ATHENS -- Georgia’s Aaron Murray has more than a little admiration for Kellen Moore, his quarterback counterpart at Boise State. So Murray decided to go to an inside source to get some perspective on Moore.
Mike Tamburo, a walk-on quarterback for Georgia, transferred from Boise State this year after spending two seasons watching Moore. So Murray had a simple question.
“What does he do?” Murray said, referring to Moore.
Murray then related the answer:
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“He just he does all the right things, when it comes to on and off the field, just the way he works, how responsible he is, what kind of a leader he is. He’s a tremendous leader.
“Those are all the things I’m striving to be myself.”
Murray may not be far off, according to Tamburo and Boise State head coach Chris Petersen. Where he still lacks is wins and national name recognition – something Murray can change Saturday when the teams meet in the Georgia Dome.
“It’ll be good for Aaron,” Georgia defensive back Sanders Commings said. “Kellen Moore will get a lot of hype coming into this game. Heisman candidate. Aaron, he’s a good quarterback, an SEC quarterback. But people don’t think he’s Kellen Moore, so this’ll be a great opportunity for him to show that he can be that guy.”
Moore’s accolades are extensive: He finished fourth in last year’s Heisman voting, was a finalist for practically every quarterback and offensive award, and is on track to be the winningest quarterback in Division I history.
Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham compared Moore to Drew Brees, whom Grantham went up against once in college. Grantham was on Saban’s staff at Michigan State in 1999 when it played Brees and Purdue.
“There’s not many things he doesn’t do well,” Tamburo said of Moore, whom he still refers to as a mentor. “He’s a great quarterback, and a great leader.”
But Tamburo also sees similarities with Murray.
“I actually do,” he said. “I think they’re both really smart, accurate quarterbacks. Really good decision-makers. And they both move really well in the pocket. They’re both not tall guys, they’re both 6-foot guys. I see some differences, but I see a lot of similarities.”
Petersen also cited Murray when he was talking about Moore earlier this week, pointing out they each started as redshirt freshmen. They each also did well individually; Moore set the single-season NCAA record for passing percentage for a freshman in 2008, and last year Murray broke Georgia freshmen passing records.
The team results, however, were much different. Moore led the Broncos to a 12-1 record as a freshman and is 39-2 since then. Georgia went 6-7 last year.
“He’s a veteran, he’s been there awhile, he’s definitely proven himself a lot more than I have,” Murray said.
“I wouldn’t put Murray in his category yet,” Georgia head coach Mark Richt said. “Kellen, he’s done so much. He will end up being the winningest quarterback in the history of college football. It’s not a slight about Aaron, but Aaron just hasn’t played in as many games and won any championships yet or anything like that.”
So what sets Moore apart?
Richt was impressed by Moore’s accuracy: It’s one thing to have a high completion percentage, but Richt noticed on film that Moore hits his receivers on the dead run, leading to longer gains.
Petersen and Tamburo each said that Moore just has a good “feel” for the game. His father was a high school coach, which may help.
“We always say, if everyone around him will just do their job, you know Kellen’s just gonna play at a high level. That’s the big key, is making that quarterback look good,” Petersen said. “We have a guy, and Georgia has a guy, that if that happens, those guys are good players, they’re gonna make plays.”
Murray would be happy that Moore’s own coach is making that comparison. He just has to hope others are also saying it after Saturday.