Fan talk: Is Aaron Murray’s sophomore slump perception or reality?

Aaron Murray throwing interceptions has skewed the perception of how well he's playing. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Aaron Murray throwing interceptions has skewed the perception of how well he's playing. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

If having the other Bulldogs jump on the “G” could get our Dawgs that riled up, imagine what a week of having to listen to “Rocky Top” in practice could do. I know I’d be ready to tear someone’s head off and I’m hoping the Georgia D feels the same way come Saturday. Anyway, time to check in with the Junkyard Mail and see what’s on your minds as the trip to Knoxville approaches ….

Lamar Westbrook writes: I know Aaron Murray is a good QB, last year he proved it, but this year he is a liability to us. I hear Hutson Mason is playing as good or better than him in practice but he does not see the field any. I think Murray would start playing better if he felt threatened by somebody taking over his job. I think he knows the job is his no matter what and this makes him wreckless with the ball. If he doesn’t clean up the picks, it’s going to cost Georgia against a better team (remember the S.C. game)? I think Richt should start Mason one game, even if he only plays 4 minutes or 1 series of the game. This might be a wake up call to Murray because he is better than what he is showing lately. We all know this. Your take please. Thanks and GO DAWGS!

It’s obvious that the three picks Aaron Murray threw last week are responsible for most of the fan grumbling about him this week and talk of giving more playing time to backup Hutson Mason. But while Murray certainly has been responsible for some costly turnovers, he’s still a much better than average SEC quarterback, currently ranking third in the conference and 17th nationally in pass efficiency and ranking near the top of the SEC stats in passing yards and touchdown passes. The perception has been skewed, however, by the interceptions he’s thrown. But benching him for that just makes no sense at all. As for giving Mason more playing time, that’s problematic. He doesn’t have much experience against major opposition, and while I’m all for getting your backup some meaningful playing time (just in case), you generally don’t want to do that until the game has been safely put away. And the Dawgs’ second-half slumber has meant that’s not happening. Everyone points to the guaranteed playing time that D.J. Shockley got when David Greene was the starter, and while that experience no doubt helped Shockley once he became the starter, I clearly remember fans at the time lamenting how pulling Greene and sending in Shockley disrupted the rhythm of the offense. Remember when Shockley was inserted into the game and threw that pick against Florida in 2002? When it comes to Murray, I think former Georgia QB Buck Belue was on the money when he said: “Murray needs to pull his foot off the accelerator a little. … It’s time for him to understand what he can’t get away with. Protect the ball. Make some better decisions. Throw it away, if the play isn’t there.”

HollywoodDawg writes: Blair Walsh? Any thoughts or comments on why he has the “yipes” right now? New snapper? We know he has the same holder. Has the new off-season program affected his kicking? Any injuries to speak of?

It’s the same snapper and holder, and I don’t think they are the problem. It’s strictly between Walsh’s ears, a classic placekicker’s slump. I do think perhaps Walsh ought to listen to kicking great Kevin Butler, who thinks he might be a bit kicked out right now and should cut back on the overall number of kicks he’s making in practice and pregame.

Pete Cornish writes: Your article ignored perhaps a better [SEC expansion] alternative than FSU: Virginia Tech — always a top rate team, a national name, the Virginia/DC TV market and geographical balance to the conference. Like FSU, they would make the SEC East a little more competitive with the stronger SEC West. Also, you didn’t note that while FSU voted for the $20 million ACC exit fee, they and a few others kept it from being $35 million, which is the exit fee the ACC diehards wanted.

You must have missed my earlier pieces on SEC expansion. Virginia Tech has always been my No. 1 choice, for exactly the reasons you cited. But Virginia Tech officials have been pretty adamant that they’re not interested in leaving the ACC, and there’s been a lot of talk that legislators in that state like having VT and Virginia in the same conference. So FSU would be my first choice after Virginia Tech. There’s certainly reasons for possibly taking Missouri as the 14th team, but I still think either of the ACC teams would be a much better addition to the conference.

