It’s past time for Aaron Murray to settle himself down

In his third year as a starter, Aaron Murray is still getting too pumped up? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

In his third year as a starter, Aaron Murray is still getting too pumped up? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

A few more thoughts and observations following Georgia’s home opener …

While he granted that Aaron Murray plays with “a lot of emotion” and “probably was really pumped up,” Mark Richt was about as pointed in his criticism of his veteran quarterback’s efforts early in the game as you’ll ever hear from Georgia’s head coach.

Speaking of Murray overthrowing wide-open receivers headed toward the end zone, Richt said: “Murray, he’s a veteran, and we get a wide open post for a touchdown, we’ve got to hit it. The guy’s wide open and you’ve got protection, it’s your job to put the ball on the money.”

Yes, Murray is still having to deal with an offensive line he can’t completely trust and young backs who sometimes whiff on blocks (with Murray getting sacked three times by the Bulls), but that’s pretty much been the case his entire career at UGA. And he looked much better in the second half, but in his third year he shouldn’t still be getting off to these rocky starts because he’s too pumped up.

At this point, the biggest obstacle to No. 11 living up to his full potential is Aaron Murray himself. …

While, as we discussed Saturday, Georgia’s defensive front definitely underperformed against Buffalo in a generally uneven outing by the Bulldogs, I was very encouraged by how the wide receivers looked. True, Buffalo wasn’t the toughest team to get open on, but Tavarres King, Rantavious Wooten, Michael Bennett and Chris Conley all looked really good. Particularly impressive was the way Wooten extended himself to make the catch on that long touchdown pass. He also threw a nice pass that should have been a touchdown, only to be droppd by Keith Marshall. And King still managed six catches for 117 yards despite Murray playing keep-away with the ball on several would-be long completions in the first half. Conley also made a nice, reaching catch on one play and, of course, blocked a punt on special teams. All in all, Malcolm Mitchell was missed less on offense than on defense. …

Should Todd Gurley’s breakout performance earn him the starting nod against Mizzou? That’s a tough one. While his running and returning were brilliant, he looked like a typical true freshman in pass protection, as did fellow frosh Marshall, missing some blocks entirely. Much more effective in that regard were the veterans, Ken Malcome and Richard Samuel. If Malcome’s hand injury prevents him from maintaining his position on the depth chart this coming week, you’ve got to wonder if Samuel might not get the starter’s call while Gurley and Marshall still get their share of the carries. …

Back to the offensive line, which had a middling day against Buffalo, necessitating the tight ends spend most of the day staying in to block: Here’s hoping that John Theus is able to wrap up that injured ankle and tough it out, like Richt suggested, because even hobbled he’s probably still Georgia’s best bet at right tackle. …

Damian Swann mostly called for fair catches receiving punts, but he did have one really nice return. While Mitchell is likely to re-enter that conversation once he’s off the crutches, I think Swann shows potential as a returner. …

Last year, Georgia didn’t let a fullback carry the ball until the Georgia Tech game. Former walk-on Merritt Hall not only got the starting nod in Saturday’s game, but he got to run the ball, too, and picked up a first down. Well done! …

It was great to see Olympics gold medal winner Allison Schmitt on the field helping finish off the Game Ball Relay, along with Vince Dooley, Chance Veazey and Charley Trippi. I’m sure some sort of on-field recognition is planned later this season for UGA’s Olympians, and I’m looking forward to getting on my feet and yelling once again for Schmitt and her fellow U.S. team members. …

Also from the pregame, I liked the Redcoats’ new way of running onto the field like the football team does, and I’m glad they tweaked the previously problematic Georgia-Bulldogs cheer (mainly by not having the band play between the cheers by the two sides of the stadium). But the initial effort to have the crowd sing “Hail to Georgia” was pretty much a flop. Most folks don’t have a clue what the lyrics are, and while they were helpfully provided on the video screen, the crowd seemed unsure when in the song they were supposed to start singing. That one might need some tweaking as well. …

Lastly, the folks in Section 104 missed Malinda Erwin, who couldn’t make it to Saturday’s game because she’s still recovering from surgery. We look forward to you rejoining us for Florida Atlantic, Malinda!

Feel free to chime in if you spotted anything else in Saturday’s game that you want to discuss.

JUNKYARD MAIL CALL

Got something you want to discuss concerning UGA athletics? Or maybe a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Send it to junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

184 comments Add your comment

Joey Hanie

September 2nd, 2012
10:05 pm

First!!! And yes it is

coondawg69

September 2nd, 2012
10:11 pm

Sargeant Hulka's Big Toe

September 2nd, 2012
10:17 pm

Why is Alabama ready to play from the get go and this team needs a half to pull it together and even then it is inconsistent. The rebuilding Tide looked like a well oiled machine against a good but overrated Michigan. We looked like a team without an identity. Poor tackling, middling defensive line and linebacker play and a over hyped QB. We knew the O line and the young backs would be a work in progress but the D was supposed to be solid.

