Talking with the QBs: Aaron Murray sees improved passing accuracy as key

Just got around this weekend to transcribing full interviews with the three quarterbacks who this spring will battle for Georgia’s starting job.

Re-listening to the interviews, which Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger and Logan Gray did a few days ago with the beat writers who cover the Dogs, underscored how interesting and important spring practice will be.

I’ve already quoted a few remarks from the interviews, but I’ll post full transcripts here.

Let’s begin with Murray, who was rated the nation’s No. 3 quarterback prospect as a senior at Tampa’s Plant High School and was redshirted as a UGA freshman last season.

So what’s your view of the quarterback competition?

Murray: I view it as, it’s pretty much anyone’s job to take right now. I’m looking forward to this spring. . . . It’s my goal to get that position. I’m going to work as hard as I can and try to work as hard as the other guys, but I know they’re going to be going out there too aiming for that job. It should be fun. It’s going to be interesting. Off the field, we’re not enemies. We hang out; we go out together, go out to eat; you can see us in each other’s rooms hanging out. I mean, it’s not something where we go out there [on the practice field] in hatred, we’re just going out there to win a position. We’re going to be cheering each other on and supporting each other. Two days ago, Zach [Mettenberger] and I went and threw with Marlon [Brown]. We’re helping each other with footwork. And if we have a bad throw, we’re helping each other out with mechanics and stuff like that. So it’s not going to be, you know, go out there and cut each other’s throat off or anything like that. It’s going to be . . . nice friendly competition, and in the end the best guy is going to play.

How different is your mindset this year than last year [when the starting job was generally conceded to be Joe Cox's]?

Murray: When I first came in, I was still fighting for that job. That was my goal. I wanted to play last year. I wanted to come in there and learn everything as fast as I could and hopefully that translates on the field. But obviously that didn’t happen. I feel as a competitor you always want to play no matter what. Even if you think you’re going to redshirt, or maybe everyone says you’re not prepared and the best thing is for you to redshirt, as a competitor you want to play. I wanted to start last year. I have that same mindset right now. This year, I’m a lot more knowledgeable of the game, about defenses, about playbooks, about things like that, so this time I think I’m better equipped to start.

Can you give us a clear picture of what was wrong with your arm last fall [when you were sidelined for a long stretch in practice]?

Murray: It was  triceps and forearm tendinitis that I just tried to push through.  And then it inflamed up and spread throughout the arm.  I didn’t give it the proper rest I should have.  If I had, I probably would have been out a week instead of going four-five weeks [without throwing]. . . .  I learned from that. This offseason, I’m doing a lot more shoulder maintenance . . . making my arm strong [and] building  the endurance so I’ll be properly ready for this season and it doesn’t happen again. I’ve thrown a good amount this year, and it hasn’t bothered me at all. My arm is actually a lot stronger.

You’ve had tests to rule out any other arm or shoulder problems?

Murray: Yeah.  X-rays, anything with the bone, stress fracture -– it was nothing like that. Just good old tendinitis. Once I was done with it, I felt good. It didn’t bother me the rest of season, and in bowl practice it felt fine. . . . My arm is actually feeling a lot stronger, doing all the rehab and shoulder maintenance stuff.

How much do you think the injury set back your development?

Murray: I think it set me back a good bit. . . . Just the [missed] practice experience, playing 7-on-7 and doing 11-on-11, which is pretty much the biggest help for me being a young quarterback. And I wasn’t able to do that for three or four weeks, so I definitely took a step back in that category, just not being able to get the on-field action, the live speed of the game. That definitely didn’t help, but Coach [Mike] Bobo did a good job at the end of the season and in bowl practice giving us young quarterbacks a lot more reps and getting out there [to] somewhat prepare for this season.

What did you learn from Joe Cox in terms of the mental side of being UGA’s starting quarterback and handling criticism?

