Fan talk: G-Day surprises and the Aaron Murray ‘conspiracy’ theories

Ricky Lowe runs for a surprise touchdown during the G-Day game. (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

Ricky Lowe runs for a surprise touchdown during the G-Day game. (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

Let’s jump right into a sampling of recent Junkyard Mail …

Ken Crow writes: Bill, I really enjoy the Blawg and your down-the-middle approach to fandom. You’re not afraid to criticize when you think it’s warranted, but you remain supportive of Coach Richt and the program and don’t continually harp on the negatives. I also appreciate your obvious love for the school and your hometown of Athens. I really wanted to get to the Classic City for G-Day this year but wasn’t able to because of some family stuff. I enjoyed your report from the game and was encouraged by what you said about the quarterbacks, running backs and defense. So who surprised you most at G-Day?

Thanks, Ken. While I thought Jay Rome’s long touchdown catch-run was the highlight of the day, it wasn’t particularly surprising, as I’d expected him to do well. And I was pleasantly surprised by the play of the starting offensive line. But I think the biggest surprise for me probably was the play of linebacker Ramik Wilson, who led the Red team defense with seven tackles (two for loss) and an interception that he returned 19 yards. And, of course, there was the play where Reuben Faloughi knocked the ball away from Black QB Parker Welch and unheralded senior defensive lineman Ricky Lowe grabbed the ball in midair and ran it back 62 yards for a touchdown, probably the highlight of his playing career at UGA. Those are the moments that make G-Day games fun.

Ed from Avondale Estates writes: So I’ve heard [Isaiah] Crowell has grown up and looks great, [Keith] Marshall is the real deal and Boo Malcome had a great spring. I’ve even gotten the position-of-the-day updates on Richard Samuel. Why no [Todd] Gurley updates? I have high hopes for that kid and he’s gotten no spring press. What’s the word?

The word is he’s still in high school. Gurley was not one of the UGA signees who enrolled early this year. But the coaches are very high on his potential and while he’ll start out preseason camp in August behind all the other tailbacks, I have a feeling his talent will show pretty quickly. Perhaps even enough for him to avoid taking a redshirt season in a crowded tailback corps.

Richard Hong writes: I wish someone would write an article that would explain why the QB position is not a wide open competition to see who should be the starter for this year. Sorry, but my untrained eyes just don’t see why people think [Aaron] Murray is such a good QB. He throws a lot of interceptions, makes a lot of bad decisions, can’t get out of the pocket when he needs to, fumbles when he does run and CANNOT throw the ball on the run. So please, would someone tell me what I’m not seeing?

On a similar note, Michael Jones writes: I like Aaron Murray but I am concerned with his accuracy and his trend of turning the ball over in big games that absolutely kill the Dawgs. Have you heard of outside the box training for Murray to get him to be more accurate and protecting the football? He got us to the SEC Championship game, I just want to see him make the next step.

There's a reason national sports media are high on Aaron Murray. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

There's a reason national sports media are high on Aaron Murray. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

I know there’s a segment of Bulldogs fandom that’s very down on Murray and convinced that Mark Richt and Mike Bobo are blindly letting him hold on to the starting quarterback’s job despite the obvious talents of backups Hutson Mason and Christian LeMay. Some folks even believe there’s some sort of “conspiracy” to keep Murray in a job he doesn’t deserve. I suppose some fans are remembering how Jim Donnan fell in love with Quincy Carter and ran off all his other quarterbacks. But this situation is nothing like that one. There’s a reason Murray made some All-SEC teams and is routinely cited by national sports media as one of the best QBs in the conference. He was the SEC’s No. 2 passer, throwing for 3,149 yards and 35 touchdowns a season ago. He ranked second in passing yards per game, second in total offense and fourth in passing efficiency. Of the returning quarterbacks in FBS football, only Southern Cal’s Matt Barkley threw for more touchdowns (37) in 2011 than Murray. Yes, Murray threw too many interceptions last season and had a couple of very costly fumbles. Richt himself has noted Murray needs to do a better job of taking care of the football. But as I wrote when we discussed Murray in January, the argument can be made that his 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. This year he’ll again open the season behind a questionable OL, but he should have a much more potent, consistent group of running backs, which Bobo has said he thinks will make Murray a better quarterback. And sheer experience should help Murray make better on-field decisions and improve his ball security. He’s a good on-field leader and showed in last year’s Florida game that he can make big-time throws in tough situations, especially those two fourth-down touchdowns. I know, the knock on him is that he’s yet to beat a really good team. And I’ll agree that Mason and LeMay both show a lot of potential. But, frankly, from what I’ve seen so far, neither one is ready yet to supplant Murray.

