Does Aaron Murray have the makings of a championship QB?

Can Aaron Murray become an elite quarterback for Georgia? (Associated Press)

Can Aaron Murray become an elite quarterback for Georgia? (Associated Press)

It’s tough finding a consensus lately among Georgia fans on quarterback Aaron Murray.

In his second season behind center for the Dogs, Murray completed 218 of 371 passes for 2,861 yards (a 58.8 percent completion rate) and broke the single-season school record for touchdown throws with 33. He also ran for two scores, giving him the UGA record for single-season touchdown responsibility.

And in the SEC, he ranked second in passing (220.1 yards per game), second in total offense (229.6) and fourth in passing efficiency (146.4).

Stats like that are why Murray made some All-SEC teams and is routinely cited by national sports media as one of the best QBs in the conference. It’s a major reason the Dogs will enter next season highly rated.

But closer to home the excitement over Murray’s passing numbers is tempered by frustration over his penchant this season for devastating turnovers against South Carolina, LSU and, most recently, Michigan State.

Of course, the argument can be made that Murray’s tendency to fumble or throw a pick 6 at the worst possible time might be at least in part attributable to the sketchy protection he was getting from Georgia’s erratic offensive line and, in the last couple of games, the lack of a consistent running attack.

Looking ahead to next season, the OL remains a big question mark amid a rebuilding process, but the arrival of Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley ought to help boost the ground game and loosen up defenses a bit. Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo has said an improvement in the running game will make Murray a better quarterback, and I think he’s right.

(Of course, it also would help if, in third-down situations, playcaller Bobo didn’t tend to obsess on downfield plays, keeping Murray standing in a crumbling pocket too long.)

On top of having a better rushing attack, if the progress of past Georgia QBs is any indication, Murray’s decision making ought to improve considerably in his third season as well, which should help him get his ball security issues in check. He’s a good on-field leader and showed in the Florida game this year he can make big-time throws in tough situations, especially those two fourth-down touchdowns.

Overall, I believe the national media types are correct in thinking Murray has the makings of a championship quarterback. What do you think?

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

610 comments Add your comment

Joey

January 18th, 2012
10:43 am

Norris

January 18th, 2012
10:43 am

Sorry but the jury is still out. He tends to totally lose his nerve during half time. Blame it on the the o line and the running game if you like but he just doesn’t play like the same guy after half time. If you can find a game where he did, please tell me which one.

Newman

January 18th, 2012
10:46 am

Highly overrated.

Joey

January 18th, 2012
10:47 am

I think the “pressure”, being all on his shoulders or actual Dman in his face caused it. Knowing you have no running game to speak of and D lineman all over you dont help. I suspect he has heard the cries tho. I just get the feeling something big is coming, just dont know what……..

Joey

January 18th, 2012
10:47 am

@norris
AwwBarn

dawgfan

January 18th, 2012
10:48 am

does anyone think we have to many running backs?? two will play the most of the time. what will happen to the rest of them?

Norris

January 18th, 2012
10:48 am

He did all the scoring in the first half, watch the game again.

Class of 08

January 18th, 2012
10:49 am

Dawgs will win the NC in 2012! Something special is happening in the classic city!!! GO DAWGS!!!

Dan

January 18th, 2012
10:49 am

We’ve had our fair share of excellent QBs come through UGA and AM is no exception. Stafford and Murray are very pretty close, overall. Aaron can scramble and he’s better with shorter throws but continues to struggle with the long ball. Stafford was more mobile than people realized yet he did/does not have Murray’s elusiveness. However, when he cocks back to chuck one downfield, you feel confident he’s going to hit his target–unlike Murray.

Watch him run, Watch him scurry,
Touchdown, Touchdown, Aaron Murray!

Dawgdad (The Original)

January 18th, 2012
10:49 am

NO, makes poor decisions and is too short which results in too many deflected passes.

UGA 's QB

January 18th, 2012
10:52 am

I think not. He it too emotinal and maybe in the huddle and on the sideline his voice changes tempo and indicates nervousness or his snap count does and it falls a part.

I am off og the Aaro Murray wagon UNTIL he wins VS SC there and all of our games nad IF we make the SEC CG again and IF he wins there…………will i flip.

The clock is ticking Murray. You are entering YOUR 4th YEAR !!! YOur legacy will possibly be like Eric Zeier’s ( great guy) or Johnny Rauch or UGA’s many qbs with nice stats but all EMPTY stats.

UGA class of 71 & 73

Norris

January 18th, 2012
10:53 am

Auburn:
On its opening possession in the third quarter, the Bulldogs marched 73 yards down the field before Brandon Bogotay booted a 23-yard field goal, the first made field goal in his career, that put the Bulldogs on top 38-7.

Isaiah Crowell ran for 42 yards during the final scoring drive that culminated in a 12-yard touchdown run that brought the score to 45-7.

THIS will be his 4th in the program

January 18th, 2012
10:53 am

After 4 years ……………what has he done?

