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

GTJoes Therapist

October 6th, 2011
4:16 pm

Wow GTJoe….you’re making em’ really mad…..yawn…..

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
4:17 pm

This just in: GT tumbles out of the top 25 because the voters just realized they are on probation!

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
4:17 pm

Hey mutts, you have a real religious coach and a team not on probation. Who cares if you have a lousy team!

DAWGtired

October 6th, 2011
4:22 pm

Good point Joe. I hope you win the MNC this year, so they can strip you of that when you’re post-season ineligible after your appeal. LMAO!!!

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
4:27 pm

If they strip it, we’ll still claim it. Just like we still claim the ACC title.

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
4:27 pm

This just in: all teams NOT on probation get 3 more wins tacked onto their records!

TronDawg

October 6th, 2011
4:28 pm

Bray’s converting 62% on 3rd downs.

Murray? 40%.

A. Murray

October 6th, 2011
4:28 pm

3 wins over 20 years.
Score Board my friend…GO DAWGS

GA-FLA?

LawDawg

October 6th, 2011
4:29 pm

Murray’s biggest problem is our OTs are slow and have poor technique in pass blocking. Coupledd with Murray’s insane desire to drop back even in the shotgun, and here comes the DE pressure.

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
4:29 pm

3 wins over 20 years? are you talking about UGA vs. FL? Surely not tech…

Truth is...

October 6th, 2011
4:31 pm

Isn’t GA-FLA 3 wins out of 21?

Expert Opinion

October 6th, 2011
4:32 pm

@GT Joe

Of course not. Tech wouldn’t dare attempt to play Florida.

DAWGtired

October 6th, 2011
4:34 pm

Joe-
I’m glad you brought up that ‘90 title too. Considering that you split it with Colorado and your two programs have been completely mediocre since. Really, mirror images of one another.

telle again

October 6th, 2011
4:44 pm

Haven’t you guys figured out that GT Joe is some high school kid who wants to go to Tech but can’ make the SAT score? Tech running this state? BRUHAHAHAHA….9 out of ten – Tech wins are so rare they have to engrave them on rings so their grandkids will know what decade the last win was in. We’ll see after the Clemson game who runs what when the Tigers put 70 on your sorry defense. Let’s see you on the boards then, kid. Until then – keep wishing about a victory this year – just like you do every year – a bad year at UGA is better than an ACC championship year at Tech – because no matter how good the idiotic pollsters think you, are we will still hand you your ASS in a basket! I love Thanksgiving! Thank you Lord that we don’t have to look across the state and wonder why we can’t beat the other state school but once every 15 years or so! GO DAWGS!

UGAmutt

October 6th, 2011
4:46 pm

Where are my posts diappearing to?

Strange Murphy

October 6th, 2011
4:49 pm

Murry is running for his life on nearly every play. Let’s see if all ya’ll world beaters could do better.

And Georgia Tech is full of low life Taliban wannabes!

DAWGtired

October 6th, 2011
4:49 pm

What is wrong with this blog? Garbage filter.

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
4:51 pm

Hey telle again: if i couldn’t make the SAT score for Tech, I’d be attending UGA.

DAWGtired

October 6th, 2011
4:52 pm

No you wouldn’t. We’ve reached our quota for female applicants.

Ga Tech Bras for Sale

October 6th, 2011
4:52 pm

GT Joe u r an idiot.Better quit running your mouth cause the Tech nerds have played a soft schedule at this point of the year.Wait and see how well you booger eaters do playing better teams and can you get me a bra signed by Mr Man Boobs Johnson,it would make a nice gift for my grand mother for Christmas.

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
4:53 pm

Hey, even trade: CPJ’s bra for CMR’s bottle of spray tan.

DAWGtired

October 6th, 2011
4:53 pm

The only ladies we’ll be allowing in at this point are the 22 that Tech currently boasts on Grant Field.

DAWGtired

October 6th, 2011
4:56 pm

We have some of CMR’s “No Complaining” wristbands too, Joe. Your coach should see about getting on surgically implated for gastric banding.

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
4:56 pm

Those 22 would probably start for your football team

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
4:56 pm

Yes, we want CMR bracelets too. How cute.

duronimo

October 6th, 2011
4:57 pm

I think UGA has had a lot of opportunities to get their other quarterbacks some reps. It’s just another thing (like not having a special teams coach) the simply don’t do.
As far as SEC expansion. What about North Carolina. There are actually in the Southeast and are close enough to be a part of nearby rivalries nearby. How about a NC vs SC game each year or NC vs TN, another border state. There’s a large TV audience there as well.

GT Joe

October 6th, 2011
4:57 pm

We want the WWRD bracelets.. “what would richt do”

Gay Dawg

October 6th, 2011
4:58 pm

“Finish the drill”…. mmmmmmmmm…. makin’ me…. hot…..

truedawg

October 6th, 2011
4:59 pm

WHY ARE WE TALKING PEE WEE FOOTBALL? This is a UGA blog. I’m ready to see the DAWGS crush some orange “cousin kissers” up in Tenn. GO DAWGS!!!

truedawg

October 6th, 2011
5:01 pm

I have been saying NC would be a great SEC school as well. Makes god sense.

