Q&A WITH GEORGIA QUARTERBACK AARON MURRAY
Today is the first day of Georgia’s spring football practice. So what better way to kick it off than a question-and-answer session with quarterback Aaron Murray?
I actually sat down and talked to the rising junior from Tampa earlier this month, along with several other reporters, shortly before the Bulldogs concluded mat drills and adjourned for spring break. Murray and some buddies were heading down to Key West for a few days, then returning to re-focus and get prepared for 15 practices over the next three and a half weeks.
Following are some highlights from our conversation. I’ll have a football-heavy “Ten at 10″ blog posting later and, of course, will be at practice late Tuesday afternoon. So be sure to check back often today. For now, here’s Aaron . . .
Q: Have y’all come up with some kind of theme about building on last year’s 10 wins or returning to the Dome or something like that?
A: “We haven’t really talked about last year at all. Once I got my film done – the first couple of weeks of January we went back and watched the game – I think everyone’s really put last season behind them. With the potential we have for this season, everyone’s working really hard. . . . It’s been a great offseason.”
Q: What do you think of Malcolm Mitchell trying to make the transition to playing defensive back?
A: “I know he’s a competitor; I know he’s in great shape. Skill wise I know he can definitely play [cornerback]. He goes out there all the time and plays against our receivers when we don’t have enough DBs or if we’re just messing around and throwing. He’s a lock-down at DB. It’s pretty impressive. David Andrews was out there snapping to me the other day and he was, like, ‘it’s just not fair; he’s good at everything.’ And he is. He really could, if he wanted to, play both ways and play kick returner and punt returner. If he wants to do it he just needs to make sure he’s in shape and ready to go. He’s a kid that can not only play but compete at a high level if he wants to every facet of the game.”
Q: Do you agree that offensive line is the biggest concern?
A: “I think everybody is putting these guys under the radar a little bit. Those guys have been working hard. You could even tell last year, going against our defense during the season. We go 1s versus 2s during the season. In the beginning of the season, Hutson [Mason] would get the ball and pretty much have to hurry up and throw it right away. They were going against one of the best defenses it the country, and you could see them get better throughout the season. Hutson started getting more and more time to throw the ball. By the time we got to bowl practice those guys were giving him plenty of time to throw the ball against some of the best defensive guys in the country. So, I mean, those guys who were the 2s last year definitely got better just to be able to compete against guys like Cornelius [Washington] and Jarvis [Jones] and Abry [Jones] and [John] Jenkins. They definitely pushed them and I think they got better and are ready to go. Guys like Andrews and Watts [Dantzler] and Austin [Long], those guys are ready to step up and compete for a starting job this spring. The new guy, the big guy, [Mark] Beard, he looks awesome. He’s been working hard. He’s a very impressive looking dude. So we’ve got plenty of guys. We’ve just got to figure out who goes where.”
Q: What do you think about left tackle in particular?
A: “I love that position! We’ve got a lot of guys who are going to move in there in the spring and we’ll see who’s going to get that spot. You’ve got guys like Austin and Watts and Kenarious [Gates] who can play tackle. I think Beard is more of a right tackle from talking to him, but I’m sure they’ll throw him over there to see what he can do. So it’s open tryouts. But we’ve got three or four guys who can play the position and we’ll just see who does the best and gives me the most time and not get me killed.”
Q: It looks like the clouds are finally parting for Arthur Lynch at tight end. What cdo you know about him?
A: “I’m very excited for Artie. I know he’s definitely very excited. He’s worked hard ever since he got here and he’s been through some hard times, not being sure whether he wants to stay or leave or if this is the right spot for him. But he has stayed through it and stuck it out and he’s looking great right now. Weight wise he’s doing great. He’s about 255 now. He looks very fluid running his routes. He and I have been throwing a lot, too. I’m his roommate and we talk about it every night. He’ s just so excited, always saying, ‘I want to get to practice, I want to get to practice.’ I think he’s ready to go and I definitely think he’s going to show what he has.”
Q: What do you need to improve on most?
