Despite everything Aaron Murray has accomplished as a quarterback, there are still a fair number willing to question whether or not he’s the right man for the job.
On the one hand there are those who say Murray has done an outstanding job given the obstacles he’s faced during his time at Georgia thus far (i.e. a poor offensive line, a questionable running game, inconsistency in his receiver’s play, and/or the lack of adequate coaching by offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo).
On the other hand, those who are, for lack of a better word, “against” Murray would say that the problem is simple, he hasn’t shown enough success against the good teams to say that he’s a good quarterback. Anyone can beat a a team that’s going through a transition period or filled with lesser talent.
But what about beating the teams that are both good on paper and on the football field? For the people asking those questions, Murray, plain and simply, hasn’t done enough to say with any confidence that he’s the right man for the job—indefinitely.
While those who support Murray would likely scoff at that last point, I’ll say this, had Murray started the 2011 season beating both South Carolina and Boise State, this conversation (or debate) would likely be moot.
That said, a win is a win in my book, and I would challenge any quarterback—top tier or otherwise—to lead his team the way Murray was able to after enduring such a disappointing start. He could have given up and mailed-in the season, but he didn’t. And while it’s easy to hold to the argument that the opposition he beat during that streak wasn’t exactly formidable, you have to be willing to concede that even the best teams trip-up and lose a close one here and there.
Georgia could have seen their fortunes change at Mississippi, at Vanderbilt, at Florida, vs. Kentucky, or at Tennessee (all were close games that could have gone either way and often went against Georgia in 2010), but they hung in there and walked away with wins. That turnaround is as much a testimony to Murray’s ability to be a leader on the field as it is an indicator of how much this team matured offensively from 2010 to 2011.
All that said, despite what your opinion on Murray might be, one thing is certain, 2012 offers a great opportunity for him to prove any remaining doubters wrong.
Georgia’s schedule, at least on paper, doesn’t look too daunting and the running game (with the return of Isaiah Crowell and Ken Malcome along with the infusion of new talent) has the potential to be much better—if the offensive line holds up. Even more, the receiving corps is shaping up to be one of the best collections of young talent in the league with Chris Conley, Michael Bennett, and Malcolm Mitchell, all returning.
To top it off, Murray enters with a bit of personal motivation as he looks to raise his NFL stock and make a case for his being a valuable commodity in the pro ranks as well.
There is plenty on the line for the young Murray and if ever there were a year to end the debate as to his ability to lead Georgia to an SEC Championship as well as into a BCS bowl, it’s 2012.
The only question now is will he succeed?