Category Archives: Georgia Bulldogs

Draft Profile: Aaron Murray: What Has To Be Said.

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By Chris Schisler

Aaron Murray seems to be the forgotten quarterback of the 2014 QB crop. The 6’1” 210 pound QB from Georgia merits a first round grade. He is arguably the most prolific SEC quarterback since Peyton Manning attended Tennessee; Murray is the SEC leader in passing yards and touchdowns. Another thing in Murray’s corner is that he has more experience than any other quarterback in this draft class as a 4 year starter in college’s most prolific football conference. Murray is thought of as a 3rd or 4th round talent and it really makes me scratch my head. If I was looking for a franchise quarterback, I would have to consider the huge presence Aaron Murray has under center.

Maybe I am crazy; I’m sure draft Twitter will jump over me like hyenas out for blood. I just can’t help but be a fan of Aaron Murray. In his freshman year he threw for 3,049 yards, 24 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. His sophomore year he threw for 3,149 yards, 35 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. While that was a high number of interceptions, Murray still had a TD to INT ratio of 7 TD for every INT. 2012 was Aaron Murray’s biggest statistical season in which he threw for 3,893 yards, 36 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The moral of this statistical talk is that Aaron Murray’s production on the football should speak for itself.

Murray is not a boom or bust player. The truth is I could see Blake Bortles and Derrick Carr as exactly that. Bortles was not even on most people’s radars until his UCF Knights beat Louisville halfway through the season. There is no doubt that Bortles has the physical tools but his value is on his potential not what he is right now. When I look at Derrick Carr I honestly fear he could be a Kyle Boller type player. Carr has a rocket arm and is a physical specimen at the quarterback position. That being said he played at the smaller stage of Fresno State. and he has not always been impressive when in the spotlight. This was evidenced by Carr and his Fresno State Bull Dogs getting shellacked by a USC team that got their coach fired during the season. Brian Billick fell in love with Kyle Boller the athlete from Cal (A big school, but the comparison still works). When Boller got to the NFL he was exposed as a train wreck of a quarterback. Derrick Carr has potential but he is far from a sure fire thing in the pros. You know exactly what you will get in Aaron Murray. Murray will be a good quarterback right away and eventually I believe he might be great.

The most impressive thing to me is that Aaron Murray has gotten better in every season of his collegiate career. Before his ACL injury 2013 was his most impressive seasons although his junior year was the statistical peak. Georgia’s offense seemed like a M.A.S.H. unit in 2013 with many injuries. Murray faced adversity and played at a high level. The consistent improvement each season shows that Murray is coachable. What I see in Aaron Murray is a guy who has been depended on as a leader to take the Georgia Bull Dogs through the SEC gauntlet for 4 years. In other words Murray has the intangibles to go along with his talent.

Murray has a strong arm and can make every NFL throw. Murray is mechanically sound, with good accuracy and anticipation. He has a very strong pocket presence. Like the best NFL quarterbacks he is great at stepping up into the pocket or rolling out to his right while remaining a passer, keeping his eyes downfield. The ability to extend the play and make something special happen is the most undersold element of his impressive skill set. Murray has a high football IQ and was as impressive as anybody in college football in the clutch moments of the game.

Murray is not perfect but I do think his flaws are overblown when people talk about his draft stock. Murray’s biggest flaw is that he tends to stare down receivers at times, a cardinal sin that leads to interceptions. Murray keeps his eyes downfield and throws some seemingly blind short passes. Murray will make some boneheaded throws. I once said about Murray that I never knew what to think about him. He can be so impressive and be on a complete tear and then make a frustrating mistake. There is a Brett Favre like quality to Murray who is best when he just lets it fly. Sometimes it is hard to root for Aaron Murray but it’s even harder not to.

This is a quarterback who is not a finished product and is more of project than some coaches want to take on. I would argue however that he has the highest floor other than Teddy Bridgewater and that his ceiling is very high. I see Aaron Murray as a first round talent but I seem to be in the minority in that opinion. Murray will likely go in the third round and he will be an absolute steal. The worst you’re going to get in Murray is an Andy Dalton. He may end up being a great quarterback. Say what you will about me because I said what needed to be heard. I have no problem putting my reputation on the line by saying that Murray is a stud QB prospect and the most underrated player in this draft class.