A: “Continue to improve my footwork. There were still times last year that Coach [Mike] Bobo and I talked about where I rushed my footwork and maybe got out of the pocket a little too early, maybe didn’t slide up in the pocket or around in the pocket as smoothly as I needed to. That’s the first thing. With all quarterbacks, that’s the biggest thing is having your feet set and being able to maneuver around in the pocket and get into a position to be able to throw the football. Obviously my accuracy, I wasn’t as accurate as I needed to be last year. When you look back at a couple of games, there were a couple of interceptios where I let the ball get away from me. So I’ve got to improve on that, too.”
Q: What have you seen of the new, early-enrolled tailback Keith Marshall?
A: “He’s a hard working kid, first off. He’s coming in from Day One working hard, watching film, going over the playbook, going out there and doing as much as he can in the weight room and mat drills and things like that. He’s a kid who’s going to work hard and I think that’s great. Talent-wise it’s all there. I’m sure y’all saw the film of me taping him and Malcolm run the 40. I was like, ‘wow, that’s pretty impressive what he can do.’ I’m pretty excited about that position with all our running backs.”
Q: What do you think of the competition at tailback?
A: “It’s going to be a good one. I know they’ve all been working hard and out there working with me and working hard in mat drills. They know what’s at stake. We’re going to have like six guys, seven guys, and all of them could start. So it’s going to be, ‘you better get your butt going or might not see the field next year.’”
Q: Have you seen changes in Isaiah Crowell?
A: “I definitely think he’s matured over the past season. It’s tough to come in here as a freshman and have so much put on your plate. You know, ‘the whole Georgia football team is depending on you, you, you, you.’ It’s tough as a freshman to come into that kind of pressure. I think he definitely learned a lot out of that. He’s matured and I know he’s excited about the challenge with those couple of running backs coming in and the running backs coming back from last year I think he’ll be ready to go.”
Q: You guys were close against South Carolina, LSU and Michigan State, leading all those games at halftime. What was the lesson in that?
A: “Just finish. I think that’s one of the main reasons why we brought back mat drills. It’s having that, when you’re dead tired and things aren’t going right, you have to suck it up and keep battling. I think that’s the whol idea behind mat drills. It’s not fun. It’s one of the most painful hours of your life and you just have to suck it up and keep going and going and find it within you to finish. I think that’s what we didn’t do last year. We had a bunch of great starts but didn’t finish all our games. So I think this is teaching our guys you’ve got to finish the drill all the time. We’re working on it.”
Q: What do you think of next season’s schedule?
A: “You can’t look ahead, but we’re real excited about the season. I think we’re more excited about the amount of guys that came back. I think with the leadership we have right now, guys are doing a great job of leading the guys in the right direction. Since my freshman year, I think the leadership has just gone up and up and up. We’ve had more and more guys step up into that role this year. With all the guys we’ve got back, there will be even more guys stepping up. Guys that were pivotal to this team, those are the ones who are stepping up, which is great. You want your best players to be your leaders. Those guys are going to set the examples for everybody. The biggest reason to feel excited for the season is not just the talent but the leadership we have coming back.”
Q: Are there concerns behind you at quarterback with Mason wanting to try to redshirt this season?
A: “We have plenty of guys. [Christian] LeMay has been doing awesome. I’ve been working with him a lot. He’s definitely picking up the playbook and watching more film and trying to understand our offense. He has the whole spring and another camp to work on the offense. I think he should have it down pretty well and he’s going to start getting more reps If Hutson does get redshirted — I don’t know if it has been officially determined or not – but he’s going to get more and more reps, just like any position. So they’ve all been working tails off.
Q: Is there a different feel to this season with no one talking about Coach Richt’s job possibly being in jeopardy?
A: “It’s one less thing to worry about. Last year the whole talk was, ‘if you don’t get to the SEC Championship Game or win 10 games, blah, blah blah, Coach Richt is going to get fired.’ We didn’t talk about it too much, but I know everyone on the team didn’t want this coaching staff to leave. We love Coach Richt. We love all the coaches here. But it was stressful, not only for us but also for the coaches. This year, everyone is is a little more relaxed and ready to just go out there and play. I don’t think anyone’s on the hotseat or worrying about that.”