Murray: A lot. . . .  Coach Bobo would put us on the board a lot and make us draw plays. I was always next to Joe because I always had a lot of questions to ask, and he would help me with the defenses. If I drew the defense wrong, he’d help me draw it right. . . . The mental side of the game, he helped me a lot. And I guess I did learn a lot, too, from the criticism he received. Which I didn’t think was very deserving that people got on to him as hard as they did because they don’t understand he worked extremely hard this past season. . . . It takes a lot to be a college quarterback, much less a SEC quarterback, and I learned watching him all the hard work Joe put in. . . . You got to make it your life; you got to be in the film room day in and day out.

How do you like your chances of winning the competition for the starting job?

Murray: It’s going to be a good one. It should be close. So we’ll see.  I’m confident. I’m going to go out there every day and work my butt off like I’m the starter. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be an exciting spring. The best guy is going to be the starter, no matter what.

Did Zach [Mettenberger] make strides forward while you were sidelined with tendinitis last fall?

Murray: Zach made huge strides, Logan [Gray] made huge strides, throughout the season. The more reps you get during practice, the more improvement you’re going to make. . . . The more game-like experience you get, the better you can get. Zach, Logan and I would [quarterback] the No. 2 offense; we’d go against the No. 1 defense. And when you go against that kind of speed, you’re getting better. I mean, [whether] you’re completing passes, not completing passes, getting sacked, you’re getting your body used to how fast the game is.

How would you compare your game and Zach’s game?

Murray: Zach is more, [as] everyone always says, the bigger, pocket-type quarterback. I’m not nearly as big as him, and I can somewhat make plays with my feet — not as much as Logan can.  I feel it’s pretty much Zach is the big pocket quarterback and I’m the guy who can make some plays on the run and throw the ball a little bit too.

What is the biggest thing you need to do or improve in order to win the starting job?

Murray: Accuracy. . . . Watching the NFL in the postseason and Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, the reason they’re the top guys  in the NFL right now is that they’re putting the ball on the money. And watching the Super Bowl, Drew Brees is 32 of 37. He just puts the ball on the money, no matter what. That’s the biggest thing, and I think that’s what [UGA] coaches are looking for too -– what guys are going to make completions? If something is not open downfield, be smart enough to check it down to a running back instead of just trying to launch it downfield to make a play. Just be smart with the ball and try not to force things. Like last year in practice, I would try to force things, thinking I was back in high school and [tight end] Orson Charles used to jump over everyone. But they got some athletes on defense [at this level] that if you try to do that they’re going to make plays.

Whoever wins the quarterback job will join 10 returning starters on offense. . . .

Murray: We have an unbelievable offense for next season. You look at the offensive line; we have, like, seven or eight [players with starting experience].  The skill positions are unbelievable. It’s not going to be all on your shoulders. We have a great running game, two great young running backs. With that offensive line, we should put up some great numbers on the running game. So I really don’t feel that whoever wins the [QB] job is going to really have that much pressure on them because it’s a balanced attack. It’s not going to be like we’re going to go out there and throw the ball 40 times a game. We’re going to be able to hand the ball to our running backs most of the game and let them do the work. And with our great offensive line, I think we can make some big plays in the running game and let us do some play-action. That’s when you’re going to hit A.J. [Green] deep down the field.

How would you handle the media scrutiny that comes with being UGA’s starting quarterback?

Murray: Don’t read the Internet or papers, pretty much. Everyone is going to have their opinion. There’s going to be fans out there booing you or people rooting for Zach or Logan to start with. You just can’t let that affect [you], can’t let that get to my head. I just got to go out there and know every day I’m not competing against them. I’m not competing against the media or the fans. I’m just competing with myself to get better every day. And that’s my ultimate goal — just to continue to strive to become the best quarterback I can be and not worry about all the outside stuff.

Next up: interview with Zach Mettenberger.

Please follow me on Twitter for the latest UGA news and notes.

155 comments Add your comment

Trey

February 14th, 2010
2:42 pm

About Aaron Murray

February 14th, 2010
2:42 pm

Excellent interview.

