Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Aaron Murray vs. Matthew Stafford Through Six Games

Somewhat to my surprise, Aaron Murray has been exceptional this year. He has done everything and more than the staff has asked of him. He has managed the games, made plays when he needed to, and has limited his mistakes to very few, despite running for his life behind an underachieving offensive line. If you had given me his stat line now before the season and asked what our record would be, I certainly wouldn't have guessed it would be 2-4. Better said, we're not losing because of Aaron Murray, rather the opposite- we're winning because of him.

If you'll take a look at my predictions on Murray before the season, it's obvious that he has outperformed even the best scenario I projected. What's also obvious is my horribly premature point about the running backs:

"There is no way that we are only going to rush for 3.62 yards a carry in any situation. If we do, we'll end up at about 6-6 at best; our running backs aren't anywhere near that pedestrian."

My, that crow doesn't taste so great right now. If you weren't aware, we are averaging 3.99 yards per carry this season, with running backs averaging 4.31 YPC. I think 6-6 is a definite goal for this team as it stands now. It just goes to prove that even though you've got a great QB, you still have to have a good game plan and backs to win, but I digress. Now back to Aaron.

In order to really see how good Aaron has been, let's look at how he compares to Stafford in his first full year under the helm. I think it's the most fair year to compare because Staff's freshman stats don't represent a full season.

Murray 1st six games: 
Passing- 61.8% (97/157) for 1366/10 TD/3 INT, 8.7 YPA, 227.7 YPG, 26.2 APG, 152.07 QBR
Rushing- 45 for 122, 2.7 YPC, 4TD

Stafford 1st six games of 2007 (Sophomore season)
Passing- 54.5% (102/187) for 1211/10 TD/4 INT, 6.5 YPA, 201.8 YPG, 31.2 APG, 130.3 QBR
Rushing- 20 for -37, -1.9 YPC, 0 TD

Stafford 1st six games of 2008 (Junior season)
Passing- 61.6% (111/180) for 1503/8 TD/3 INT, 8.4 YPA, 250.5 YPG, 30 APG, 146.88 QBR
Rushing- 27 for 48, 1.8 YPC, 0TD

I would pose the argument that Aaron Murray has actually been better this season so far than Stafford was through his first six games of BOTH his sophomore and junior seasons. The evidence speaks for itself. He was drafted 1st overall after that 2008 season, if you don't remember. Stafford also had Mohamed Massaquoi, A.J. Green, Mike Moore, and Kris Durham to throw the ball to. Granted Murray has a much improved A.J. to throw to now, but he didn't have him for the first four games. As far as the rest of the guys go, Kris Durham does his part very well and T.K. seems to be improving by the week, but even those two guys aren't the threat MoMass was his senior year. 

I was very surprised when doing this, not because Murray has performed so well but because he has exceeding what Staff did with all of those weapons at his disposal. A.J., MoMass, and lest we forget Knowshon and Thomas Brown provided him with far more options to cut up the defense. I am puzzled at how we had so much talent and still ended up 9-4. That part of the story is another clipping for the "Is Mark Richt Really The Right Guy to Get Us a National Championship" pile. That's another post for another day, though. 

I'm really excited to see how Aaron will develop over the years. I think he's probably the fourth or fifth best QB in the conference right now, depending on how you like Stephen Garcia. I say fourth because I think Garcia is a criminal and complete head case. This also boils down to who I would trust leading our team to a fourth quarter come-from-behind win, and Garcia doesn't get close to the top-5. I think Murray has legitimate pro-potential even though he's probably just barely over six feet tall. He makes plays with his arm and feet and really looks like he has a great feel for the game. 

We'll see how things turn out, but I think we're in for a treat over the next few years at the QB position.  

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