Mark Whitlock writes: I love your blog. I am taking my son to his first Georgia game. It’s my first since leaving Athens in 1991. His first NCAA game ever. What are the Dawg traditions at away games? I’d love to participate in all of them in Knoxville. Thank you.

Thanks, Mark. There isn’t a formal Dawg Walk for away games usually, but you should find plenty of UGA fans tailgating before the game in Knoxville that you and your son can share a few woofs with. Just look for the red tents! And my friend Steve, who follows the team on the road quite a bit, advises that if you’re around when the Redcoat Band arrives at the stadium, a lot of fans like to gather around them, sort of like a mini Dawg Walk. But the best away game tradition probably is after a Georgia win, when the players run over to the UGA fan section to celebrate. Let’s hope your son gets to experience that this Saturday!

Mike M. writes: Bill, I have noticed a couple of things and wanted to see if you have noticed them, as well. After Isaiah “stepped out of bounds” during his called back “TD” run in the 1st half, he seemed to sulk about it the rest of the game. There were a few close camera shots of his face and it’s almost like he was pouting that it got called back. Being the father of an 18 year old, I know maturity may be an issue. Also, we are not utilizing our obvious advantage of having 270 lb. Bruce Figgins at FB. With his size we have, in essence, another offensive lineman in the backfield getting a head start. Why wouldn’t we go for some of these 4th and short situations handing him the ball like we used to? Mark Richt-coached teams just seem to lack the killer instinct that he showed as an offensive coordinator at FSU. He seems more content with protecting a lead rather than play the psychological game of basically demoralizing the opponent when we get them down. Is he doing or saying something at halftime to cause the team to take their foot off the proverbial throat of our opponents? Are we trying to conserve energy for the next game to avoid a “letdown”? I hate to bring up negatives when we’re winning, but now that our defense is playing so well, it would be nice to have the offense do their part to give the “D” a breather or two.

I was at Saturday’s game and didn’t see the TV coverage, but if Crowell was pouting about anything, it was probably Richt deciding not to go for it on fourth-and-short a couple of times. As for not using the fullback in short-yardage situations, all I can conclude is that the coaches aren’t satisfied with Figgins as a ball carrier yet. Hopefully that will change the more playing time he gets at the position. And I agree that the Dogs need to keep their foot on the pedal in the second half. I hate watching a team sit on a lead.

Chad writes: Do you think all the SEC East teams can win is a division? There was a story on the CBS App that said basically all East teams will be is Miss Congeniality!

Frankly, I think the SEC East team will be the underdog in the championship game, no matter who it is, and rightfully so. A few years back we used to joke about how weak the SEC West was, but that certainly hasn’t been the case the past couple of seasons.

Hairy Dawg with the old UGA fireplug. (Patrick Garbin)

Hairy Dawg with the old UGA fireplug. (Patrick Garbin)

Greg Poole, aka ecdawg, writes: Hey Bill, enjoyed seeing your mention of the fireplug. We have been trying to get a grassroots movement going to bring back the hydrant.

I’m all for it! And courtesy of Bulldogs historian Patrick Garbin, Greg supplied the photo of Hairy Dawg with the plug and a video of the cheerleaders bringing it onto the field ahead of the team in 1980 that you can see here. It’s a grand old tradition that definitely ought to be revived.

