I blame… A.J.?

ESPN is currently running a series taking a look through metrics compiled by Brian Fremeau (Bill Connelly’s partner in crime at Football Outsiders) at twenty teams which have a shot at winning a national title this season.

The Georgia piece is linked here.  It’s a pay piece, so I’m not going to quote from it directly, but there’s a part that should be of interest to everyone who thinks there’s an Aaron Murray debate (or, more accurately perhaps, that there should be one).

First off, you have to start by noting that Murray’s passer rating declined from 2010 to 2011.  That’s because his completion percentage dropped and his interceptions climbed more than enough to offset the jump in touchdown passes.  Fremeau’s numbers lock in on a key area, downfield passing.  Georgia was noticeably less effective on longer throws last year (98 of the 238 completions were for 15 yards or more, a 41.18% rate) than the year before (109 of the 209 completions were for 15 yards or more, a 52.15% rate).  Some of that is Murray’s fault.  Some of that can be laid at the feet of an inconsistent running game that limited the usefulness of play action.

But some of that was due to the change in cast at wide receiver.  Murray’s #1 guy at wide out in 2010 was A.J. Green.  Last year, his #1 target was Tavarres King.  Despite playing in five fewer games, Green caught eleven more passes for 171 more yards.  (Green also had one more TD catch.)  And while their average yards per catch were fairly close, Green (34) had almost twice as many receptions of 15 or more yards as King (18) had.

To emphasize that last item, go back to Bill Connelly’s work on receiver target rates.  King’s catch rate in comparison to Mitchell’s and Charles’ is decidedly mediocre, despite being Murray’s favorite target.  Plainly stated, the two had trouble getting on the same page throughout the season.  The ESPN piece cites King’s record-setting day in the Outback Bowl as a sign of hope that communication between the two is improving, but as I noted in my postmortem of that game, Murray’s third interception was a troubling confirmation of the season long trend of inefficiency between the two.

Where that leaves us, I’m not sure.  Clearly Murray needs to step his deep game up, and just as clearly his supporting cast needs to come through.  I’ve already fretted about what effect the Mitchell move to corner might have on the offense, although I hope I’m wrong.  But either King in particular needs to produce at the level a number one receiver is expected to, or Bobo and Murray need to adjust accordingly in the playcalling and downfield reading as plays develop, respectively speaking.  It’s another thing to keep an eye on this season, especially early when Mitchell’s role in the offense is reduced.


Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

39 responses to “I blame… A.J.?

  1. The other Doug

    “But either King in particular needs to produce at the level a number one receiver is expected to, or Bobo and Murray need to adjust accordingly in the playcalling and downfield reading as plays develop, respectively speaking.”
    I might be wrong on this, but didn’t we continually go deep against the one Boise DB who had insane speed?

    • James Stephenson

      Yes and if I remember right, it was slightly over thrown twice that could have been scores.

  2. Cojones

    When you need that speed, having Mitchell run some sets as WR will make Tavarres that much better at getting the step downfield. His presence isn’t necessary to catch the ball, but rather to help Tavarres make it a wide open throw. One or two plays for Marshall to blaze some defenders will help as well. Just look to the speed list to help the WR game/Murray’s accuracy to lift that long game.

    You have just invited the anti-Murray and anti-Richt roaches to feed.

    • I will rather put my self on anti-Murray and anti-BOBO kind of roach, until the two can prove it otherwise this season. Let us see.

  3. paul

    Unfortunately, just when we need Mitchell to step up offensively, and he seems poised and ready to to do so, suddenly we need him to step up on defense instead. And his hamstrings? Worst case scenario is we can’t use him on either side of the ball because he’s on the training table. Sigh.

  4. Castleberry

    No doubt there is room for improvement, but I think there may be another cause for the stat decline – improved defense playing with the lead. That is, we aren’t throwing deep balls with a touchdown lead and the d playing lights out.

    • Maybe, but one of Fremeau’s stats I didn’t mention is that Murray’s completion rate on passes of 20 yards or more dropped from 48.4 percent to 28.8.

