Murray closed the season with two of his shakier performances — totaling 451 passing yards, three touchdowns, two lost fumbles and four interceptions, including two for touchdowns — in losses to LSU and Michigan State.
The common thread in those two games was that Georgia’s battered backfield was completely ineffective at moving the ball on the ground.
Actually, I thought the common thread in those two games was that Georgia faced two top-ten defensive units. But I digress. Let’s instead see if we can test Bobo’s hypothesis.
Georgia averaged 3.95 yards per rush this past season. Aaron Murray’s average passer rating in 2011 was 146.41. If you separate the games on the basis of those in which Georgia exceeded the rushing average from those in which it didn’t, here’s how that looks, in handy chart form.
GAME YPR RATING BSU 4.42 139.39 SC 4.95 175.98 CC 4.13 168.05 NMSU 6.97 236.92 AUB 5.43 255.64 GT 4.57 177.14 AVG 5.078333 192.1867
GAME YPR RATING MISS 3.7 169.67 MISS ST 3.16 108.16 UT 3.66 136.27 VANDY 3.44 150.75 UF 3.78 99.41 UK 3.37 106.57 LSU 2.29 72.48 MICH ST 1.31 146.23 AVG 3.08875 123.6925
So, yeah, there’s a certain truth to the stats as they relate to Bobo’s point. Murray’s average passer rating in games when the rushing attack was better than average was certainly above his average in the games when the Dawgs were under the 3.95 ypr season average.
But there are several exceptions to the rule you can find when you look at each game, particularly with some of the ones in which the rushing lagged (Murray had three games among those with higher passer ratings than in the Boise State game). And note that in the bowl game, when Georgia’s running game was essentially non-existent, Murray managed to pull off an average game by his standards.
Would a better ground game help Murray? The numbers suggest that it would. But is that because it would make him a better quarterback, or because it would make Bobo a better play caller? Who is more comfortable when Murray doesn’t have to try to carry the offense on his shoulders?