Murray taking his place among UGA greats

semerson@macon.comNovember 18, 2011 

ATHENS -- Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo got an interesting text message after Saturday’s game. It was from Matt Stafford, who had watched on TV as Aaron Murray tied one of his records and broke another.

“What’s up with throwing all these touchdowns?” Stafford’s text read, according to Bobo.

“You threw the ball a lot more,” Bobo said he wrote back. “He’s just completing them for touchdowns.”

The way things are going, Bobo can expect more texts from former quarterbacks, from Eric Zeier to David Greene ... or even Bobo himself, whose main program record is being threatened by Murray.

And Murray is still only a sophomore, with probably four games left in this season.

“By the time of his last game, he’ll be on top of every list,” senior fullback Bruce Figgins said. “I’m almost certain of that.”

Figgins is one of two players remaining at Georgia who has caught a touchdown pass from both Stafford and Murray. Tight end Aron White is the other. Murray and Stafford might seem like different kinds of quarterbacks -- Stafford was taller, a No. 1 overall pick, while Murray is shorter and faster -- but Figgins sees similarities.

“Their demeanor in the huddle,” he said. “Stafford walked in the huddle, and all eyes were on him. Stafford, just like Aaron, he has the arm to put it there, all he asks of you is to be there. How they approach each game, each week, preparing and watching film and knowing everything the defense is going to show, because they spend that extra time. That’s probably their biggest similarity.”

Fran Tarkenton, Mike Cavan, Buck Belue and others had outstanding careers at Georgia. But Zeier’s arrival at Georgia in 1991 signaled a new era, and the quarterbacks since then dominate the program’s stat charts.

Bobo has been at Georgia almost continuously since 1993, when he was a freshman quarterback. He played with Zeier, coached Greene and called plays for Stafford.

His opinion on where Murray will rank?

“I think it’s too early to tell,” Bobo said. “Like any quarterback is measured on the big games that you win and the championships that you win. So he’s still got this year and two more years to play, so I think that’s still yet to be decided.

“But statistically he’ll rank up there. But I think ultimately it always comes down to how you play the game and how your team wins.”

Murray also says he should be judged on wins and losses. In that way it will be nearly impossible to catch Greene.

Still, Murray’s statistical accomplishments are impressive:

He now holds the single-season program record for passing touchdowns, with 27. He passed Stafford, who had 25 in 2008, during Saturday’s 45-7 rout of Auburn.

Murray is now tied with Stafford with 51 career passing touchdowns. Next up is Zeier, who had 67, and Greene was first with 72.

This year, Murray leads the SEC in passing efficiency, at 158.23. If he holds steady, he will break Bobo’s program record of 155.80. Murray’s rating last year of 154.48 is second right now.

Greene holds the career record for passing yards, with 11,528. Murray currently has 5,333.

Murray broke Greene’s record for passing yards by a freshman. Murray is 640 yards away from breaking Green’s record for a sophomore. Zeier holds the junior and senior records.

Georgia junior linebacker Christian Robinson also had some thoughts this week on how Murray compares to the nation’s most famous current college quarterback. Via his Twitter account, Robinson posted Andrew Luck’s stats -- 2,694 yards, 29 touchdowns and seven interceptions -- and Murray’s -- 2,284, 27 TDs, eight interceptions.

“Hmm,” Robinson added.

Murray laughed sheepishly this week when asked about that.

“No, the only thing that matters now is getting back to Atlanta,” he said. “I said this at the beginning of the year: I could throw 20 interceptions and five touchdowns or whatever it is -- well I’d probably be benched if I did that. But I just want to get back to Atlanta. I want to compete for an SEC championship.”

Bobo said the sentiment isn’t just false modesty.

“If you ask him (the records) don’t matter to him,” he said. “Winning and having a chance to play for the East is all that matters to him.”

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