Head-scratcher: Aaron Murray has been great, yet UGA is 5-6

The good news: This quarterback is a keeper. (AP photo)

The good news: This quarterback is a real keeper. (AP photo)

Had you told me on Sept. 3 that the Ides of November would find Georgia under .500, I’d have had two thoughts. The first: “Ain’t no way.” (For the record, I picked the Bulldogs to finish 9-3.) The second: “If there is a way, it’ll be because Aaron Murray isn’t ready.”

And that’s what makes Georgia being 5-6 so confounding. More than simply being ready, Aaron Murray has been good bordering on great. A redshirt freshman, he’s already the third-best quarterback in the SEC, and the league’s best is Cam Newton, the finest player among collegians, and its second-best is the splendid passer Ryan Mallett. Murray is 15th nationally in passing efficiency. (Newton and Mallett are second and fourth, respectively.)

Heck, we can make a compelling case that Murray has been the best freshman quarterback in Bulldog annals, and those annals are inscribed with the deeds of some fairly fine frosh.

  • Aaron Murray, 2010: 173 completions in 285 attempts; a completion percentage of 60.7; 21 touchdowns against six interceptions; 2,580 yards passing.
  • Matthew Stafford, 2006: 135 completions in 256 attempts; a completion percentage of 52.7; seven touchdowns against 13 interceptions; 1,749 yards passing.
  • David Greene, 2001: 192 completions in 324 attempts; a completion percentage of 59.3; 17 touchdowns against nine interceptions; 2,789 yards passing.
  • Quincy Carter, 1998: 176 completions in 290 attempts; a completion percentage of 60.7; 12 touchdowns against nine interceptions; 2,484 yards passing.
  • Eric Zeier, 1991: 159 completions in 286 attempts; a completion percentage of 55.6; seven touchdowns against four interceptions; 1,984 yards passing.

(We should stipulate that Zeier and Stafford didn’t begin their freshman seasons as the No. 1 quarterback. Both, however, played in the season opener –  Zeier as the No. 2 behind Greg Talley, Stafford as No. 3 behind Joe Tereshinski III and Joe Cox — and both became No. 1 for good in October of those respective years.)

OK, those are the numbers. Murray already has the best completion percentage (tied with Carter), the second-fewest interceptions behind Zeier and the most touchdowns, and he’s within reach of Greene’s school record for passing yardage by a freshman. But here’s the weird part:

The Bulldogs were 9-3 in both Zeier’s and Carter’s freshman seasons, 8-4 in Greene’s, 9-4 in Stafford’s. How is it possible that a team returning every offensive starter save the quarterback could see that new quarterback perform so ably — and still be 5-6? (And of those six losses, only the Florida game,  in which Murray threw half of his total of six interceptions, could be debited to the quarterback — and it must be noted that even on his worst day Murray led the rally that forced overtime.)

Not much about this Georgia season has made sense, but this part makes the least. The one offensive variable has come up trumps, and still the team enters its final scheduled game needing to win to become bowl-eligible.

Here’s how addled I am: I’m tempted to say, “Put Murray on Florida and the Gators would have won the SEC East,” or, “Put Murray on South Carolina and the Gamecocks would be 9-1, not 7-3″ … and then I realize the team he’s on finished behind those two. Maybe you can make some sense of it. Obviously I can’t.

384 comments Add your comment

elvisaintdead

November 17th, 2010
9:50 am

And we kick this one off

elvisaintdead

November 17th, 2010
9:51 am

AM is well on his way to being a real BA

30-24 Dawgs - We Run This State

November 17th, 2010
9:53 am

Simple Mark, it boils down to a few key turnovers at inopportune times (e.g. Ealey’s fumble at SC, CK4’s fumble at CO) coupled with some hug plays allowed by the defense (e.g. Arkansas, Gaytors).

Larry

November 17th, 2010
9:53 am

Coaching…or, more precisely, the lack thereof!

merculf

November 17th, 2010
9:54 am

It’s all Auburn’s fault if you read some of the other blogs. Nick Fairley and Cam Newton have caused the Bulldogs to have a bad season because they are cheaters and play dirty. What ever.

Dra

November 17th, 2010
9:55 am

What happens next year when AJ and Kris are gone?
Uga-lee

todd grantham

November 17th, 2010
9:55 am

its cause Georgia has no defense.

