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

YourDelusional

October 6th, 2011
11:42 am

excuse me 2008, uga beat tech in 2007

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
11:42 am

Delusional. You sure like history dont you. None of those “all time” or “last year” or “last decade” stats mean anything for THIS year.

Just be happy that after we destroy you guys, you can still say you are 9-5 in the last 14 against us.

DawginLex

October 6th, 2011
11:43 am

Folks, answer the question from Bill

Ignore the pig

Remember, if you fight or argue with a pig, you end up in the mud win or lose and you smell like the pig.

Bill, we will find out Saturday night about Murray. This is a big game atmosphere. I agree with Buck, sometimes punting is ok. End every drive with a kick of some kind. Turnovers are what is separating us from being alone in 1st place in the East right now.

Run the ball, play field position, keep Bray on the sideline, stop their run, make them one dimensional and WIN.

Mtn Dawg

October 6th, 2011
11:44 am

Richt can be way to conservative. The team is improving and so could he.

D BAG TROLLS!!!!

October 6th, 2011
11:45 am

GT Joe: you are making your weird smelling friends look bad. Stop it! There is a good reason teams do not make the SEC there first choice, its called getting whipped! Your little bees left for the same reason dbag!!!!!

YourDelusional

October 6th, 2011
11:45 am

hahaha, how predictable, its always THIS YEAR, with Techies, then after uga beats them, its next year, give me a break

DawginLex

October 6th, 2011
11:45 am

Folks, answer the question and ignore the pig

Don’t fight or argue with a pig. Win or lose you still are in the mud and end up smelling like the pig.

Aaron will show us Saturday night if he can be the guy. If he continues to turn the ball over, we won’t win with him at the helm.

Run the ball, end every drive with a kick, stop their running game, make them one dimensional and win.

Mtn Dawg

October 6th, 2011
11:46 am

@GT Joe – Go find another blog. You’re not welcome here.

NWGA DAWG

October 6th, 2011
11:46 am

GT Joey!

Wake up and smell the coffee. You really think your little Techies will put up 60 on UGA get a life dude. What have you been smoking???

One last question? How many BCS Titles has the ACC won and how many has the SEC won. Which conference is more relevant or tuffer. If I remeber correctly your little techie boys got out of the SEC (to the much weaker ACC) first chance they had. Just can’t handle the competition could they?

Couldn’t hang with SEC just like they can’t hang with the REAl Georgia Football Team!! Go DAWGS!!

DawginLex

October 6th, 2011
11:46 am

Bill

Your filters suck

xldawg

October 6th, 2011
11:46 am

GT Joe, go get on your own blawg. Tired of you techies clogging up the airwaves. Yellow Maggots will implode as always. Washington will throw at least two in the stands to open receivers and at least two to the opponent.

DawginLex

October 6th, 2011
11:47 am

Ignore the pig

D BAG TROLLS!!!!

October 6th, 2011
11:48 am

TECH ALERT!!! You do not even show up on the UGA radar! You play one ranked team this season. Really???

DawginLex

October 6th, 2011
11:48 am

Don’t get into the mud with the pig

DawginLex

October 6th, 2011
11:49 am

Murray can show us Saturday if he can lead us this year and beyond.

Choke Saturday and i say the QB competition next spring is wide open

Ihavenolife

October 6th, 2011
11:49 am

Go tech, woooo hooo, go jackets, sting em, we beat you in 2008 losers!

Spaceman Spiff

October 6th, 2011
11:49 am

@GT Joe

You forgot to mention one thing: We OWN GT, that’s right – OWN… Unless you think once in a decade isn’t getting b-slapped…

DawginLex

October 6th, 2011
11:49 am

Bill, your filters REALLY suck

dawgfacedboy

October 6th, 2011
11:52 am

GT JOe- because Coastal Carolina, MidTenSt. NcState, Kansas, and UNC are any better???

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
11:52 am

DawgstylinLex and Mtn dawg and NWGA dawg: just remember, when we left the SEC, we had more SEC titles than UGA. And we STILL have more total conference titles than UGA. Since you fools like history so much.

None of this has anything to do with this year. We have the best, and most relevant, football team in Georgia. Time to wake up mutts.

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
11:54 am

dawgface: UNC would be 4-1 with your schedule. Hell, we have 4 wins against FBS teams, and you have?

Your Delusional

October 6th, 2011
11:54 am

See you at your hs stadium in November loser, Annual GT beatdown

DawginLex

October 6th, 2011
11:55 am

Bill

Why do my comments get filtered yet troll boy(who offers absolutely nothing to the topic at hand) is allowed to personally attack folks?

FIX YOUR FILTERS

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
11:55 am

DawginLex

October 6th, 2011
11:56 am

Folks

Ignore the pig

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
11:56 am

Lex, who did I attack?

I started out talking about missouri seeing the SEC as the “only thing left”. Was that not relevant?

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
11:57 am

And where’s your buddy TampaxDawg?