UGA class of 71 & 73

Dawg Dawg Dawg

January 18th, 2012
10:56 am

UGA will never have a championship QB with Bobo calling the plays.

ERK

January 18th, 2012
10:57 am

Don’t trust him yet….

NC Dawg

January 18th, 2012
10:57 am

needs to work on his accuracy. I am happy with him, but 58% ain’t going to cut it.

Warner Robins DAWG

January 18th, 2012
10:58 am

Murray is good but the game plan in the first half seems much better than in the second. I think this has something to do with it. He can make the throws, he USUALLY makes good decesions. If Bobo would cut him loose a little more, let him roll out so he has a clear view, he would complete more passes. Just like Alabama did in the NC game. That was an excellent game plan.

Reggie Ball

January 18th, 2012
10:58 am

He’s better than me!!

ARdawg

January 18th, 2012
10:58 am

Norris

I agree

George Stein

January 18th, 2012
10:58 am

He didn’t win the conference in his freshman season and lost to one of the best teams in a generation as a sophomore. For the life of me I can’t understand the criticism of Murray.

George Stein

January 18th, 2012
10:59 am

*in the conference championship game

faithfuldawg86

January 18th, 2012
10:59 am

I think he has what it takes… running game and protection are HUGE. Better play calling would also help. I like Bobo but he is the one who is erratic, calling gutsy 4th down plays one minute and stupid runs up the middle repeatedly (that don’t work) the next. It’s one thing to mix up the plays to keep the defense guessing, but he is overly predictable most of the time (and ocassionally a bit bipolar, what’s up with that?). We’ve got some amazing talent coming in at O-line and running game, which will open things up for Murray and give Bobo more options… not to mention Malcolm Mitchell and the rest of the great young receivers! GO DAWGS!

Jake Dawg

January 18th, 2012
11:00 am

He just needs to learn to relax and let the game come to him. when he tries to take the team on his shoulders he winds up giving away turnovers. See SC and LSU, maybe even the bowl game. I think he’ll continue to get better as he matures.

Reggie Ball

January 18th, 2012
11:02 am

Well come to think of it I was the best QB Georgia ever had

ARdawg

January 18th, 2012
11:02 am

There is some degree of truth to the sophomore curse. However, the 2nd half coaching doesn’t help the deficiencies Murray experienced all of 2011. Richt’s inability to coach up the team in the halftime lockerroom, poor OL and the poor running attack not withstanding Murray had a penchant for making bad decisions. Hopefully 2012 he’ll have improved on that

Rilo

January 18th, 2012
11:03 am

….agreed. If Bobo (aka. Run to the short side of the field no matter the success rate and call passing plays on 3rd and short as if the situation was 3rd and 55) Can be replaced….YES!

clint northside

January 18th, 2012
11:04 am

with a steady running game and stable line, murray will be awesome. healthy crowell, mitchell and couple that with an emerging 6′6 jay rome at TE and then of course throw in that nasty D…..it’s gonna be special this year!
pressure can make any QB look sub par….also when you become one dimensional, like we did many games not being able to run the ball, the QB’s day gets way tougher.

Proud-Dawg

January 18th, 2012
11:04 am

Simply put, No. He struggles against good teams. He turns the ball over in clutch situations. He doesn’t have that killer mentality, like a David Greene or DJ Shockley. To top it off, Mike Bobo is his coach. He reminds me of Joe Cox in the big games. His stats are skewed, looks at his number versus lower tier competition to SEC competition, not very good.

I wish Richt would open up the competition to push Murray. LeMay is going to be a good one, but he is stuck behind the underachieving Murray.

SSIgator

January 18th, 2012
11:04 am

Are Mark “I can win games – just not big games” Richt and his sidekick Booboo still at UGA? Thought so. Murray the Midget doesn’t have a chance.

Dawgsgone

January 18th, 2012
11:04 am

Old saying, when he is good he is very good, but when he is bad he is horrible applies here. Until O Line, running game and OC issues are corrected he is probably doing as well as anyone with equal talent. Would a change at QB help??? Not unless the other problems noted above are fixed and if they are, he will do much better just based on experience.

clint northside

January 18th, 2012
11:05 am

plus we are accumulating depth with studs…special teams shoud be way better, hope the frosh kicker can make a kick!

keith

January 18th, 2012
11:06 am

Neutral

January 18th, 2012
11:06 am

He’ll do just fine. Please note that very few QBs looked good vs LSU, SC and MS this year. Give a little credit to the incredibly good (top 5) defenses we faced in those games…..along with a marginal OL and running game.

Brock

January 18th, 2012
11:06 am

1. Murray’s height isn’t the problem…Drew Brees is 5′11″
2. The O-line isn’t the problem…he routinely had 2-4 seconds in the pocket which is plenty of time to check down if that is available.
3. The lack of a running game isn’t the problem…many teams don’t have running games at all and they are successful.

