Monday, August 23, 2010

What to expect this year from A. Murray...

As the 2010 season approaches (less than two weeks away), many Dawg fans are wondering exactly how effective Aaron Murray will be, given that he hasn't taken a snap in a real game. To help project his effectiveness, let's take a look at how other Freshmen QBs performed while playing in the SEC...

  • 2004 Eric Ainge/Brent Schaeffer (Tennessee) -- They split time (along with Rick Clausen) but both were true freshmen. Here are Ainge/Schaeffer's combined passing stats: 127/235 (54%) 1754 yds 19 TDs and 10 INT. Not bad really. And Tennessee finished the year 10-3 and played in the SEC Championship.
  • 2006 Matt Stafford -- Pretty much played the majority of snaps (translation: I've tried to eliminate the Joe T debacle from my memory). Here were Stafford's stats: 135/256 (52.7%) 1749 yds 7 TDs and 13 INTs. The Dawgs finished 9-4 that year.
  • 2006 Mitch Mustain (Arkansas) -- He took over for good after the first game (got thrashed by USC at home). Here were his stats for the year: 69/132 (52.3%) 894 yds 10 TDs and 9 INTs. Arky finished 10-4 that year. Basically, D-Mac/Felix Jones carried the team with the wildcat.
  • 2007 Wesley Carroll (Miss. St.) -- Gonna be honest...don't remember much about this guy but he played in all 13 games as a freshmen that year. His numbers: 134/255 (52.5%) 1392 yds 9 TDs and 7 INTs. Miss. State actually went 8-5 that year.
  • 2007 Chris Smelley -- Only played in 8 games splitting time with Blake Mitchell, but did get significant playing time: 92/162 (56.8%) 1176 yds 9 TDs and 7 INTs. Cocks went 4-2 in games where he took the majority of snaps.
  • 2008 Jarrett Lee (LSU) -- Got thrown into the fire but put up better numbers than I remembered: 143/296 (53.2%) 1873 yds 14 TDs and 16 INTs. LSU went 8-5 that year.
  • 2009 Morgan Newton (Kentucky) -- played in 9 games and showed a lot of promise (i.e. beating the Dawgs in Athens). His stats: 75/135 (55.6%) 706 yds 6 TDs and 3 INTs
A couple of things stand out about the players listed above -- most barely had a completion percentage above 50 and none had an exceptionally high TD:INT ratio.

But, there are a couple of major advantages Murray has over most of these guys; first and foremost, he had a redshirt year to learn the system. (Let's be honest -- Stafford would have been much better if he'd gotten a year of practice under his belt). The second thing I like most about Murray's chances this year is the fact that he has a great supporting cast -- the Dawgs have arguably the best O-Line, Wide Receiver, and Tight Ends in the country...not to mention two very solid running backs to take the load off (three or four if you count the FBs).

I'll predict Murray puts up better numbers than Stafford (I sure hope so) and probably better numbers than anyone listed above. I know that's high praise but I think the veteren offensive players will allow him to comfortably transition into the college game...if not, it's going to be another long season.

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