DawginLex

October 6th, 2011
11:58 am

Bill

Murray can either stop turning the ball over or he can get ready for a wide open QB competition in the fall

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
12:04 pm

GT: most exciting offense in the country.

#1 is 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 and 90 yard plays this season.

Who is aaron murray?

arspub

October 6th, 2011
12:07 pm

GT Joe, I bet you really enjoyed going to a school with a 25% female student body. No seriously I bet you enjoyed it. Congrats on that one victory against Mark Richt, that’s reason enough to keep him around. Maybe your man-tittied coach can pull out another one this year.

JDawg1785

October 6th, 2011
12:08 pm

I wouldn’t mind seeing Mason get some snaps, especially in the second half when the offense goes to sleep anyway.

DawginLex

October 6th, 2011
12:08 pm

arspub

ignore the pig

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
12:10 pm

Good one arse pub!

didn’t michael stipe go to UGA? Just curious. Not bi-curious. Just curious.

funny...

October 6th, 2011
12:10 pm

Your does not equal you are.

Georgia Tech fans, who won last year? That’s all I want to know.

Georgia Tech fans, who won the year before that?

When was the last time Georgia Tech had a winning streak against Georgia?

Let me pick an arbitrary amount of time, what’s Georgia Tech’s record versus Georgia in the last 40 years?

What’s Georgia Tech’s record against Georgia all time?

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
12:11 pm

DawgstylinLex: you can’t ignore me. And send my regards to Lex.

arspub

October 6th, 2011
12:12 pm

too bad no one writes any GT stories for you to comment on

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
12:12 pm

funny, here’s a question for you:

What does any of that have to do with this year? Do you see Steeler fans yapping about all the SB trophies they have THIS year?

History must have been a popular major at UGA.

funny...

October 6th, 2011
12:13 pm

Fact of the day:

The University of Georgia is the school that The Georgia Institute of Technology has lost to the most in their history of football.

That same institute is the team that UGA has beat the most in their football history.

But keep yapping Tech fans. It’s cute.

Expert Opinion

October 6th, 2011
12:13 pm

Look GT Joe,

It’s great that Tech is 5-0. I’m really proud for you. That said, Tech’s schedule so far has been a joke. It’s not your fault. NC should have been a big game, and it probably would have been were it not for the NCAA hammering the team and running their coach out of town.

Save your bragging for after the Clemson game. If you win that one, then you will have actually accomplished something.

OldFan

October 6th, 2011
12:13 pm

Murray’s not having a sophomore slump. He’s just extending his freshman slump another year. Murray’s a good athlete and a good statistical QB, but he hasn’t demonstarted yet the qualities that make him a winning QB against good competition. He’ll continue to be highly rated. Would be nice to see him manage a win against a team with a winning record and a decent ranking. We’ll see.

YourDelusional

October 6th, 2011
12:13 pm

I leave for a couple of minutes, come back, and much to my displeasure your still here. Do you not have a life? I thought as a techie you had much more to do than to talk smack on a UGA blog, guess not.

funny...

October 6th, 2011
12:15 pm

You’re dodging the questions.

And since UGA and Tech have yet to play this year it is all that matters.

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
12:15 pm

Expert: UNC WAS a big game. They were #25 in the coaches poll at the time, and they are 4-1 right now. They’ll end up in the top 20 by season’s end, if not by this MOnday.

Don’t let the fact that we handled them easily distract you from the fact that they are a legit team.

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
12:16 pm

Funny: right, we haven’t played yet. So go by the polls. GT apparently is “running this state”.

But stick to history, it’s better for UGA fans. Except when talking to Bama and florida fans.

funny...

October 6th, 2011
12:16 pm

GT Joe becomes a Florida fan by proxy in 3, 2, 1…..

except Georgia also has a winning record against Florida too, LOL

Tech fans, you’re making me smile.

YourDelusional

October 6th, 2011
12:17 pm

Actually, genius, history is about all we have against forida, we STILL own that series too

Expert Opinion

October 6th, 2011
12:17 pm

@GT Joe

Let’s not get silly here. Do you really want me to post NC’s pitiful schedule for all the world to see?

swimdawg68

October 6th, 2011
12:18 pm

Has Tech played anyone even remotely close to being a top 25 team? Let’s reserve judgement on Tech until they play Miami, Va. Tech and Clemson. So far they have played a “Cup-cake” schedule. One more team will wip their fanny, UGA, of course that has become a given.

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
12:18 pm

oh florida fans don’t bring up the “18 out of 21″ thing with you mutts? Maybe they win so much they don’t care about that debate…

funny...

October 6th, 2011
12:19 pm

Again, you’re dodging the questions.

Polls don’t matter until the teams play. Stats don’t matter.

Who won last year. That’s not too far for you to remember.

I’m waiting. But dodge the question again. You lost to a team QB’d by Aaron Murray,so you know exactly who he is.