Devon Wade writes: Bill, I am a former Tucker Tiger and if you know anything about Ga. high school football you will know that Tucker High School has been a UGA pipeline for several years now. It is most definitely Dawg Country. However, when I graduated high school I landed at a small liberal arts college right outside of Columbia, Mo. (right in the middle of Tiger Country). My roommate during my entire time in college is a die-hard Mizzou fan, and of course I am a Dawg through and through. We have always joked around about whose team would win if the two ever faced. Well lo and behold the semester AFTER we graduate they become division rivals and I know he has been salivating with the recent suspensions of key players going into that game in Columbia (which I will be at with him). I am still confident that between now and then CMR can get some players to fill in the holes in the secondary and I think our front seven can get enough pressure to make [Mizzou quarterback James] Franklin more uncomfortable than he has ever been. I believe our defense is still more talented than theirs even without several starters. Should I have reason to still be confident that we can pick up the W in Columbia minus key players? Appreciate your consideration. Big fan of the Blawg.

Thanks. I tend to agree with you, Devon. While Georgia won’t enter the game against Missouri at full-strength, I think the Dogs’ defensive front seven will be formidable. And from what I saw last year of Mizzou’s defense, I don’t believe it’s yet SEC-ready.

Richard Judy writes: Enjoyed your comment about my hero, Fred Birchmore. I am a ’73 UGA grad, and just after graduating I hiked the Appalachian Trail from Maine back to Georgia. Fred and [son] Danny read an article I wrote in the old AJC Sunday Magazine and asked me to counsel them on their upcoming Georgia to Maine AT thru-hike. I was invited into the Birchmore home and quickly discovered what special people these were. Fred and Danny needed no advice from me, but they made me feel like a real friend. A few years back, when my daughter was a J-school student at UGA, she contacted Fred about doing a story for the old UGAzine publication. He treated her like royalty and said very kind things to her about her old man. Fred was a class act, the kind of man who deserved a century of high-quality living.

Thanks, Richard. You’re right that the Birchmores are a very special family and Athens and UGA are both much better off for them having been there.

Got something on your mind concerning UGA athletics or a question for the Junkyard Blawg? Send it to junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

739 comments Add your comment

Jeff Lee

April 21st, 2012
11:26 am

Im first! Facebook me

George

April 21st, 2012
11:29 am

Thanks, Bill. Always great to read your stuff on the Dawgs.

Blindog

April 21st, 2012
11:36 am

Thanks Bill, you da man!

Macclenny_dawg

April 21st, 2012
11:57 am

I believe Murray is just trying 2 make a play after Bobo’s play calling puts him in 3rd and long. Most of Murrays turnovers come on 3rd down. While Murray has 2 stop fumbling Bobo has 2 quit being so predictable. If we called plays like we did in the 1st half of SECCG we very well should be playing 4 the NC this year!!! But Bobo has 2 improve a lot!!! Go Dawgs!!!

Danny from Dacula

April 21st, 2012
11:59 am

Who did Donnan run off that was better than Carter?

Billkingisatroll

April 21st, 2012
12:02 pm

Anyone who thinks bill king’s articles are insightful or interesting are probably as trollish as he is- George, Blindog. Are ur also bearded trolls?

AugustaDawg

April 21st, 2012
12:04 pm

We will be ready for Mizzou. Gonna be a good year! Tiger meat, chicken wings, buffalo wings, gator meat, yellow jacket in the mouth to spit out etc…

jaglaw

April 21st, 2012
12:04 pm

I simply can’t see Mizzu winning. UGA has great depth…and has played on the big stage moreso than Mizzu. I don’t care how good their QB is, he has yet to play a team that will blitz and pressure him like UGA will. Also, Mizzu does not have a running game to keep the LBs at bay. Reminds me of floridas offense last year.

