Murray, Jenkins bolster spring hopes for the Dawgs

Aaron Murray isn't satisfied with his gaudy passing numbers. (Associated Press)

Aaron Murray isn't satisfied with his gaudy passing numbers. (Associated Press)

It’s good to have the football Dawgs back from spring break and in full pads in Athens.

On offense, the week off from school allowed running backs Keith Marshall and Brandon Harton to return to the field having only missed three practices, and already some spring superlatives are being thrown around on the young defense, with Josh Harvey-Clemons, Tray Matthews and Sterling Bailey drawing favorable mention.

And Mike Bobo sounded confident and comfortable talking with reporters (though I hope he isn’t really giving his children the idea that a sausage biscuit and a Yoo-hoo is the breakfast of champions).

As usual, spring practice is a time when optimism among the fan base runs pretty high, but even taking that into account I’m pretty pumped about a couple of Mark Richt’s likely playmakers and the way they’re approaching the coming season: Aaron Murray and Jordan Jenkins.

Let’s face it, when it comes to work ethic, Murray is something of a freak. The kid’s already got his undergrad degree and is working in a joint master’s-doctoral program. He’s likely to leave UGA owning most school and conference records as a passer. But despite already being the only quarterback in SEC history to throw for 3,000 yards in three consecutive seasons, Murray still doesn’t have an SEC championship ring. So he passed up having fun at the beach on spring break and instead went to Norman, Okla., to work on polishing his game with private quarterbacking coach George Whitfield, who’s worked with the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton and Johnny Manziel.

Murray talked with CBSSports.com about working on things like his consistency and pocket presence and tweaking his upper body rotation in his throwing motion to create more velocity in his passes.

“It was a great week,” Murray said. “I’ve really learned a lot.”

Dedication like that not only offers the promise of a top-notch quarterback getting even better in his senior year, but provides the kind of example that younger players hopefully will emulate: the desire to do whatever is necessary to improve on what you’ve already done.

Jordan Jenkins has the kind of attitude Georgia's defense will need this fall. (University of Georgia)

Jordan Jenkins has the kind of attitude Georgia's defense will need this fall. (University of Georgia)

One of those younger players who’s embracing the challenges of the upcoming season is Jenkins, who many college football observers expect to pick up where Jarvis Jones left off.

That’s a pretty tall order for any player, but from what Jenkins told Chris Low of ESPN.com recently, he’s eager to take it on.

“I know my role is going to have to expand and that this defense is going to need me to do a lot of the great things that Jarvis did and some of the previous pass-rushers in this defense did,” Jenkins said. “If you’re going to play this spot in this defense, you have to be a playmaker and you have to make the kind of plays that take the air out of the other team. … It’s up to me to take the lead now that Jarvis, Alec [Ogletree] and all those other guys are gone, but that’s what I came here to do.”

To do that, Jenkins said he’s working on getting off the ball quicker. “I waited too much this past season for the lineman to come off and would then react to that. I can already tell in our first few practices that I’ve gotten quicker with my first step and am not waiting for the lineman to come off the ball to react. I feel like I’m the one that’s dictating things instead of waiting.”

Opening at Clemson might seem kind of daunting for a defense that’s replacing most of its starters, but Jenkins doesn’t sound intimidated at all. “We’ve all got to have it rolling going into the season, and I cannot wait to get to Death Valley and get this season started,” he told ESPN.

I like the sound of that.

UNC's Kenan Memorial Stadium shares similarities with UGA's Sanford Stadium. (William T. King)

UNC's Kenan Memorial Stadium shares similarities with UGA's Sanford Stadium. (William T. King)

Speaking of spring break, as I mentioned last week my wife and I spent part of the week visiting our UGA grad son, who’s getting another master’s degree, this time at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

During a walking tour of the lovely campus conducted by my son Bill (sporting a red UGA cap), we went into Kenan Memorial Stadium, which sort of has the feel of the Sanford Stadium of my younger days. It even sports hedges, though they don’t go all the way around the field like in Athens. The similarity isn’t really surprising when you consider that the stadiums both date from the 1920s and the original layouts of both Kenan and Sanford were designed by the same man: T.C. Atwood.

One thing I particularly liked about Kenan was its liberal use of Carolina blue. I wish there was more red in Sanford — I miss the days when the seats were red (except for a black “G” in the center sections).

I also was a bit surprised to see that at UNC, a school that prides itself on its academic reputation, there’s actually a campus statue of a football player, Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice. Meanwhile, UGA, which has a much greater football history than North Carolina, has no statue of the likes of Frankie Sinkwich, Charley Trippi or Herschel Walker.