      • 81Dog

        hey, you lose a WR with a 4 foot vertical and flypaper hands, and see where your completion rate goes. It’s a lot harder when you have to actually hit the guy in the numbers instead of just getting it in the same area code. That kind of WR will spoil a guy a little, wont it?

        On the other hand, can you imagine what an accuracy fiend like Kellen Moore could have done with a guy like AJ? Terrifying.

        • gastr1

          Not only that, you can’t underestimate said WR’s ability to get open. That in itself is worth about 10 percentage points, IMO.

  5. charlottedawg

    Assuming special teams can improve to just not awful and the defense plays as well as it did last year, I really feel Murray just needs to limit the turnovers for Georgia to roll into Atlanta undefeated. I expect USC and UF to be good teams but not good enough to beat us with zero points off turnovers. (granted this is a big if especially in the case of uf where it seems our offense scores as many gator tds as theirs). I expect our WR corps to take a step back since our main some say only consistent downfield threat will be on defense. Maybe I’m wrong but I think this team can win 11 plus reg season games if it just doesn’t beat itself.

  6. Saint Johns Dawg

    Yes Murray and UGA missed A.J.’s acrobatic catches for long gains in 2011, but if I recall a lot of Murray’s bad mistakes in the Outback Bowl were the result of a certain unblockable defensive end for Mich St.
    Murray has to get better but sometimes you gotta tip your cap to a defense.

  7. James Stephenson

    “Some of that can be laid at the feet of an inconsistent running game that limited the usefulness of play action.” Ding, ding, ding we have ourselves a winning quote right there.

    A consistent weekly threat at RB will make those numbers so much better. If you can make that safety check for the run before back pedaling, well, lets just say the deep throw becomes a lot more effective. Which then makes the running game more effective. So smoke, no mirrors, just good old fashion football.

  8. fishook dawg

    CMR has tried ever since he named Murray his starting QB 2 years ago, to not try and be a hero, just to protect the ball but that still doesn’t seem to get through. I’ll admit that this years running game with real tailbacks and real fullbacks, ought to take alot of pressure off Murray. Hopefully Murray won’t be on the cover of one of those preseason magazines like he was last year and make better decisions, because like it or not, he’s here 2 more years.

  9. shane#1

    When Murray was preparing for his rookie year Green told him to just throw it high son he could go get it. That does wonders for a young QBs confidence. A confident QB is always more effective. I am anxious to see what Scott-Wesley can do as a deep threat.

    • Todd

      Justin Scott-Wesley is a track guy playing football and should never be compared to the talent of AJ Green. Murray had the benefit of having the best WR that has ever been at the University of Georgia .
      I still say Mettenberger was the guy that had the higher potential for a Mark Richt offense. Sure coaches say no, but what good would have come out of saying yes?

      • shane#1

        Actually, Scott Wesley was playing basketball. The bball and football players were arguing about which were the better athletes and the football players said that they were faster. Each side picked a champion and Scott-Wesley out ran the fastest player on the football team. When the coaches heard that Scott-Wesley became a football guy, and a track guy. They guy is big and fast and in high school he was quite physical, at 200lbs. He weighs 210 to 215 now and if you thing he is just a skinny “track guy” I suggest you run your mouth at him instead of knocking some kid that you know nothing about and have never seen play.

        • Todd

          I watched him play in Athens during G-day. Speed kills, no doubt. May I remind you of Aurisie Curry(sp?) the “fastest college football player”. He played at Clemson and couldn’t catch for anything. In fact, if he could catch they should have beaten Georgia in Athens. Thank God for that track guy. Hell, Cornelious Washington probably has the most unbelievable “measurables” coming out of HS of anybody at Georgia. As of yet, he hasn’t made a big impact. Hope he does, but I remember being excited to see what he could do too.
          He ain’t AJ, and don’t even try to say he is even close. Track or no track, I knew about AJ after his freshman year of HS. I hope JSW turns out, but that is the problem with folks putting crowns on these kids before they play a significant down. 10 to 1 Mitchell will be a better WR than JSW before its over. There is NO substitute for a “football player”.