Aaron’s very smart. 4.8 gpa on 4.0 scale, 1200 SAT. That’s a BIG advantage in learnign the playbook, checkdowns, reading defenses, etc.

If the UGA QB is accruate, and limits INT’s and QB fumbles, I feel like the play-mix will move to a 50/50 play-mix, and it should.

But the play-mix will start out probably 67% run, 33% pass, and it should with a young QB.

I see Murray’s advantage over Gray and Zach as the mental side. And leadership, the 2 State Championships at Div. 5AAAAA say a lot.

RxDawg

February 14th, 2010
2:47 pm

Wow, nice write up.

Steve

February 14th, 2010
2:47 pm

I just hope we get someone out there who doesnt turn the ball over

About Aaron Murray

February 14th, 2010
2:49 pm

Ia gree with what Aaron said about Joe Cox getting blamed for too much. Cox played better than Stafford played his 1st year. Cox just threw too many int’s in bunches, like 3 in a game. The 14 INT’s in 13 games wasn’t horrible for a 1st year if spread evenly over 13 games. But throwing them in bunches, that hurt.

Bobo has to be accountable for some of that with:
1- Not getting the QB open looks
2- Not getting the QB’s prepared for each opponent
3- Calling too many passes into high traffic areas
4- Not calling enough run plays early to help the QB’s confidence
5- Not teaching the QB to throw it away, or throw t a checkdown outlet, or take a sack, instead of forcing into tight coverage and riskign an INT

What is Bobo Looking For?

February 14th, 2010
3:03 pm

Based on past history, you’d have to think Bobo’s leaning towards a pure pocket passer who can throw the long ball. Bobo loves to throw it long. And a running QB risks injury. The NFL Pro style offense is usually just an excellent pocket passer like Manning. Between Ealey, King & Branden Smith, getting rushing yards won’t be the problem. If it’s based on passing, you’d have to think it’s between Zach & Murray.

Of course, if Bobo is looking for a dual-threat QB, to give the defense more to prepare for, and to give Bobo more options, then it will be between Aaron and Logan. But that also brings a higher risk of injury.

If it’s all about accuracy, I like Hutson Mason’s 72% completion rate.

Craigee, a.k.a. Champ's Hero

February 14th, 2010
3:11 pm

Bobo: A Triple Rotation Offense

February 14th, 2010
3:11 pm

Knowing Bobo, he’ll end up rotating QB’s every play to keep defenses guessing. I could see a situation where Gray goes in on 1st down running the triple option, Murray on 2nd down, and Zach on 3rd down. Bobo has doen that with the running backs, so my guess is he’ll do that with the QB’s too. Triple QB rotation. Bobo thinks rotation makes players work harder because of the competition.

Please lord

February 14th, 2010
3:12 pm

ANYBODY but Joe Cox. Bring back DJ Shockley….hell, even that craptastic Buck Belew. Lord knows neither of them are doing anything useful.

Bremen Dawg

February 14th, 2010
3:14 pm

Good interview. Sounds like he has his head on straight.

About Aaron Murray

February 14th, 2010
3:26 pm

I want a QB who believes he can win the National Championship in 2010 as a freshman like Kosar did at Miami and Jamelle H. did at Oklahoma. We need a guy who expects perfection and doesn’t use college inexperience as an excuse for poor decision making. We need a guy who performs like a 4 year starter.

Aarom Murray is battle-tested. He competed at the 5AAAAA highest level and won 2 National Championships. He also won the Elite 11 camp against the Texas kid. Murray is ready. He just needs to believe that and execute & perform on the field.

About Aaron Murray

February 14th, 2010
3:33 pm

Looks like Murray sees himself as a better runner than Zach, and a better passer than Logan. If that’s true, that gives him a big advantage.

DawginOH

February 14th, 2010
3:50 pm

I’m excited to see what Murray can bring to next year’s team. He seems like a quality young man with a good head on his shoulders. I like how he comes across as very confident without being arrogant or self-satisfied. Let’s hope that success on the HS football field can translate into success in the SEC. Go Dawgs!

hmmmm......

