What should we expect out of Aaron Murray this season? When you have a guy back that had 35 TDs, over 3000 yards, and hit nearly 60% of his passes, you expect big things, right? Yet we Georgia fans continue to throw out derogatory phrases and backhanded compliments to Aaron Murray like he hasn't done anything well.
Does Murray have room to improve, especially with his footwork? Yes. Many folks (myself included) attribute his footwork issues to playing behind a line that has allowed him to be sacked nearly 60 times in his career. Does that appear to be a source of continued concern, especially when you see the number of freshmen that will play on the offensive line this season? Oh, yeah. Still, his footwork has been a focus of his this summer.
When you combine that with the unknown quantity of the offensive line, essentially forcing the offensive philosophy to be more short pass focused, at least in the short term, you have to think his footwork will be more important, as that is where he struggles the most. We saw that in 2007, albeit with a much better option (at least from where we sit right now) at running back. Stafford was asked to make throws that were more dependent on his receivers getting open than him putting the ball in a particular spot. We've been doing that with Murray from day one for many reasons, the most important is that Murray's ability to do so is very different from Stafford's. Yet Murray still has trouble with certain touch passes, all too often due to trying to do something with poor mechanics, which yields balls that are more easily defended/intercepted or isn't catch-able by the Georgia receiver.
Murray was 238/403 last season. He threw 35 tds and 14 ints. He had three games (Florida, Mississippi State, and LSU) where he wasn't anywhere close to 'on.' Regretfully, he had two games, one against our biggest rival and one against a team that had far inferior talent, where his play nearly cost Georgia the game. I'd say that is a fair source of the 'lack of big game' play talk.
One other thing, looking over the stats, Georgia threw on third and short far more last year than they had in years past. Now, there are two ways to view that. One is who could Bobo trust to run the ball at least 3 yards in a running situation? The other way to view it is you put the ball in the hands of your play maker when you need plays made. Murray was 21/26 with 17 first downs on 3rd and short plays. Until we see the team on the field, 'who can run the ball 3 yards into a defense knowing you are going to run?' remains a valid question. So will Bobo keep giving Murray the chance to make those plays? I wouldn't bet against it.
Aaron Murray will have as good a season as Mike Bobo lets him have. I think we have under utilized his running ability, especially the threat of his running ability. If his footwork has improved, using his feet to create time out of the pocket could be huge. You give him plays that allow him to make defenses respect that he could run, you start having match up problems. If you've got man on man with King, Brown, Lynch, Bennett, Conley, and (eventually) Mitchell, you've got someone open enough you can get a pass to.
I think we should expect the same things from Aaron Murray this season as we've seen. How same? 3500 yards isn't out of the question. 60% completion rate. 30 passing TDs again. I'd expect his interceptions to go down, as well. If we find a way to leverage his running ability or one of the running backs really steps up, those number go up. If offensive line play continues its downward trend, those stats go down.