Fan talk: Triple option, Gurshall’s workload, Murray returning for another year, and bowl scenarios

Quarterback Jerick McKinnon leads Georgia Southern's productive rushing attack. (Associated Press)

Quarterback Jerick McKinnon leads Georgia Southern's productive rushing attack. (Associated Press)

It won’t be fun for the Georgia players fending off those cut-blocks and it probably won’t be as pretty as many in the Bulldog Nation would like, but Mark Richt’s Bulldogs should emerge from their SEC Cupcake Weekend match against Georgia Southern with a 10th victory and fully up to speed on handling the triple-option offense that they’ll see again next week.

The Eagles bring the Football Championship Subdivision’s leading rushing attack to Athens, averaging 401.2 yards per game on the ground. Southern’s rushing attack is led by quarterback Jerick McKinnon, a former Sprayberry High School star who was the Southern Conference offensive player of the week after beating Howard by running for a career-high 198 yards and three touchdowns. He also threw for two more touchdowns, though he only passed the ball four times in the game. That put McKinnon over 1,000 yards rushing.

So the Eagles are likely to control the ball for a while Between the Hedges and will rack up some yards. Probably a few points, too. They ran for 302 yards and scored 21 points last year against Alabama’s top-rated rushing defense.

But if Todd Grantham’s defense is patient, sticks to its assignments and can avoid key injuries, the Bulldogs’ advantage in terms of size and speed should allow them to keep the Eagles under control. Triple-option offenses also are prone to put the ball on the ground, and GSU has had some trouble with that this season.

On the other side of the line of scrimmage, Aaron Murray, Gurshall, Tavarres King and company should prove too much for an outmanned Southern defense.

It might take the Dawgs a while to pull away — that was the case with Bama last year — but at least they’ll have had a meaningful tune-up for the Governor’s Cup match with the Yellow Jackets.

Now, let’s check some of this week’s Junkyard Mail. …

Should Keith Marshall be getting more carries? (Associated Press)

Should Keith Marshall be getting more carries? (Associated Press)

Brett Miolen writes: [Todd] Gurley and [Keith] Marshall have been great this season and both have shown they can score at anytime from anywhere. Gurley gets the bulk of the work but Marshall has played great despite only getting around 6-10 carries a game. With his ability, do you see any way he can get more involved or get more touches?

While I’m sure he wouldn’t mind a few more carries, Marshall noted this week that thanks to the reduced load this season his body isn’t taking the beating it did in high school, and both he and Gurley are staying fresh. The slightly larger Gurley actually is built more for the heavy load of being an SEC primary back, and it’s hard to argue in favor of taking the ball out of his hands any more, what with him approaching becoming only the second UGA true freshman to break the 1,000-yard mark. Marshall is the more likely of the two to break a really long run of 50-plus yards, as he’s tied for second place nationally in that category with four. Of course, thanks to the Bulldogs’ balanced offense and potent passing attack, neither back is close to getting worn down. Gurley had 11 carries against Auburn and Marshall had eight. And Boo Malcome also usually gets in the mix late in games. “It’s kept them from getting too many carries where a true freshman might really get beat down,” Richt said this week. Bottom line: Gurley and Marshall make a pretty effective tandem with the current splitting of the load.

Aaron Murray is considered likely to return for his senior season at UGA. (Associated Press)

Aaron Murray is considered likely to return for his senior season at UGA. (Associated Press)

Blake Doster writes: Bill, I just read that Aaron Murray is coming back next year. How does that effect Hutson Mason next year? I thought he redshirted this year to be the starter next year. Please help me understand.

In a related question, Scott Vaughan writes: 1. Aaron Murray — coming back for his last year? 2. If not Aaron, who? I was surprised when they ran out Parker Welch against Auburn, first, rather than [Christian] LeMay. Reading too much into it? Great blog site. Thanks for representing the fan base.

Thanks, Scott. To answer Blake first, Murray has not said he’s definitely coming back to UGA for his senior year, but most observers figure he will since he’ll get to polish his game, enhance his NFL prospects and probably break Danny Wuerffel’s career SEC record for touchdown passes. Murray currently is in fifth place with 83, and the record is 114. By the end of this season, Murray stands a good chance of passing Tim Tebow, Chris Leak and Peyton Manning for second place. As for Mason, the reason he’s taking a redshirt this season is to give him a year of separation from Murray. That way, even if Murray returns for his senior season, Mason could have a year as Georgia’s starter after that. As for Welch playing ahead of LeMay, Georgia’s coaching staff has indicated that’s because he has exhibited a firmer grasp of the offensive playbook than LeMay.