February 14th, 2010
3:58 pm

When’s the spring game? And will it be on tv?? Hopefully Aarron or Zach will take the job. I like Gray i just think he has the weakest arm.

Aaron Murray 7.3 Td-to-Int Ratio

February 14th, 2010
3:58 pm

One impressive advantage Murray has is his td to int ratio:

Zach’s was 1.1
Logan’s was 2.5
Murray’s is 7.3

A 7.3 TD to INT Ratio is unbeleivable. The guy threw for 51 TD’s against only 7 int’s, where Zach had 10 td’s against 9 Int’s, and Logan had 25 TD’s against 10 Int’s.

the facts...the real facts

February 14th, 2010
4:01 pm

If Georgia’s Coaches do not get with the rest of the SEC in Quarterbacks(a QB that is somewhat mobile) they will find themselves finishing 3rd in the SEC East Again and back in Shreveport. The O line should be better….the defense will have holes and new direction which will make the Offense either have to get ahead early or play catch up.
The Murray kid is a tough youngster who came back from a broken leg and won a state championship against Div I athletes…I do not believe Dalton has played in many State Championship games….

boston dawg

February 14th, 2010
4:10 pm

this is aaron and zach’s battle for sure. if logan were a serious candidate, we would have seen more of him last year during joe’s rougher stretches of play. i expect him to theoretically be in the mix for the spring, but eventually move to wr and special teams because of his athleticism.

i give the edge to aaron, but zach has an excellent shot, too. should be the best spring competition for qb at uga since richt’s first year.

About Aaron Murray

February 14th, 2010
4:10 pm

Aaron Murray’s 7.3 TD-to-Int Ratio and is impressive but so is Hutson Mason’s at 5.4

Mason threw for 54 td’s against 10 int’s.

Top TD-to-Int Ratios for UGA QB’s:
Murray 7.3
Mason 5.4
Logan 2.5
Zach 1.1

UGA QB's Completion Rate Comparison..

February 14th, 2010
4:13 pm

If you look at accuracy, it breaks down like this:

Mason 73% completion rate
Zach 62% completion rate
Murray 61% completion rate
Logan 58% completion rate

UGA QB Dream 2010

February 14th, 2010
4:19 pm

We need a guy that does what McElroy did at Bama.

4.25 td-to-int ratio (17 td’s to 4 int’s)
61% completion rate

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

February 14th, 2010
4:27 pm

i just want the best QB for the job- forget HS rankings/#s, doesn’t mean squat…Richt/Bobo need to make the correct choice and not base it off a popularity contest. All 3 sound great though…should be interesting.

UGA98

February 14th, 2010
4:31 pm

Murray is the man for the job. His height may be an issue like joe cox but other than that he has what it takes. If he would have started as a true freshman last year he would have one us 9 games.

Yellow Fuzz

February 14th, 2010
4:33 pm

Can’t wait. Hope georgia’s qb’s and entire offense and defense are running on all cylinders come late November.

Good QB Models

February 14th, 2010
4:35 pm

Pike- 62% compl rate, 5.0 td-to-int ratio(29 td’s, 6 int’s), 12 sacks
Moore- 67% compl rate, 13 td-to-int ratio(39 td’s, 3 int’s), 5 sacks

Best 2 UGA QB’s for this model:
Murray
Mason

skyhigh

February 14th, 2010
4:41 pm

Aaron Murray is going to be the best quarterback in the SEC for 2010. Mark it down!!

We have the best turnaround coahcing staff in the country! Grantham will lead us to the nations best scoring defense and total defense next season – bank on it!! He’s the best defensive mind of his generation and is immediately the best defensive coach in the nation!! Nick Saban asked him to help game plan for big stretches over the past few seasons, and he’s also taught them their defense through different seminars.

Grantham is a legend and will carry us to the national title!!