Billkingisatroll

April 21st, 2012
12:04 pm

Also- danny from Dacula sounds as intelligent as everyone else in dacula

Across the Wide Missouri

April 21st, 2012
12:05 pm

Missouri 42, Georgia 13

Billkingisatroll

April 21st, 2012
12:09 pm

The only thing wide in Missouri are the women. I’ve been there and they are super fat.

Danny from Dacula

April 21st, 2012
12:09 pm

@Billkingisatroll…answer the question…Who did Donnan have at QB that was better than Carter?

ElvinBishopBand

April 21st, 2012
12:10 pm

Murray is what he is and that is just above average. He will continue to make stupid mistakes because that is his mental makeup. Either live with it knowing full well it will happen against great teams or replace him but you will not change his mental makeup. Stop blaming his OL or Bobo! He breaks huddle knowing which receiver he’s going with and that is where the ball goes regardless and you have seen the results. Rule #1 at QB on a pretty good team is “Don’t Beat us Son”. Rule #2 is “Read Rule #1″. Have you ever seen Richt get in the face of this guy after STUPID plays? No and NO and NO.

Tallcarl

April 21st, 2012
12:11 pm

Thanks Bill for another nice Blogg about our beloved Dogs. I also love the personal notes and articles about other Alumni and their stories. This proves to those who have never lived outside Georgia that there are some fine people in this world, friends you must keep. God Bless you and your family.
Tallcarl – Barranquilla. Colombia

Billkingisatroll

April 21st, 2012
12:12 pm

How about backup on the roster that Didnt have a coke habit. Ur as intelligent as bill king.

jaglaw

April 21st, 2012
12:12 pm

Games are won by running the ball and defense. I think UGA will do both well.

BonkersDog

April 21st, 2012
12:15 pm

Actually, 7 of Murray’s 14 interceptions came, surprisingly, on 1st down. Only 2 came on 3rd and long. LSU game was no different, Murray played well in the 1st half, like his habits dictated he would. AJ McCarron threw 2 on 1st down, 1 on 3rd and long.

Pretty interesting if you look at Murray’s td to int ratio by quarter:
3.5 td to int ratio: 1st quarter, 7 td’s, 2 int’s
4.25 td to int ratio: 2nd quarter, 17 td’s, 4 int’s
1 td to int ratio: 3rd quarter, 5 td’s, 5 int’s
2 td to int ratio: 4th quarter, 6 td’s, 3 int’s

AJ McCaron’s was:
6 td’s, 1 int
3 td’s, 2 int’s
5 td’s, 2 int’s
2 td’s, 0 int’s

To be a champion, you have to peak in the 2nd half. And trust your defense, and running game, instead of your arm.

jaglaw

April 21st, 2012
12:17 pm

Elvin. While I give AM credit for his stats….you are dead on with the rules. My guess is the last two QBs for Bama’s NC didn’t have outrageous stats. But they have a ring. Nuff said.

jaglaw

April 21st, 2012
12:19 pm

Hey Bonkers……were we separated at birth?

Stephen A.Dogg: Still no real changes for UGA in 2012.

April 21st, 2012
12:21 pm

Nothing has changed but a few names on and off the roster. The O-line is still suspect. Murray will continue to start at QB and Malcome will rotate with Crowell at RB. Gurley and Marshall will see little playing time as true freshmen at RB in Richt’s offense because they have to learn the exquisite pass protection blocking scheme before they can earn any carries. DGD Samuel will be shifted to FB and will be lucky to get 20 carries all season as his new job is to block. The offense will improve slightly as at least we won’t have to witness give up running plays up the middle by a 5-6, 160 RB anymore. But Bobo is still running the Richt offense and in 12 years it hasn’t brought home a crystal ball so why should we expect the results to be different this season.

