ATHENS, Ga. —
Amidst all the turmoil of Georgia’s sub-.500 season, we’ve learned something very positive for this program: Aaron Murray is a pretty good football player.
It’s funny, really. The quarterback was perhaps Georgia’s biggest question coming into the season. He was a kid that never had played in a college game, so no one knew quite what to expect.
You always hope a young quarterback doesn’t make mistakes to cost his team a victory, and that’s what a lot of fans worried about. Well, even though Georgia has four losses, it’s hard to put any of them on Murray.
“He definitely wasn’t the reason we lost those games,” offensive lineman Clint Boling said. “He’s played well. He’s played hard all year long.”
And he’s getting better. We saw that again Saturday as Murray led Georgia over Vanderbilt 43-0.
“I see a guy that makes plays,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “He makes plays when everything isn’t perfect. His ability to pull the ball down and run has just been tremendous this year. His improvement week-to-week of understanding the offense and realizing the second and third options has been tremendous.”
Having a quarterback that can run the ball such as Murray has given Bobo another huge weapon — one that Georgia hasn’t had since D.J. Shockley quarterbacked Georgia in 2005. Murray can chuck it when he needs to, but he also can help the team with his legs.
“That’s a defense’s nightmare, when they cover a play perfect and then the quarterback scrambles,” Bobo said. “It’s hard to defend.”
With a target such as A.J. Green, most quarterbacks would need to get it just somewhere in the neighborhood and have Green make a play. But Green said Murray is doing much more than that.
“When a play isn’t there, he’s going to tuck it and run,” Green explained. “He’s not going to make any stupid plays. He’s just a leader. He’s young, but he’s going to be something special these next years he’s here.”
Whenever you ask about Murray, the first thing talked about is his preparation. Murray spends more time in the film room than most players.
“You can go in there at 10 o’clock at night, and he’s in there studying and learning defenses and trying to get better each week,” Green said.
And that work ethic probably has helped Murray survive the issues the offense has faced. It doesn’t mean he has been perfect — far from it. He holds onto the ball too long, and he is working on that. Time and experience will make him a much better quarterback in every area.
“I definitely feel more comfortable every week — trusting my line more, staying in the pocket, moving around and trusting my receivers that they’re going to go make plays for me,” Murray said. “I feel more comfortable with my reads and recognizing defenses. I’ve just got to be more consistent and keep working.”
Murray might not be a first pick in the NFL, as Matthew Stafford was, or even a player that will set school records, as David Greene did. Maybe he will be somewhere in between. But if UGA fans are looking for someone that the coaches can build this team around, it’s Murray.
“It’s really not about numbers for him,” Bobo said. “He wants to win, win football games. His goal was to come here and win a national championship. He prepares like that every week, and I think it’s rubbing off on other guys.”
“I’ve just got to keep working,” Murray said. “I still have a long way to go. I still have a lot of learning left and a lot of work to do. Coach Bobo and Coach (Mark) Richt have done a tremendous job of making sure I’m prepared every week to execute the plays. But I’ve got to keep learning and I’ve got to keep working hard.”
If effort can lead to results, Murray might just get this Georgia team back over .500.
Listen to The Bill Shanks Show every weekday afternoon from 3-6 p.m. online at www.foxsports1670.com.