ATHENS – It may have been a lighthearted gesture from a personal friend or it could have been the firm conviction for a former NFL coach and pro football analyst. Whatever it was, Tony Dungy got a lot of folks’ attention with his answer via Twitter to a question about whom Kansas City should take as its first pick in the NFL draft.
“I would take Georgia QB Aaron Murray if he comes out,” Dungy wrote on Monday.
It didn’t take long for Dungy’s opinion to make its way to Murray.
“I’ve had everyone ask me about that,” Murray said Tuesday afternoon before the Bulldogs’ practice. “I’m like, ‘I don’t know.’ I’m not worried about that until after the season and then I’ll sit down with my family and make the best decision for myself and my future. I’m having too much fun right now. This season has been awesome. We still have so much ahead of us and so much excitement that I really don’t even have time to think about anything else. I’m just living in the moment.”
Murray’s NFL draft stock is an interesting topic. Though he’s on pace obliterate every quarterback record Georgia has and run down some pretty significant ones in the SEC as well, he’s knocked for his height (listed 6-foot-1) and is not generally talked about as breathlessly as other other college quarterbacks.
Murray is listed as the No. 2 quarterback prospect by NFLscout.com, but that’s for the 2014 draft. As for the one next April, Murray is listed behind at least six other quarterbacks by ESPN’s Scouts Inc.
Perhaps Dungy was just trying to help out a friend. Dungy’s son, Oregon wide receiver Eric Dungy, played with Murray at Tampa’s Plant High School. Murray said he remains in contact the former NFL head coach.
But Murray’s production should stand on its own. After his 330-yard, four-touchdown passing performance this past weekend, he moved into the No. 1 spot in the nation pass efficiency (174.3). This season, he has completed 65.7 percent of his passes for 2,986 yards and 28 TDs with 7 interceptions.
Murray now has 87 career TDs passes, which is fifth in SEC history, and has thrown for 9,184 yards, which is also fifth. He’s not far off from tracking down the players atop those lists which include Danny Wuerffel and Peyton Manning. But he’d probably need another season to do that.
“I’ve never been a guy who worried about records,” Murray said. “The only record I care about is the win-loss column. I came here to win championships and right now we have a team that has the opportunity to do that.”
Whether it’s after this season or next, there are many in Georgia’s camp who believe Murray will eventually be a pro.
“That’s going to be something for us to discuss after the season and him to discuss with his family,” UGA quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “I think his mind is in the right place right now, which is on Georgia Tech this week. But I think he has pro potential because of his intelligence. I think he’s a winner. He’s improved every year and I think he’s going to continue improving. The kid’s the type of guy that, what he sets his sights on, he usually attains those goals. Just look at his life history. Put something out there he wants to do and he gets it done. The No. 1 thing he wants to do right now is win a championship.”
Bobo bristled when asked how Murray’s decision might impact those of Hutson Mason, a junior who is redshirting as Murray’s backup.
“I’m not getting into that until after the season,” Bobo said. “I’m worried about Georgia Tech, really, and Murray better, too.”
Early wake-up call on Saturday
Georgia coach Mark Richt doesn’t mind playing early games, as the Bulldogs will do with Saturday’s noon kickoff versus the Yellow Jackets (ESPN). His only concern is that Georgia’s fans would be late to wake up and slow to arrive for the annual Senior Day festivities. The Bulldogs’ traditional graduation “walk” through the gauntlet of their teammates is scheduled begin at 11:46 a.m.
“I hope we can get the Dog Nation out there a little bit earlier,” Richt said. “The Dawg Walk will be about 15 minutes earlier (10 a.m.) because of the senior festivities and I’m hoping everybody can be in the stands in time to honor those guys. We’re hoping to send them off with a great moment and hopefully they’ll play great during the game.”
Georgia will have approximately 17 seniors going through the short ceremony, which includes their immediate families
A do-over against South Carolina?
To date, Georgia has one blemish on its ledger, and it’s a rather ugly one. The Bulldogs were dominated by South Carolina 35-7 on Oct. 6.
Senior linebacker Christian Robinson, whose father played football for the Gamecocks, if he would like to play them again.
“I would love to,” he said. “I think we kind of walked into a, well, whoever was there knows. My dad said he’d never seen anything like it. I think we walked into something we weren’t mentally prepared for atmosphere wise. Some things happened so quick. We can’t go back and change. They got us when they scheduled the game and they showed up at the right time. But me, a person who’s dad went to South Carolina, I’d like to just so my dad doesn’t have the last laugh. We’ll see.”
Of course, Georgia and South Carolina won’t play again until the second game of next season, and Robinson will be graduated and gone by then. Depending on how these next two weeks go, he could indeed have the last laugh
“We’ve got a lot more at stake right now,” Robinson said of the Bulldogs’ BCS title shot, “so I’ll take that.”
They said it
“I didn’t really think it was over. We had a lot of football left to play. There were six more regular-season games at the time. So I didn’t really think it was over then. Historically, South Carolina’s due to lose a few, so I wasn’t worried about it.”
– Senior flanker Tavarres King, on whether he thought Georgia’s SEC and BCS possibilities were over after losing to South Carolina 35-7 on Oct. 6.
Etc. . . .
The Bulldogs practiced for more than two hours Tuesday in full pads in preparation for Tech. . . . Georgia’s injury situation looks greatly improved. Starting right guard Chris Burnette (shoulder) is practicing without limitations and should start on Saturday. Fullback Merritt Hall (ankle) also practiced full speed. Tailback Keith Marshall practiced in a non-contact capacity due to a shoulder contusion but will play on Saturday. . . . The Bulldogs will be going for their 11th win of the season on Saturday. There have been eight Georgia teams to do that. Among them were Wally Butts‘ 1942 national championship team (11-1), Butt’s 1946 team (11-0), Vince Dooley’s 1971 team (11-1), Dooley’s 1980 national championship team (12-0) and Dooley’s 1982 team (11-1). Richt has coached three: 2002 (13-1), 2003 (11-3) and 2007 (11-2). . . .
Georgia’s defense ranked fourth in the national in forcing three-and-outs with a rate of 59.3 percent. That’s an average of 5.4 per game. Florida leads the way at 6.8 followed by Florida State (6.8) and Wisconsin (5.6). . . . Tech and Georgia did not play from 1917-24 because of a parade float made by UGA students that ridiculed the Yellow Jackets for playing football during World War I. . . . The biggest UGA comeback against Tech came in 1978 when freshman Buck Belue came off the sideline with the Bulldogs trailing 20-0 and rallied them to a 29-28 win.