Murray at QB has ran up gaudy numbers against inferior opponents, so please refrain from running bogus stats to justify his entitlement as UGA QB. The only stats that means anything is the overall team W-L versus quality opponents. In fairness, Murray has had poor O-line play which has caused him to over-compensate and commit critical errors in big games and the lack of a running game also hampered things for him as well. So expect UGA to continue to still struggle offensively against good teams and thrive against the bad ones. I predict a 9-3 season and a trip to the Capital One Bowl. Hopefully Richt will break his recent bowl drought the past couple of years for another 10 win season that will have the delusional crowd screaming wait till 2013. ‘Nuff Said ! Hunker Down !

Billkingisatroll

April 21st, 2012
12:22 pm

Probably not separated at birth but most likely have the same father

Danny from Dacula

April 21st, 2012
12:23 pm

@Billkingisatroll…Carter played in the NFL…as far as the intelligence issue goes, i’m smart enough not to start bs wih those who are my superiors…

BonkersDog

April 21st, 2012
12:29 pm

The danger zone on the field for Murray was his own side of the field, like his own 20-40 yard line, where he threw 1 td, but 6 interceptions. This where Murray is the most careless with the football, unfortunately, it leaves a short field when he throws picks on his own side of the field, and really takes the heart out of the defense.

Murray really was sloppy all year, on the most dangerous side of the field, his side. Murray’s td to int ratio was 1 td to 2 int’s on his own 0-20 yardline. 1 td to 6 int’s on his own 21-39 yardline. And 3 td’s to 3 int’s between the 40 yardlines. He threw 9 tds’ to 3 int’s from the 39 to 21 yardline, and then was 21 td’s to 0 int’s in the red zone.

AJ McCarron went 14 td’s, 0 int’s inside his opponents 40 yard line.But only threw 1 interception from his won 0-39 yardline, where Murray threw 8.

BonkersDog

April 21st, 2012
12:36 pm

In case you’re wondering, yes, Murray’s danger zone his freshman season in 2010 was ALSO his OWN side of the field, the 20-40 yard line, where he threw 2 td’s, but 5 int’s.

Bobo didn’t work on this area of the field much in the 2011 off season. Must not have noticed this.

RHall55

April 21st, 2012
12:47 pm

If the O-Line continues their poor play and the recruiting of OL does not improve; please replace Coach Will Friend!! If we lose 7 of the top 10 players in the state and 25 of the top 20 players in the state in recruiting as we did last year, please replace Coach Rodney Garner w/ Mike Bobo as Recruiting Coordinator!! If we lose to all Top Ten ranked Teams this year, as we have since 2006, please replace Coach Mike Bobo as OC; make him QB Coach and RC!! If all this continues and no changes are made, then we must consider replacing the CEO of UGA Football!! C’mon Men, do your job!!! “Win, Baby, Win!!”

Ol'Mizzou

April 21st, 2012
12:51 pm

You guys don’t give Mizzou enough credit. If Franklin is healthy Mizzou has the advantage in this one. We have a great group of receivers including DGB and and it sounds like yall are gonna be hurting when it comes to pass coverage with some players out.

Billy

April 21st, 2012
12:57 pm

Murray doesn’t deserve to be the QB? Who does UGA have that’s any better?

BonkersDog

April 21st, 2012
12:57 pm

Some of the things I hear as to why Murray will throw less interceptions in 2012 are:
1- more experience at QB
2- better o-line pass protection
3- better rushing game

Let’s look at these.

1- More experience = Less interceptions
Murray had more experience in 2011, than 2010, yet threw 14 interceptions, instead of 8.

2- Better o-line = Less interceptions
Murray had the most experienced o-line in the nation in 2010, and still went 6-7 and threw 8 interceptions and gave up 25 sacks. Murray had the largest o-line in NCAA or NFL in 2011, and gave up 14 int’s, and 33 sacks. So, 2012, o-line won’t be bigger, or more experienced, so if anything, it will be worse.