DawginLex

November 17th, 2010
9:56 am

Mark the defense can’t consistently stop anyone and we don’t have the personnel to play the 3-4.

AM is tough as nails and a keeper as far as I am concerned but he needs help from the defense.

82Dawg

November 17th, 2010
9:56 am

The defense is not where it should be, don’t have the players for the system yet. When you score 30 points a game you should win.CTG needs a couple of years to get his style of players in.

todd grantham

November 17th, 2010
9:58 am

no defense plus turnovers at the worst times.

GW

November 17th, 2010
9:58 am

Being the genius that you are Bradley, if you can’t figure it out, nobody can.

Dale

November 17th, 2010
9:58 am

Urban is 9-7 at Florida without Tebow.

Josh

November 17th, 2010
9:59 am

Murray has the best receiver in football. Sure he was out 3 games, but still.

Also, and this is a fact but many will say it ain’t so but the sec east is very down this year. Tenn and vandy are awful. Colo has no defense. And you played to cupcakes. So it’s easy to see why he has great stats. Tech will only make them better.
But next year losing Green and Durham will hurt and I think it will be a sophmore slump big time.

Bryan G.

November 17th, 2010
10:00 am

If you look at all of Georgia’s stats, they look like the stats of a team that is 9-2 or better – not 5-6. This year has been really odd. The fact is, they just haven’t gotten stops on defense when they were needed and they haven’t had big plays on offense late. That’s the difference in losing 6 games and losing 2 or fewer.

Look at LSU: they could EASILY have lost 4 more games. It’s like home remodeling….it’s the details that matter.

UGABugKiller

November 17th, 2010
10:01 am

Mark, it boils down to DISCIPLINE.

Under Mark Richt, the Dawgs have no discipline, because they do not fear (respect) him.

They have no discipline on the field. They have no discipline off the field.

This also goes against the strength and conditioning coach, too, who is supposed to be the guy besides the head coach who fosters and grows the discipline of the team.

It is BEYOND time for Mark Richt to fire VanHallinger, but he’ll NEVER do it. They’re closer than brothers, far closer than he and Soft Willie were.

Also, Richt’s idiotic decision to do away with two-a-days played right into all the late game collapses this team has had over the course of this season.

This team is soft and undisciplined. A piss-poor reflection on the head coach and the strenght and conditioning coach.

I think they both need to go. We already know McGarity doesn’t have the stones to make the right move with Richt, so Richt needs to make the right move and fire VanHallinger.

Too bad he won’t. He has a vast history of putting personal relationships before the good of the program.

Which is why Richt DOES NOT deserve to be the head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs, no matter what moron blind homers who are frakking cowards who fear change (quite possibly the most irrational and illogical fear of all) might say.

Hankie Aron

November 17th, 2010
10:02 am

The defense has struggled in the big games and turnovers. They have competed in most of the games and made it close or somewhat close in the end

Dean Tate

November 17th, 2010
10:02 am

It’s been the defense, pure and simple. Look past the statistics. In three losses – South Carolina, Miss. State and Auburn – Georgia could not get the other team’s offense off the field, even though only Auburn scored a ton of points. But the offensive domination in time of possession during those games limited Georgia’s opportunities on offense. That’s why they didn’t score more against S.C. and MSU. Grantham needs more time. Anybody calling for his job after one year is an idiot. As for the Colorado loss, it will never be explained.

juvenal

November 17th, 2010
10:02 am

3-4 stinks in college, or more teams would use it………

DawginLex

November 17th, 2010
10:03 am

2011 schedule

OOC: louisville,Coastal Carolina, New Mexico State at GT
SEC: SC,MSU,KY,AU-at home Vandy,UT,Ole Miss-Away Florida in J’ville

I don’t see anything there to point to a slump for Murray. I see an opportunity to win a lot IF the defense improves.

GetOverIt

November 17th, 2010
10:04 am

We run this State Pentinentiary!

Ryan

November 17th, 2010
10:04 am

Urban is 17-7 without Tebow

joe

November 17th, 2010
10:04 am

You have AJ to thank for that…and lack of decent running backs…and suspect D…and very poor coaching…and don’t forget Russ.