Something for campus planners in Athens to ponder …

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71 comments Add your comment

ARdawg

March 20th, 2013
10:07 am

ARdawg

March 20th, 2013
10:13 am

Bill

I’m not hearing much about Amarlo Herrea on the defensive side. Of course it’s early but this kid has all the goods to be better than Tree. Why the silence?

NC Dawg

March 20th, 2013
10:13 am

Thanks for the update. So ready for the season already. You are correct in our observations of Kenan. I grew up on Chapel Hill and went to UGA. I have been going to Kenan for over 30 years, great place to watch a game.

Football's not for wussies(tech)

March 20th, 2013
10:21 am

I totally agree with the lack of statues of the past UGA greats. Also, why not make all the seats red? Probably some liberal up there saying, “We can’t do that because we don’t want to offend the visiting fan base..” Why I outta!

beanster

March 20th, 2013
10:44 am

I am glad to hear that AM continues working hard to get better. That said, I hope he is focusing as much on his touch on his passes as he is trying to get more zip on the ball from torquing his upper body. I realize he is trying to get more velocity with less motion in the pocket, but I don’t seem to recall many missed connections being the result of underthrown balls. I’d like to see him emulate the mistake-free finesse Greenie had his senior year.

DFW Dawg

March 20th, 2013
11:09 am

Bill, would love to see a column filled with interviews with players commenting about how disciplined they will be, both on and off the field this year (obviously this column is only possible if the team truly feels this way, which is really what I want to see). With CMR at the helm and leaders like AM passing up the debauchery of Spring Break in order to improve, I feel like a good tone has been set for this year–and to the best of my knowledge, we skated through the SB period without incident. We’ve had the talent for years, but we now need the attitude. Here’s hoping we have both this year.

Desert Fox

March 20th, 2013
11:34 am

AM will be the defining factor for the Dawgs success for the 2013 season. He and the O will have to carry the D at least for the first 3-4 games then hopefully the D will have gained enough experience to take some of the pressure off AM and the rest of the O.

AM may need some fine tuning in how he throws the ball but hopefully he picked something up from his training trip to OK on remaining calm in the pocket and cutting down on the T/O’s. He’s going to be tested early on w/the likes of Clem, SC and LSU. I thought he did well vs AL and showed poise under pressure. He’ll need a lot of help from his OL which should be better this season w/all LM returning.

This upcoming season is going to be very interesting and exciting to watch especially if the D coaches get these young players and the few vets to play above and beyond last seasons departing players. We’ll find out early on whether they can hold their own and play good enough to keep their opponents out of the end zone while allowing the O to put points on the board. If the D surprises and the O doesn’t sputter this season may be one for the books.

WDE

March 20th, 2013
11:37 am

Nice article Bill, love seeing Murray hone his QB and leadership skills, Jenkins could be a monster for the defense this season. Go Dogs !

GTBob

March 20th, 2013
12:11 pm

I wonder if George Whitfield taught Murray how to win meaningful games.

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing Can Stop it!

March 20th, 2013
12:33 pm

This is the year! Gotta be!

NCDawg

March 20th, 2013
12:57 pm

The key to Jenkins success this season will be the development of a weakside pass rush. Teams were releasing the backside to add another blocker at the point of attack because they were not concerned that the play would be run down from behind and they were confident their LT could handle whoever was coming off the edge on the weakside. This meant that teams could double team JJ with a back if they needed to.
Everybody thought the sky was falling when Justin Houston left early. Nobody really thought that JJ could fill his shoes much less be considerably better. Jordan Jenkins has the potential to be in the neighborhood of how dominant JJ was. There is good reason why Grantham is excited about the kid. No one really knows how it will turn out but I am thinking that Jordan Jenkins will be a major star.
Aaron Murray is a workaholic. He is pretty close to obsessive. I am hoping that he can get this under control because he has tried too hard in every big game he has played in EXCEPT the SEC Championship. If he has matured enough to get past squeezing the bar of soap too hard…watch out.
His struggles have come directly from trying too hard. If you press at the plate in baseball you struggle. Chances are that if you are struggling with your shot in basketball it is because you are pressing. There comes a point where just trusting yourself to be able to do it rather than critiquing every aspect of your game. Perhaps the confidence gained from the camp will translate to “just do it” rather than seeking perfection.

Stiffneck

March 20th, 2013
1:15 pm

Would like to hear more on Sterling Bailey and T.J. Stripling. And whatever became of Ray Drew?