Suches Dawg

September 2nd, 2012
10:31 pm

It occurs to me that UGA often plays up or down to the level of the opposition , rarely establishing their own identity as a team . I also think we typically lack anything resembling a killer instinct to put teams away when we have the chance . As much as I admire and respect CMR , this is a reflection on his demeanor and style as a coach. I hope as the year progresses we assert our will on teams when we get the chance, least they come back to bite us. GO DAWGS !!

Dog from the desert!

September 2nd, 2012
10:37 pm

Murray’s REALLY OVER-HYPED! Can you say Hutson Mason? Mizzou’s gone bring it!

Malinda

September 2nd, 2012
10:49 pm

Enter your comments here. Bill, looking forward to being back in section 104 for the next home game!!

FaithfulDawg86

September 2nd, 2012
10:55 pm

Love CMR and respect him immensely as I respect any coach who doesn’t want to run up the score, but with the ranking systems the way they are these days, we need to take advantage of every scoring opportunity and not leave anything on the field. Murray will be fine now that he’s gotten over the first game jitters, and our RBs are studs! Grantham will whip the defense into shape.

78Dawg

September 2nd, 2012
10:59 pm

Sick of Murray and his problems. Just hand the ball off or give to Mason. Murray is way overrated.

Walker

September 2nd, 2012
11:01 pm

Bill,

You got to lay off Murray. I’d rather have 3 or 4 overthrows a game, thasn 3 or 4 int’s a game where he underthrew the balls.

Murray’s just making good decisions, either his guys speeds up and catches it, or no one does.

Murray finished with 3 td’s, 250+ yards, and 0 int’s. a 179 passer rating, better than the USC matt whoever.

SSIgator

September 2nd, 2012
11:03 pm

Bill -

Hope you were able to spend some time with Olivia while you were there and she is adjusting well to her new home.

Walker

September 2nd, 2012
11:06 pm

What not to like, Richt fixed all 3 issues from last year: run game, pass turnovers, specia teams.

Moobs Johnson

September 2nd, 2012
11:07 pm

Same story for UGA, team shows up not ready to play. Coach MediocRe at his best… As far as Murray, I’ll be happy when he takes his man purse to the NFL after this season for all the riches of a fifth round pick.

Walker

September 2nd, 2012
11:09 pm

Murray hit Wooten in the hands in the end zone, and Wooten dropped one. Bennett ran his end zone route too wide and cost Murray another one. King was little slow on 2 passes, seemed to slow down, not trusting Murray’s arm. Marshall also dropped the TD pass from Wooten, which was a beauty. Could have EASILY had 5 more td’s.

Bill E Rubin

September 2nd, 2012
11:09 pm

I love the DAWGS and CMR but after watching the TIDE it’s painfully obvious that they’re on a totally different level from us. Hate me, say I’m not a true fan or whatever you like but the simple fact of the matter is we should be right up there with them…the problem? Coaching…and I refuse to drink the cool aid and I refuse to wear the rose colored glasses. It’s the same thing every year…

Walker

September 2nd, 2012
11:13 pm

We outrank Bama in every offensive category, passing, total yards, points, and rushing. We have the best balanced offense in the SEC. Special teams are currently ranking higher than Bama too. Once we get all 5 starters back, our defense will return to it’s top 5 form and beat Bama there too.

funny...

September 2nd, 2012
11:14 pm

Bill,

Great article.

On the TK touchdown pass, he had to stop to catch it. The key to Missouri (other than missing 5 defensive starters) is Aaron Murray. If he plays like he has his entire career Georgia just can’t win.

funny...

September 2nd, 2012
11:15 pm

Walker, Bama has 2 of the last 3.

Who gives a flying hoot about stats.

I want rings

Walker

September 2nd, 2012
11:17 pm

The Buff defenders decided to play under the receivers, to take away Murray’s backshoulder passes. So you had to throw it over the top or get it picked. When we got man coverage, and they stacked a bunch of guys inside when the run game got going, Murray went long to try and make them pay. If you don’t stretch the field like that, the run game stalls when they start overplaying the run. I liked the strategy, it worked.

Walker

September 2nd, 2012
11:18 pm

This year, UGA is better than BAMA on OFFENSE AND SPECIAL TEAMS, STATS NEVER LIE.

Bill E Rubin

September 2nd, 2012
11:22 pm

@Walker…all that looks good on paper…I’m not a BAMA fan but you’ve gotta hand it to them…they prove it on the field…how long has it been since we’ve held a crystal football in January?

Walker

September 2nd, 2012
11:24 pm

This ain’t 2011, this is 2012, and right now, UGA ranks better than Bama in RUSHING, PASSING, RECEIVING, TOTAL YARDS, OFFENSIVE POINTS.

