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.

Got a question for the Junkyard Blawg? Send it to junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

Find me on Facebook.

Follow me on Twitter.

410 comments Add your comment

Mark

October 6th, 2011
2:12 pm

KalliDogg (if that’s your real title and not GT Joe or some other trivial troll), so what you are saying is that we should be playing Mason because, as others have said, is that he “is more accurate and has a stronger arm”? Where does this come from – practice? He may do well in practice, but that’s just what it is. You think he would do better in a pressure situation? You mean like jax last year??

Boise in ATL

October 6th, 2011
2:14 pm

C,mon UGA – rooting for you this weekend! Go dogs!

7576DAWG

October 6th, 2011
2:14 pm

All the evidence for two years now point to the fact that Murray is not as good as CMR would like him to be. We have won 2 out of 11 games when we played ranked opponents . That’s a trend not a fluke thing. Also Murray takes way to long in deciding what to do with the ball. That’s why he has been sacked so much , not because of an inept offensive line. The offensive line get a lot of the credit but no where near the amount of grief it is getting. Murray needs to fade back and if nobody is open , just run the ball. Stop trying to force the ball to a receiver that is not open. I will admit that Mason was not ready last year but he is now and I think that one of the reasons that he has not been in very much is because we may play better but nobody will know if Mason doesn’t play. You p[lay him against teams like Miss. State or Miss. in case he is not the answer but in my opinion he can’t do any worst than Murray. Georgia lost the South Carolina game and let Mississippi State stay in that game because of Murray . If Murray play’s good in those two game we blow out both teams.

dawg4ever

October 6th, 2011
2:22 pm

Murray is now and always has been a Q.B. that inflates his numbers against mediocre defenses, and he stinks the place up against average or good defenses. If you look at his numbers last year he was great against Ky, Vandy,and Tenn. Yet he stunk the stadium up against S.C, Florida, MIss.St, and Central Fl. Those were really the only teams UGA played that had decent defenses. He also didn’t make any plays to help his team beat Colorado. This guy is not a winner, he hasn’t won a big game, and he hasn’t brought his team back to win a close game in the 4th qtr., which is what defines a winning Q.B. Yet all the UGA fans think this guy is the next Joe Montana. UGA fans are so blind when it comes to what it takes to win football games. David Greene was head and shoulders above this clown, and this guy will go down as one of the worst Q.B’s in UGA history as it relates to winning big games. Because if he doens’t stop throwing pick “6″s every game, UGA will have a losing record again this year. Best Q.B. in the SEC, what a joke. He isn’t even the best Q.B. on his own team. But because of Richt and his wonderful Q.B. coach, we will never know

7576DAWG

October 6th, 2011
2:22 pm

Blair Walsh should not have the ” Yipes” . Maybe as a Freshman but not as a senior. CMR has another very capable field goal kicker on the bench and anything inside of 45 yards he should use him. Outside of 45 yards if you are ahead in the game let Walsh try but if we are behind or the game is too close just kick the ball and keep the other team backed up.

Truth is...

October 6th, 2011
2:23 pm

A Murray, never won against a team with a winning record!

RiffRaff

October 6th, 2011
2:29 pm

Murray needs to really focus a little more. Too many passes behind or in front of his target. He’s not in a slump – he threw alot of balls the same way last year. He can be a game changer for better or worse. This team is too talented NOT to beat Tenn. Stop turning over the ball and the Dawgs win easily.

Spaceman Spiff

October 6th, 2011
2:33 pm

@Truth is…

BUT he did beat your beloved Tech…did they have a winning record last year?

waytoshinericht

October 6th, 2011
2:36 pm

I’m watching this Murray, game after game, I don’t see it, that he’s a top quarterback. Definitely doesn’t hold a candle to David Greene, who never beat himself with stupid fumbles and interceptions. Also give me one good team Murray’s beaten.
This season’s gonna be another bust with Richt at the helm anyway, so bring on Hutson Mason. That’s right-a bust! Richt ain’t gonna come close against Florida or Auburn and those are the very teams I personally care about in re the remainder of this year’s schedule.

Truth is...

October 6th, 2011
2:37 pm

A Murray. 9-9. What has he done?

Truth is...

October 6th, 2011
2:39 pm

Yep, David Greene was MUCH better!

Spaceman Spiff

October 6th, 2011
2:42 pm

@ Truth is…

A. Murray. Beat your technerds last year, and will again this year…What is really sad, though, is that you feel the need to continuously follow UGA…like I said before, I love it when the technerds live vicariously through us because they can’t beat us!

Oh, and Truth, don’t hide behind the names waytoshinericht, GT Joe, GT Bob, and the res of the nerd trolls…sad…

Truth is...

October 6th, 2011
2:43 pm

Joe Cox was better than Murray.

Expert Opinion

October 6th, 2011
2:44 pm

You guys could be right. Perhaps the QB who lost the competition to be the starter really is the best QB?

Do you suppose CMR is throwing the season so he can walk away with his buyout, rather than retiring?