Further, Aaron Murray is a terrific quarterback and will almost certainly be the number one pick after 2011 – he has one of the strongest arms ever, even stronger than Brett Favre!! Mark it down!!

This is going to be the golden years of Georgia football!! Wooo Hoooo!!!!!!!!

Yellow Fuzz

February 14th, 2010
4:49 pm

lol. I’ll have what skyhigh is drinking.

TROTTINGHOME

February 14th, 2010
5:00 pm

That be ,,,Vodka

THE YELLOW SWARM

February 14th, 2010
5:02 pm

aaron murray vs. THE SWARM @JOE SPEED
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J
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skyhigh

February 14th, 2010
5:06 pm

Mark it down!! We have the best coaching staff in the country, and quite possibly the best college coaching staff ever assembled!!

Tailback U

February 14th, 2010
5:07 pm

You drink enough already Yellow Fuzz . We’ve already seen
enough of your posts to know that.

Buckhead Bulldog

February 14th, 2010
5:10 pm

Timmmmay- you out did yourself! Great interview. Good luck to Aaron, and Zach, and Logan. All three seem like really good kids who love to compete. Good luck fellas, and I look forward to April 10 to check y’all out.

At last years G-Day game, I thought Logan was really putting the ball on the money….and I mean long strikes to the numbers.

I assume the G-Day will be at 1p.m.? Anyone hear anything different?

Just day dreaming…but wouldn’t it be cool to have a night time G-Day game? I bet that would get a big crowd, and there would be some nice tailgating on a Spring night.

Buckhead Bulldog

February 14th, 2010
5:17 pm

THE YELLOW SWARM : Dude! You are retarded………but funny with your consistent Joe Speed stuff. : )

Hey Techies…baseball is looking good this year for y’all. This Matt Dove kid sounds like a stud?

THE YELLOW SWARM

February 14th, 2010
5:20 pm

skyhigh=crash @ burn(aka me crash quick). YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME ! THIS KID AINT EVEN SNIFFED THE FIELD AND YOU HAVE HIM WINNING THE HEISMAN TROPHY! YOUR 4:41 POST IS A TONGUE AND CHEEK STATEMENT. GO TO THE ‘TECH’ BLOG AND POST THIS FARCE AND WATCH HOW THEY RUN YOU OFF. WHAT ARE YOU 12 YEARS OLD. NO ONE AND I MEAN NO ONE BUYS THIS CRAP.

G

February 14th, 2010
5:21 pm

Enter your comments here

THE YELLOW SWARM

February 14th, 2010
5:24 pm

HEAR WE GO AGAIN AT 5:06. AND THANKS BUCKHEAD BULLDOG- MY SISTER THINKS I AM ‘TARTED ALSO. SERIOUS STUFF —- JOE Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz SPEED…..

Circus Act

February 14th, 2010
5:37 pm

Seems like Ive heard this before about our running game was going to be strong and our offensive line was strong. Aaron Murray bum leg? bum arm? Will he be another injury prone guy? Logan Gray made huge strides last year? Boy hope that interception in the Florida game wasn’t a good indicator. That Freshman Texas QB was thrown into the fire during the MNC game did very well huh. But lets excuse Logan Gray because he was playing a team that has beaten the dawgs 17 times out of the last 20. Give me a break! Dawgs will take some big hits this year and its all CMR’s fault period !

swimdawg68

February 14th, 2010
5:41 pm

Hey Yellow Fuzz,if you think what we did on the flats last Nov. was tough wait until you come to Athens this Nov. Our powerful offensive line will dominate your small defensive line. You were exposed by us and Iowa. What is funny is CPJ goes out and hires a retread coach from VA. to coach your defense. What a joke! If he was so great, how come he coached so poorly at VA? I’ll take our new DC over what you have any day, not to mention we have far more talent on defense. The trade school winning the ACC Championship tells us how weak that league is.

skyhigh

February 14th, 2010
5:54 pm

I’m 35 years old, a graduate of Georgia and own a business – hardly the ‘tard you’d hope for.

