UGA’s Aaron Murray: ‘Nobody’s on hotseat or worrying about that’

Quarterback Aaron Murray says stronger internal leadership and a lot of returning talent has Georgia confident about its prospects next season. (AP photo)

Quarterback Aaron Murray says stronger internal leadership and a lot of returning talent has Georgia confident about its prospects next season. (AP photo)

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.”

111 comments Add your comment

Jbzm

March 20th, 2012
5:35 am

just sayin'

March 20th, 2012
5:59 am

and it begins…..3..2…1…..

tenn.DAWG

March 20th, 2012
6:11 am

I think most would agree that the OL has underachieved the last three years.If they can toughen up and Bobo molds his offense and playbook around the talent he has and not be hell bent on running certain plays,this team should have much success with the schedule it has.

Year of the DAWG

March 20th, 2012
6:19 am

Murry will be fine. I think the pressure should be on Bobo.It,s time for a dominant offense we should beat people by 30. Like some of the old Florida teams. GO DAWGS

East Repeat

March 20th, 2012
6:29 am

Go SC, beat UGA. We Run The East! Clowney will be waiting for AM.

trupert

March 20th, 2012
6:33 am

Looking forward to spring practice and the 2012 season. Last year we finally had a good defense which gave the team a real chance. This year the D will add depth in most areas.

2012 could be a special year to be a Dawg fan. Get after it and keep em healthy guys. Go Dawgs!!!

Paddy

March 20th, 2012
6:39 am

I agree guys. It is time to turn this offense loose. It is all there, lets bury some folks. Lets beat the good teams like we used to.

Romedawg

March 20th, 2012
6:40 am

I am ready fo some jawja football!

East Repeat is an idiot

March 20th, 2012
6:43 am

Georgia Bulldogs. 2011 SEC East Champs.

Thomas Brown = Mr Negativity = 13-1 East (blogger) = Techie

March 20th, 2012
6:57 am

@east repeat
I thought UGa won the East!!!!! Yes, SC won the battle, but they lost the war……just the facts my friend.

Old Dawg

March 20th, 2012
6:57 am

East Repeat: The only team in the east that can can repeat is UGA. Where were you last year? SC wins their first east title in 2010 and and never a SEC champonship and all of sudden you rule the east. What a joke. Look back in history & you will see that UGA, Fla, & Tenn have ruled this division. Just a wanna be and nothing else.

TennesseeDawg

March 20th, 2012
7:01 am

What Murray needs to work on is quit turning the ball over every chance he gets.

Kyle

March 20th, 2012
7:03 am

It amazes me that in every article Murray talks about watching film yet, the results when we play a decent team are always the same….Murray turnovers lead to yet another loss. Bottom line- until the coaching staff holds him accountable when he makes a mistake and gives another guy the opportunity we will head down the same old road. I am sick and tired to stupid loyality to one guy costing us time and time again

59bulldawg

March 20th, 2012
7:06 am

Looking foward to marching into Columbia and beating the chickens.

Joe

March 20th, 2012
7:06 am

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.

HA! LMAO….a couple??????? really???? a couple?????? how about 21 points alone to carolina……this dude has yet to beat any team with more than 8 wins

Thomas Brown = Mr Negativity = 13-1 East (blogger) = Techie

March 20th, 2012
7:06 am

Attention Dawg fans…….Chip’s article today will have Thomas Brown (aka 13-1) going whacko!!!! We will have to endure multiple essays regarding past failings by the Dawgs by this Tech fan who is the most negative person alive. We need to forget the past and get excited about the future. Go Dawgs!!!

Joe

March 20th, 2012
7:11 am

Murray should be on the hotseat…..if he start giving points away like he usually does but then again, we have a head coach that is more about loyalty at any cost than winning the game for the team

Thomas Brown = Mr Negativity = 13-1 East (blogger) = Techie

March 20th, 2012
7:18 am

Am I the only one who wishes the season opener between the hedges was this Saturday?!?!?
For some reason baseball won’t keep me content for the next 5 months!!!!

Tom

March 20th, 2012
7:25 am

Mr Murray needs to stay away from cellphone cameras on spring break.

AltamahaDawg

March 20th, 2012
7:26 am

What does holding Murray accountable mean? And how is playing your best QB some sort of loyalty fault? Isnt that what every coaching staff does? Wouldnt they be fools not to? Seems like that is simply trying to win with the best option, is it not?