James Ernest Nobles writes: Bill, no one has addressed the possibility of Auburn beating Alabama in the Iron Bowl and knocking them out of the SEC championship game. While the odds are against this happening, there is always the possibility. In that case wouldn’t Texas A&M go to Atlanta and play Georgia for the SEC championship?

If you saw Auburn play against the Dogs, you know the odds of them beating Bama are extremely long. But stranger things have happened in rivalry games, so let’s run with that scenario for a moment. If Alabama were to lose to Auburn and Texas A&M and LSU both were to win out, the SEC West would be a three-way tie. If that happened, LSU would play in the SEC Championship game because the Tigers and Aggies would have 5-1 divisional records, while the Tide would have a 4-2 SEC West record and LSU beat the Aggies head-to-head, giving them the ultimate tie-breaker.

BCS-logo-Black_BackgroundReagan Mabry writes: Bill, there is a lot of football to be played yet before the BCS championship game is determined and anything can happen in the next three weeks. My question is this, has Mark Richt learned anything from the 2002, 2005 and 2007 seasons that style points do actually count? I think he needs to have the offense score as many points as possible the next two weeks and not let up. Then UGA could close up a little in the BCS points to be in position as the best one loss team if any team loses. I know this is not Mark Richt’s style but could end up hurting UGA again by just doing enough to win. I think Mark Richt should have been on ESPN and every media outlet possible in 02, 05 and 07 doing PR work stating UGA’s claim to be in the NC game. Saban did his PR work right last year and just hope Mark Richt has learned something if he gets his team in that position again.

If you’re expecting Richt to suddenly morph into one of those coaches who keeps throwing touchdown passes deep into the fourth quarter to run up the score, it’s not likely to happen. But your point about coaches who play the PR game to sell their team’s position is well taken. If Georgia does win out and beat Alabama in the SEC Championship game, a spot in the BCS national title game still would not be assured, even if two of the three undefeated teams ahead of the Dogs were to suffer a loss. The only thing that would be guaranteed for Georgia would be a spot in the BCS. So some politicking by Richt along the lines of Nick Saban and Les Miles definitely would seem in order. On the other hand, if Georgia loses to Bama, it’s highly unlikely the Dogs would get the SEC’s second spot in the BCS no matter what Richt did. And while most predictions are that the Dogs would wind up in either the Capitol One or Outback in that case, some bowl observers think that if they’re the SEC championship game loser they could fall as far as Atlanta’s Chick-fil-A Bowl, however unfair that might seem. It all has to do with bowl committee preferences for home-state teams, higher rankings and traveling fan bases. On the brighter side, both of ESPN’s bowl prognosticators, Mark Schlabach and Brad Edwards, see Georgia beating Alabama in the SEC game and then meeting Clemson in the Sugar Bowl.

Do you have something you want to discuss concerning the current football season or UGA athletics in general? Got a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? If so, send it to junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

137 comments Add your comment

Spivedoggy Dog

November 16th, 2012
10:10 am

good article!

Spivedoggy Dog

November 16th, 2012
10:10 am

zzggyy

November 16th, 2012
10:18 am

The odds are long, but winning out over the next 4 games would cap a terrific season whether the ‘Dawgs make it to the NC game or not.

Rambling Wreck 82

November 16th, 2012
10:19 am

Contradiction

November 16th, 2012
10:33 am

If “it probably won’t be as pretty as many in the Bulldog Nation would like” how is that also a “cupcake?”

AltamahaDawg

November 16th, 2012
10:42 am

I think that meant, we have a a few too many whinny fans.

Patched Tire On I-95 in Jacksonville

November 16th, 2012
10:45 am

I would hope to play ND in the Sugar especially since we have to play Clampit-and-son the next 2 yrs

Patched Tire On I-95 in Jacksonville

November 16th, 2012
10:45 am

And we have way to many kool-aid drinking fans too River Boat Captain

ARdawg

November 16th, 2012
10:46 am

Bill
The mantra for Georgia and the cure of all ills is beat Bama in Atlanta. All of the other scenarios mean nothing until that is done. Lose to Bama in the Dome and it will be Outback city again.

We already know about losing the SECCG. We need to remember what winning that game was about

AltamahaDawg

November 16th, 2012
10:50 am

As well as too many immature people who have access to computers.

Skokie Dog

November 16th, 2012
10:50 am

It won’t surprise me if Murray returns for his fifth year next fall. It’s his only chance of playing anywhere, and the coaching staff will be content to let him do this, while giving the backups no meaningful opportunity to play. It’s a shame that Murray was red-shirted as a freshman.