You’re living in the past. How many times does Saban follow a championship with another one in his entire career?

Bill E Rubin

September 2nd, 2012
11:27 pm

@Walker…whatcha got in that pipe son?

Walker

September 2nd, 2012
11:31 pm

My guess is Murray will take more risks when he throws deep to the taller receivers against mizzou like Marlon Brown, Rome, Lynch, pretty much throw up a jump ball, and they should win it, especially using these tall guys in the red zone, even bring in tall guy Jordan Jenkins. But King and Wooten arn’t tall, they’re speed guys, so you can’t throw up jump balls.

King and Wooten have to get more space on their defenders to help Murray out too, then Murray can take a little off without worrying about a pick. Maybe some double moves.

Walker

September 2nd, 2012
11:38 pm

Jay Rome is 6′ 6”, Marlon Brown is 6′ 5”, Artie Lynch is 6′ 5”, Michael Bennett is 6′ 3′, Jordan Jenkins 6′ 3”. You have a higher margin of error with these guys than you do with the smaller set of speed guys Mitchell, Wooten, and King. You have to be more careful with your throws with the smaller guys.

Top Row Dawg

September 2nd, 2012
11:49 pm

3 TD’s no interceptions. 10 passing TD’s away from all time UGA record.

500 yards of offense and Bobo and Murray still getting grief.

No KO returns is what stood out to me thanks to that deep kickoff by Marshall. Reminds me of the days of Kevin Butler. A 40 yard line kickoff and all those kicks would have been out of the end zone. The only one returned was from out of the end zone too.

Love my Law Dogs….. Marshall the kicker, Marshall the RB, and Aaron Murray (The Cop). Give the criticism arrest.

Jersey Dawg

September 3rd, 2012
12:43 am

Since the Missouri defense is saying “Georgia is Playing Old Man Football”, sure would be nice to see Bobo run some “OLD” Fashion Power Running Football in the first series to put “Little Mo” in it’s place early in the game…
With the Offensive Line still having Depth Questions is there a Houston update ?

slobodan

September 3rd, 2012
12:44 am

If the dogs would have contained the running/scrambling QB they would have pitched a shutout. And we have a more accomplished running/scrambling QB coming up.
I think Murray means well and he accumulates stats; but he’s not the gamer the dogs need.

Spike

September 3rd, 2012
4:59 am

Michael Bennett is a diamond in the rough. He has great hands and is a tough , tough blocker! Throw him the damn ball.

ZinoDawg

September 3rd, 2012
6:23 am

Michael Bennett and Chris Conley are both DGD’s. Most underrated players on the team.

And I am LMAO at Mizzou already running their traps. They will quiet down after the Tide rolls in and spanks them like a red headed step child.

gomdawg

September 3rd, 2012
6:25 am

IT’S hard to get up for Buffalo , Alabama was playing Mich. Our Dawgs will be ready for Missouri.

Sad Richards

September 3rd, 2012
7:48 am

The Missouri player was correct about it being “old man football” for UGA. This same ole crap is getting old. Murray first game jitters against Buffalo? This guy is now a veteran so stop the excuses.

AltamahaDawg

September 3rd, 2012
8:03 am

What excuses?. He and his receivers didn’t connect on a couple of 40 yrd bombs. That’s what happened.

Bulldog Born & Bred

September 3rd, 2012
8:32 am

Ga is not in the league with Ala or LSU and I’m sick of it I’m beginning to think we get the recruits they don’t have room for

BalkansDawg

September 3rd, 2012
8:52 am

I agree, Altamaha. Most of what Bobo tried to do against Buffalo is throw the deep ball at least 40 yards down field on post routes. Hopefully, this is not his game an for next week… Or any other week. True, Murray needs to calm down, but Bobo needs to do two things to help him out: run the ball and have check down receivers/use the tight ends. I’m sure the defense wouldn’t mind the longer drives doing these would create, either. I’m hoping (maybe a fool’s hope) that he plans to do both of these and take some pressure off of Murray early in the game. We ran virtually everything out or the shotgun against Buffalo and tried to force the long ball, IMHO. Just run the ball and then work into the passing game as Murray settles into the game.

ty

September 3rd, 2012
8:53 am

If GA would run the ball more, Murray might keep the defense confused as to whether he was going to pass or give the ball off to a back. We need to run the ball more to have a great passing team therefore a great offensive team. Also Richt has to recruit offensive linemen and train them a few years and not count of Freshmen starting on the line.

Joe

September 3rd, 2012
8:58 am

Against Mo. Ga has to control the ball and help the defense be fresh against MO’s spread offense. Otherwise Mo’s offense will make it difficult on our defense. Controling the ball also includes controling the clock the whole game. You do that by running the ball.