Finally, Patrick Brooks writes: Bill, I have a theory that I think provides a good answer to what on the surface appears to be waning student support for the football team. Prior to 2009 students received a ticket book of physical tickets just like every other season ticket holder. Because these physical tickets were distributed before the season started 2 things were true: 1) there was a healthy secondary market whereby students who had a ticket but did not go to a game could sell the ticket to another student and 2) even if the ticket went unused the University had no way to recall the ticket to sell to the general public. Beginning with the 2009 season the University moved to a student ID ticket system where the tickets students ordered were automatically loaded on their student ID cards. This move had many positives, but one big negative was that it destroyed the secondary market. UGA also began a system where if a student was not going to a game they could elect to “donate” their ticket to an online pool before Wednesday on the week of the game and it would be transferred to a student who, again by Wednesday, requested a ticket if one became available. However, because there were no repercussions for choosing not to donate an unused ticket most students chose not to donate. Students desiring tickets quickly learned that their chances of receiving a donated ticket were small so they quit putting in ticket requests. Today the student ticket system is substantially the same, with 2 changes: 1) there is a penalty for not donating tickets (if you fail to donate 3 unused tickets you will not be eligible for tickets next year) and 2) you can donate a ticket to a specific student instead of just to a pool of tickets. The first change is meant to encourage higher attendance (and this is different from a sellout) at games by getting the tickets in the hands of those that want them; the second change has the potential to revive the secondary market. Because there is now a penalty for not donating unused tickets there has been a huge influx of donated tickets, but there has not been a commensurate influx of ticket requests. Because these tickets are electronic and not physical, the University now has the ability to recall these donated and unclaimed tickets and attempt to sell them to the general public. This gives the appearance of a sudden lack of student interest and support in the football team, but really all that has changed is the ticket system students operate under. I believe that as the University continues to improve its system and students learn that there are many tickets available to be claimed the number of tickets that become available on the Wednesday before every home to the general public will decrease. This new system will prevent sellouts the way they used to happen, particularly for our yearly “Coastal Carolina” game, but should end up producing higher attendance.

Whew. I think you’ve pretty well summed it it all up there. Frankly, I never understood why the university really cared about students reselling unused tickets to nonstudents. Seems sort of miserly on the school’s part.

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410 comments Add your comment

John

October 6th, 2011
10:55 am

Aaron Murray …. Aaaaron mur-ray!

edumacated

October 6th, 2011
11:06 am

Murray is staring down his intended receiver from the snap.

bo

October 6th, 2011
11:06 am

sophomore slump or was he really a little overrated to begin with?

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
11:07 am

Who cares, tech is #13

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
11:09 am

GT’s Sagarin rating is #9.

There is only one relevant football team in Georgia this year, GT.

Mad Dog 1

October 6th, 2011
11:13 am

I don’t know why Murry will not throw the ball away when nessary. If they would call for a roll out and move the pocket it might help. WE need to do something before he gets hurt. As always GO DOGS

Sam

October 6th, 2011
11:15 am

Lamar….you’re an idiot

NWGA Dawg

October 6th, 2011
11:15 am

GT Joe, where would UGA be if we had played a punch-n-judy schedule like your Techies? We will see in November who has in the past and will continue to run this state!!! GO DAWGS!!!!!!

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
11:15 am

This just in, noone cares about the SEC. Missouri is only interested because noone else wants them. Sad, the “vaunted” SEC isn’t as desirable as country folk think:

http://espn.go.com/college-sports/story/_/id/7063633/missouri-tigers-hope-join-sec-had-wanted-big-ten-invite-most

Missouri hoped to join the Big Ten last year but the league instead chose Nebraska. The university official said the Big Ten remains Missouri’s top choice but that conference “has no interest.”

“That’s what’s left,” the official said, referring to the SEC.

TR

October 6th, 2011
11:15 am

dooley used to put the second unit in , qb included, on the 3rd series.matt robionson did a lot of damage to enemies asa sub- appleby to washington, td vs alabama.

if the second unit had bee inserted last sat in the second half and done nothing at all, they would have equalled the first unit.

DAWGS forever

October 6th, 2011
11:15 am

Murray is most assuredly in a soph slump. The turnovers are killers. The last few weeks, a killer instinct would have put both teams away.

Our trouble is the SC game with the chickens is our best game. Except the obvious 100 ways to save a chicken game we played.

Go DAWGS!

Expert Opinion

October 6th, 2011
11:17 am

His interceptions are the result of the same issue that has inflated his passing numbers. Georgia has no running game. Hard to know how good (or bad) the kid is when he’s playing behind that O-line with a one-dimensional offense.

