Aaron Murray has opted to remain incognito this week as his No. 3 ranked Georgia Bulldogs prepare to face-off against Alabama this weekend. However, his absence from the microphone hasn’t kept tongues from wagging about the overwhelming challenges he’ll face playing against the Crimson Tides’ vaunted defense.
While there will likely be no shortage of opinions on what aspect of the game will play the biggest role in determining the outcome, at least one analyst feels the end result will depend on quarterback play.
McShay: Which QB has what it takes to win the SEC title?
There will be a total of 24 eligible prospects with draftable grades taking the field in the SEC championship game matchup between Georgia and Alabama (12 each), but I’m most excited to watch how quarterbacks Aaron Murray and AJ McCarron perform with so much on the line.
I want to see which player delivers in the clutch. McCarron completed only 52.1 percent of his passes against Michigan and LSU, which are far and away the top two defenses Alabama has faced this season, but has completed 70.5 percent in the Tide’s other 10 games. Additionally, his only two interceptions of the season came in the loss to Texas A&M.
Murray, meanwhile, is having a great season overall (he leads the FBS in passing efficiency), but did not perform well against the best two defenses UGA has faced, South Carolina and Florida. He completed 41.8 percent of his throws with one touchdown and four interceptions in those games, compared with his 71.7 percent completion percentage and 29-3 TD-to-INT ratio in his other 10 games. I’ll be looking to see whether Murray can make quick, smart reads against Alabama’s defense, and whether he can avoid the careless mistakes that have hurt UGA in big games throughout his career.
Murray’s absence from the media spotlight this week has everything to do with preparing for the biggest game of his collegiate career and, based on the issues he’s had in the past, it’s not hard to see why he’d want to limit distractions as much as possible. That said, it’s possible for him to over-think his approach and fall into the trap that his offensive coordinator, Mike Bobo, has tried all season to mentally keep him away from—worrying about being perfect.
That said, there’s a balance that Murray has continually tried to find since his first appearance against his home state team, the Florida Gators, and he’s yet to find it.
The saying goes: ‘every dog has his day’. Most are hoping that Murray has at least two days like that coming in the very near future.