win every game except UF, and that one will be a toss up. By the way, Justin Houston will outplay Bama’s lb and be defensive SEC player of the year barring injury. The JYD defense will be back on 9-11 baby!!!!

DCJohn

August 26th, 2010
11:30 am

Anxious. The defense can only get better. The offense has the ability to shoot itself in the foot or to play lights out. So long as the defense and the offense do not pick the same game (or half thinking back to 2008) to go kill itself with mistakes, I think we can hang with anyone on our schedule.

dawgs01

August 26th, 2010
11:31 am

He will be fine. The people that get on here and criticize him never played football and usually have no clue what they are talking about.

doug dawg

August 26th, 2010
11:31 am

look, every team in the sec and in the country has issues. we are just closer to our own issues, and don’t hear so much about others’. all we fans and alumni (like myself) can do now is trust our coaches and players to make the best decisions they can and play and coach to the max. as the old song goes, ‘win or lose, the other fellow knows, georgia fights until the whistle blows.’ i think if we ‘fight until the whistle blows,’ we’ll be ok. sometimes, rarely, in the past i wondered if we did that; and that includes the fans. ref. kentucky, 2009.

RunningDog

August 26th, 2010
11:44 am

Of course, I’m worried when South Carolina, Arkansas and MSU are back-to-back-to-back. If we sweep those games, I’ll sleep a lot easier until the Kentucky/Florida games, not that I’m taking Tennessee lightly.

AnonymousDawg23

August 26th, 2010
12:03 pm

“I’m afraid he might be one of those players who looks great in practice but can’t produce when it counts” Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the GDay game still practice and aren’t scrimmages still practice? AM hasn’t had a chance to produce when it counts. Bill, maybe your friend should be more optimistic. Maybe AM is one of those players that looks terrible in practice and lights it up when it really counts.

here we go again....

August 26th, 2010
12:13 pm

offensive line is hurt again…..no depth…..
untested quarterback…..
rookie d-coordinator
mike bobo still calling plays.

let’s pray that we can win 8 games this year. i don’t see it much better than that.

SSIgator

August 26th, 2010
12:17 pm

“UGA fans fired up? Worried? Yeah, we’re all that.”

Fired Up – Yeah, all of the bars in Athens are going 2-1 happy hours all day long on game days.

Worried – Yeah, worried that UGA will be 1-2 after three games and the tough games still lie ahead.

Yeah we are all of that – as in after going 7-5 again it is always the same each year – pre-season #1 in 2011 – 1980 so long ago.

how2fish

August 26th, 2010
12:18 pm

Shreveport Bowl Champs baby!!! You just rest easy little fella that is not going to happen…we the Bull Dog Nation promise.

Boy, it's a good thing...

August 26th, 2010
12:19 pm

…we always have “next year” to which we can look forward…

Chris

August 26th, 2010
12:19 pm

He should be fine. You don’t get invited to the elite 11 camp if you don’t have serious skills. He just needs repetition under live bullets so I’m hoping Spurrier is so upset with Garcia, he plays his freshman qb the second game.

You played this game before Bill. We could have been 10-2 last year, we also could have been 6-6 (see SC, Ark and Auburn). Bill Parcells said it best ‘in football, you are what your record says you are’. No ‘but what about this’ (celebration penalty)….’if only this or that happened’ doesn’t play. We were a mediocre team last year that improved at the very end of the year. It was one bad year people. I could see 10-2 this year which would be wonderful but 9-3 more likely. What if Brantley goes down? I can see something weird like beating Florida and losing to Auburn, SC and maybe Arkansas. 10-2 sure sounds better

how2fish

August 26th, 2010
12:20 pm

SSIgator got any advice on where I can pick up some AK-47 ammo or a dead girls credit card? Hoping Brantley stays healthy or you are going to be in a world of hurt,well truth is if CUM goes off his meds you may anyway …nice talking to you.

HOUDAWG

August 26th, 2010
12:20 pm

Hey SSIgator …… here’s your teet again ….. boy.

CHDawg

August 26th, 2010
12:22 pm

Don’t forget that coaches use scrimmages to work on weak areas–they aren’t trying to crush the scout team so the stats look good on the AJC chat boards. If Murray needs practice stepping up in the pocket they might make him do that repeatedly–his weakest point. Murray is going to be great, I believe, but he is young and he is going to have a very steep learning curve this year. The key is, as Buck states, does he do what it takes to win. He should continue to improve at a steep rate all year long. Just getting the reps as #1 appears to have made a difference. Second, I’m starting to think our defense might be very good this year. We wil soon know.

