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Monday, November 29, 2010

Murray by the numbers: Better than Greene's freshman season?

When this season began, the question was whether Aaron Murray could avoid being the weak point for what was supposed to be a very good Georgia football team.

As it turned out, Murray was one of the lone bright spots on a mediocre Bulldog team.

How good was Murray? He may very well break Matt Stafford’s single-season record for passing touchdowns, and should be the runner-up for SEC freshman of the year.

Murray now has 24 passing touchdowns, one shy of Stafford’s total from 2008. And that was when Stafford, a junior, was on the verge of being the No. 1 overall pick in the following NFL draft.

Several other players have matched Murray’s current total of 24: Eric Zeier (who did it twice, in 1993 and 1994), D.J. Shockley (2005) and Joe Cox (2009).

But Murray has one more game to tie Stafford and set the orecord. (By the way, I checked: Central Florida has the nation’s 45th-ranked pass defense, and SMU is 79th.)

Technically, Murray has already set the school record for passing yards by a freshman, with 2,851. I say "technically" because David Greene finished with 3,007 passing yards in 2001, but that included the bowl. The bowl stats weren't recognized for record purposes until 2002, according to UGA.

Murray's passing yards are also second all-time among freshman in the SEC, behind Kentucky’s Jared Lorenzen (3,687 in 2000.) So in the bowl Murray needs only to pass for 836 yards and gain 150 pounds to catch up to Lorenzen.

The standard by which all freshman QBs at Georgia are measured is Greene’s performance in 2001, including the bowl. It’s fair to compare now, since Greene only played 12 games, but Murray still holds up very well, in fact better:

Passing yards
Murray: 2,851
Greene: 3,077

Passing TD
Murray: 24
Greene: 18

Murray: 6
Greene: 11

Completion percentage
Murray: 61.8 (188-304)
Greene: 59.1 (214-362)

Efficiency rating
Murray: 167.7
Greene: 140.8

Rushing yards
Murray: 163
Greene: 13

Rushing TD
Murray: 4
Greene: 1

Murray: 6-6
Greene: 8-4

Two mitigating factors in Greene’s favor: He didn’t have A.J. Green to throw to, and Murray has had more games this year where his team had to play from behind.

But both in 2001 and 2010, the Bulldogs have scored at least 30 points in seven different games. And Murray’s team has averaged 34.3 points, and Green’s averaged 27.6.

Greene's 2001 season will definitely be better in one regard, besides wins: Greene was named SEC freshman of the year. South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore is going to win that this year. His numbers are just too eye-popping: 1,114 rushing yards and 17 rushing TDs, along with 328 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns.

But Murray’s sterling season can’t get lost in the shuffle. It’s hard to believe that back in August, he was the big question mark. Now, as Georgia is one bowl away from entering a very uncertain 2011, Murray is probably the foundation of the team.


Anonymous said...

Shock and Cox each had 25.

Keese said...

Murray should be SEC freshman of the year, hands down. Much more difficult to do what he did at qb than for a rb

Seth Emerson said...

No, Shockley and Cox each finished with 24.

Anonymous said...


Why would it be so hard to retroactively go back and include all bowl stats for all players back to the '40's(I say '40's because that is when stat-keeping was still very iffy)?

It would be pretty easy to do. Reeks of stupidity on the parts of everyone involved.

JasonC said...

While David didn't have AJ, he did have Gibson, Edwards and McMichael.