The backup is always sexier than the starter — so long as he keeps his tail on the bench.

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
11:17 am

Coastal Carolina, ole missy, and missy state? And SC which nearly lost to Navy? That’s the gaunlet right there…

Lowcountry Bulldawg

October 6th, 2011
11:17 am

GT Joe is this years version of St. Simmons. Big talk till the team gets smacked in the mouth and then he vanishes into witness protection program. UGA IS football in this state. Sorry to break it to ya GT Joey.

Expert Opinion

October 6th, 2011
11:18 am

GT Joe cares about the SEC. As a matter of fact, one could say that he’s obsessed.

Hayseed Dixie

October 6th, 2011
11:19 am

Aaron Murray is the best QB in the SEC. Yeah, he’s having a sophmore slump, both are true. For most of us, it takes experience as well as talent to become dominating.

Richt shouldn’t bench him unless the W column is in jeopardy.

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
11:19 am

Okay lowcountry. ESPN Gameday will be coming to bobby dodd this year for the clemson game. Athens? Not happenin.

UGA is a non-factor football team. Didn’t even get a single vote in the USA Today Coaches Poll. Even DOOK got a vote.

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
11:20 am

I might be obsessed, but no one else outside the Southeast is. Case in point: Missouri.

Expert Opinion

October 6th, 2011
11:21 am

GT Joe
October 6th, 2011
11:19 am

Okay lowcountry. ESPN Gameday will be coming to bobby dodd this year for the clemson game.

Where will they set up? Who has to pay for the security detail?

dap01

October 6th, 2011
11:22 am

Aaron is ok, the offensive game plans are the problem. Bobo don’t have a clue.

Expert Opinion

October 6th, 2011
11:23 am

@GT Joe

An anonymous source didn’t need to leak the fact that Mizzou has been seeking an invite to the B1G. That’s common knowledge. Texas wants to be in the PAC — also common knowledge.

What’s your point?

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
11:23 am

I’ll be on here after November, don’t worry about me disappearing. The only way UGA beat Tech is if there’s a HUGE upset. Dogs will be a touchdown underdog at Bobby Dodd.

Hey upsets happen, look at 2009.

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
11:24 am

Expert: point is, the guy said “that’s what’s left” about the SEC. Kinda like “all the steak is gone, so let’s eat the dog food. That’s what’s left”.

funny...

October 6th, 2011
11:26 am

Aaron Murray has showed little to no improvement. He’s still just a .500 QB.

Also, when UGA took the physical tickets away from students, it put out a lot of recent graduates who don’t have the funds or cumulative points to earn season tickets.

I also learned that you don’t even have to be an alumnus/a to donate and receive season tickets. Which I don’t have a problem with but there is a gap for most recent graduates now to be able to go to games (between school and the accumulation of points).

NWGA Dawg

October 6th, 2011
11:26 am

What is wrong GT Joey! Still sore over the beat down your little Techies got last November. Get ready to fill the Bulldawg’s bite again this November. OH,,,I see you are just getting ready for the next November beat-down !!!! (practicing the sore tale)

GT Joe= Troll

GO DAWGS!!!!!

Hayseed Dixie

October 6th, 2011
11:27 am

@GT Joe

If you’re gonna troll the rival team’s board, at least have some better material. Jeez.

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
11:27 am

NWGA: hey, if UGA scores 60 on us, they deserve the win. Cause CPJ is dropping 60+ on you guys.

Expert Opinion

October 6th, 2011
11:28 am

@GT Joe

Yep. They have three alternatives. Neither the PAC nor the B1G is interested in further expansion. That means that they can:

1. Stay in the Big-12. (bad choice)
2. Join some irrelevant conference such as the ACC or Big East. (also a bad choice)
3. Ask for an invite to the SEC. (all that’s left)

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
11:29 am

Expert: LOL, you just put the ACC and big east ahead of the SEC on your list. Freudian?

