published Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Georgia quarterback Murray on a roll as Bulldogs prepare for SEC title game

  • photo
    Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray runs with the ball against Georgia Tech.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

ATHENS, Ga. — David Greene graduated from Georgia after the 2004 season as college football's all-time winningest quarterback, and Matthew Stafford left the Bulldogs after the 2008 season to become the top overall pick in the '09 NFL draft.

No Georgia quarterback had a better swan song than D.J. Shockley, who compiled 24 touchdown passes and only five interceptions in leading the Bulldogs to the 2005 SEC title, so where will current sophomore Aaron Murray rank when his career is over? Murray already has the school's single-season record for touchdown tosses with his 32 entering Saturday's league championship game against No. 1 LSU, and an upset of the Tigers certainly would add to his legacy.

Yet win or lose in the Georgia Dome, Murray received quite a compliment this week from Bulldogs quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo.

"As far as guys I've had here, I don't want to rank them, but I will say he prepares harder than any guy I've ever had, hands down," Bobo said. "I think that is why he has had a lot of success, and I think he will continue to do that. I think where he ranks and whatever everybody thinks of him as a quarterback here or in the SEC will be determined.

"He still has two more years after this year."

Murray won just six of his first 15 career starts, but he's 10-0 since and is enjoying his best stretch. In the past four games, the 6-foot-1, 211-pounder from Tampa has completed 67 of 99 passes for 876 yards with 14 touchdowns and two interceptions.

This week could not only test his accuracy but his durability.

"He's going to take a few shots," Bobo said, "but we talk about toughness all the time as an offense, not just the guys who carry the ball or block but the quarterback. I think you can show extreme toughness sometimes by standing in there and delivering one of those balls for a key first down."

No tailback talk

Bobo and running backs coach Bryan McClendon were pleased with how tailback Isaiah Crowell moved around during Tuesday's practice, but head coach Mark Richt opted not to discuss Crowell or Richard Samuel following Wednesday's two-hour practice. Crowell missed last week's Georgia Tech game and Samuel the past four games due to ankle injuries.

"I don't want to talk about tailbacks, I really don't," Richt said. "Let's just talk about something else. No more tailback questions until after the game."

The 5-11, 215-pound Crowell has rushed for 832 yards this season despite missing the New Mexico State game due to a suspension and last week's game, and he only had two carries against Kentucky before getting hurt.

Time at Tennessee

When Georgia defensive line coach Rodney Garner was an assistant at Tennessee during the 1996-97 seasons, he was on staff with John Chavis, LSU's current defensive coordinator. The Vols had defensive stars such as end Leonard Little, linebacker Al Wilson and cornerback Terry Fair during that time, but Garner believes Chavis has more talent in Baton Rouge than ever before.

"He's definitely got better personnel across the board than what we had when we were at Tennessee," Garner said. "We had some good players, don't take that wrong, but he has them at every single position. He's got 11 [NFL] first-rounders, and then he's got 11 backup first-rounders, and then he's got another 11 third-team first-rounders, and he hasn't had that before.

"He's working that magic with them."

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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