AROUND THE BLOCK
The SEC's current starting quarterbacks and their number of career starts:
Georgia's Aaron Murray 27
Alabama's AJ McCarron 13
Arkansas' Tyler Wilson 13
Missouri's James Franklin 13
Tennessee's Tyler Bray 12
So. Carolina's Connor Shaw 9
Vanderbilt's Jordan Rodgers 7
Miss. State's Tyler Russell 4
Kentucky's Maxwell Smith 3
Auburn's Kiehl Frazier 0
LSU's Zach Mettenberger 0
Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel 0
Notes: Florida and Ole Miss had not named starting quarterbacks as of Saturday. ... Kentucky's Smith was tabbed recently as the starter over Morgan Newton, who has 18 career starts.
Georgia's Aaron Murray has taken twice as many opening snaps as any other Southeastern Conference starting quarterback.
The redshirt junior has been in Athens since January 2009, when he enrolled early and began inhaling a system under the guidance of head coach Mark Richt and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. The countless repetitions in practice and the numerous hours of video study have enabled Murray to set program records and win an SEC East title, and he will have more autonomy this season than ever before.
This season starts Saturday when Buffalo visits Sanford Stadium.
"I've been given the ability to make a lot more audibles and checks at the line of scrimmage," Murray said. "Our goal is to have no wasted plays this year, and if there is a bad call against a certain defense that won't work, Coach Bobo has given me free rein to check out of it. We did a little bit of that last year here and there, but we did a lot of checking to the sideline.
"This year, I've been given a lot more freedom to change the play. There is definitely a difference because of the trust I have earned."
In his first two seasons as the starter, the dependable 6-foot-1, 210-pounder from Tampa, Fla., has completed 447 of 745 attempts (60 percent) for 6,198 yards with 59 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. Murray shattered a program standard last season with 35 touchdown passes -- Matthew Stafford held the previous mark at 25 -- and is on pace to throw for 12,396 yards in his Bulldogs career.
No one in SEC history has thrown for 12,000 yards, with the top three in that category being Georgia's David Greene (11,528 yards), Florida's Chris Leak (11,213) and Tennessee's Peyton Manning (11,201).
"There is not a whole lot that you can say that he must improve on," Richt said. "He is always trying to perfect his trade. The thing that I saw as the season went on last year and as I watched film is that he just needs to throw the ball away.
"There were times where he was scrambling to his right and wondering if he should throw the ball downfield or cross the line of scrimmage, and sometimes you just need to throw the ball away."
Murray was indeed far from perfect a year ago, throwing 14 interceptions, which matched the third-highest season total by a Bulldogs quarterback in the past 40 years. Four of his interceptions were returned for touchdowns, including one each in losses to South Carolina, LSU in the league championship game and Michigan State in the Outback Bowl.
"My footwork is the biggest thing I've worked on -- being able to move around the pocket more fluidly, and to be in a position at all times to make accurate throws," Murray said. "I am making sure my eyes are staying downfield the whole time."
Having graduated in May with a psychology degree, Murray said he feels like the "old man" on the team. He started graduate school earlier this month in industrial-organizational psychology.
Murray has a lot more numbers to compile between now and the new year, and then there could be a decision to face concerning the 2013 season.
"I'm not thinking about that at all right now," Murray said. "I'm excited about this year. I'm excited about the next two years if I'm blessed with the opportunity to continue to play here at the University of Georgia."
The Bulldogs practiced for two hours Saturday morning in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts. After the workout, Richt announced that Murray, defensive end Abry Jones, safety Shawn Williams and snapper Ty Frix would be the captains for Saturday's opener.
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 ...