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Post Grading Murray on the curve

Tuesday August 9, 2011

Aaron Murray had one of the best years of any Georgia quarterback, let alone a freshman quarterback. His 61% completion rate and 3,049 passing yards placed him among the top 5 in both stats among Georgia quarterbacks of any experience level. Those 24 touchdowns were just one off the Georgia record of 25 set by Stafford in 2008. His TD/INT ratio was an impressive 24/6 during the regular season, and half of those interceptions came during one game.

So when you hear Murray talk about giving himself a “C” for his performance last season, you might get that eye-rolling reaction that comes when the perfectionist A-student complains about only getting a 98 on the exam. He’s right, though. I especially liked the discussion of accuracy. Green, Durham, and other receivers made several nice catches on slightly mis-thrown balls that might have resulted in big yards-after-catch had they been caught in stride. Screen passes were especially problematic.

Getting beyond the mechanics, Murray and his team will also have to work through a more nebulous problem. If Georgia’s emphasis this off-season on the 4th quarter pays off, we’ll see improvements in some of these areas:

  • Georgia didn’t beat a ranked team last year but had several late chances to do so.
  • Given the opportunity to engineer several significant 4th-quarter drives last year, Georgia came away empty almost every time. Late comebacks against Arkansas and Florida were wasted with key mistakes on Georgia’s final possessions.
  • Georgia was 5th best in the SEC at creating redzone chances, but 7th best in getting touchdowns from those chances.
  • Georgia was 4th in scoring offense but was in the bottom half of the conference in both first downs and third down conversions.

Travis’s observation that “we stalled on a lot of drives, right when we needed momentum” has some substance to it. It’s important to note that none of those points above are solely on Murray. He didn’t fumble at Colorado or leave a tailback to block a defensive end against Arkansas. Like a baseball pitcher, a quarterback often takes the blame (and also the praise) for the play of his teammates and the decisions of his coaches. Acknowledging that, coming through in those clutch situations is the biggest step forward that Murray and the Georgia offense can take this year. As Arthur Lynch put it, Murray “will judge himself on wins and losses, rather than stats.” Fans and history probably will too.

One Response to 'Grading Murray on the curve'

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  • Depends on if you’re grading him overall, or as a freshman. He gets an “A” for how he did as a freshman, but probably a C+ overall, and that is due to the inconsistency.