I know what I’m talking about, I have an ‘in’ with the coaching staff.

I’m serious, Grantham is a legend already among coaches. He plays 3D chess while others play checkers!! Mark it down!!

We’re going to roll everyone!!! Do you smell that? That’s called fear from the rest of the SEC – they know what’s going on . . .

Louie

February 14th, 2010
5:59 pm

Well where do I start.

Glad to see topic turn.
jackhammer, what gives,dude?

As for murray, muttenburger and gray, hell put em in a bag,shake em up and dump em out.
Probably 1) gray (you know cmr is a loyal one, remember tereshinski and the talented senior j. cox)
2) Maybe murray ( seems to be a whiner,may be second coming of Chipper Jones)
3) muttenburger( had a average high school career , got cmr to offer because his momma works in the office, height a plus)

Better hope you can run the ball, if forced to throw, happy feet could be a problem.

It’s do or die for the mutts this year.

Good Luck. STILL

THE YELLOW SWARM

February 14th, 2010
6:03 pm

I’M SKYHIGH AND THE GROUND IS GETTING CLOSER. WAIT A MINUTE, SPLATTT !!!

[...] Talking with the QBs- Aaron Murray Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)I am just glad it’s overThe Dawgs are Installing the Triangle and little talk about Low expectationsESPN’s Low wraps up the Spring for the SEC;Georgia [...]

Señora Weeb

February 14th, 2010
6:33 pm

“Georgia senior center Albert Jackson was arrested early Friday on an outstanding warrant stemming from a misdemeanor hit-and-run in an Athens parking lot two years ago.”

Here we go again. Arrest #1 for the year. Thugs rule at UGA!

Some things never change.

Señora Weeb

February 14th, 2010
6:36 pm

Go to http://www.uga-felonies.com to enter your guess of how many UGA players are arrested in 2010. Winner gets a free tour of the UGA library to see both books.

Athens PD

February 14th, 2010
6:52 pm

Sometimes on them big guys you got to use a taser AND a POleece dog.

Sweet Home Alabama

February 14th, 2010
6:55 pm

Senora Webb you make a valid point.However the ;last young man was a hit and run,he is not in jail anymore.I do not know if anymore got locked up over the weekend.

We still have tonite to go.i think they have had 35 arrested over a 2 year period not bad for
FOR UGA.

Hanky Panky

February 14th, 2010
7:05 pm

Enter your comments here

Jason

February 14th, 2010
7:10 pm

Uh, sorry y’all! Aaron Murray’s going to Ripley’s Believe It or Not to state his case for getting .8 points over a 4.0 academic scale. they saw that and wanted an interview. Too bad for the Dawgs: AM will accept a position at Wellesley College in Mass. and will coach the Women’s Water Polo team.
JPC

ReptilesRule

February 14th, 2010
7:10 pm

I’ll make a comment since I actually saw Aaron and Orson Charles play down here at Plant H.S. in Tampa. Both are very talented and I expect both will have an excellent chance of starting next year. Aaron has a good feel for pressure and showed alot of courage coming back from injury at the end of his HS career and winning a championship. Unfortunately, he will become Gator Bait this October. Murray will find himself buried beneath in an avalance of talented Florida DL. Take your pick, guys with previous starting experience like Justin Trattou, William Green, Terron Sanders, Lawrence Marsh, Brandon Antwine Jaye Howard, Duke Lemmons, as well as RS five star talent Gary Brown, even newcomers Ronald Powell, Shariff Floyd, Dominique Easley, Leon Orr will all be trying to get a piece of him…

Cornelius Washington

February 14th, 2010
7:39 pm

Paul Johnson has a double chin and Urban Meyer has no chin. Paul Johnson also has man breasts and nose cleavage.

The Guy nailing Randy Bettis' wife. Also, Avid Addiction is the worse band ever.

February 14th, 2010
8:05 pm

Can’t wait to see what he can do.