Surprise, surprise. Aaron Murray may not be as bad as you think.

From Bill Connelly’s statistical preview of tomorrow’s game:

… If you have been reading the weekly Heisman Watch column, you’ve noticed that Georgia’s passing rankings are high enough to get Aaron Murray on the candidates list. This level of quality has not been obvious, in part because Georgia began the year playing two of the best pass defenses in the country. Murray completed 35 of 58 passes against Boise State (first in Def. Passing S&P+) and South Carolina (seventh) for 484 yards, six touchdowns and just two interceptions. (Granted, he was sacked about 16 times in the process as well.) Averaging 8.3 yards per pass against two elite pass defenses will give your opponent-adjusted numbers a hefty bump.

Strangely enough, Murray hasn’t really done any better against lesser pass defenses — against the Dawgs’ other six FBS opponents, he has averaged 8.1 yards per pass with 13 touchdowns to six interceptions — but Georgia’s passing game has been consistently solid. This is particularly impressive considering Murray really has no go-to receiver and little experience around him, and only one of his top five targets qualifies as anything resembling explosive.

Can I get an “I blame Bobo” from the congregation?  Amen, brothers and sisters.

As far as the game itself, Bill’s keys for Georgia are two:  stay out of obvious passing downs on offense and make good use of the early downs.

… If the Tigers can leverage the Dawgs into passing downs, however, the advantage quickly shifts. While Georgia is 13th in Standard Downs S&P+ (second passing), they are just 48th in Passing Downs S&P+ (27th passing). The draw game doesn’t fool anybody, and the passing game is a bit too conservative. None of the top three passing downs targets — King, Charles or freshman Michael Bennett — average even six yards per target on passing downs, and perhaps the team’s best deep threat (Marlon Brown) is very hit-or-miss.

Georgia’s early-downs offense holds a significant advantage over Auburn. If they take full advantage of this matchup, and if they are sharp on standard downs, then it is difficult to imagine the Dawgs losing…

The scary part is that the Tigers hold a big advantage over the Dawgs in special teams and controlling field position.

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34 Comments

Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

34 responses to “Surprise, surprise. Aaron Murray may not be as bad as you think.

  1. AusDawg85

    Hmmmm…the late, great Reverend James Brown singing “Granthams’ Junkyard Dawgs!” with the refrain, “I blame Bobo!” (clap your hands).

    Me likey.

  2. The other Doug

    I think he under estimates, or misses, Malcolm Mitchell. He looks like a guy who can force DCs to adjust a bit. Outside of that, I think he is spot on as usual.

    • James Stephenson

      I agree, at this point MM is the number 1 WR. Heck, I hope Auburn thinks King is the number 1.

      • I’m guessing that Bill is using #1 in the sense that King has had more passes thrown his way than any of Georgia’s receivers this season.

        • D.N. Nation

          Yep. This is a very by-committee outfit. And I’m actually cool with it.

          • Coastal Dawg

            Clearly. 18 different guys have caught a pass and 11 have caught a touchdown pass. That’s spreadin the wealth and has to make it tough for opposing DCs to focus on a single player.

          • Macallanlover

            Wasn’t that Leach’s definition of a “spread offense”, getting the ball to several playmakers and not allowing the defense to focus on 2-3 big guns? I thought it was a pretty insightful thought by The Pirate, and I like his thinking. AJ was a wonderful receiver, and a beast for anyone to stop one on one, but this group is gaining confidence every week and AM is feeding them treats. If we could run block, we would be a very formidable offense for any defense to face….and they are (almost) all back for 2 more years. Would love to see us build an even higher platform for next year’s team to start from. Tomorrow could raise the bar higher.

        • Correct. It’s the only way to cleanly apply a number to each receiver on each team. King has seen by far the most targets, therefore he’s the No. 1 target, even if others have been more impressive with their chances.

          • D.N. Nation

            Bill, any specific rationale behind Auburn being a beast in tight games?

            • James Stephenson

              Running game. If the game is tight, they are running the ball well. And if you are running the ball well, you win tight games. That is my rationale.

              • That’s certainly part of it. There’s probably a run aspect … a good special teams aspect … a luck aspect…

                • A luck aspect? Sorry, that doesn’t compute here in Dawg nation. We just heap direct blame for all occurrences on the coaches.

                  • Mayor of Dawgtown

                    I realize that as said tongue in cheek but on this blog there are people who actually believe that turnovers are totally random events.

