ATHENS - Georgia has many concerns as it tries to chase a championship this season. The team's most important position, quarterback, would not appear very high on that list.
In fact, Aaron Murray's presence on the team, along with the defense, are the major reasons the Bulldogs start the season ranked No. 6 nationally. But if the team is to take the next step - and go beyond just winning the SEC East - what does Murray still have to do?
Head coach Mark Richt was asked just that question earlier this week.
"I think there were times when he took sacks when he could've thrown them away. And I think there were a couple times when he threw some balls that could've got picked that should've been thrown in a safer spot," Richt said. "Really, if he does that, and matches everything else, it'll be not a good year but a great year. And last year was pretty darn good."
Murray has been sacked 56 times in his two years as Georgia's starter, and 34 of those came in the nine toughest games, against ranked teams. Murray has also had some key interceptions and fumbles at critical times in the games the team has lost. Hence the emphasis by Richt on making the right decision in key situations.
"And then if you do get hit, don't fumble the stinking ball, man," Richt said. "And I think there's times you might be scrambling to your right and you know the defense is pursuing you, and you might could gain a yard. But if you just throw the ball away, you're not gonna get hit, you're not gonna fumble, you're gonna save the yardage of a sack. Just throw it away. He's 10 times better than the first time he started. He was scrambling like, running around way too much that year, and he's done much better than that in that regard. But there's still a few times he should just burn it."
Murray said his main individual goal has been accuracy: He set a goal of at least a 65 percent completion rate.
“I want to get near 70, that’s the goal I’ve given myself for this year. And I want to be more accurate, that’s my goal this whole offseason,” Murray said.
Murray has been very accurate in the scrimmages. He was 20-for-25 in the practice game on Wednesday.
The junior said he also focused on his footwork in the offseason. The hope there is that it helps his accuracy, as well as his ability to avoid fumbling.
But experience is also being banked on: Murray said when he was younger he was more nervous. He wasn’t as confident in his ability to get enough zip on a ball to a receiver and put it in the right spot.
“Now it’s confidence not only in myself but in my receivers, that they’re gonna break when I want them to break. Just let the ball rip, and overall confidence in my play that I can compete in the SEC," Murray said. "When you’re nervous and unsure that, ‘Man these guys are huge, these guys are fast, I don’t know that I can play.’ But the more reps you get and the more games you play in, the game starts to slow down for you. And I think the game has definitely slowed down.”