Dan Lott

November 16th, 2012
10:51 am

Enjoy your articles very much. Part of being a fan is making predictions, however outlandish. It is very rare for more than one team to go undefeated in a season. What if all three of the no-loss teams lose and we beat Ala? Would we play the winner of the FSU/Fla game for the NC? Would a one-loss Oregon team with their tough schedule get the call. Fun to speculate this time of year.

AltamahaDawg

November 16th, 2012
10:52 am

No surprise that you raised your hand when whining was mentioned.

Vance Duly

November 16th, 2012
10:55 am

“Non-pretty” cupcake games for Georgia happen fairly often (the defense plays a bit flat, Coach Bobo gets dull with the play-calling, and Coach Richt pulls the plug on the offense in the 3rd quarter). Our back-up offensive line seems almost useless for the running game, and they seldom let the back-up QB throw more than 1-2 passes per game. So, we may score 35-40 when we could have scored 50-60, and GSU should score 2-3 TDs unless they fumble a few times. So, it’s not really a contradiction…… GO DAWGS – score 50!!!

AltamahaDawg

November 16th, 2012
10:59 am

I think that “the coaches would be content to let Murray return (for his RS senior, record setting, award winning, 5th year) is going to be the understatement of the day.

ARdawg

November 16th, 2012
11:03 am

Style points are as productive as ti_ts on a bull. The human voters don’t vote for those. Teams that dominate without a 40-50 point margin are just as effective, IMHO

Patched Tire On I-95 in Jacksonville

November 16th, 2012
11:04 am

also no surprise that you call out those whiney fans who dont fall in to your gang of kool-aid drinkers

I mean you do it every single time your on here when someone brings up an issue they see with the program or a play call etc you are quick to jump on that person and try to make them think they dont have a clue as to whats going

yet we are all still waiting for you to post some examples; since you are the Yoda of UGA football but you never do; its just the same ole quick mouth garbage of “well if you dont like it find another team” or “you dont know what your talking about blah blah blah

AltamahaDawg

November 16th, 2012
11:04 am

And just curious, why is it a shame that he was Red shirted? we are trading Murray’s True freshman year, in which he was injured and unable to play till very late in that year, at best……………..for his RS senior year next year, in which he is going to be at his best of his career? . That seems like a no -brainer.

AltamahaDawg

November 16th, 2012
11:07 am

What can I say. I find whiners to be annoying little people.

Dawg_Mike

November 16th, 2012
11:17 am

The only game that matters is the next one, which is tomorrow against GA Southern.

bill arp

November 16th, 2012
11:18 am

I said the other day, it seems like Marshall would be a good option at KO returner. He’s got the speed/moves similar to that of a R Bush. Just a thought.

I see Murray coming back for several reasons.

BCSCG-Oregon vs N Dame
Sugar-UGA vs K-State
Orange-Clemson vs Louisville
Fiesta-Oklahoma vs Alabama
Rose-a poor Pac 12 team vs a poor Big 10 team

joe jenkins

November 16th, 2012
11:22 am

Why do some of yall fans pull for GSU…..I’m a true georgia bulldog through and through…i could care less about gsu….ihope we stomp them in the ground, some of the gsu fans are running their mouth…they make me LOL………I dont think we beat bama…richt just cant beat saban

Patched Tire On I-95 in Jacksonville

November 16th, 2012
11:24 am

same here; I find kool-aid drinkers simple minded, with no thought process, who cannot see the forest for the trees

No worries though I have a great book called ENERGY VAMPIRES Im leaving for you at the book store under the name River Boat Captain, just say your name and they will hand it to you; Ive heard its a great read and a NY Times Best Seller ;)

Skokie Dog

November 16th, 2012
11:31 am

My point about it being a shame that Murray will likely be back for his fifth year in 2013 is that he has taken this team as far as he can. I’d prefer to see someone else who also has talent given a chance to see what he’s capable of doing.
And Patched Tire, you are correct that Altamaha enjoys trying to belittle those of us who see room for improvement (even Alabama can improve its game with some more work), and I don’t feel clueless at all, since I have been watching the ‘Dogs for the past forty years. This year’s team is a good one. And it still has room to improve.
And Altamaha, I’ll be looking to see which awards Murray wins in 2013. He has talent, but so do the backup QB’s. I’d rather see one or more of them playing next year than to see Murray out there again.

AltamahaDawg

November 16th, 2012
11:34 am

Such a fine display of thoughtful processing right there, no doubt.