3- Better rushing game = less interceptions
If you look at the play vs. ranked teams in 2011, the rush game improved from 95 yards a game in 2010, to 113 yards a game in 2011. Yet Murray’s interceptions went from 3 int’s in 5 games in 2010 vs. ranked teams, to 6 int’s vs. 4 ranked teams in 2011.

gadawgs

April 21st, 2012
1:03 pm

Does anyone have Murray’s career stats against teams that were actually ranked in the the top 25 when we played them. Or better yet the top 10? My guess is that they are not as glowing as Bill portrays. He nuts up in big games. Always has,always will.

gadawgs

April 21st, 2012
1:04 pm

Thanks Bonkers….you answered my question and made my point.

Game Changer

April 21st, 2012
1:08 pm

Congratulations Bill King: one of your best titles but you fail take it to the next level.

WHY IS MARK RICHT PROTECTING MURRAY AND NOT PROMOTING COMPETITION? This question has still not been answered, Murray stats actually suck. Take away touchdown passes, he is terrible.

Aaron Murray would not start at any school in the SEC East other than Georgia. Just the facts:

gadawgs

April 21st, 2012
1:08 pm

In my opinion Mason or LeMay could put up those kind of numbers right now and they would atleast have an excuse due to experience and so forth. Murray has no excuse. I have been off the Murray train for the past two years telling my fellow Dawg fans such. He makes hay against bad teams but when it matters he makes bad decisions and will turn it over. Sorry, but that is a fact.

Stephen A.Dogg: 1980 National Champion Georgia Bulldogs

April 21st, 2012
1:14 pm

Truth of the matter is, they (UGA) will not win another championship until a once in a life time player (Walker) is born in their state. And most of us have already seen that in our lifetime. -Tide Roll- 4/20
______________________________________________________________________________-
After over 30 years of disappointments, I think Tide Roll may be on to something. It’s obvious that the coaches since Dooley were not capable of winning at National Title. So if Georgia can’t win it all with coaching, then maybe it will take that special once in a lifetime player, like Herschel Walker. If this is true then those that were around in ‘80 (like me) have witnessed the only UGA national title in this lifetime. For those not around at that time will have to get the DVD. But the DVD will never provide the week to week buildup of excitement and anticipation of all the games while the ‘Dogs marched to all-time glory in 1980. It was a special and unforgettable time that I will always cherish. In the 1980s no man was feared more than UGA’s Walker at 235lbs running a 4.3 in open field, save vintage Iron Mike Tyson in the boxing ring. Yep, it will probably take another once in a lifetime player to carry UGA to another crown. Unfortunately for us, we probably won’t live to see it, because I know I don’t have another 30 years to wait. If I make it to 78, I probably would be to old to enjoy it.

Larry

April 21st, 2012
1:14 pm

Earth to the dummies!

Murray was a sohpomore last season…check the stats of Safford and other former freshmen and sophomore QB’s at GA and around the country.

There’s a huge learning curve between the first and last two years of a college QB…let’s see how he does this season.

BonkersDog

April 21st, 2012
1:18 pm

AJ McCaron was a Soph too. AJ went 13-1 against a tougher schedule, stepped up in the biggest game and threw like a Champion, won a National Championship. AJ didn’t use being a Soph QB as an excuse.

gadawgs

April 21st, 2012
1:20 pm

Larry..he was a redshirt Soph which means he has been in the program for three years. He is now a redshirt Junior (4 years in). He is not a young pup anymore dummy. Since you mentioned Stafford, he started as a true freshman so three years in to Stafford’s career check his stats against Murray’s against ranked teams. You will be suprised.

gadawgs

April 21st, 2012
1:21 pm

Bonkers..once again nice point.

CDAWG

April 21st, 2012
1:29 pm

I wished we would have held on to Mettenburger! I think Mason needs to get a chance during a real game!

Left Coast Dawg

April 21st, 2012
1:42 pm

Quincy didn’t have a coke habit, it was weed and stupidity.

WUZZADAWG

April 21st, 2012
1:51 pm

CJD didn not run off any one better than Carter, he just ran off the sober QBs.

BonkersDog

April 21st, 2012
1:51 pm

In 2010, went 0-6 vs. winning teams, 0-5 vs. ranked teams (AP)
In 2011, went 4-4 vs. winning teams, 0-4 vs ranked teams (AP)

So, there is improvement year to year against winning teams, defense was tough against winning teams Florida, Tech, Auburn, and Miss St. Murray played well against winning teams Auburn and Miss St.

