I often peruse and frequent the message boards of Georgia Bulldog sites to get a feel for what the fans are thinking/feeling about the team. And, as you can imagine, one can find a variety of opinions on what Georgia should or should not do about this issue or that one. That said, the gist is simple: fans are a fickle bunch where coach loyalty is concerned and the players are, quite frankly, no less inclined to being placed under a microscope. Which brings me to the topic of today, one Aaron Murray.
First, let me preface this by saying that I like Aaron Murray as this team’s quarterback. I think he’s a great leader with a ton of talent. Furthermore, when he’s being used properly, and has the tools around him to help him win, there are few quarterbacks in the country better than him.
That said, he’s hit a perplexing wall this season and it’s caused a few to wonder if it’s time for a change at the quarterback position. Again, I don’t agree with the suggestion, but the fact that it’s even out there has made me wonder what exactly is Aaron Murray’s problem.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because I’ve written about Murray in this manner before, just look here, but this article isn’t that one—consider it more its companion.
I found a video where (hold your applause and your gag reflex) both Todd McShay and Urban Meyer (former Florida coach) gave their analysis on Murray. As the video has since been removed from YouTube and is no longer available for viewing, this post will be more about hitting on the points the two discussed.
While neither Todd McShay, nor Urban Meyer (for obvious reasons) are ever likely to make my Christmas card list or…quite frankly any list where favorite people would be named, that ex-Florida coach did make a worthy point in saying that Murray has a tendency to force passes and key in on his receivers far more than he should .
It goes without saying that the offensive line of this season is even less reliable than the one of the, but the tendency Murray to both telegraph passes and force throws continues to be an unchecked problem. A problem that has become much more apparent this season minus A.J. Green to bail him out.
There have been several games this season where Murray made it a point to get the ball to Orson Charles, despite the coverage, and the play resulted in a tipped pass or an outright interception. Even more, now that Malcolm Mitchell has emerged as another one of his go-to receivers, he’s forced a few his way as well.
The question for me is, is he forcing passes because he doesn’t want to run, because, he has no other reliable option available, or because he doesn’t feel he’ll have the time to go through all of his progressions thanks to shoddy pass protection?
Or has the extended use of the no-huddle played a bigger role in this than some might want to admit?
My buddy, Socrates, over at the Leather Helmet Blog has already given a worthwhile opinion on the negative effect the no-huddle has had on the already questionable offensive line (take a look at that article here), but how has it’s use changed Murray’s mindset?
In my opinion, the pace of the game isn’t as crisp or as improved as the coaches keep saying it is, and even if more plays are being produced, most of them seem to be going in the wrong direction because the pass protection isn’t as good—as a result Murray has less time to scan the field and choose the best possible target. The consequence of the latter is he locks in on one guy and doesn’t bother with check downs or screens unless the play actually calls for that to happen.
Murray got away with a lot last year because he had A.J. Green, but this year his development means getting more of his receivers involved and trying to slow things down on the field when he sees they aren’t moving the ball as well as they should be—particularly late in games.
More importantly, Mike Bobo needs to do a better job of preparing his quarterback for the likelihood that defenses will make adjustments for any first-half success by making some adjustments of his own at the half, instead of being stubborn and continuing with the status quo.
Of course, Bobo isn’t responsible for throwing interceptions or dropped passes, but his role in the success of those plays becomes clearer when you start considering the percentage of those interceptions that are coming as a result of bad decision-making by a hurried Murray.
Georgia cannot continue to rely on the defense to bail them out each week and they definitely cannot expect them to do so in Knoxville this weekend. I fully expect Neyland Stadium to be a little slice of hell for this Georgia team and turnovers won’t help the Bulldogs cause one iota.
That said, there is no better quarterback for the job than Murray, he’s the leader of this offense and has the ability to make it work as well, if not better, than any other quarterback on this team. Even still, his offensive coordinator needs to do a better job of getting him plays that work as well as creating more definitive game plans that actually address defensive adjustments.
I’m no coach, but that’s my two.