SimpleDawg

November 16th, 2012
11:38 am

Too bad for Hut, but Murray is bound to return……his NFL opportunities will be slim. Mason, on the other hand, could still have a shot at the NFL after only having played one year…..provided he performs very well when he plays. Ex: Cassel in KC – he never even played at SoCal.

The odds of Awbarn beating Bama this year……infinitesimally small. I don’t think Bama and Saban have gotten the RED out of their arse over the 28 – 27 comeback win 2 years ago. Look for a humiliation where possible in this game…. Elephants never forget.

The Dawgs have a chance to redeem themselves in the Georgia Dome, but winning out is paramount to gaining any national acclaim after that debacle in Columbia earlier in the season.

If Tech wins the ACC Championship, that will be an indictment of the conference as a weak sister in college football.

Vampire Bill

November 16th, 2012
11:39 am

I like Murray but I just don’t see him in the NFL. His family is well off so no money issues, I’m sure he’ll be back and that’s good. O line should be ok next year? Gates is a JR so he might bolt for the NFL? I am looking forward to seeing Hudson play as well as up and coming Brice Ramsey. LeMay is the odd man out I’m afraid.

AltamahaDawg

November 16th, 2012
11:42 am

The deal is Skokie, if you makle a comment, and I disagree and ask you about it, just answer me, Nobody belittled you,.(and that a BS accusation, and you know it) I asked a simple question that is completely fair game in a UGA Football sports blog. Geez. Thin skined much?

And to the point, IMO, Nobody on this roster is better than Murray, or they would be out there. So (assuming as far as he can take us is correct) then the alternative is, less than that.

Personally I think, Ramsey is the QB of the future at UGA, so I 10 times prefer to have Murray leading the team next year, while he RS, rather than have Mason play one year, then have Ramsey take over the next. Multiple Qbs in 3 yrs is never a good idea, IMO.

Patched Tire On I-95 in Jacksonville

November 16th, 2012
11:43 am

We are still waiting on any thought processes from you; been waiting since 08

Patched Tire On I-95 in Jacksonville

November 16th, 2012
11:48 am

Multiple QB’s is never a good idea; I agree yet this coaching staff has done on several occasions and will do it after Murray leaves with Mason as they did with Shockley, Terrishinski, and Cox

Greg

November 16th, 2012
11:48 am

Our “reward” for a 12-1 season could be to play Clemson to end this season and again to begin next season? Ugh. Not much to gain by beating a crappy ACC team once, much less twice in a row. What’s their best win this year? Auburn or Duke?

Patched Tire On I-95 in Jacksonville

November 16th, 2012
11:52 am

Skokie Dog

Altamaha has done it for years; When I first questioned Willie Martinez’s ability as a Defensive Coordinator he attacked me with the ole if you dont like the coaches find another team

Thats what he does and continues to do instead of giving you examples as to why you are wrong in your opinion

I mean he starts the blog complaining about whinny fans; Im glad UGA has whinny fans. If we didnt we would be on the level of Vandy and KY cause their fanbase excepts mediocrity like Altamaha

Skokie Dog

November 16th, 2012
11:53 am

As I recall, the Ray Goff and Matt Robinson QB tandem did rather well at U.Ga. in the mid-1970s, but that was with a different coaching staff, of course.

AltamahaDawg

November 16th, 2012
11:54 am

Well considering that every one of those 3 were in completely different situations, Which one is the “mason” case?

Skokie Dog

November 16th, 2012
11:55 am

Those three what?

AltamahaDawg

November 16th, 2012
12:00 pm

True, Skokie. That was a completely different situation. Not sure how that relates to this one.

AltamahaDawg

November 16th, 2012
12:01 pm

I was asking flat tire, which one (of those 3 ) Mason was. I just wasnt sure what his point was., other than the obligatory dislike of the coach.

creekwolf

November 16th, 2012
12:03 pm

Murray will return not only for an improved shot to make the League, but also to complete his Master’s Degree while on scholarship.

Patched Tire On I-95 in Jacksonville

November 16th, 2012
12:06 pm

How were they different

Green had left after his senior year with Shockly having 1 yr of eligibility like Mason

Shockly left with Terishinski having a year of eligibility and we played him until it was obvious he wasnt going to get it done

Stafford left leaving Cox and Murray the staff chose Cox out of loyalty (yes I know Murray got hurt during the season but still) Instead of going ahead and giving Ramsey playing time they will play Mason the whole time

In all those cases we had to wait several years for an experienced QB to develop

Patched Tire On I-95 in Jacksonville

November 16th, 2012
12:15 pm

AltamahaDawg

Well I guess I have to tell you for the 1001 time again I dont dislike Richt I like him as a person and what he represents with his faith and non arrogance that we see today; i just dont like how he runs this program

I mean you have to have a ball player go in front of the media and call the team out to get them motivated to play; seriously you are paid a top 10 salary and you cant do that nor has he done that since he’s been here

Thats why I agree with Bill King on XM that Richt will never win a national title even though he has the talent almost every year to do it with

also Altamaha like Ive said a thousand times; the majority of my posts have been to the yahoo’s who come on this blog year after year running off at the mouth about we are winning the national title garbage yet you are quick to give your two cents when I post no we arent with the way things are run at this program; thats where you’ve missed the point for years

RHall55

November 16th, 2012
12:15 pm

Good problem to have….look @ the Auburn debacle…no cure in sight!!!

