This article is a follow to a story I wrote last week concerning the doubts a number of people have had concerning the abilities of Aaron Murray to take over the starting quarterback position for the Georgia Bulldogs. This time, I will be focusing on two other items I have heard mentioned as reasons Murray may not be ready for the job: his mobility and toughness.
In recent years, Georgia has seen a number of traditional drop back passers come through Athens. David Greene, Matt Stafford, and Joe Cox all fit perfectly into the traditional pro-style offense deployed by Mark Richt and Mike Bobo. But in 2005, DJ Shockley presented a combination of rushing and passing that allowed the offense to change to fit his skills. And while Aaron Murray may not be the same mobile weapon as DJ Shockley or even Logan Gray, his past record indicates that he can have a great deal of success using his feet.
Take a look at Murray’s stats from his junior season at Plant High School in Tampa. He put up impressive passing numbers (over 4,000 yards and 51 touchdowns) but that did not prevent him from also putting up gaudy rushing numbers. During the 2007 season, Murray rushed for 932 yards and 12 touchdowns on only 98 carries (an average of 9.5 yards per carry). And if numbers are not your thing, check out the first minute of this highlight reel from his junior year, where he makes three great plays (two complete passes and one run) with his feet:
Before breaking his fibula in the sixth game of the season of his senior year, Murray was once again putting up great numbers on the ground. On only 25 carries, he rushed for 258 yards (9.9 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. Without the injury, he would have most likely ended the season with about around 600 yards. Not too shabby for a record setting passer. Will Murray put up similar numbers at Georgia, most likely not. But these statistics do indicate that he has the ability to move around the pocket, find the open receiver, and take off when necessary.
The fact that some people have questioned Murray’s toughness really baffles me. If you know anything about Murray’s senior season, you know he overcame a pretty serious injury to lead his team to a state championship. On October 16, Murray broke is fibula and dislocated his ankle in his team’s sixth game. The expected recovery time for an injury similar to Murray’s was typically six months. But there he was back on the field in the state semifinals. Murray helped lead Plant to a state title the following week, throwing for 358 yards and three touchdowns.
The other concern about Murray’s toughness arose when he was hampered by a sore shoulder last fall. While this may have cost him a chance to see playing time in 2009, he has already taken steps to strengthen his arm, following a strength program his brother used following Tommy John surgery. If you know anything about Tommy John surgery, you know that typically the arm is stronger when an athlete returns than it was originally. The reason is not the surgery, rather the workout routine required to strengthen the arm. If I was a betting man, I would place a very high bet that Murray never experiences any type of arm fatigue like Joe Cox did.
In conclusion, I am still baffled at the apparent lack of confidence there is in Murray going into summer practice. While he may not have playing experience, his past record suggests he has all the tools and ability to get the job done. How much experience did Greg McElroy have at Alabama before last fall? Not much, but look what he accomplished with a veteran team around him.