Expert Opinion

October 6th, 2011
11:30 am

You are truly desperate, aren’t you lil’ Joe?

NWGA Dawg

October 6th, 2011
11:30 am

GT Joey,

One out of ten. Go figure!!!!! You stil have a long time to wait for your Techies win of the Decade!!!! Who really runs this State.

Go Dawgs!!!!!!

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
11:30 am

With all the SEC chest thumpin, i figured EVERYBODY would want to join the SEC. But apparently not. You guys travel much outside the South?

GT Joe's Smarter Brother

October 6th, 2011
11:31 am

GT Joe does not realize that Missouri wanted to join the Big 10 instead of the SEC because they have a better chance of winning there than they do in the SEC.

MaconKnight

October 6th, 2011
11:31 am

Murray doesn’t trust the other receivers outside of charles and mitchell… he stares charles down instead of moving the LB or S with his eyes two picks sixes trying to get the ball to charles, i wouldnt say sophomore slump, he just need to go thru his reads , if the o-line protects better than he would have time too… he has taken a bunch of hits even when he has made plays…

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
11:32 am

Ask the USA Today poll, the AP poll, the BCS computers who “runs this state”.

Expert Opinion

October 6th, 2011
11:33 am

LMAO Joey

At least the SEC doesn’t have to threaten their member institutions with $20 million exit fees just to keep them in the conference.

:-(

Lowcountry Bulldawg

October 6th, 2011
11:33 am

So Gameday shows up and it lets fans think they have finally “arrived”. Same story different year, come Novemember regardless of our record we will have to put little brother back in his place.

YourDelusional

October 6th, 2011
11:34 am

Mizzous first choice wasnt the SEC because they know they will have no chance there. Stop trying to kid yourself, most teams dont want to join the SEC because they are afraid of the competition. Maybe if you tell people over and over how good the ACC (A really Crappy Conference)is, someone will believe you. SEC = Big Time college football

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
11:34 am

Sorry brother, what they likely realized is that the Big 10 is full of AAU schools, and missouri is an aau school, and the SEC is a conference of idiot bumpkins and doesn’t fit the UM culture.

But “that’s what’s left”.

YourDelusional

October 6th, 2011
11:35 am

I thought Techies were supposed to be smart?

Send'em U hauls

October 6th, 2011
11:35 am

Play Lemay. Murray was the big reason we lost to South Carolina. He simply cant get it done in the big games.

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
11:36 am

Delusional: Big time football = SEC? Maybe Bama and LSU. But SC? TN, UK, UGA, Candy Vandy? Ole missy and sissy missy state? come on. You ARE delusional.

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
11:37 am

If Tennessee and Georgia play a football game, would anyone care? Both are outside the top 30…

Party in the UGA

October 6th, 2011
11:38 am

UGA is just a party school …..ask ole Cornelius. UGA isn’t serious enough to win Championships.

Expert Opinion

October 6th, 2011
11:39 am

@GT Joe

Ken writes a very good blog for the Little League fans. You should check it out sometime. Prolly help with those self-esteem issues you seem to be having.

Party in the UGA

October 6th, 2011
11:39 am

UGA cant run block through a bevy of blue heads.

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
11:40 am

UGA CAN’T play in the SECCG; Richt has a mani/pedi scheduled that day, plus his spray tan is starting to streak. Needs a touchup.

YourDelusional

October 6th, 2011
11:40 am

Your logic fails, if Georgia is such a lowly team, because they dont regularly win the SEC or NC, why is it that they ( a lowly SEC team) reguarly embarrass the mighty Tech? Also go check the all time sec vs acc record, that includes the teams you mentioned in a different category as bama and lsu. 9 out of 10 loser.

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
11:41 am

Where’s the “fire richt” talk nowadays? Coastal carolina, ole sissy, and missy state wins must have satisfied you guys? Sad.

YourDelusional

October 6th, 2011
11:42 am

For being such a great school, Techies sure cant do math, every year isnt 2007