 

Georgia @ South Carolina Recap

Georgia @ South Carolina Recap

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This was certainly the marquee game in the realm of college football. Mark Richt’s Georgia Bulldog’s faced “The Old Ball Coach” Steve Spurrier and his South Carolina Gamecocks. The game featured a very intriguing battle between two of the best quarterbacks in the SEC. The game lived up to the billing. With stars all over the field including defensive end Jadaveon Clowney and Todd Gurley II it was a game filled with big plays.

Early in the first half it looked like Georgia might be unstoppable. The Bulldogs took a 17-3 lead. Aaron Murray was sharp and the running game was powerful. The defense had gotten the best of Gamecock quarterback Connor Shaw in the first quarter. Shaw struggled to find a rhythm early. On one pivotal play the South Carolina offensive line picked up a blitz up the middle, but Shaw failed to get rid of the football and was sacked. The Gamecocks went on to punt two plays later and Georgia would score on the subsequent drive.

The game’s momentum flipped after a special teams blunder set up South Carolina for a touchdown that tied the game 17-17. It could have been a dominant first half for Georgia but it turned into an even and gritty game. Both quarterbacks played well and found confidence in the first half. Their statistics were almost identical. Aaron Murray went 10-13 for 122 yards and 2 touchdowns. Connor Shaw was 9-13 passing for 114 yards and two touchdowns.

South Carolina was the team that came out sharp in the second half. Their first drive of the second half was becoming a thing of beauty. That is until Shaw fumbled after what would have been an impressive first down run. Georgia went on to score a field goal and they would keep momentum to get a 10 point lead.

The Gamecocks would find the magic back in their offensive attack and they marched to another touchdown. They missed the PAT because of a bad snap and hold and were four points down. This was a very costly point not to have, making the deficit more than a field goal.

Murray struck gold on the next drive. He rolled out of the pocket and found receiver Justin Scott-Wesley for an 85 yard touchdown. The Gamecocks now trailed 41-30. They were now down 11 points instead of a touchdown, PAT and a field goal. South Carolina went right down the field. On 4th and goal Steve Spurrier decided to go for the touchdown instead of kicking the field goal and did not convert. This was the defining moment of the game. The Georgia defense seemed completely worn down making Spurrier’s decision seem like a well calculated risk. Georgia stuffed an option play and their home crowd erupted in jubilation.

Georgia’s next drive began extra close to their own end zone thanks to a moronic personal foul by a Georgia linebacker. The mistake was compounded by a false start. But on second down a play action pass by Murray to his full back Hicks gave Georgia a first down. With an 11 point lead the Bulldogs began to work the clock with their dominant running game. Each first down felt like a death sentence to the chances of South Carolina. The game was just about over when on a 4th & 2 with a little over two minutes left Todd Gurley picked up a first down on a toss play.

It was a great game and the better team won. Georgia played a more complete game. They played a near flawless game offensively with no turnovers. They made a strong statement with a goal line stand on defense. When Aaron Murray has a great game and their running game is this strong this team is almost impossible to beat. Georgia got a much needed win against a team that had owned them in the Murray era. Their season goals were all on the line against a great team, and they stepped up to the challenge.

The Little Things Cost Bull Dogs against Clemson

The Little Things Cost Bull Dogs against Clemson | Chris Schisler

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Like a bolt of lightning blazing through the sky the game took off at fast and intense in Clemson. It was obvious that this would be a barn burner. After both teams punted on their first drive, the scoring frenzy began. It was a battle against two of the most talented teams in all of college football. The old adage says that speed kills. There must be a lot of people dead tonight because we saw speed all over the field.

The first quarter felt like felt more like a game of air hockey than a football game because of how quickly the two offenses went back and forth. Clemson’s offense got rolling first with a Tahj Boyd touchdown run. Georgia responded with a 75 yard touchdown run by runningback Todd Gurly. Clemson answered back just seconds later with a 77 yard touchdown pass where Sammy Watkins broke a tackle and sprinted easily into the end zone. Georgia marched down the field to score again. On 3rd down in field goal range Georgia ran the ball and set up a manageable situation to go for it on fourth down. Murray’s ability to keep drives alive with clutch throws was crucial for the Bulldogs.