DAWGMAN

March 20th, 2013
1:30 pm

I believe most of us are certain Aaron has the skills. Heck with the yardage he has piled up, it would be foolish to argue otherwise. I don’t believe he’s the kind of guy who has to swagger to make himself feel better about himself. Just the opposite really. I would like to see him have the poise and confidence that he surely is entitled to have at this point. All the best to you, Aaron. Relax and enjoy it all.

bubb4dawgs

March 20th, 2013
1:48 pm

There goes GT Bob running his proverbial mouth again. Oh well, what can you expect. Last season, the Offense proved they could score quickly which doesn’t give the Defense much time to rest. The D will need to rest til they used to the season before opening it up. I do expect a good year for the DAWGS!!

EC Dawg

March 20th, 2013
1:50 pm

GTNerd, George Whitfield definitely didn’t need to spend any time mentoring Murray on how to win the Tech game.

GTBob

March 20th, 2013
1:55 pm

I do expect a good year for the DAWGS!!

Do UGA fans ever expect anything else? Might as well get your annual Capital One bowl tickets now.

GTBob

March 20th, 2013
1:56 pm

GTNerd, George Whitfield definitely didn’t need to spend any time mentoring Murray on how to win the Tech game.

Yep, you will always beat GT. Something to hang your hat on. I would think you would strive for a little more than that though.

Football's not for wussies(tech)

March 20th, 2013
1:58 pm

GT Sponge Bobbie is the biggest wuss afiliated with tech. I guess beating a #2 UF team to solidify a 2nd trip to the SEC CG was a meaningless game. Of course any game that UGA plays against GT is a meaningless game. I personally wish UGA would drop tech and pick up Clemson or FSU instead. Talk about killing a strength in schedule. That’s why Ga. Southern won’t play tech.

EC Dawg

March 20th, 2013
2:00 pm

Moron, we won the SEC East last year and were 5 yards from the National Championship game. It’s safe to say we’re striving for a little more than beating lowly Tech.

Football's not for wussies(tech)

March 20th, 2013
2:02 pm

We don’t hang our hat on beating tech. Your in your own little world wussie Sponge Bobbie. Of course most people think their teams are going to improve throughout college football. Your so sorry to have any expectations about tech. You envy UGA football program so much. Go on the tech blog and talk to your own. WUSS!

ARdawg

March 20th, 2013
2:24 pm

GT Bobby

All wins are meaningful old guy. Some more than others

GTBob

March 20th, 2013
3:08 pm

Moron, we won the SEC East last year and were 5 yards from the National Championship game.

No one cares about division winners and no one cares if you almost accomplished something. That is a complete loser mentality when you are excited about almost winning a conference or almost making a championship game.

GTBob

March 20th, 2013
3:10 pm

I guess beating a #2 UF team to solidify a 2nd trip to the SEC CG was a meaningless game.

Unfortunately, no one believes that Florida was actually the #2 team in the country. They got exposed pretty bad against Louisville and were close to losing to several bad teams. On top of that they had to turn the ball over every play to give you guys a chance.

GTBob

March 20th, 2013
3:11 pm

All wins are meaningful old guy. Some more than others

If everything is meaningful then nothing is meaningful.

Football's not for wussies(tech)

March 20th, 2013
3:41 pm

Your so full of it GT Sponge Bobbie. They won which is more than tech could say. They beat SC & LSU & A&M. Whine all you want, but UGA had the #5 team in nation last year and almost had a chance to win it all if it was not for a great play by the Bama defender.

Football's not for wussies(tech)

March 20th, 2013
3:43 pm

“No one cares about division winners and no one cares if you almost accomplished something.”
____________

Yeah, that’s why Moobs went out and bought rings, whistle rings at that, for the team when they beat UGA. So yea right. They must not have cared. Your such a dope!

Football's not for wussies(GTBob)

March 20th, 2013
3:45 pm

Just go and visit your friends at the tech blog so you can discuss your moral victories!

GTBob

March 20th, 2013
4:06 pm

Just go and visit your friends at the tech blog so you can discuss your moral victories!

The guy who thinks UGA had a great season because they almost beat Alabama is lecturing me on moral victories? Sorry but every time you guys spout the whole 5 yards short thing everyone laughs. Thinking you were actually one of the 5 best teams in the country is pretty laughable too. What does that make South Carolina?