Hankie Aron

November 17th, 2010
10:04 am

UGABugKiller- I do agree some that Richt and Hallinger should be gone but you know on Saturday before the Auburn game Mcgarity basically said Richt is not going anywhere at least for one more season

Gene

November 17th, 2010
10:04 am

Murray’s play has been a bright spot in a terrible season. He has taken some vicious hits throughout the year and gotten up almost each time. In September, Georgia fans were saying he was too small and fragile. There is nothing fragile or timid about this kid. He should have a great career, and I am thinking he will stay around a while.

Mr.Obvious

November 17th, 2010
10:05 am

Georgia’s problem with offense in 2010 has been the Offensive Coordinator, not the Quarterback.

tisha

November 17th, 2010
10:05 am

not to mention uga’s premier rb and receiver, a s__t load of 4 and 5 stars but yet only 5 wins..how the mighty have fallen, to think just two years ago you were preranked number one and on the cover of SI, penthouse to the outhouse in record time

A Fan, not an expert like the rest of you idiots!!!

November 17th, 2010
10:06 am

Murray’s numbers weren’t so great during that four-game losing streak. In the sc, miss state, and first half of the Ark games, he was learning the system. It wasn’t just AJ being out. The Colorado game was a fluke, but we still could have won. Losing three in a row, having to go all the way to Colorado, and Colorado played their best game of the season.

Here is the reality. We haven’t be whipped by any team. The dawgs have been in every single game. Many years, you can pick out two to three games that we could have lost. Not this year, but you can look at all of the loses and say that we could have won.

The future is bright. The D will get better. Murray is the future.

Worm

November 17th, 2010
10:06 am

For Sale: White Limo-Fairley good condition-Blown Cam shaft..Asking 200,000?

Hankie Aron

November 17th, 2010
10:06 am

I think next year Georgia wins 9 or 10 games. Defense will be better and offense will be as well. Hopefully we can eliminate the late game turnovers.

tisha

November 17th, 2010
10:07 am

thank God uga played two sisters of the poor, record could be much worse

82Dawg

November 17th, 2010
10:08 am

@Gene …I don’t thing it was UGA fans saying that he was to small, it was Techies, Gators and the other haters wishing they had him mostly saying that.

reebok

November 17th, 2010
10:08 am

good lord that 2011 schedule is soft

SimpleDawg

November 17th, 2010
10:08 am

Where would the Dawgs be without Murray?

The vaunted offensive line hasn’t played as well as expected…maybe we expected too much.
No A.J. made a huge difference early. Chris Durham tried to make up the difference, no one else did.
RBs in and out of the lineup…no continuity in the run game. O-line woes.

Defense vulnerable to the run and the pass. Too many big plays allowed. Too many square pegs in round holes.

Lack of passion and fire in the players….and in the head coach.

The future looked bright. Without some changes, next year will be “Return to the Future”.

Where would the Dawgs be without Murray?

Hairless and scoreless.

timthebrave

November 17th, 2010
10:08 am

The problem isn’t the offense. Aaron Murray and the offense have looked good most of the year but the defense hasn’t stopped anybody. The most frustrating thing is watching teams run the same plays and they work over and over again. How many wheel routes have gone for over 20 yards. Cam Newton is a beast but it was so frustrating watching the guard pull and Cam Newton follow him for 10 FIRST DOWNS on 3rd down. Even on 3rd and long. Where were the adjustments. If we put the safeties in the box and he beats us long I would be fine with that. STOP ANYTHING! We are still going to beat the bugs! Go Dawgs!

Herschel Talker

November 17th, 2010
10:10 am

MB:

You are silly. You put out a column implying that Mark Richt aint what he was, and then you say it’s a head scratcher why a UGA team with talent is underachieving. Is this a joke?

I’ll ask again. When do we get the why Mark Richt should be fired column?

HT

Herschel Talker

November 17th, 2010
10:12 am

FIRE MARK RICHT. IT’S TIME TO CLEAN HOUSE!

dobearsbare

November 17th, 2010
10:12 am

Point of order: Georgia went 9-4 Stafford’s freshman season. Carry on.

Mc

November 17th, 2010
10:13 am

Anytime you lose the best receiver in football and your 2nd or 3rd best on the team, you will see a decline. Think how many catches aj has made that a decent receiver has no chance to catch. Take away at least 4 t’ds from this season and 200 yards cuase that’s how much aj adds to a team with his superior capabilities.

