“Hopefully he won’t have to hear any of that big-game stuff anymore.”

Just curious how everyone’s favorite Aaron Murray meme fits in with this.

In time, a relatively unimpressive stat line against Florida might go down as the turning point in Aaron Murray‘s career.

By that midseason game last fall, Georgia’s quarterback had already authored a series of subpar performances against ranked teams in his two-plus seasons as the Bulldogs’ starter. He was in the middle of another against the Gators, tossing interceptions on three straight first-half possessions as Georgia took a 7-6 lead into halftime.

Yet Murray was able to regroup, going 8-for-16 in the second half for 116 yards and hitting Malcolm Mitchell for a win-clinching 45-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that proved Murray is a tougher competitor than it might once have appeared…

In Georgia’s next game against ranked opposition, Murray was hit in the mouth again — literally, by Alabama defensive end Quinton Dial in the SEC championship game — but went on to prove that he’s anything but soft. In Georgia’s games against ranked opponents following the Florida win — against Alabama and against Nebraska and its top-ranked pass defense in the Capital One Bowl — Murray flashed resiliency that he might have lacked earlier in his career.

He was a combined 36-for-66 for 692 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions against the Crimson Tide and Cornhuskers. And in the second halves of those two games, he was even more efficient, hitting 15 of 25 passes for 401 yards, three scores and no interceptions.

I don’t think Murray’s problem has ever been about toughness – ask Nick Fairley about that – but rather more about focus and keeping himself in control in a game.  No question he can do better, but it’s worth noting that he hasn’t been nearly as consistently bad as some of his detractors claim.

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36 Comments

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36 responses to ““Hopefully he won’t have to hear any of that big-game stuff anymore.”

  1. Russ

    Hutson Mason! Oh wait…

  2. DawgPhan

    yeah but he still lost to bama and usc.

  3. stoopnagle

    Clemson Monster Defense.

  4. Normaltown Mike

    Yeah, but just think what Mett would’ve done to Bama & UF…oh right.

  5. mwo

    Murray will probably not be fully appreciated until after he is gone from UGA.

    • Exactly right. Only when Murray leaves will UGA fans appreciate how good he’s been.

      • Bevo

        Ditto. Murray is a heck of a QB who has been under appreciated. I think most of his worst performances tended to happen when our o-line was overwhelmed or our running game wasn’t working at all (similar issues in both cases). Hopefully we won’t see that happen next season.

        Murray is a DGD all the way.

  6. Macallanlover

    I have always thought the “big game” and turnover criticisms on Murray were out of balance. The losses to Bama, LSU, Florida, Auburn, and SC were in games where the blame wasn’t so much him (yeah, the OT interception against FU was a bad mistake.) Against LSU the two dropped TD passes could have changed the perception significantly. Against Auburn, that was more on the defense. Bama was a great defensive play and a fluke direction of the tip. SC was probably the worst staff preparation in the past three years, there was no plan to help the tackels against that rush and Peyton or Brady could have been successful that night.

    Murray makes many great throws into tight coverage so it follows there will also be more picks at times, have to take some bad with the good but it is more positive for UGA from what I see. I discount most tipped interceptions I guess and look more at the really bad throws or decisions, maybe that is why I don’t fault him as much. The INT against Bama was one of the biggest surprises to me, he had plenty of time to set and had a man well behind the defender, so that was very untypical of AM. I don’t know what caused the underthrow but I don’t think it was the “big game” factor as he was on target in much tougher situations in the rest of that game.

    When you look at his total body of work it is hard to see how so many fans and media have questions about AM. He will own every significant SEC passing record at the end of his career, barring injury, and will have a remarkable record against our major rivals, and possibly three appearances in the SECCG and, hopefully one SEC ring. From where I sit it is hard to see why there isn’t more talk of a statue (just kidding) than there is of what he does wrong.

    • Cojones

      Well, maybe a little one with a robe, a staff and a beard…..and a red birdbath in front of his raised arms that continually overflows….and…..

  7. mdcgtp

    I consider myself one of the biggest Aaron Murray fan’s on the planet. That said, the criticism around his performance based upon our record in big games or against ranked opponents was not totally misplaced. There were absolutely times where he was responsible for turnovers or looked uncomfortable and was so much less accurate and decisive than normal.