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

August 26th, 2010
12:25 pm

God at the hand wringing going on. Munson would be proud. This should be a fun team to watch. Wins will come and losses will as well, but being a Bulldawg is forever. as to you ” here we go again”, there isn’t a better o-line in the conference, maybe the country. The d-coordinator has more experience than the last 2 we had. Bobo got 25 td passes out of JOE COX. And every quarterback is “untested” at this point in their careers. So, in other words………the sky ain’t falling, actually, things are looking pretty good in Athens. Cheer up, at least you ‘re not a bug….or are you?

Applingshire Dawg

August 26th, 2010
12:26 pm

Screw the naysayers. I’ll be in Athens in 9 days and can’t wait to see the debut of our new QB and defensive scheme. With our weak schedule I’m projecting at max 2 losses (Auburn and Florida). However, with decent QB play and offensive play calling we should make it to the Dome to knock off Bama or LSU.
Also SSIgator, how does supposedly living in the “reddest” locale south of Athens going for you? Yes, I have a condo on the beach there and think I’ve seen your 4Runner on the causeway. Get off our blog, troll.

TheItalianDawg

August 26th, 2010
12:28 pm

first I agree with your friend JP , I think we should all be worried! Murray should be way better than this. and I think it is the fault of the coaching staff, they should have played Murray last year when Cox was struggling. beside from what I read and hear he get sacked a lot, is it because our D is really good or he is a laying duck! another reason why we should be worried is that our coaching staff get delusional, remember last year how they were talking about Cox, I thought he will win the Heisman! based on the coaches assessments but we all know how it turned out. I hope I’m wrong! go Dawgs

Chris

August 26th, 2010
12:34 pm

There’s a very simple solution to Murray’s inconsitency. RUN THE BALL!!! My worries aren’t with Murray or the defense. It is with Bobo and Richt’s horrible play calling. Getting away from the run, and relying heavely on a young QB just because you only picked up 3 yards on 1st down has been one of trade marks of Rich’ts teams.

The play calling has GOT to get better. Bobo has very little room to cirticize the QB’s mistakes when he makes soooo many bone headed calls.

Chris

August 26th, 2010
12:36 pm

UGA Insider,,,I like that theory; that our first string defense is blowing up the backfield. People on this thing who refer to his performance in the spring game are obtuse. Did anyone see Stafford’s first G-day game? He wasn’t named the starter until the fourth or fifth game of his first year and then came Auburn, GT and VT when the lights all came on.

Mr. Dawg

August 26th, 2010
12:38 pm

When Herschel Walker was less than great during his first summer training camp with the Bulldogs Vince Dooley fretted that “what I may have here is nothing more than a big stiff fullback”. As it turns out what he had was a suprisingly big stiff defense that could stop a future All-American. There is reason to be optimistic that Georgia wil have a very good defense this year. Perhaps Murray is the first one to find that out.

tbone

August 26th, 2010
12:38 pm

The O line is getting healthy & we have quality depth. Bobo & CMR do a good job of developing QBs, installing an offensive game plan. & calling plays (thats right: he does a very good job of calling plays). An elite 11 QB who is practicing against a very good, aggressive Defense installed by a DC who knows what he is doing. My optimism is at an all time high even though I believe that USCe, ARK., MSU, & Auburn will all have the best team that they have had in several years. The Dawgs will be tested early & often because they will be playing against some top tier teams.

Old Dawg

August 26th, 2010
12:39 pm

As difficult as it is for many folks, Murray has a lot more help around him than most QBs with more experience. That will help a ton. The kicking game is a big plus, as is the improved defense.

All of us have to remember that CMR and Bobo have developed some pretty good QBs, including a Heisman Trophy winner at FSU, Greene, Shockley and a first round pick. Some folks will point out that none of them have made it at the next level, but I’m not writing about the next level, simply college football.

With the talent base around him Murray should do well. We need to be patient, let him grow into the role and enjoy his progress as his career develops.

In other words, relax and enjoy the games.

blah blah blah

August 26th, 2010
12:42 pm

go ahead and panic know ugag fans

avoid the rush later

'94 UGA Grad

August 26th, 2010
12:45 pm

Well said AnonymousDawg23. I was thinking the same thing.

Gratefuldawghead

August 26th, 2010
12:48 pm

Ready for Murray to shut the Haters up!

Junkyard Steve

August 26th, 2010
12:49 pm

@SSIgaytor……..You are a pathetic cheat with no guts ! I was watching a replay of the UF-LSU
game 09′, when I noticed once again Riley Pooper pulling the jersey of the DB to pull himself forward and get open. Another example of just how low down UF football has become. Another example is how many BS calls your team gets in most games especially on critical downs. A program that is so F’N overrated, and proof of that is the number of NFL bust you produce. Urban Meyer Ain’t DooDoo! Utah is just as good now as when he was their. But the biased media constantly influences young football players into thinking this is and has been some kind of dynasty forever. You can continue to make these clownish comments, but you’ll shut your mouth soon I promise.

