November 28, 2011

Murray: Only a title will do

Aaron Murray is well on his way to erasing many of the top marks for a quarterback in Georgia football history.

Already, his 32 touchdown passes stand as the program's new single-season record. But for all the numbers he's posted, and records likely still to come his way, the only statistics Murray is remotely interested in is how many championships he's able to help the Bulldogs (10-2) win.

"As a quarterback you are judged on championships," Murray said Monday. "When you talk about stats, whatever, the biggest stat is how many championships you've won and my goal is win a few while I'm here. My first opportunity is this weekend, and hopefully from here on out we'll be able to get a few more."

Yes, Murray has allowed himself to dream exactly how that would feel, not only to establish himself as a championship quarterback, but also to pull what many are saying would be one of the bigger upsets in the history of the SEC Championship.

"It would be a great feeling. It's a goal as a team that we set to make it to Atlanta and compete for the SEC Championship. There's no other championship game like this," Murray said. "This is the big one and we're really excited. It would be an awesome feeling to walk out of that stadium with an SEC Championship."

But Murray knows it won't be easy.
Top-ranked LSU (12-0) will present the Bulldog offense a challenge like none other this Saturday at the Georgia Dome (4 p.m., CBS).

The Tigers boast the nation's second-ranked defense, including a league-leading 33 sacks (Georgia is second with 32).

"They're one of the best defenses in the country. They've got a ton of speed. You think of SEC defenses and you think of speed and they've got a whole different level of speed on top of that," Murray said. "They're one of the top defenses as far as sacks and they've probably got the best set of corners that we'll see all year. We've got to make sure we're on our game."

Murray has certainly been on his and comes into play Saturday as one of the hottest quarterbacks in the country.

Since failing to throw a touchdown pass in week six against Tennessee, Murray has thrown for 19 scores in the Bulldogs last six games and is currently the SEC's top-rated quarterback in terms of passing efficiency, having completed 202 of 331 passes for 2,698 yards to go along with his 32 scores.

"There were some moments in time where he didn't play as good as he would like but I've liked what he has done all season long. You wish your quarterback could be as hot as a firecracker every time he drops back and throws it, but I don't know if anybody is that accurate," head coach Mark Richt said. "But he does hit some streaks when he's on fire and makes a lot of outstanding throws, but he's had a lot of help from his receivers also making plays."

LSU coach Les Miles, who just got done seeing his defense limit Arkansas' Tyler Wilson to 14 of 22 passing for 207 yards, said Murray is every bit as good as the Razorback signal caller - if not better.

"Tyler is a very talented thrower. I mean, he makes all the throws, he's a very capable quarterback, and he's had a great year," Miles said. "I think Aaron Murray is like that in the ability to throw the ball, maybe a little bit headier, appearing a little bit older and more confident in the pocket."

Tiger safety Brandon Taylor said Murray's arm isn't the only aspect of his play that sets him apart, a fact he admits could give LSU's defense a little trouble come Saturday.

"He can run a little better than most people think and he is probably the most accurate quarterback that there is in the SEC," Taylor said. "He's a guy who limits his mistakes and he doesn't make many of them to start with."

Miles said he certainly wouldn't have a problem with Murray winning All-SEC honors for his work this fall.

"I don't think there's any question a guy in this game should be considered for all conference honors," Miles said. "And certainly a guy that's meant as much to his team as Aaron Murray has to Georgia."

For his part, Murray - who was the SEC's preseason selection at the position back in the summer - the thought of adding any individual awards doesn't even cross his mind.

"I don't know. That's not for me to vote on or be concerned about," he said. "I'm just worried about getting another victory this weekend and an SEC Championship for the University of Georgia."

That's not to say Murray doesn't try to emulate the best in the quarterback business.

The Tampa native said he watches countless tape of NFL standard bearers Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, having even gone to the length of acquiring extra film on both to watch for little things like footwork and how they use their eyes.

All, Murray said, with the purpose of making himself a better quarterback which he in turn hopes will help the Bulldogs live up to their potential on the field.

"We're a very young team, myself included. I've only got one year of experience and I'm still learning and I've got a lot of work when it comes to my knowledge of the game, the defenses, the playbook, and just continue to work on my footwork, mechanics and things like that," Murray said. "But Coach (Mike) Bobo and Coach Richt have pushed me to get better, but it's also the talent around me. Those guys have pushed me to be better as well and they've continued to get better, too."