Hmmm…

esaun

October 6th, 2011
2:45 pm

cant be the best in the SEC unless you beat the best; AM horrible vs top teams then great against weak competition. seems like defenders from the state of Fla be extra amped when playing against him. knowing Qb job is his has turned him into a mini turnover machine. even the SC fumble by crowell was AM fault because he didnt follow thru the handoff a result of being mauled the play before. Richt need to ride the run game then let murray pick his spots after the safeties adjust to play the run

Spaceman Spiff

October 6th, 2011
2:48 pm

@ Truth

Care to back up these claims w/ facts? Greene was better than anyone your beloved tech had… And all 3 have beaten your nerds, if I am not mistaken… but its ok to have this love affair w/ the Dawgs…who knows, they may even let you put thier pictures on your wall just like GT Joe has…

esuan's English teacher

October 6th, 2011
2:49 pm

Come back to class, please. You seemed to have missed the lessons on spelling and grammar.

Truth is...

October 6th, 2011
2:50 pm

9-9!! 9-9!!! ALL SEC!!!

Spaceman Spiff

October 6th, 2011
2:52 pm

@ Truth

Ah, yes, 9-9. The sad thing is that we are better and OWN tech…no argument there…

Thomas Brown

October 6th, 2011
2:56 pm

Truth is… – how does it feel to be so in love with another team?

Caleb

October 6th, 2011
2:56 pm

Hey GT Joe, How long have you been a Tech fan? About three weeks. Where was all of this talk when yall come to Athens last season. Who have yall played this year? Wait, Middle Tennessee State, Kansas, NC State. Come on you dude. Start talking trash when yall play quality team. If Tech played in the SEC they would not have a chance.

KB

October 6th, 2011
2:58 pm

Truth is , Tech plays in an irrelevant conference, Georgia has as many BCS bowl wins as the ACC.
Truth is over the past ten years georgia has finished in the top 10 more times than the ACC combined. truth is only one ACC team V> tech has finished in top ten since 2005 and the last time that happened was 2008.

Thomas Brown

October 6th, 2011
3:05 pm

-any chance we need a sense of timing from our QB ?
-any chance our QB is not poised to handle pressure ?
-happy feet
-small guy
-record 0-7 vs teams finishing Top 25
-record 9-2 vs teams not finishing Top 25
-16 fumbles in 18 games
-14 interceptions in 18 games
-2010 # 55 in nation, 2011 # 69 3rd Down Conversions
-Poised back there ?
-crucial situations makes his biggest mistakes
-poor decisions at worst moments
-starts slowly every game
-all this is so obvious
-lack of discipline
-lack of leadership
-doesn’t take charge when Isaiah talks smack
-Tweet Boise State-going to Dome to kick some a**
-no huddle needs to take charge, direct the team
-Scoring each quarter worse than quarter before it
-running game gets weaker every quarter too
-checks off to his own number way too much
-beat 3 cupcakes this year, lost only 2 games
-needs to get most out of the players on offense
-vanilla offense, his check-downs are not good
-holds onto the football way too long every time
-over-throws his receivers
-throws behind his receivers
-forces ball
-locks in on 1 receiver
-doesn’t look off the defensive backs
-throws himself on ground to avoid getting hit
-takes 7 carries a game every game from running backs
-his fumbles cost us games
-his interceptions cost us games
-averages 1 yard a carry for his 7 rushes per game
-inability to run at all
-never gets lead to let back-up get any snaps, why ?
-telegraphs his passes
-never puts pedal to the metal
-reads are way too slow
-does not go through progressions well at all
-does stare down his own receivers
-starts slowly, then fizzles out altogether 2nd half
-stays in play calls from sidelines he knows won’t work

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
3:05 pm

Caleb, you are concerned about the wrong thing. Who cares if you PLAYED a quality team. How about BEATING a quality team?

We beat UNC, #25 at the time. Who have you beat?

DAWGtired

October 6th, 2011
3:07 pm

@Lowcountry and GTJoe-
“This just in. ESPN’s college game day will be coming to Bobby-Dodd stadium for its match-up against Clemson. Due to concerns about the likely criminal melee to ensue upon Clemson’s sound victory, Robert Hall and Miami’s suspended players have been contacted for stadium security. Robert Hall will (prematurely) handle any violence involving the females in attendance, while Miami’s Security Detail will be gone by halftime, having received a higher contract bid from Auburn’s bagman. ESPN and its hoard of wash-out analysts will set up College Game day in the stands, where it will have the most room for Lee Corso’s mascot head collection.”

Winder

October 6th, 2011
3:08 pm

Dare I say that Coach Richt has writed the ship? He’ll get Murray back up a notch and then we should be scary good. I don’t understand the hate for this student athlete by some on this blog.

I’m hear to say our long term reservations about the state of the program should be reversed. I see good things on the short term and long term horizon. Can I exhaile yet?

Expert Opinion

October 6th, 2011
3:09 pm

@GT Joe

Georgia beat MSU, who was ranked #16 earlier this season. What is UNC’s ranking today?

