Thursday, November 11, 2010

Aaron Murray, Better Than Stafford? Evidence Here

I was pointed in the direction of this ($$$ Insider) article by ESPN contributor K.C. Joyner yesterday, who is affectionately referred to as "The Football Scientist". If you aren't an Insider, basically what the article does is compare Murray's passing stats with Newton's passing stats. Since the two offenses don't translate, Newton's rushing totals are washed, which is a little concerning for me. I feel that it could be a little misleading because defensing Cam Newton is a totally different game than a more pro-style guy like Murray. Nevertheless, it's a good read.

Joyner compared the duo of Murray and Green to the Florida State pair of Weinke and Warrick, and also went as far as to liken this UGA/AU matchup to FSU's contest against VT in the 1999 National Championship. I didn't overly care about his comparison of the two quarterbacks for the reasons above- they're so different it's really hard to liken them to one another.

He goes on to talk about how advanced Murray is for his age and discusses his ability to throw the deep ball so prolifically. The most interesting part of the article was his dissection of Murray's decision making. A little excerpt here:

"The first of these is Murray's bad decision rate (a bad decision being defined as when a quarterback makes a mistake with the ball that leads either to a turnover or a near turnover, such as a dropped interception). In the five games against the Bulldogs' toughest SEC opponents (South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Kentucky and Florida), he had only three bad decisions in 128 dropbacks.

Divide those together and it equals a bad decision rate of 2.3 percent. That would be a quality figure for even an NFL quarterback, but it is more notable here because it wasn't tallied in a dink-and-dunk offense. Proof of this can be found in the 55 vertical passes Murray threw in these games (a vertical pass being an aerial that is thrown 11 or more yards downfield).

That means 43 percent of his attempts were chucked long distances. Most offenses devote somewhere between 30-40 percent of their throws to the vertical route depths, and yet Richt has allowed his first-year starter to top that mark in these contests in large part because he knows Murray won't force passes into coverage." (KC Joyner, ESPN contributor) 

The whole article was very interesting and I'd recommend you read it if you can find a way. I would post the whole article but I'm sure that Mr. Joyner and ESPN wouldn't appreciate that. 

For those of you who don't realize just how good Aaron is, I hope you start paying attention. I did a little research and came up with this spreadsheet. Check it out, as it really opened my eyes. These stats are based on Stafford's junior year in attempts per game. (Click to view it in full screen mode on the top-right)

The big things that stick out to me are Murray's INT/Att rate and TD/Att rate. Very, very good to say the least. It's hard to argue that Murray hasn't been more effective with less talent around him. As I've said before, AM doesn't have Massaquoi, Moreno, and Green. Add in that our offensive line play was much better that year and you start to see just how good Murray has been, relatively speaking. I can't say enough good things about this kid. Too bad it still wasn't enough to beat the Gators.

Any thoughts?


  1. Stafford, so long as he can stay healthy enough to have a long NFL career, is more of a Bret Favre type of QB that takes high risks but makes throws that nobody else can. Favre has plenty of interceptions but he has always made spectacular throws that nobody else can make, as opposed to Peyton Manning, who doesn't do anything particularly spectacular but is very consistent and is the smartest QB in the league. Point being, is that comparing Stafford and Murray ins comparing apples and oranges.

  2. Well, I'm not really comparing them style wise, I'm just speaking in terms of stats and overall effectiveness. I really don't care if we've got a gunslinger back there or Mr. Forethought, as long as they can pile up TD's and limit the mistakes.