    On the other hand, the context and attribution was a complete joke. People are lazy in their evaluation of QBs. For example , had the Falcons kicker missed the FG to beat the Seahawks, would Matt Ryan have failed again? Of course not, his job was to get his team in position to win the game with a FG, whether or not the kicker makes should have ABSOLUTELY ZERO impact on one’s evaluation of Ryan’s performance. I think Aaron bore (and still bears) a lot of that type of criticism)

    Virtually anything that occurred in 2010 was totally meaningless in my opinion, as the program was in a different place and he was in a different stage of his career. That said, anyone who watched the 2010 UF game could not help but see he was bit out of sorts in the first half.

    2011 was a slightly different matter. That said, notwithstanding the Miss State game, his performance tended to correlate with the success of our running game. Obviously, he made big mistakes against South Carolina and was less than good against a bad UF team, and to me that was was much much worse than his performance in the SEC championship game when King and Mitchell both dropped TD passes that would have broken the game open. The only criticism of Murray in 2011 that completely justified IMHO was avoidable turnovers (sack fumbles and the occasional stupid throw and obviously the scramble fumble in the championship game). that said, he tightened a LOT of that up in 2012.

    While the South Carolina game provided fodder for his detractors, anyone who watched that game knows that it was an abject failure but EVERYONE involved in our program not just Aaron Murray! the first half of the UF game was the first time I ever wondered if I was wrong about him. He made physical and mental errors, which combined with good luck turned a game that should have been a 2-3 TD lead for us in the first half into a one point game. Of course, that performance was wrapped around a season where he became ridiculously efficient throwing the football. His yards per attempt and TD/INT ratio were ELITE.

    My point being is I actually do believe the second half of the UF and Bama game basically eradicated any argument that he is capable of winning a big game or that he is a QB who struggles in big games (in isolation of other factors). I believe those performances bode very well for his play in 2013. I think the ability he (and the coaching staff) showed to right himself against UF will be huge. I expect that experience will help him right himself quicker should he start out a game playing a series or two below his normal standard.

    • charlottedawg

      As someone who’s done his share of Murray criticizing, I can’t see how his absolute torching of Nebraska’s #1 pass defense in the CapOne bowl was anything short of a big time performance in a big time game.

      • HahiraDawg

        come on c-dawg, say it with me now…’dawggrade’, yeah, that’s it. Nebraska will have no bearing on meme on AM, bc of the dawggrade.

      • 81Dog

        see, UGA won that game. Ergo, it cant be a “big game.” That’s what the critics seem to use for logic.

        Me, I think Murray’s continued to improve since he was a freshman, and I expect him to continue to improve his senior year. He’s smart, he’s hard working, and he’s tougher than a cheap steak. How can you not love a kid like that?

        • W Cobb Dawg

          “I think Murray’s continued to improve since he was a fresham..”

          Exactly. AM came as a scrambling QB with a terrific arm. He’s made dramatic changes in his game to become a prototypical dropback QB. I’d add that CMB has made a lot of progress in the same period. They’ve matured together.

    • Macallanlover

      Fair comments, but don’t misunderstand, my statement was that the criticisms were “out of balance” by not giving equal weighting to his accomplishments, or by magnifying every misstep by putting them under a microscope while taking those great throws for granted. No question Aaron has off days like any other athlete I have ever seen. It is also fair to say he does so much prep and thinking about games that he has a tendency to be over-amped and can overthrow, especially in the early portions of those games.

      Admittedly, getting too much of the blame, or credit, in big games is the nature of being a QB on a high profile team who has a few “big games” every year. By definition, every team or player will have lesser stats against superior competition. If one went back and looked at great players/teams’ records against the best teams they will see a similar fall off in W/L, batting average, rushing yardage, etc. Sometimes you have to tip your hat to the competitors’ efforts and talent. (Bobby Cox and the winning Braves teams in the nineties had some weak records against winning teams while feasting off the weaker ones; Peyton never beat Florida while at TN.)

  8. D.N. Nation

    Give the defenses David Greene had to Murray and we’re having a significantly different conversation, IMO.