Roadrunner

March 20th, 2012
7:30 am

Got to believe the Dawgs have the opportunity to repeat as SEC East Champions this year, and maybe more. Work your butts off over the summer Dawgs and have a great season in 2012! GO DAWGS!!

ole yeller

March 20th, 2012
7:41 am

Give the “O” line some love. I think think they will will be ok. About 12 or ready to play and there is only 4 positions that can start.

Destin Dawg

March 20th, 2012
7:44 am

Murray should feel some pressure.. competition makes for improvement… Saban or Spurrier would open up the QB position to LeMay and Mason Go Dawgs !!! this will be a great year.. on the back of Grantam’s Junkyard Dawg defense !!!

Thomas Brown = Mr Negativity = 13-1 East (blogger) = Techie

March 20th, 2012
7:48 am

I think we need to believe that “maturity” with our QB and TB will show-up this year……at least I’m praying that will happen because if it does we will be really competitive. Go Dawgs

funny...

March 20th, 2012
8:01 am

Continue to improve on his footwork…

sigh, another long season.

Missouri, South Carolina, Florida and Tech all beat Georgia this year.

But another five years of Richt and Bobo is what your AD wanted

Lakedawg

March 20th, 2012
8:15 am

funny, you are in fact you are hilarious!

Joey

March 20th, 2012
8:27 am

“…and Tech all beat Georgia this year.”
***********************************
That IS funny, funny…

Ty

March 20th, 2012
8:28 am

Well just darn. Someone just insulted the Tigers of UMo stating we go into Columbia and beat the chickens….Especially since we play in Columbia, Mo before SC. We go 10-4 and they blame the four losses on conditioning and go back to the mat drills???? Evidently they are not looking at the right things to evaluate. Too much distraction the first game. Great improvement and not knowing how to win the second. LSU the third, enough said plus poor play calling with no running backs dropped td pass and the last one, poor play calling and no running backs. The inopportune turnovers when we should not have been throwing in the first place. Evaluate Bobo and change some of his attitude, philosophies and ideas. Say what you wish about Murray….but
does the coaching staff especially the offensive coordinator and head coach know how to win the big games? Coach Richt and Bobo need to reevaluate what they are doing to make a huge change especially vs GOOD teams.

SouthGaDawg

March 20th, 2012
8:35 am

AM better stay out of trouble in Key West. Not a good place for a laid back vacation. It will be party city and I can see trouble on the horizon.

DawginLex

March 20th, 2012
8:48 am

Murray needs to worry about his decision making and learn to tuck it and run for the 1st down and live to see the next play.

The offensive line will be more athletic on the outside but concerns exist at center. Andrews and others will be adequate.

I’d like to see Murray become more of a manager and less of the focus of the offense.

FL dawg

March 20th, 2012
8:48 am

Murray is wrong, there is a hot seat on the Ga team this year and he’s straddling it. First and foremost, the dogs defense is good enough to win the SEC East this yr. 2nd more importantly nobodty’s gonna give a crap about the OL if you start losing to teams like Mo. Murray’ s a good guy, but he’s gonna have to be the best leader UGA’s ever had for the RB’s to play like GA backs and not to over compensate and start running for the hills when the OL breaks down.

McDawg

March 20th, 2012
8:50 am

id like to see LeMay worked in since Mason is redshirting

alpharetta alice

March 20th, 2012
8:53 am

hearing Zach Mett is looking real good down at LSU…

sogadog

March 20th, 2012
8:55 am

So mat drills are back, whats the story there?

FL dawg

March 20th, 2012
8:57 am

I agree McDawg, Richt needs to get the bachups ready. Murray needs some competition, we’ve already lost too many kids cause of lack of playing time.

dawgfan

March 20th, 2012
9:04 am

I think its quite telling that when asked about the offensive line Murray only talks about pass protection. That tells you a lot about Mike Bobo’s offensive philosophy. The running game is an afterthought. I don’t recall pass protection being much of an issue last year, but the O-line struggled mightly in the running game against top notch competition. Until we fix that there will be more beatdowns and losses to come from the top teams on our schedule. You can count on it.

Thanks.

G-Dawg

March 20th, 2012
9:04 am

“everyone is is a little more relaxed ”

thats the prob with this team..they’re always too relaxed, and no sense of urgency. From the HC, fans, and down to the players. Lets pick up the pace a bit!! Go Dawgs!!

Paul's Johnson

March 20th, 2012
9:12 am

Go Dawgs! Michael Carvell stinks and sends out 20 tweets for the same article. Furman Bisher killed The Saturday Evening Post.

