ATHENS - Gary Danielson gets criticized for being an SEC homer, but the CBS color analyst had some fairly honest feelings on the Georgia football team and its quarterback.
During a media teleconference to preview Saturday's SEC championship, which Danielson will call, the former college quarterback opined that Murray can be 'sensitive,' and said many questions remain as to how good Georgia is.
Danielson and play-by-play partner Verne Lundquist have called two Georgia games this year: Tennessee and Florida. Danielson wondered aloud how much the Bulldogs have really improved since that Oct. 27 win over the Gators.
"In this game, the one overriding feature for me is we don't know how real Georgia is," Danielson said. "They had a terrible slump in the middle of the season, where even their own players called their team out. That seemed to ignite them. They played a very good defensive football game against Florida. But their quarterback had a really tough first half, and he almost kind of tossed away the game that they should have won pretty easily.
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"But since then, while the rest of the country was playing pretty tough football games, Georgia has played Ole Miss, Auburn, Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech. They haven't been tested. So they're basically coming from the Oct. 27 game to the championship game, and we don't know if they've gotten any better, or where they stand. We know they have great potential. They're loaded athletically on defense. They lost two key wide receivers on offense, and we don't know the impact on that offense yet because no one has been able to test it."
Then there's Murray, who struggled for the first half of that Florida game, as well as at South Carolina, but otherwise has had a great season. This is what Danielson - a Purdue quarterback in the 1970s, and then for 15 years in the pros - said about Murray, Georgia's third-year starter.
"He seems to be sensitive, and he seems to be kind of a pleaser to the coaching staff, wanting to be accepted," Danielson said. "And I would not try to over-coach him because Aaron, everything you say he will take the heart and try to do. That's what he tries to do. I would stick to coaching him and working on Alabama's defense, and not try to over-coach him at all. It's like me with my golf swing: Every time I hit one to the right I try a different grip to hit one to the left. And that doesn't work either."
But Danielson didn't criticize Murray for not speaking to the media this week.
"I think he just wants to concentrate on the football game. He has done a million interviews over the last 11 weeks or so, and he just wants to concentrate on the game. Good for him," Danielson said. "That could work, and they'll say it was the best thing he did. If it doesn't work, they'll say it was the worst thing he did. I put no factor into it."
Many would have expected Danielson to do his best to hype the game by extolling the virtues of Georgia, a 7.5-point underdog to Alabama. But Danielson's rather blunt comments show how far Georgia still has to go in the respect department.