Nooga' Dawg

August 26th, 2010
12:51 pm

The G-FENSE will be very nasty this year.
Murray you don’t have to win the game,just don’t lose it.
Time to GATA !! GO DAWGS !!!!

robodawg

August 26th, 2010
12:53 pm

I think Murray will be fine once he grows into the position. Right now he admits to the jitters of playing on this stage. Once he settles in, he’ll be dangerous. And Grantham’s D will I think be pretty good. But both of these are gonna take some time.

So yeah, I’ve got worries. We heard in preseason last year how we’d be able to run the ball at will and Cox’s experience wouldn’t matter. But as it turned out, we couldn’t run the ball so well, games were put on Cox’s shoulders (often facing 3rd and long in a critical series) and the results were interceptions and bad field position all day. At the end of the season things finally clicked, the OL found its best personnel arrangement, and we had a pretty good running game that opened up everything else. (But, uh, let’s forget the 2nd half against Kentucky.) The problem was NOT that Bobo wasn’t running the ball, there were plenty of rushing plays; it was that we weren’t getting yards out of running the ball.

Now we’re saying again that we can rely on a strong running game. With a more experienced line returning with last season’s lessons under its belt, you gotta hope that’s true. But which defenses will successfully load up against the run and put the pressure on Murray? And how many injuries are we from looking for the right combination on the OL again?

Delbert D.

August 26th, 2010
1:12 pm

Of equal concern is the loss of nearly 1,000 pounds of defensive tackles to the NFL.

Better Perspective

August 26th, 2010
1:17 pm

The “stats” were “officially unofficial”. There is no way that these stats are close to being accurate. If they are… then they are not very smart for sharing them with the world. These are mock stats… just to give everyone something to talk about. The “Georgia” team scored 38 points in one half. If you watch the video of coach Richt… you can see the smerk on his face when he talked about the “officially unofficial” results and the “score”. Come on people.

UGA insider

August 26th, 2010
1:18 pm

Oh, I forgot to mention that Justin Houston did not play much yesterday because Bobo wanted to have a scrimmage without Houston blowing up evey play from scrimmage. That’s the truth. Houston has been unblockable and nasty this pre-season. The weak point as it was this spring is the offensive line. I’m starting to wonder about Searles.

Scott W.

August 26th, 2010
1:19 pm

I am worried until proved wrong.

ca dawg

August 26th, 2010
1:31 pm

i’m more fired up than worried. i’m interested to see what kind of team we’ve got this year, and i’m pretty confident we’re a better team than we were last year. i guess the question is how much better, and that’s hard to know right now. i think murray is going to be fine — one thing his numbers suggest (the high YPC and a little lower comp %) is that he’s throwing the ball down the field a lot, which is great. hitting a few down the field will help keep defenses honest even if the comp % is a little lower than we’d like. he’s gonna make some mistakes, but all that means is that our running game and defense will need to be improved from last year. i believe that they will be, and that we’re going to have a season to be proud of. GO DAWGS!

Jay

August 26th, 2010
1:43 pm

I’m no worried about th schedule. I’m worried about being one qb injury away from disaster.

POSER

August 26th, 2010
1:48 pm

UGA is always dangerous the lower they are ranked. They just can’t handle being rated high. Most times they are rated high early they are a big letdown that season. USC, Ohio State, Bama, Flordia, seem to be able to cope with the high rankings. Maybe its coaching, ya think?

Dogit

August 26th, 2010
1:49 pm

Is Murray’s height still in question??

saban

August 26th, 2010
1:50 pm

Don`t worry puppies. You will get your 5 wins this year.

G'Vegas Dawg

August 26th, 2010
1:50 pm

Cautiously optomistic is the best way to describe the fan base. I don’t think it really matters this season who the QB is. CMR could put a cheerleader, his wife, the Clarke Central 10 and Under QB, or even Reggie Ball behind center and toss left then toss right. If we can throw 6 times a game (5 times to AJ and once to Orson) or less we’ll be fine if we use our weapons like we should.

Lindsey

August 26th, 2010
1:51 pm

When you mentioned the Kentucky game my stomach turned, but I am looking forward to a great season for UGA, GO DAWGS!!!

Billy Ray Valentine

August 26th, 2010
1:54 pm

Run the ball. It ain’t that heavy.

G'Vegas Dawg

August 26th, 2010
1:56 pm

Trivia Question: When was the last time UGA only won 5 games? How many wins did UA have in the 2000 season?

Bud Kilmer

August 26th, 2010
1:56 pm

Lance Harbor would eat Aaron Murray’s lunch, and Jon Moxon would steal his girlfriend.

Given

August 26th, 2010
2:03 pm

one thing is a given…we beat Gtu again. I’m not guaranteeing to be ACC Champs again this year like last but we do beat Gtu.