Most people who follow Georgia football had figured since the end of last season that Aaron Murray probably would be the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback in 2010. What no one figured, of course, was that his competition would dissipate as it has.
But with Zach Mettenberger dismissed from the team and Logan Gray shifting part-time to wide receiver, Murray seems suddenly solidly entrenched as the Dogs’ 2010 quarterback.
“We’re thinner at QB than we expected to be at this time,” coach Mark Richt told a Bulldog Club gathering this week, “but if you want to feel good about it, just go back on the Internet and do a little search on Aaron Murray and watch Aaron’s high school tape. And I think you’ll get just as excited as you were the day he . . . committed to Georgia.”
(If you want to heed Richt’s advice, by the way, you can find plenty video of Murray’s high school days on YouTube.)
Richt has said that Murray, a redshirt freshman, would have been No. 1 on the post-spring depth chart even if Mettenberger had not been kicked off the team, and Gray’s desire to play wide receiver seems to speak volumes about how he saw the chances of surpassing Murray at quarterback this summer.
In high school in Tampa, Murray was a Parade Magazine All-American and MVP of the prestigious Elite 11 camp for the nation’s top quarterback prospects. But fresher on Georgia fans’ minds is his underwhelming performance in the G-Day spring game.
Richt seemed to be trying to ease those concerns during the Bulldog Club meeting at the Walnut Creek Shooting Preserve near Macon this week.
“His skill set -– you would take Aaron Murray every single year that you are recruiting a quarterback,” Richt said. “He’s got a very quick release. He’s an accurate passer. I know in the G-Day game he wasn’t super-accurate, but you got to admit we threw a lot of very low-percentage balls that day. He’s an accurate passer.”
Murray will be the only newcomer on an offense that returns starters at the other 10 positions. He’ll have the luxury of an experienced line, two talented tailbacks and one of the nation’s top wide receivers.
Murray “is to the point, in my opinion, where he just needs to play,” Richt said in an interview. “The biggest thing for him is to understand that you don’t have to do anything spectacular. You don’t have to put the team on your shoulders. You’re not required to carry this football team. You’re required to do your job. And part of your job is to not try to be a hero.
“My biggest thing is: Don’t turn a bad play into a catastrophe. If it’s a bad play, throw it away, take a sack, whatever you got to do.. . . Let’s not be flippant or casual with that ball.”.
Georgia committed 28 turnovers (17 interceptions thrown and 11 fumbles lost) last season and had an atrocious turnover ratio of minus-16 (28 lost, 12 gained). Richt calls turnover ratio the most important statistic in football.
“If we just turn that around, we win a minimum of 10 and probably 11 games [last season],” he said. “So we got to get better at that.”
That will require forcing more opponent turnovers, which is up to Todd Grantham’s defense, and protecting the ball better on offense, which starts with Aaron Murray.