In light of this weekend’s discussion/trollfest at GTP about Aaron Murray’s college career, I thought this was a timely observation:
“In my opinion, he doesn’t have to prove anything,” right guard Chris Burnette said. “But I know the outside opinion is for him to just continue to do well and even better in the big games. Honestly, he’s a great leader of our team. Anytime we do well in a big game, he has a large part of it.
“Especially being a quarterback, I think a lot of the blame can get lumped on him when it’s not really his fault. I feel like if we come out and achieve our goals this year, I don’t think anybody will really be able to say too much about him.”
Well, about that last point, I think Burnette perhaps underestimates the tenaciousness of a certain part of the fan base (I can already hear the “how come it took him four years?” criticism). But I digress.
What I’m more interested about is an existential question: how much credit does a quarterback deserve for his team’s wins and losses? (A question, by the way, not for trolls or blind homers, as we already know the nature of your responses.) On the one hand, quarterback is the most important position on the field. On the other, even Johnny Football doesn’t play defense or special teams.
And shouldn’t some of your perception depend on what’s put on a quarterback’s shoulders? David Greene is Georgia’s all-time winning quarterback (and my personal favorite), but I don’t think anybody would seriously argue that he was as physically gifted a quarterback as Shockley, Stafford or Murray. His leadership skills were superb, though, and he had the luxury of being asked to be a game manager for much of his career because VanGorder’s defenses were so stout. So how do you rate the credit for, say, beating a mediocre at best UAB team at home 16-13?
That’s a luxury Stafford didn’t enjoy, except perhaps over the second half of the 2007 season. And I can point to games like Kentucky and Georgia Tech in 2008, when Georgia doesn’t even stay in those games if Stafford didn’t pick the offense up on his shoulders and carry it. (Alas, that wasn’t enough against Tech.) But I can also point to games when Stafford didn’t handle the pressure well at all. How much blame does Stafford deserve for overcompensating for a defense that couldn’t hold up?
Which brings us to Aaron Murray.
Statistically, Murray is going to wind up as Georgia’s greatest ever at the position. But, fairly or unfairly, he’s got the big game flop label hanging around his neck. He also hasn’t hoisted an SEC championship trophy. How do you apportion credit or blame for games like the 2011 South Carolina craziness, when Murray had two big turnovers, but also registered the highest passer rating against the Gamecocks’ defense that season and kept his team in the game with four TD passes? And how do you score his work in last year’s painful SECCG? After all, his wasn’t the offense that abandoned the passing game for much of the night. But he threw a crucial interception at the end of the first half and when all was said and done finished five yards shy of a signature win.
I’m not expecting definitive answers here, at least not if you don’t have an agenda. But I’d like to know where you think Murray stands and why. Lay your thoughts on me in the comments.