        • Dog in Nam

          great comment Shane#1, you know your shit, bro….thanks

    • NRBQ

      I suspect Chris Conley will allay a lot of fears about the receiving corps.

      He’s not as athletic or tall as A.J., but when the ball was put within his reach last year, he really owned it.

      In fact, Murray could enjoy an embarrassment of riches this season, what with King, Mitchell, Bennett, Scott-Wesley also at WR, plus Lynch and Rome at TE. Throw in the receiving ability shown in HS by Marshall and Gurley, and Smith or Rambo lining up at split end, and lots of fun could be had by all!

  10. Will Trane

    Bobo. Bobo. Bobo. An experienced O line. An experienced QB. But.
    Murray. Murray. Murray.
    How many INT’s did he have last year or turnovers that went for TD. A QB who almost puts up as many TDs for his team as he does for his opponent.
    Do not think Murray will ever be a highly regarded winning QB at UGA.

  11. Todd

    How many catches did AJ make that should have never been caught? It seems like alot. Inconsistant running game and still running play action. At what point does the idea of doing the same thing expecting different results come into play?
    The O-line has been the problem in the Richt era. Or mature OL compared to inexperienced skilled positions or vise versa. Now Mitchell is put at DB because of depth issues. The best deep threat has to be used on defense because of recruiting. Lack of numbers or character. 10 or so self imposed scholarships below 85 and having to move your best WR to DB. Maybe it is me, but I don’t think that will help a team make a run at the MNC.

  12. Mike Cooley

    Great stuff as always Senator. I enjoyed the post mortem on the bowl game just as much the second time around. Maybe “enjoyed” is the wrong word as that loss still agravates me but your analysis is great and I always enjoy the comments here.

    On the subject of JSW, I don’t think anybody thinks he’s going to be A.J. There may not ever be another receiver at UGA as talented as A.J. Reason being, there just aren’t many of those guys. Anywhere. It makes me laugh when SC people try to compare Alshon Jefferey to A.J. He is talented but irrespective of stats, he just isn’t on A.J.’s level. Julio Jones isn’t either.

    JSW is not a “track guy” in the mold of Demiko Goodman. He’s a true football player and I think he gonna do us proud. No he will not be A.J. But I’m willing to bet he won’t be Kenneth Harris, Michael Moore, Tony Wilson, or any of those other guys that were supposed to be good and just never really were. I think will at least be a good receiver for us.

    • Dog in Nam

      understand that Mike, but please don’t forget and please give Michael Moore his props….the guy never dropped a ball that I can remember, one of the best possession recievers ever at UGA – Michael Moore…..almost always when the pressure was on to get a first down , and sometimes touchdown , reception, they went successfully to Michael, and he caught, if not all of them, I would wager well above 97 or 98 % of them….I’m sure he dropped a very few, but someone will have to prove me wrong….he was a great receiver for us….please check it out if you don’t really remember……you should never describe Michael Moore as a “guy who was supposed to be good and just never really was”. I respect your opinion, but you are dead wrong on the very damn good receiver, Michael Moore……go back and watch all the games he played in….I saw all the games in person back them, and many of us would always comment during the games as to how he never drops the ball…..maybe a very few, but not enough to reduce him as you wrongfully did here. but hey, we all love the dogs, and i forgive you for being wrong on Michael….you just need a little review….he was the epitome of a “clutch receiver”…otherwise really good comments , Mike…adios from Vietnam

    • todd

      Look, I want JSW to be awesome. Is everybody saying he was a top WR coming out? My understanding was he came to Athens with alot of potential. Does he have more accomplishmens in track or football? Measurables are great, but remember Jerry Rice ran a 4.7. With all that weigh, is JSW able to block dbs like Julio Jones? Malcom Mitchell isn’t as big or fast as JSW, but who is the football player?
      I also think Chris Conley will be the bigger threat.
      Stretching the field is great if you have protection., Murray has to have a “true” receiver for various reasons. Height, happy feet, and generally pissing himself under pressure. For Murray to “look good”, he will need a guy who can catch away from his body and “snag” them.