DAWGtired

October 6th, 2011
5:07 pm

Joe-
If they were starter material for UGA, we would have got them. See “Exhibit A”

Note who is number 2 (tied for tenth in win percentage with FLORIDA) and who is not in the top 25.

jsmooth

October 6th, 2011
5:08 pm

GT Troll:

Run your little mouth on your own vent. You guys have lost 9 out of 10 game to the dogs in recent years. Sounds like an appendage problem to me!

DAWGtired

October 6th, 2011
5:09 pm

Thomas Brown

October 6th, 2011
5:10 pm

TronDawg,

Thank you for your fine posts today. I think you did a fine job of sticking to it.

What you said today, I said on Page 3 at 3:05 pm. We are in agreement. I especially appreciate you pointing out the coaching staff does not want anyone to come in for Aaron Murray ever, because it will be so obvious. They play their favorites. They know they have an easy schedule. The vols suck. No defense. No special teams. No running game. So, Aaron Murray will play the whole entire game.

Quit the stats about AARON MURRAY

He is 0-7 vs all 7 teams who finish in the AP Poll Top 25.

He also has lost to two (2) teams who did not finish in the AP Poll Top 25.

David Greene ?

Aaron Murray is NO David Greene.

Thomas Brown

October 6th, 2011
5:12 pm

Sorry, page 5 at 3:05 pm today.

DAWGtired

October 6th, 2011
5:19 pm

Have to agree with LawDawg on this one. Glenn is getting better at pass-protection, but Anderson has been good for an avergage of 2 false start and a holding penalty per game so far. He has a slow backpedal/shuffle kick, and he leans back on pass-pro, anticipating the snap b/c he’s so slow to get off the ball. It’s difficult to step up in a pocket that implodes from it’s edges instead of allowing the DE’s to overpursue so Murray can step forward.

Wgh

October 6th, 2011
5:19 pm

Murry caught some flack last year from deciding to run too early. But – looking back – that added a dimension of his game that he’s lacked this year. He’s no longer likely to run (and in conventional wisdom that’s a good thing) but I do believe he was more effective when the opposing defense had to factor in the possibility that he might take off down the field.

DAWGtired

October 6th, 2011
5:20 pm

If Murray was playing behind Stafford’s ‘07 line, there wouldn’t even be a debate about his ability right now.

DAWGtired

October 6th, 2011
5:22 pm

For the teams we’ve played so far, Murray’s taken what’s been given. There was no room to fly upfield on either Boise or SC’s d-lines, and he hasn’t needed to against CC, Ole Miss and MSU. Of course, he’s given plenty(of INTs) too.

Hairy Perry

October 6th, 2011
5:39 pm

This GT JOE guy is a real winner-waaayyyy to much time on your hands dude.

Hairy Perry

October 6th, 2011
5:44 pm

Murry is really good………………………………….or maybe he’s not. I think he could rise or fall. If he turns into a head case like Blair “Just a bit outside” Walsh than he’s in trouble. He is in a fork in the road as to how his career will turn out.

Booby Dudd

October 6th, 2011
5:48 pm

Man we are are sooooooooooooooooooo awsome this year man-we are going to kick your @ss just like 2009- Remember we talked all that trash to you all year and then thumbed you in Atlanta……………………….Oh yeah. We lost that one too. MOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!

Rear of Wallace Butts

October 6th, 2011
5:50 pm

Murray just needs high heel cleats and all the problems are solved! Go Dawgs!

Rearview of Wallace Butts

October 6th, 2011
5:52 pm

Dawgs will dominate! 56-0, take it to the bank! Vowels won’t know what hit’em!

Moron Dawg Fan

October 6th, 2011
6:04 pm

you tell ‘em booby. why can’t all them other fans be classie, reasonable and intellijent like us dawg fans?

Booby Dudd

October 6th, 2011
6:18 pm

Moron,

It’s probobli cuz ther Yech fans lyk us wth ovrrated intelignts!

Orange11

October 6th, 2011
6:19 pm

Aaron “Pick” Murray can zip a pass to an opposition DB, LB, Defensive lineman better than any QB I have ever seen. I think it all really started on that first play in OT with FLorida last year and it just keeps getting worse. Alot of people still drink that Murray is great koolaid. This guy is not ready to play at the Division 1 level and never will be. Technically he’s a junior and if he hasn’t got it by now, he never will. I hope the dogs beat Tenn. in spite of Murray but the chances are slim.

Stress Management

October 6th, 2011
6:20 pm

UGA is 9-9 with Aaron Murray at QB.

Bobby Dudd

October 6th, 2011
6:21 pm

Oh ye! Sorri yur a dawg fan! wink wink.

Hairy Perry

October 6th, 2011
6:23 pm

Our starter is sitting on the sideline wondering how in the world he’s not on the field.