Swamp Thing

March 20th, 2013
4:19 pm

Bill – It’s March Madness , UGA football is on the back burner – and Murray will choke it up again in the SEC – and you are going to play a partial SEC football schedule this year

Go ahead – tell me where the UGA BB team is in THE NCAA/NIT BB tournaments?

UGA – Still 5 yards short..If the choker Grantham had any defense, BAMA would not have had 350 yards on the ground.

Get with the National scene –

Go Gators…

Duke

March 20th, 2013
4:31 pm

Bill,

I am not optimistic about Murray’s chances of IMPROVEMENT.

Guess I’m more of a realist than most UGA homers, I wish Murray was about improvement, but after 3 years, in the BIG GAMES, which are ALL THAT REALLY COUNT, Murray CERTAINLY does NOT get better.

Against ranked teams, Murray is at or worse than his freshman year levels in accuracy, efficiency rating, turnovers.

Interceptions have gone from 8 in 2010 to 14 in 2011 to 12 in 2012. He’s 50% worse than his freshman season.

Against teams that finish in the top 20, Murray’s career record is 1 win and 10 losses.

In Bowl games, Murray is 1-2.

In Sec Championshiops, Murray is 0-2.

You’ll need to look to a LEADER ELSEWHERE, Murray and the word IMPROVEMENT, do not link up in big games.

Duke

March 20th, 2013
4:39 pm

Against ranked teams, Aaron Murray went:
In accuracy
57 in 2010, 54 in 2011, 53 in 2012

Passing efficiency rating
133 in 2010, 128 in 2011, 133 in 2012

Passing yards
238 in 2010, 233 in 2011, 240 in 2012

Interceptions
3 in 2010, 6 in 2011, 7 in 2012

Basically, the more he plays, the worse he gets.

NCDawg

March 20th, 2013
4:56 pm

Duke, read my post further up the page. He tries too hard. That is way different than being a loser. You, like all supposed “realists” that puke up their negativity on these blogs, assume that things will always remain the same. All of you set it in stone that no one can ever improve if they don’t do it within the time frame YOU set.
I guess you always improved immediately in every training you have ever undertaken. I guess that you think you were instantly good at everything you ever tried. I suppose that you never even considered that someone watching you in your job(s) might have thought YOU were never going to make it.
You sad sacks must be a load of fun to be around. I’d rather read GTBob… a known UGA antagonist… than a bunch of sad sack supposed UGA supporters. If you don’t see anything good about the team go pull for someone else. It’s really simple. Go find another fan site and frequent it instead of this one.

NCDawg

March 20th, 2013
4:58 pm

Tide Rolling… go look at Bill’s previous blog. There is post addressed to you that you need to read.

NCDawg

March 20th, 2013
5:03 pm

Duke… did you notice that Murray improved in 2 of those categories? And that there was not a dramatic drop off in ANY of the stats you posted? Yet another doom and gloomer to brighten up our days.

uga alum stuck in south carolina

March 20th, 2013
5:15 pm

I agree that Sanford stadium needs color. It embarrasses me that Williams Brice now looks so much more polished and upscale than Sanford. We have the money – why not use it??? Carolina has done a great job on and around their stadium. There is no excuse for USC to out-class UGA!!!

Bill King

March 20th, 2013
5:42 pm

Duke: Big games are not all that counts. Every SEC game counts the same. Fans may care more about big games, but until you get to the championship, a win over Kentucky is worth as much as a win over Florida or South Carolina.

LOL at UGA haters

March 20th, 2013
5:55 pm

I think it’s funny how GTBoob relies on feedback from posters on this blog. Does the GT football team have a site he can go to? I highly doubt it. He stays on UGA blogs. So much jealousy, and hatred he can’t get over it. UGA will beat Tech for the next 5-6 years easy. Probably longer. Tech can beat Presbyterian, Boston College, and UVA, but when they have to play the big dogs they can’t hang. 42-3 at the end of the 3rd quarter. Big blowout. Dawgs own Tech and always will. Something tells me GTBoob knows that. :) Go Dawgs!

LOL at UGA haters

March 20th, 2013
6:00 pm

Other than the usual trolls, I’m very happy with the UGA team. They seem to have the right attitude towards the season and the team. Nobody got in trouble during SB and thats encouraging. Now during the summer will be the real story. No class, no football drills till August, etc. We’ll see how they hold up then. If we make it to Clemson with our entire team ready to go and hungry, we’ll win. If we’re missing a few key players at key positions, we’re gonna struggle.

