Friday, August 30, 2013

Murray Keeps Dawgs On Top

Blessed with two backs capable of being stars in the SEC and all five starters returning on the offensive line, it would seem the Georgia Bulldogs' best chance of taming the Tide and playing for the last BCS crystal football rests squarely on the burly shoulders of their prized two-back attack.

It's easy to see why you might think that. I mean, just look at these guys.

While Georgia has long been known as Running Back U. rather than Quarterback U., they've still had their fair share of good ones. Mainly falling in the fold of "game manager" or "field general" categories, the only hype or praise usually thrown their way comes out of the "he's a highly efficient passer with a strong grasp on the core concepts of this offense" vein.

But as football fans, we have been trained to watch plays as they develop. We watch certain players run certain routes in order to manipulate the defense to go where the offense wants them to go, and then have the quarterback deliver the ball to the intended target. These plays almost have a story quality to them: beginning, middle, end.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about.

The offense halfheartedly blocks the overaggressive defense and gets "beat" by them, move on to block  LB's and DB's while the running back receives the pass, running back follows blockers and makes first man miss. Touchdown.

Processes like this one are fun to watch and give the viewers a payoff for watching the play develop. But just as some of the hardest hits don't necessarily look as such, the same goes for effectiveness of plays that don't lead to long, standing ovation inducing touchdown runs or passes.

What Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is arguably best at is something that our highlight adoring culture does not fully appreciate.

Take this play from the SEC Championship game last year.

Many factors in play here. First off, completely remove the part that it's 3rd and 1 on their side of the field in the SEC Championship game that they're currently losing, and the coach calls for a pass play-- a  risky move to possibly catch the defense's guard down. But to then throw to a receiver who is completely covered, from across the field, and put it where only your receiver can make a play on the ball. That's an incredible pass that took some major stones to throw.

Again, nobody said it was going to be pretty, but this was one of Murray's best plays of the game.

Later on you see Murray do it again. This is a better example of what I'm talking about. You can see King (the receiver at the bottom of the screen that's circled) take off after the ball is hiked and press the man defending him until he's forced to run at full speed, with his hips turned towards the inside of the field. Murray then does as he did earlier and picks a spot near the sideline and fires it for another completion.

Again, it's a 35 yard pass in the air from the opposite hash mark which adds even more distance to it. Add to that King is defended perfectly by elite cornerback Deion Belue.

It was this explosive mix of talent and game savvy that allowed Murray to attack the Bama D--and most defenses really-- like no other non duel-threat quarterback did last year.

In this huge matchup against Clemson, we'll get to see if Murray has developed the same type of chemistry with his receivers that he had with ex-Bulldog, and current Bronco's rookie wide reciever Tavarres King.

The cupboard is far from bare as Georgia returns good talent from inside receivers Michael Bennett (who is back from tearing his ACL during the season last year), Rantavious Wooten, and tight ends Arthur Lynch and Jay Rome. The real question will be who'll star opposite of Malcolm Mitchell in the other outside receiver spot.  Chris Conley showed potential last year, but will be pushed from JUCO transfer Jonathan Rumph.

Either way, Murray is going for his fourth consecutive season with over 3,000 yards passing and I'd be willing to bet he'll figure out a way to get points on the board for the Bulldogs. It starts and ends with him, and he's more than prepared for the challenge.

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