      The masses are swayed with perception and potential, and too willing to crown before they even take the throne. Don’t believe me? How many people said / or say Murray was / is all that? Yet he is 0-9 against the big boys.
      And to leave on a positive, Ramik Wilson = BEAST. (I know that is defense)

  13. Juicer

    Blaming Tavarres King for Murray’s drop off?
    AJ, 2010, 14.88 ypc, 9 td’s/57 receptions (6.33 td to catch ratio)
    TK, 2011, 14.72 ypc, 8 td’s/45 receptions (5.75 td to catch ratio)

    I’d blame Murray for the numbers dropping, there was more pressure in 2011 coming off the 6-7 season for 3 reasons.

    1- With Richt’s hotseat status, Murray was more careful with his throws, resulting in more missed passes.

    2- Murray had more pressure on him in 2011 with Richt’s hotseat status, and his poise faltered when he needed it the most. Be interesting to see if Richt being off the hotseat helps Murray relax.

    3- Teams blitzed more against Murray in 2011 to take advantage of the less experienced o-line, and the o-line had much less experience than the 2010 bunch, and as has been documented by ESPN, Murray’s accuracy struggles when blitzed, especially with an inexperienced o-line. Unfortunately, the o-line inexperience drops drastically worse in 2012, only 31 starts combined, so that part is a large concern.

    You’d think Murray would hit more outlet receivers and secondary options or running backs, knowing his o-line is inexperienced, but he didn’t in 2011. And two years of bad habits where that’s concerned, might prove to be too much to change.

  14. Juicer

    Of course, Tavarres King’s catch rate is lower, because most were long bombs, as compared to short passes to Charles. And AJ was thrown a lot of wide receiver screens, and lots of short passes. Durham was the long pass play guy that season.

    • None of that explains why Malcolm Mitchell’s stats were better than King’s.

      • Dog in Nam

        Ok Cojones, don’t jab me for this please, cause I love the kid, but we all know King dropped more than a few balls he should have caught last year….I hope and think he will improve this year, a terrific kid with a very bright future in the NFL and after, but he just gotta catch the ball better consistently…..and I kind of think that explains the lower stats The Senator references above

  15. Skeptic Dawg

    All of this point to 2 simple ideals:
    1- Murray is simply not the QB some make him out to be. He has yet to win a big game.
    2- Bobo and/or Richt are unwilling to get away from the play action even with zero running game.
    3- This program needs new direction. 3-4 losses this season will let everyone know that.

  16. Snake Plisskin

    TK runs a sub 4.5 40…watch some film on him running a pass route, and you will know why he isn’t where the ball is thrown…he almost comes to a complete stop and stutter steps trying to get a DB to commit one way or the other, he needs to get down the field and not dance with some DB, he needs to fight thru and get to the spot…basically, he needs to get more physical to get open…there is a TD play that Mitchell ran where he went out, made contact with the DB, in fact he threw the DB to the outside, and came back inside and made the catch for a TD around the goal line…Mitchell is physical with his moves and doesn’t stutter step to try and get open, rather he makes it happen…someone needs to work with TK if he is to be the deep threat…sorry in advance if I upset some TK fans and the blame Murray for everything fans

  17. shane#1

    I lost my temper a little yesterday, my apologies to the Senator and you guys that post your comments. JSW is a local kid, Camilla, and I live in se Lee County about a half mile from the Albany City limits. I want all the UGa players to do well, especially the boys from this area. I am telling ya’ll that JSW is a football player. I am not saying he is AJ Green, guys like Green come one at a time. However, if they send JSW deep someone has to go with him and it will have to be somebody fast, that should help King or Conley or whoever get open and could help the RBs, one less body in the box. As to blocking, dragging that CB fifty yards down field is just as good as a block. Either way he is out of the play.

  18. Juicer

    Aron White’s catch rate was 80%+ in 2010. I thought he should have started. In 2010, AJ Green had a 68% catch rate, Durham’s was 62%. Both guys caught a lot of poorly thrown passes. Even with that, you go 6-7 though, so I don’t think it’s a key stat.

    More important was interceptions (Murray’s responsibility) and rushing (been a problem since 2008).

    Alabama wins with rushing, and few turnovers on offense, and a strong defense.