Murray has another shot to hit it big

semerson@macon.comOctober 3, 2012 

ATHENS -- Aaron Murray has a cheerful nature that teammates say masks a deep competitive fire. It just doesn’t come out when the subject of his last career hurdle, as some see it, is brought up: Murray’s record in so-called big games as Georgia’s starting quarterback.

His head coach says it’s a non-issue. His teammates say Murray does own at least one big one, perhaps more.

The detractors, whether they be fans in the blogosphere or an occasional media critic, will point out that Murray is just 2-7 against teams ranked in the top 25. And both of those wins came against teams that were ranked in the 20s and were out of the poll the next week.

Whatever your position, this much is clear: Murray can erase any doubts with a win this Saturday: By any measure, fifth-ranked Georgia’s trip to play No. 6 South Carolina is a big game.

“I don’t look at it as a personal achievement,” Murray said. “It’s definitely a team achievement, and right now it’s a huge win for us to beat the No. 6 team in the country, to go into their home and beat them. It’s another SEC win leading to our ultimate goal of Atlanta and Miami.”

Murray has been Georgia’s starting quarterback since the first game of the 2010 season.

He has never missed a start. He is setting or on the verge of setting career records at Georgia: his next touchdown pass will tie David Greene for the most in school history, and Greene did it in four years.

And yet, the critics come back to the lack of high-profile wins.

“I’m sure it’s something that he hears,” senior receiver Tavarres King said. “I’m not sure if it affects his play or anything. But I feel like if we win, that’ll end. So certainly, I want to win for him. I want to win for all my brothers. It’ll be good to get that win for him and everybody.”

Head coach Mark Richt, a former quarterback himself, doesn’t think Murray has to prove anything.

“I don’t think Murray is in need of any kind of a signature victory to validate the type of player he is. I think some quarterbacks, when they’re early in their career, somewhere along the way they need to play in such a way that the team has faith that this guy can do it. And sometimes it happens to a kid real early in his career.”

Richt pointed to Texas A&M freshman Johnny Manziel, who played well against Florida earlier this season. Manziel’s team lost, but he played well and has carried that performance on, and was the SEC offensive player of the week this week.

“Even though they lost that game I would think most of their fans and coaches and teammates would say this guy (Manziel) can do it. I think Murray’s way past that. You know, would he like to have a championship under his belt here before he leaves Georgia? I’m sure he would. We all would like to see that, because that means everybody is doing well.

“But when I think of a signature victory, I think in terms of a victory that validates him as the leader and as a guy that can be the man. I think he’s already done that.”

An examination of Murray’s performance in those seven losses to ranked teams show that he is only at fault for some of the losses. One that is often pointed to is last year’s 45-42 loss to South Carolina, when Murray struggled with turnovers, including a fumble in the fourth quarter that led to the decisive score.

But that game also goes back to Richt’s point about a quarterback proving himself in a losing effort.

Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo thinks Murray’s performance against South Carolina last year spurred his improvement. In fact, Bobo said he saw it from Murray while the game was actually being played.

“He’s got a lot more confidence in himself and the players around him,” Bobo said. “In that game I think you could see the confidence starting to develop in him and those young receivers. Even though we lost that game and losing is no fun, I think that gave us a little spark offensively to start that run last year.”

Sophomore receiver Michael Bennett, speaking prior to his injury in Tuesday’s practice, opined that Murray does want to erase any doubts. Even if he doesn’t say it.

“I think he wants to prove himself. It’s a big game, and everyone wants to prove themselves in a big game like this,” Bennett said. “For whatever reason, people say he hasn’t played great in big games. But the Florida game last year, he played great. And games we didn’t win, the whole team didn’t play well. Like Boise, it was a whole team effort, not just Aaron. He is good in these big-game situations, I think, and he’s gonna show it on Saturday.”

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service