McDawg

November 17th, 2010
10:14 am

if A.J. is not suspended we are 9-1 (AU loss) maybe 8-2 (SC loss)

Alex

November 17th, 2010
10:14 am

Lost to every sec west team this year. And we didn’t have to play Lsu or bama.

PMC

November 17th, 2010
10:14 am

Aaron Murray isn’t the problem though. We said this before the season Mark when people were whining about spring game nonsense.

Georgia’s roster isn’t very good. They have a lot of really high potential guys, that haven’t gotten better or bigger or stronger since high school. If they have they are progressing incredibly slowly. Georgia has no elite backs, no elite offensive linemen, outside of AJ Green no elite WR’s.

They should be better they could be better…. Orson Charles is a player.

Tavarres King…could be good… he’s too interested in being drunk and committing personal fouls.

Marlon Brown…all kinds of ability still waiting.

Georgia hasn’t had a safety who could cover worth a crap probably since Shawn Jones. They have had a lot of dumb guys who feel like their only job is to hit someone as hard as they can though.

Outside of about 10 players in 85… Georgia has a lot of guys who just haven’t lived up to thier potential. Sad really. A waste.

It shouldn’t take years to learn simple concepts or how to play hard… but it does at Georgia.

Next year, isn’t going to be much better. It could be worse becuase they lose two of the three impact players on the team.

I think Jones and Samuel will be fine additions to the linebacking corps… but really… expectations next year should probably be around 5 or 6 wins…. unless a switch goes off and these guys start playing better… the roster just isn’t very good.

McDawg

November 17th, 2010
10:15 am

we actually maybe 7-3 (UF)

It's pretty simple

November 17th, 2010
10:16 am

The defense sucks

collegeballfan

November 17th, 2010
10:16 am

It’s a puzzlement.

DAWG Colonel

November 17th, 2010
10:16 am

DEFENSE…..a blind man could see the difference.

Give Grantham some time to institute the system and get the right players. Get the offensive line back to par (maybe time to make a coaching change there). A lot of the offensive problems were directly related to the failure of the highly touted offensive line to produce.

Lastly, recruit some running backs that can step up and play immediately. The running game has been average at best with King and Ealey. Maybe Malcome and Crowell will be the answer.

Championship football teams ALL to two things well…..play defense and run the football. UGA doesn’t do either very well this year.

German Shepherd Dawg

November 17th, 2010
10:18 am

Larry,

Where are Moe and Curly?

Bama Dawg

November 17th, 2010
10:19 am

UGABugKiller, Remind me again what your record was when you were head coach of the Bulldogs . . oh, sorry you never were. Mark Richt doesn’t have to earn the right to be the head coach – he was hired to be the head coach and the AD can fire him at any time. He has earned the right to continue coaching by having one of the best ten-year records in the country, two SCE championships and no losing seasons.

With your logic Vince Dooley would have only lasted a couple of years as head coach rather than 25 years.

Why don’t you and those other folks who can’t seem to support the program when things are tough should go find another team to “coach”, since you obviously know much more that 90% of college football coaches.

McDawg

November 17th, 2010
10:19 am

we lack depth were it counts most on the Offensive Line and the Defensive Line (and QB, & RB, & safeties)

i really hope we are scouring the JUCO ranks for a nose tackle or this 3-4 just isn’t going to work–i also hope Boykin is not getting any silly ideas about coming out early-he has the potential to be a shut down corner but not quite there

Jeremiah

November 17th, 2010
10:20 am

I have been trying to make sense of this season and it didn’t take long once I looked at the roster. Besides the number of juniors of the team, the team is overwhelmingly freshman (redshirt and true) and sophomores (redshirt and true). Now of course mathematically this makes some sense, but we do not have very many seniors at all on the team. This team is young and I think once the younger players start playing and we get some fresh recruits, you will see a different team. For whatever reason, these past two years just did not have the right mix and talent. I have a hunch (based on Georgia’s constant recruiting elitism) that some of the talent that has been recruited in the past but has not played will make ALL the difference. New leaders, etc.

PMC

November 17th, 2010
10:20 am

Everyone has vastly overrated the abilities of one Stacey Searles.