Bobdog

September 3rd, 2012
9:02 am

Some work needs to be done with the P.A. System. With the volume already cranked up, the occasional feedback was deafening.

night hawk

September 3rd, 2012
9:18 am

@ gomdawg

Just like they were ready for Boise State?

GoVawls

September 3rd, 2012
9:35 am

Dawgs just need to beef up their recruiting. Bwhahahaha

Vince

September 3rd, 2012
9:42 am

I’ll repeat–There is no reason in the world why Theus should’ve been in this game at this time. I always marvel at how long these coaches leave starters in games when we’re way ahead. What a great time to give backups gametime.

Football 101 for Women Lady

September 3rd, 2012
9:50 am

I guess I need to apologize on behalf of all the Football 101 women who obviously did too good of a job in cheering the players from the locker room to the field…We obviously got Aaron Murray and the rest of them “too pumped up” with our mini-Dawg Walk. Sorry everyone! GO DAWGS!!!

Hair E Dawg

September 3rd, 2012
9:56 am

More of the same from Richt and Bobo – under performing teams.

Dawg-Gawn

September 3rd, 2012
10:01 am

Whats wrong with “Old Man Football” Just add a little Geritol to your Kool Aid for the octane boost…. kind of like the young man’s Red Bull!

Old Man football = SEC Mash-Mouth!

Can’t wait till the end of the season to hear those beat up Mizzou players (especially T J Moe) saying “I don’t want NO MOE SEC football.”

Missouri, the show me state…. you’re about to be shown, a tradition of southern style hospitality… leave your women and children at home…. it’s a war zone!

“The Chapel Bell will ring again”

“Our Team, Our Time, No Regrets”

“Fan-up”

“GATA”

Believe in the “G”

Mr. Dawg

September 3rd, 2012
10:19 am

With all the missed opportunities on long pass plays you mentioned here Bill this game had a chance to turn into an early blowout for the Bulldogs. Instead Buffalo stayed within range and I believe that always helps a team gain momentum (or lose it when you’re the team blowing the opportunities.) As it stands, those missed opportunitis and lost momentum aren’t reflected on the scoreboard. Buffalos deserves credit. Murray really needs to have a big and better game this week. I’m glad you pointed out the blocking by Gurley and Marshall. That is key and Richt has always preached that to his backs. This Missouri game worries me. If the Bulldogs survive things look good. If not, well, the Bulldogs have bounced back before just as they did last year. But losing that first SEC game is tough.

Dawg Tired

September 3rd, 2012
10:21 am

Richt said: “Murray, he’s a veteran, and we get a wide open post for a touchdown, we’ve got to hit it. The guy’s wide open and you’ve got protection, it’s your job to put the ball on the money.”

Now I understand why Murray has not lost his “job” as the starter. Its the same reason Richt has not lost his “job” as the coach. Weather you do your job well or not is irrelevant. Apparently once you the “job” it’s your job for life.

GATiger

September 3rd, 2012
10:23 am

Bulldog Born and Bred, it’s not your recruits. Georgia’s probably out-recruited every other team in the SEC during Richt’s tenure. My guess is it has something to do with a coach who doesn’t speak above a whisper and can’t, or won’t, recognize that this is a ball control league.

It might go a bit deeper than that. Georgia has a habit of hiring coaches (and an AD) who have never held the position for which they’re hired. Seems to me that schools like Western Kentucky, Toledo and Kent State are the type of schools that should be giving coaches their first shot at the bigger job, not Georgia.

artful codger

September 3rd, 2012
10:24 am

Whoever starts at tailback really is no big deal … as Gurley is in on the 2nd series anyway.

AltamahaDawg

September 3rd, 2012
10:27 am

Well I appreciate you agreeing with me, but that wasn’t the point I was making. I don’t have a problem with attempting a 40 yr bomb. They should have been TD’s, so nothing wrong with the call, and the 3rd yr starter should have connected. My point was that while it’s a fact Murray missed the shot, folks discussing the number of factor that go into that, is NOT making ‘excuses”. It’s discussing football plays, and some of the folks in here just don’t want to do that. They want to just complain. Another point that i would make, is that while it’s great IF every play works, there is another point of taking shots deep. It affect how the defense will play you, and aids other aspects later in the game (the running game for example).

One of the things I took away from the game , was the adjustment at halftime. It’s hard to find fault with the second half of that game.I would take a slow start and a second half stomp any day, over the reverse that we have seen in some games in the past.

SoGaDAWG

September 3rd, 2012
10:29 am

Enter your comments here

Bob in Buford

September 3rd, 2012
10:30 am

I’m tired of people using stats to prop up Murray. Apparently, he just doesn’t get it. I’m also tired of us struggling to put away lousy teams. If we aren’t ready to play, that responsibility lies with the coaches. We needed to pound that team in the first half so that we could get some time for our second team guys. It’s been the same story for 20 years.