Alabama | MrSEC

March 20th, 2012
9:15 am

[...] defense has been a key to the team’s Sweet Sixteen run.9.  Georgia QB Aaron Murray is glad the hot-seat talk that fueled a “stressful” season last year is history.10.  There are plenty of question marks as the Dawgs open spring practice today.11.  Another day, [...]

7576DAWG

March 20th, 2012
9:18 am

Last year Bobo should have let Murray roll out more early in the year but since it looks like we have the Tailback’s this year that will let Murray play from the pocket my only advice to Murray is don’t move back in the pocket so far that the other teams defensive end can make it around the Fullback or Tight end that is blocking for him. Last year if Murray had stayed closer to the line instead of moving back so far it would have eliminated a lot of Murray being thrown for a lose because he got out of the containment area. Stay up in the pocket.

PrimeTimeJr

March 20th, 2012
9:20 am

Take a look at this and tell me, if you’re Murray or Bobo, do you try and win running the ball, or throwing it?

Murray went up against 9 pass defenses ranked in the top 30 nationally:
South Caro, UF, LSU, Mich St, Tenn, Kent, Ole Miss, Miss St, and G Tech

Murray went up against 3 of the top 30 rush defenses nationally:
LSU, Mich St, and Boise

No surprise Murray had problems with accuracy and interceptions, considering the 9 top 30 pass defenses he went up against.

But very surprising the running game didn’t dominate, considering that 11 of the rush defenses wern’t good.

The schedule in 2012 will be similar, defenses mostly solid with pass defense, and weak against the run. Even Buffalo averages #24 in pass defense last 2 seasons.

Key will be whether Bobo gameplans to take advantage of the weak rush defenses he’ll face, and whether Murray can trust his rush offense to win games. And the O-Line and running backs SHOULD dominate, figuring the only good rush defenses they’ll face will be South Carolina, then the SEC Championship, and Bowl game.

When you’re facing 9 top 30 pass defenses, and only 3 top 30 rush defenses, you won’t win any championships passing the ball.

Ask Alabama and LSU.

Senor Smoke

March 20th, 2012
9:22 am

I agree with Tom. It’s certainly not surprising that the starting QB of a Div. 1 school is getting laid on spring break, but you can’t let cameras catch you in the act.

AltamahaDawg

March 20th, 2012
9:24 am

Some of you guys act like this was the transcripts of a closed door team meeting or the confidential results from a psychological analysis. Did you really expect to hear anything but scripted answers?

non believer

March 20th, 2012
9:27 am

Sorry, Aaron, but we will never win a championship with you as the quarterback. You fold under big pressure like a tent in the wind.

Joe

March 20th, 2012
9:33 am

In other words Bobo does not know when NOT to pass the ball. If the practices emphasize more pass blocking than run blocking…guess what???? Chances are you pass block better. The key to winning vs. the LSU’s and Bama’s of the world is the running game. How many turnovers were interceptions compared to fumbles by the running backs last year? How many times did we throw and interception on a short yardage situation instead of running the ball for short yardage?

PrimeTimeJr

March 20th, 2012
9:35 am

Saying it another way, 67% of the 12 regular games will be against top 30 pass defenses.

Only 8% of the regular season 12 games (South Carolina) will be against a top 30 rush defense.

Why would you try and win games throwing the football?

DougsMugsCoffee

March 20th, 2012
9:37 am

Is it always 1s against 2s? Wouldn’t that build false confidence? Wouldn’t going 1s against 1s be more helpful? I know 2s need to get experience, but should competition for the 1s be sacrificed?

Italian_29

March 20th, 2012
9:39 am

I think that this will be a good year for the Dawgs, I was suprised that we had some guys that could have made the jump to the NFL and been HIGH draft picks, came back, to me that show that there is a mission with these guys and they want to get it done. That is something that I haven’t seen with the Dawgs in a LONG time. This years team is, just that, a TEAM. These guys are HUNGRY and I think that is going to translate in to a good season for the DAWGS, especially with the schedule. GO DAWGS!!!! GATA

DougsMugsCoffee

March 20th, 2012
9:43 am

@Tom,

Mr. Murray needs to stay home for spring break, or give up the starting QB spot. College is a short period in a players life. They shouldn’t risk their playing time at UGA to go party. I think he is showing poor leadership.

Thank God for Reggie Ball

March 20th, 2012
9:48 am

@Joe

true, but we also got stuffed several times on short-yardage situations trying to run against Florida, South, Carolina, Boise, etc and I think Bobo decided the best chance was to go over the biggins not through them