AltamahaDawg

November 16th, 2012
12:17 pm

Well, Shockley was a a completely different situation, and Ii doubt I really need to explain that to the anyone in here.

JoeT was merely a placeholder till Stafford was ready to take over, which we all knew was a few games at best. Of those situation THIS is exactly what I am talking about avoiding. As I think Mason is probably slightly better than JoeT, and Ramsey is slightly less phisically ready to play as a TF as Stafford was……but basically its the same situation. Which is why I am making the point, thank Goodness we have Murray next year.Its avoidable now, was not then.

Cox is also a great example of why its great to have Murray again. Had Stafford stayed in 2009 , then Cox would not have started for one year. Cox only started because we had a guy be #1 pick. Not because it was planned.

So it sounds to me like you are very happy that Murray is staying too.

Skokie Dog

November 16th, 2012
12:18 pm

My point was this: I don’t agree that multiple QB’s is never a good idea. Obviously, you’re discussing having a new starter in each of three consecutive years. I agree that doing that doesn’t help develop young quarterbacks. I just don’t think that Murray is so good that he deserves virtually all of the playing time. While we’ll never know, my guess is that this team would have won as many games as it has if Murray and Mason had been rotated during games and shared playing time. It’s even possible that Mason might have proven himself more capable under pressure than Murray has. But we’ll never know, thanks to our coaching staff’s choices. I have no doubt that Murray excels at studying video and remembering what’s in the playbook, and Coach Richt seems determined to reward those skills.

aon

November 16th, 2012
12:22 pm

A cupcake game to top-off a cupcake season!

AltamahaDawg

November 16th, 2012
12:23 pm

I really coud not care less who the majority of post you make are too. I only care about the one you make directly by name to me. And you consistantly call me chidish names, distored and utterly exagerate (and in some case outright lie) about my position, assign the same qualities to me that you do to (those yahoo you mentioned, even though I am CLEARLY Not one of them) then try to score whatever self inflated ego points you can, by disagreeing with me. Stop doing that, and we’ll have no business.

mark

November 16th, 2012
12:26 pm

I hate the bowl tie ins. Clemson in the Sugar? NOOOObody wants to see that. If Murray returns, and I think he will, he would be our best chance to win. Blast Richt if you want as a HC BUT he is a great QB coach. Go Dawgs.

mark

November 16th, 2012
12:31 pm

Ok experts, can or will USC beat N.Dame? God, forgive me but I truly hate everthing about them.

Patched Tire On I-95 in Jacksonville

November 16th, 2012
12:31 pm

Yes Im happy Murray is staying

If he doesnt I see us losing at least 5 games instead 3 next year; With Murray I think he might help us to avoid losing that 3rd game

I just hope Richt and Bobo have the better sense to play Mason in as many games as possible we we are leading against a cream puff at the half and if we are blowing away one of our tougher opponents so he will have plenty of gametime under his belt

If all they are going to do is bring him in late in the 4th qtr and have him hand the ball off and take a knee then that will be a tremendous waste and they might as well skipp Mason the following year and put Ramsy in game 1 so the program can move on more quickly and not do like they did with Cox it just puts the program in a big hole

Patched Tire On I-95 in Jacksonville

November 16th, 2012
12:33 pm

How in the world and why would we want to see 2 ACC teams in BCS bowls

That conference is a joke

AltamahaDawg

November 16th, 2012
12:33 pm

Well Skokie, we just aren’t built for multiple Qbs rotating in an out of games, right now. We are a pro style play action team. (which is differernt than your 1970s example). Even if that “might” have worked, I don’t see how that improves the chances of winning.

Now, preparing another QB has value. And last year Hudson Mason played the entire second half of 2 games, and came in a couple more. Thats probabaly as much as any team puts thier back up in. , So its not like they refused to let his get some reps. Right?

This year he is RS, for his own good.

So I’m just not understanding the beef with how Hudson Mason, clearly the second best option, is being used.