Jordan Jenkins has already turned into a huge leader in only his sophomore season. He’s gonna be a star. I love how he gets off the ball and if you watched him vs. Florida last year (his first start as a Dawg), he has tremendous stance and get off. He’ll be a double digit sack guy.

As for Murray, well he’ll pass for the usual 3,000 yards and 30+ touchdowns. Maybe 4,000 with the receivers we have and the backs that’ll take pressure off him.

Duke

March 20th, 2013
6:11 pm

If Murray’s 3 year history is any indication, against ranked teams, here’s where Murray’s numbers will end up in 2013:
accuracy will fall to 51%
passing effic 133
pass yards er game @238
interceptions 6-7 against ranked teams

In other words, Murray is still PERFORMING in his 3rd year, where he was in his 1st year at UGA.

Virtually no improvement, unless you look at silly games like New Mexico State.

Murray, the UGA QB who never beat his freshman numbers against ranked teams.

Thast’s his legacy right now unless something radically different happens.

Duke

March 20th, 2013
6:17 pm

What is working hard? Watching videos? Whatever Murray’s doing with his time is not translating to improvement against ranked teams, so he’s not working on the right stuff, that’s for sure.

Whatever hard work Murray is putting in has led to a 1-10 record against teams that finished in the top 20. It’s not working. That’s for certain.

Duke

March 20th, 2013
6:32 pm

One big problem with the new Oregon like fast break offense is, they don’t control clock well, don’t have long drives, so defense is very sluggish as games wear on and end up giving up 300+ yards rushing because they’re so tired.

LOL at UGA haters

March 20th, 2013
6:38 pm

Duke= Tech hater troll. LMAO smh

Bulldawg35

March 20th, 2013
8:43 pm

I just hope Jenkins is not getting to over confident…..because they a lot of improving and learning to do. The 3-4 seems complicated, sometimes they couldn’t even get lined up properly. If the o-line does well their is no way the offense won’t succeed….. John rump is doing great….he is wearing former dawgs number 18….,Damian Gary.

NCDawgToo

March 20th, 2013
8:48 pm

Thanks for the update and perspective. Glad you had a great time in the “Southern Part of Heaven”. I am a UGA transplant living in Chapel Hill. It really is a lovely place and is a close as you can be to living in Athens without actually being there. UNC has many more similarities to UGA than even Kenan Stadium including both claiming to be the “Oldest Land Grant University”. Would have loved to given you some recommendations for while your were in town. You and I are of the same generation. I am BS Chemistry-Biochemisty ‘84. If you are back in town, would love to buy you a beer at Top of the Hill

Duke

March 20th, 2013
9:23 pm

A UGA hater? Not me. Just saying I am not a fan of Murray staying at where he was when he was a freshman against ranked teams in accuracy, yards, passer effic, and worse in interceptions. Also, not a fan of Murray’s 1-10 record vs ranked teams.

Apparently, many homers love going 1-10 vs. ranked teams, and love a Qb who never improves against ranked teams over his freshman season.

Not a Murray fan, but a BIG UGA fan.

Duke

March 20th, 2013
9:25 pm

Any blogger here that acts happy with Murray’s 1 win 10 loss record against teams that finish top 20, must be a South Carolina fan, hoping Murray continues to start.

Bulldawg35

March 20th, 2013
9:32 pm

Duke just shut up about murrays stats…….everybody knows he has to cut down oh the turnovers….also in these big games…you don’t think the oline and defense deserve some blame for the losses in a these big games???? Trust me you do or your just blind to the team as a whole. Anyways what kind of name is duke…..you sound like a blue devil

Bulldawg35

March 20th, 2013
9:42 pm

Nc dawg…..are u sure you’re not a Tar Heel fan…….who cares about chapel hill…..they suck at football they got beat by tech last year. I wouldn’t waste my money watching a team I wasn’t a fan of and plus they suck at football

RED DOG 77

March 20th, 2013
10:34 pm

Bulldawg35…………..You irritate me, and I wish you would go away, and take that “Tides rolling down hill” dude with you………..I just don’t see your purpose, I guess I’m missing something………….but I’m not sure I want to find it…………..Red

UGA's passer QBs

March 21st, 2013
6:55 am

Zeke Bratkowsi, Johnny Rauch,Eric Zeier and now AM.

These guys were record setting QBs in their respective eras but they won nothing for UGA.

The first two QBs made minor names in the old NFL and Rauch coached in the NFL.

To win big in the SEC, you need a grind g running game accented by a QB that CAN THROW as needed. FSU style does not win in the SEC.

UGA man
Class of 71 & 73