  9. 69Dawg

    I’ve said it his whole career, he gets too amped up for the big games and the team has to survive until he gets control of himself. Last year we were saved by the D in the UF game. He clamed down in the SECCG and we almost pulled it out. He just starts slow in the big games but he usually finishes fine.

    • HahiraDawg

      I don’t disagree with your first sentence, but as for the 2nd, remember, UF’s O was the epitome of suckitude last year. Yes the D did their job but in the 2nd half the O and AM did their’s too.

  10. Cojones

    Aaron has made me one of his fans with his play immediately after we are scored on. It seems that if he isn’t placing 2 TDs on the board to start the game, he plays the best CFB catchup that I’ve come to expect. The D gives up a score, he turns his Fantastic motor on. He more often than not will move straight down the field for a score and take the pressure off.

    If that “scored upon” motor could be analyzed, we wouldn’t fear any opponent scoring and must confess that he seemed in that scoring mode several times last year and you just waited for him to score the get-back. Suddenly, he can make an opponent’s D look inept.

    Has anyone hired a player’s gametime Psychiatrist in CFB? I seriously believe that early confidence is the name of the total game for Aaron.

    • HahiraDawg

      Hmmm…I’ve observed the same thing but instead I’ve put the ephasis on Bobo and playcalling when in ‘need’ mode vs. ‘ahead’ mode.

  11. Can we pause for a moment over how RIDICULOUS some of the throws and catches had to be on late downs in that Florida game.

  12. I think AM is due this year to torch UF. Would LOVE for us to play to our potential in that game.

  13. Dog in Fla

    “Hopefully he won’t have to hear any of that big-game stuff anymore.”

    Because next year Mettenberger will hear it

    “There’s no one in SEC nation that can match his throwing ability, but it’s just a matter of working out the kinks and finding his stride. There’s no doubt that Mettenberger has all the intangibles to be a first-round pick in next year’s draft.”

    http://www.faniq.com/blog/Texas-AM-Football-Johnny-Manziel-not-even-SECs-best-QB-Blog-65840

  14. IveyLeaguer

    “I don’t think Murray’s problem has ever been about toughness .. but rather more about focus and keeping himself in control in a game.”

    That’s exactly it. There’s no question some of those faux pas were gags, but even that comes from a lack of control. Most of that has come in the early part of games, in fact bad starts are a Murray trademark ,as even Bobo said on TV at the spring game.

    That Murray didn’t have those problems the last 2 big games is indeed very promising, but not enough to know whether he’s licked it. IMHO, neither Murray nor the rest of us will know for sure until the Florida game, where Murray has ‘gagged it’ 3 straight times. If Murray gets through that game without control problems, then I think we can relax in the comfort he’s grown out of it.

    I’m pulling for him. We all love the guy. He’s got everything going for him, but this problem has been holding him back. Not only that, overcoming it is the key to his football future.
    ~~~

  15. Snake Plisskin

    Murray just never believes he’s out of any game…even when the rest of the team seems to not believe, Murray still goes out there and gets the snot kicked out of him, but he still keeps getting up and chucking the pigskin…he doesn’t stop until the clock reaches all 0’s…think back to a few of the big games…I can recall, and I’m sure there are some who can name the games, where they shot themselves in the foot…I remember one where they completed a sideline pass on 3rd and long on the first series, but an off sides call, or was it illegal procedure nullified the play…or, another time it was a dropped ball resulting in a punt…we all remember the LSU debacle where two sure touchdowns were dropped…how many times did the D look so out of shape in the 4th quarter that they couldn’t stop a peewee running back…on the upside, this should be the year where they put a complete team on both sides of the ball…hopefully, the me, me players are long gone and there are 22 guys who are playing for the team and not their own glory…really looking forward to this season…Snake out

  16. Red hawk

    Agree 1&11 vs teams that finish top 20 is superb Murray is the best

    • Snake Plissken

      used to be that they couldn’t beat any team that had a winning record, then if was couldn’t beat any team ranked in the top 20, now it’s teams that finish in the top twenty…keep going, next it’ll be can’t beat teams that win the NC…keep moving the goalposts, some will always find fault…Snake out

  17. Redhawk

    Murray is winless vs spurrier saban miles
    Winless in sec championships
    2& 12 vs ranked teams
    1 & 11 vs teams that finish top 20