The second quarter began with Georgia inside their 5 yard line. The field position did not matter Aaron Murray and the Bulldogs were on a mission. Aaron Murray was in command and Georgia’s ability to convert third downs helped them take a 21-14 lead early in the second quarter.

One of the most critical moments in the game was a defensive stop for Clemson with a little under 9 minutes remaining in the first half. Georgia had seemed to find an unstoppable stride as they had scored on their previous three drives. Even though Clemson punted on their next possession getting a stop on third down, especially the way they did it, sacking Murray was huge for the Tigers. They had found some answers and the defense had two great stops in a row. On the next Georgia drive they forced a fumble that led to a Clemson touchdown.

After seeing three straight scoring drives, Georgia punted twice and gave away the ball twice. The Clemson defense was able to create pressure in the backfield. What started off as a brilliant performance by Aaron Murray unraveled a bit after throwing an interception. It was a beautiful defensive play. The Tigers blitzed the middle linebacker and the defensive end dropped into a fire zone and picked off Murray in the middle of the field. A crazy first half that had 6 total touchdowns between the two teams ended with a 21-21 tie.

Clemson got the scoring started in the second half. On a fourth down conversion the Clemson receiver should have been tackled for a loss, managed to get the first down. On the next play Clemson’s Tahj Boyd had a beautiful 31 yard touchdown pass to Zach Brooks. In football it is the little things that cost you. Bad arm tackling cost Georgia a touchdown. All the defender had to do was use his shoulder and wrap up to drive through the ball carrier. That’s all he needed to do. The drive could have ended; momentum could have been the Bulldogs once again… if only the defense could tackle. Instead it gave Clemson the lead.

The next drive was a defining moment for the Georgia Bulldogs. On a fourth and short they successfully faked a punt and would end up tying the game with a touchdown. Murray finally found the rhythm that was once beating strong earlier in the game. Georgia’s playcalling was focused on beating the unrelenting pass rush of Clemson. Murray got the ball out of his hands quickly. Todd Gurley finished off the drive with a 12 yard touchdown run. The game was tied 28-28.

To no one’s surprise Clemson marched down the field with relative ease. They only scored a field goal. On third & goal Tahj Boyd threw the ball a bit too high and they had to settle for three points. It was another example of the little things costing points. On the subsequent drive Georgia received help from their opponent. The defense threw arms and took bad pursuit angles but when they got called for a horse collar they put Georgia in prime position for a score. Luckily for the Tigers Georgia could not get it in the end zone. Even luckier a bad snap and hold exchange on a field goal attempt gave the ball back to Clemson with their three point lead intact. I’ve said it before, I will say it again: it’s the little things that win and lose football games. Between a Clemson touchdown and a missed field goal, little things cost Georgia 10 points.

Georgia’s defense struggled mightily all night long. It got to a point where Clemson was playing against air. The Bull dogs were suddenly down by 10 after Boyd’s third touchdown pass. The score was 38-28. Down 10 with no hope of stopping the Clemson Tigers the Bulldogs were in trouble. They started their next drive with three straight runs. It may have been a good idea- they could not protect their quarterback and they were getting big chunks on the ground with Heisman candidate Todd Gurley. A holding penalty though had the Georgia moving backwards. After two incomplete passes the dogs had to punt on 4th and 15.

Hope was all but lost for the Bulldogs. With time ticking down and 1 time out left they were down 10 facing a critical 3rd and 4 with 4:49 left in the game. The game was essentially out of reach for Georgia after Boyd ran for the first down. They managed to get Clemson to punt the football with about 2 and a half minutes remaining. Georgia needed quick score and a miracle. They scored in five plays and the game was down to a desperate onside kick.

The Bulldogs played a good game but they lost because of the little things. On 4th and 1 Georgia’s defense was there but could not make a tackle behind the line of scrimmage. The next play Clemson scored a touchdown. They did not score a field goal, because of a mental error on the snap and hold. They made little mistakes you just cannot make against a team as talented as the Clemson Tigers.