The problem lies in the play-calling. Bobo loves the deep ball (which is game-changing, but is a low-yield play). Teams that are excellent passing teams have creative formations with short and intermediate receiver options (watch Boise State or the Saints play). Now, watch UGA play and tell me how many times you see Bobo call a play where the receiver is counted on to get the yards after catch. He rarely calls a quick slant or underneath cross to allow this. If UGA is to become an elite team, Bobo must put receiver/QB in position to make plays.

Blackberry Cobbler

January 18th, 2012
11:06 am

Murray has always played sub-par in the big games. He hasn’t beat a really good team yet.

GT Man

January 18th, 2012
11:08 am

If he plays against PJ and Al Grohs defense, he would be top candidate for Heismann.

SSIgator

January 18th, 2012
11:09 am

“Bobo didn’t tend to obsess on downfield plays”

Downfield plays? How is third and long with a tailback run up the middle out of the I-formation a downfield play?

GT Man

January 18th, 2012
11:09 am

Sorry, had to rewrite, if he played against PJ and Al Grohs defense every week, he would surely win the Heisman. He would be a passing superstar.

ARdawg

January 18th, 2012
11:10 am

Even great championship QBs do not overcome the deficiencies we currently have at UGA. None. Murray may or may not be that championship QB. We’ll never know until we have improvement in the other areas. It wouldn’t be any different with Mason. Point being, we just don’t know how good or bad he is under the circumstances

TBone

January 18th, 2012
11:12 am

There is nothing wrong with A. Murray that the coaches play calling can’t fix. Don’t go soft at the half. When he is attacking (most) defenses he does well. A few more studs on the OL and he rolls. Go Dawgs.

Vance Duly

January 18th, 2012
11:12 am

Obviously, Murray has a lot of talent. BUT, he has had a medicre offensive line, an average running game (or less), AND an offensive coordinator who is too predictable in certain game situations and seems unwilling to get Murray out of the pocket.

Against our better opponents, I believe that all 3 of the above contribute to Murray’s failings. Better teams have stronger pass rushes, and we have our 6 ft tall QB stuck in the pocket, where his field vision and throwing lanes for his passes are limited. He gets passes batted down or tipped. (For example, the pick-six vs. Michigan State was slightly tipped at the line, though the announcers didn’t mention it. It was obvious in slow-motion replay.)

Give Murray a better O-Line, more consistent RB-play, and an improved Bobo before stating that he isn’t championship-caliber. GO DAWGS!!

George Stein

January 18th, 2012
11:12 am

Correct, ARdawg, at 11:10.

doug dawg

January 18th, 2012
11:13 am

i like murray, but he can’t seem to ‘get the job done’ when the game is on the line. sure, he’s got good stats — great, maybe. but, he chokes in big games. he is not ‘cool’ under fire. remember fran tarkenton, kirby moore, buck belue, john lastinger? not the stats of murray, because dooley’s teams favored the run. but, folks, those guys got it done when it counted. not so much murray.

doug dawg

January 18th, 2012
11:14 am

yes, i know tarkenton played for wally butts; forgive me. i’m gettin’ old. lol

OkieDawg

January 18th, 2012
11:15 am

Murray will be okay. He spent the first two years scrambling to make plays. If the O-line develops and we get the production out of the TB position we expect, Murray will be in the Heisman discussion. The O-line needs to perfrom as well as the rest of the team and I expect they will step up…they’re Dawgs.

RollDog

January 18th, 2012
11:16 am

Leave the kid alone. All you armchair QB’s have all the answers don’t you. Bill, you should be ashamed of yourself for even bringing this up, but your job is to stir the pot. All you of the blind faith listen please: we will NEVER win the crystal trophy because Richt is too timid, conservative and scared to be a champion.

I too complain, but just like every year, I received my packet yesterday from The Bulldog Club demanding my money for next year. I’ll do like I always do: renew my tickets, as I have done for 31 years, and watch as LSU and Alabama continue to dominate the SEC.
Go Dogs! I will never say Dawgs.

Nom Nom Nom Chuck's Taylor, or Norris if he is avaliable

January 18th, 2012
11:17 am

Lets just start by NOT calling anymore shotgun draws…..THEY DON’T WORK.

Murray has won ZERO games against top talent. To answer the question of the article.

NO.

Milledgeville DAWG

January 18th, 2012
11:18 am

He has proven that he is NOT a gamer. Maybe this will improve with a better OL and the two RB’s coming in next year. Better play calling will help him as well. Jury is still out.

Dawglasville

January 18th, 2012
11:18 am

I don’t think it is right Bill that the paper is heaping all of this pressure on a twenty year old. The kid is not getting paid. I do understand that it is a big topic of debate with the fans but I don’t think the paper should bring it to the forefront.

SSI Gator – I remember two years ago when you were blogging non-stop about how Brantley was going run circles around “Murray The Midget.” How did that turn out for ya?

Joe

January 18th, 2012
11:19 am

I got 99 problems but the QB ain’t one.