                    • Rick

                      There was certainly that sentiment a couple years ago for fumble recoveries when the ball is already on the ground, and I think that’s valid. We were recovering like 20% of the balls put on the ground by either team, and that really is bad luck.

                      Interceptions are entirely different, and about as nonrandom as football events get.

                    • Macallanlover

                      I don’t recall any posters who felt turnovers are “totally random events”. Most turnovers are caused by an action of the defender, although some weird drops, flipped passes, stumbles, can produce a “gift from heaven” where a ball is just lost with no defender around.

                      I think you have mistakenly taken the comments where many have posted of how sometimes the luck element is involved with bounces a ball can take. We have all seen bounces into player in full stride that result in a touchdown, and others where the ball is knocked loose, but kicks sideways and goes out of bounds before a defender can recover. Even more frequently is the way a ball bounces away from the closest player(s), and directly to the opponent. You can call it luck, or just attribute it to just the way the ball bounces. Regardless, to say luck isn’t a factor is to ignore reality. That isn’t to say teams cannot impact turnover margin, obviously they can, and do. But the numbers can be misleading by a few due to “luck”. Do good teams make their own luck, to a large extent they do, but it is nice to have Old Lady Luck around for a key play or two every season.

                    • Mayor of Dawgtown

                      No Rick. That’s not bad luck. That’s lack of hustle.

  3. as the UGA season goes on, and the stats come out, you have to wonder… is boise… really good? we were just outplayed in that game.

  4. The Dawgs were outplayed & outcoached in the Boise Game. They were not outplayed or outcoached in their loss to USCe, or in any game since then.
    If the Dawgs beat the Tigers (A Big IF), then both MURRAy & (I BLAME) BOBO will start standing in line for a lot of positive recognition, It will be well deserved. But First they have to beat the Tigers. GATA.

    • Cojones

      Your head is in the right direction. The “if” looms larger when the giddyness factor approaches game time. We don’t have Mitchell at top speed, but will probably use him to draw their D in his direction. I greatly suspicion that the silence surrounding him is indicative of that limited use, but who knows? Certainly not Auburn. The O will have to jam and hold longer for Murray to be effective, especially when Brown is the target. Auburn’s O line is capable of opening a few gaping holes for Dyer unless we dare them to by filling the box.

      Bottom line: They will get their licks in and stamina plus stubborness will be needed until the end of the game. Look for Murray to step up into the pocket and run on QB designated run and in rush avoidance. That will keep the sacks low from a team that bullrushes because they think they can do the same thing they did last year. Feel confident that Bobo has prepared a few plays for those instances. SIC’EM DAWGS!!

  5. Greg

    Lost me with Marlon Brown being “perhaps the teams best deep threat”. That was a joke, right? Malcolm Mitchell is obviously our best deep threat and TK is a legit deep threat as well. Murray has missed him on what would have been some long completions or touchdowns, especially vs UT. I’d put Conley 3rd on the list. Then Charles. How many catches does Marlon have in 3 years at UGA?

    • Maybe it was the big number from the Vandy game as well as his measurables making him look like the type that goes up and gets the ball. I wondered about Marlon’s mention as well.

      At 31 receptions, Orson is possibly on track for 50 as both he and Murray talked about prior to the season. Love to see him get the record.

    • Mitchell has not been used much as a downfield threat on passing downs. His deep balls have come earlier in sets of downs. Basically only Brown has come up with anything big on passing downs. That was the intent of the comment.

      • Hogbody Spradlin

        Slightly off topic, but Joe Cox was surprisingly good at the deep ball the year he started. And boy, you must have one helluva spreadsheet template.

  6. Mg4life0331

    When does “Blaming Bobo” make it to the infamous Lexicon? We already have Third and Willie. Do we need more stats?

  7. Hobnail_Boot

    Until proven otherwise, this Georgia team is spotting everyone it plays about 10 points on special teams.

    I like our chances against Auburn, but don’t see how we come anywhere near covering the -13 if the ST don’t step it up.

  8. JaxDawg

    I believe we’re overthinking AU. We’re the better team and have played like it. Our D is much, much better than theirs (which is why we will win decisively), and our O is more productive than theirs.

    We’ll win today and wonder why we all fretted so much over the outcome. It indicative of a confidence issue – the fans are not yet confident that we can win these game. I guess I can’t blame them. I don’t think the team feels that way though.