But the team overall has not played well enough to get a win for 2 years against ranked teams.

BonkersDog

April 21st, 2012
1:54 pm

Wait, Murray played well against winning teams Auburn & Ga Tech. Had bad games against winning teams Florida & Miss St.

Dawg Whisperer

April 21st, 2012
1:58 pm

You’re right, Bill. There are the conspiracy promoters out there but I’ve yet to see anyone explain what is in it for coach Richt and staff to play Murray when the competition is allegedly better but for entertainment vaule only, let’s throw out a few…

- Murray and Richt are from Florida.
- Murray reminds Richt of how he once played at Miami.
- Murray was a high school All-American as was Richt, consequently, Richt is living vicariously through him on the collegiate level.
- Richt is a proponent of forgiving mistakes on and off the field.
- Richt enjoys reading fan blog criticism.
- Murray makes the games more interesting.

Well, that’s just a start. Bill, you could write an article on the endless conspiracy theories out there and it will sell but since you concluded that Richt plays Murray because it gives UGA the best chance of winning, don’t expect the conspiracy culture to buy into that mundane theory (it is way to logical and not at all fun).

1980 National Championship

April 21st, 2012
2:04 pm

Indeed, I was 14 at the time and had attended games with my folks every year prior to 1980 for 12 years. Nothing like throwing a football with my Dad in Colesium parking lot before games.

Tide Roll is right. Although I’m prideful in UGA, I’m not on the lunatic fringe. Nor am I a homer. UGA is a wonderful football program. It has great legacy. Above average fans. Beautiful stadium (though not loud and intimidating as some of its peers). A+ city in Athens.

However.

UGA football has greatly underachieved its own expectations. It’s a tier II Division I program. It could be so much more but the program hasn’t made it a top priority to win at the highest level. UGA will tease you but the program isn’t on a mission to win it all.

Alabama’s mission is to win it all or bust every year. I know…U of A lost its way a while back but clearly its righted the ship. I really don’t believe U of A is a better program. I don’t think it’s facilities. Nor fans. Etc. Rather, it’s that U of A makes it a mandate to play at that level. U of A drills that point into the program…fans…alumni…players. In other words, this is who we are. This is how we play the game. Don’t come here unless this is what you prize (MNC).

Without doubt, UGA is a solid program. But, think about it, if #34 had never signed back in 1980, how many years would it be today since UGA last won a MNC.

no offensive line

April 21st, 2012
2:12 pm

i wonder if coach richt ever read that bible verse about building your house on sand….because that’s what he contintues to do with offensive linemen……….

BonkersDog

April 21st, 2012
2:16 pm

I think Richt looks at Murray like though ONLY these 5 lenses:
1) Murray was offered 50+ scholarships in high school
2) Murray’s team won the state championship his Senior year in the toughest classification in Florida one of the most talent rich states
3) Murray won the Elite 11 MVP in 08
4) Murray threw 59 td’s in 2 seasons in college
5) Murray threw for 6000+ yards in 2 seasons in college

Richt figures, because of the above 5, Murray will lead us to an SEC Championship

jaxdawg

April 21st, 2012
2:26 pm

Murray is clearly the #1 QB for the dawgs, and I believe Lemay is better that Mason. Mason put up all of his “big” numbers against the 2nd and 3rd string defense. Give it a rest already, there is no conspiracy. And btw, I was VERY impressed with Lemay’s poise and arm strength. He looks like he is coming along nicely.

Destin Dawg

April 21st, 2012
2:29 pm

Bonkers… Hutson Mason had huge passing stats at Lasssiter.. was 2nd team Parade All American.. deserves equal opportunity chance to play and Yes Mettenberger has a great arm.. height to see the whole field..

Destin Dawg

April 21st, 2012
2:32 pm

point is to play ‘em all .. no birthright startin QB.. for any of them… what would Saban.. Spurrier.. etc. Do ????

Tuck Fech

April 21st, 2012
2:37 pm

LOL, Missoura. You guys have about as much of a chance at beating UGA this year as Obama has at easing racial tensions in America. Never. Going. To. Happen.