Quarterbacks: Offense appears to be in good hands with Aaron Murray`
Fifth in a series breaking down Georgia’s 2011 football team by position groups. . . .
In Aaron Murray the Georgia Bulldogs trust, and for good reason after a phenomenal freshman season. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlinemail@example.com)
- Returning starter: Aaron Murray (So., 6-1, 211).
- Others to watch: The competition to become Murray’s chief backup should be a good one between sophomore Hutson Mason, a lightly-recruited player who earned a scholarship offer with a record-breaking season as a high school senior, and true freshman Christian LeMay, an elite prospect of national renown who enrolled early in order to get into the mix.
- Key fact: Rarely is it that a sophomore quarterback is so roundly regarded as is Murray, but he appears to be gaining momentum as a consensus pick for preseason first-team All-SEC. His freshman season coupled with a blue-collar work ethic have excited the masses about the possibilities for improvement. As the meticulous researcher Phil Steele pointed out, Murray as a freshman had a higher higher pass efficiency rating (154.5) than Matthew Stafford did as a junior at Georgia, and Stafford ended up being the No. 1 overall pick in the subsequent NFL draft. Murray completed 61 percent of his passes for 3,049 yards passing — second all-time for an SEC freshamn — had a 24 to 8 TD to interception ratio and tied D.J. Shockley for UGA’s all-time record for TD responsibility with 28. Meanwhile, Murray did his best work at the end of the regular season, passing for 544 yards and 6 TDs with no interceptions against Auburn and Georgia Tech.
- Key fact II: The battle for backup duties is going to be interesting. Mason (6-3, 196) was solid in very limited as a true freshman, appearing in four games and completing 9-of-17 passes, including a TD pass on the very first attempt of his career (only the third QB in college football history to do that, joining Georgia Tech’s Taylor Bennett and Southern Cal’s Matt Leinart). LeMay (6-2, 195) put up some eye-popping passing numbers as a high school junior — 68.5 completion percentage, 3,296 yards, 48 TDs, 2 INTs — while leading Butler High to a 16-0 record and state championship. But he missed his entire senior season while protesting a controversial disciplinary suspension and the effect of the season off is unknown.
- Key questions: How will Murray perform without A.J. Green as a main target? Murray often joked that all he had to do was throw the ball high in the 6-4 Green’s general direction to complete a pass. He won’t have that luxury after Green was plucked away with the No. 4 pick in the NFL draft. But while Green caught 57 balls in nine games, Murray did manage to complete 152 passes to 18 other receivers.
- Recent developments: Murray was named to the Maxwell Award watch list for 2011.
- Outlook: Outstanding. What a difference a year makes. Coming into the 2010 season the Bulldogs had no quarterbacks with any experience. A year later they are relying on a 13-game starter and Freshman All-SEC selection in Murray, a tested backup in Mason and a bluechip prospect in LeMay. Freshman walkons Parker Welch and Greg Bingham provide additional depth.
- Your turn: What’s your take on Georgia’s quarterbacks?
PREVIOUS POSITION BREAKDOWNS:
July 6 — Running backs
July 5 — Tight ends
July 2 — Wide receivers
July 1 — Offensive line