BigORANGElittlecar(old pinto)

October 6th, 2011
3:10 pm

To DawginLex (one more time). Dufus, if you left this blog you COULD NOT read my posts OR post your own. Relax, have fun, zing the Jackets or the Gators, or ME. It’s just football, maybe you could spend more time with your wife, girlfriend, LAWN CARE business or just take up KAYAKING. Thats what I do if I’m not working, or having fun bugging YOU.

snoopy

October 6th, 2011
3:15 pm

Murray is not playing well this season, still has yet to lead his team to a W over a team with .500 record 18 games into his career..

I fault CMR for AM’s issues… He needs to sit AM from time to time & let H Mason get some reps & let AM see from the sidelines where he needs improvement… He’s given up 2 pick 6’s, fumbled for a TD & yet he knows he’s not getting any “sit time” because CMR does not sit a starter, unless he’s injured or suspended..

LeMay & maybe Hudson will transfer before their time is up.. They KNOW they’ll not get PT…

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
3:16 pm

hey expert, what was msu when ya’ll played? unranked.

Not to mention, UNC is actually getting votes in the coaches poll, unlike UGA and MSU.

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
3:16 pm

By the time MSU played UGA, MSU had already been exposed, and thus unranked.

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
3:18 pm

Expert, if we hadn’t beat UNC, they’d be 5-0 and probably #15 right now.

Spaceman Spiff

October 6th, 2011
3:20 pm

@Thomas Brown, will you answer us as to why you are so in love w/ Thomas Brown that you have to use his name as your handle? Or maybe you secretely dream of being his toy?

Sophie Mae

October 6th, 2011
3:21 pm

I hope you’re enjoying Murray, because Richt will play him for four years. He’ll be UGA’s version of Reggie Ball, getting worse every year.

Just one more reason to fire Richt.

Actually, UGA’s best QB is in Baton Rouge. :-)

DAWGtired

October 6th, 2011
3:21 pm

GT Joe-
Don’t talk about exposure until your team plays a quality opponent. It’s hard to expose your offense when the teams you’ve played are as resistant and disciplined as Paul Johnson in a buffet line at Golden Corral.

Truth is...

October 6th, 2011
3:21 pm

GA needs to join Southern Conference.

Spaceman Spiff

October 6th, 2011
3:22 pm

@ GT Joe (or GT Bob, yellowfuzz, or whoever you are calling yourself) – would you please enlighten us on the powerhouse top tier teams you have played?

A. Murray

October 6th, 2011
3:23 pm

I’m really not that good…mostly just hype and stuff.

Expert Opinion

October 6th, 2011
3:23 pm

@GT Joe

I haven’t played MSU. What is UNC’s ranking now that they’ve played some games?

I hate to be the bearer of bad news... well, maybe not

October 6th, 2011
3:24 pm

Tennessee 37
Georgia 24

Buh bye, dawgs. Hope y’all enjoyed your stay in Rocky Top!!!

Spaceman Spiff

October 6th, 2011
3:25 pm

Ah yes, Sophie Mae, better known as GT Joe, Bob, and the rest…how does it feel to be so in love w/ the Dawgs that you have to come on here? I guess the technerds should be jealous at being owned by the Dawgs. Oh, now the technerds may not even be able to beat GA Southern… Take heart, technerds, at least you could probably beat GA State…

Carl Gump

October 6th, 2011
3:25 pm

Give Nick Marshall a shot – all time state touchdown pass leader (Breaking Mason’s record).

Our staff has him on the punt team.

He’s 4 real.

DAWGtired

October 6th, 2011
3:26 pm

A collective thanks goes out to Paul Johnson and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets for running the triple-option all these years. It plays right into our hands for what we want when we play Tech. Man on man. You don’t have the quality, skill or size athletes that we have, which is why we kick your @$$es when you try to match up with a hat on a hat.

Spaceman Spiff

October 6th, 2011
3:26 pm

Looks like we have someone on here that is so in love with Murray that they must use his name as their handle…sad…

YougotmeonTHATone

October 6th, 2011
3:27 pm

That “DOGTIRED” line was great. I wish I had thought of it. The Tech blogs are not HALF as much fun. Truth is it’s cool when Tech wins, but I’m over it by Saturday evening when they don’t (and thats a LOT). Now you Bulldog fans, it’s just so easy to get under your skin. I just love all these “dawge” handles you all come up with. There must be hundreds!!

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
3:27 pm

Expert: UNC is about #40 in the coaches poll right now, which is far above UGA or MSU or Ole missy or coastal carolina.

The only team they lost to was an away game at the (now) #13 team in the country. They’ll be top 20 in 2 weeks or less.

When ya gotta go, ya gotta go

October 6th, 2011
3:28 pm

Has UT made provisions for Israel Troupe to urinate during the game? How about Russ the Mangy Mutt?

YougotmeonTHATone

October 6th, 2011
3:30 pm

theJOKEisonme

October 6th, 2011
3:32 pm

I love that “Dawgtired” line I wish I had thought of it. I never stop be amazed at what Ga fans can do with “dawg”.

Spaceman Spiff

October 6th, 2011
3:33 pm

@GT Joe

Please provide us w/ the info (link please) from the so-called experts…. It really is sad to be so bitter about losing to the Dawgs so many times over the years – hasn’t anyone ever told you that it is just a game?