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September 13, 2013

Murray's Woes Against Top 10 Foes?

Against top 10 foes, Murray's career passer rating
is numero uno in UGA history, while his record
is actually not nearly as bad as some make it out. 
You can finally put that notion to rest, at least, in comparison to Bulldog signal callers of yesteryear.
As we are all fully aware, prior to last Saturday's South Carolina game, there had been much discussion about Aaron Murray's failure to perform well in, and win, the "big game."  Entering the 2012 season, I had even questioned if Murray was a "gamer."  However, I found it amusing when his "lowly" record against highly ranked opponents was the sole focus of fans and the media.  As a caller to a radio show declared only a couple of days ago, "Even after beating South Carolina, [Murray] is still just 2-6 against top 10 opponents!"
Caller, here's a little secret...  Historically speaking regarding UGA football, a 2-6 record against top 10 opponents actually ain't too shabby; even Murray's 1-6 mark entering the game versus the Gamecocks wasn't all that terrible as some proclaimed.  For instance, quarterbacks Mike Cavan, Andy Johnson, and James Jackson arguably, Georgia's top three quarterbacks from the period stretching from the late-60s through the decade of the 1980s were a combined 1-7 versus top 10 opponents.  In addition, Eric Zeier never was Georgia's starting quarterback in a win over a top 10 opponent, while Quincy Carter won just once in six tries.  However, I don't seem to recall any of the aforementioned quarterbacks ever being called out by fans or the media for not winning the big game, or against a highly ranked opponent.

Beginning in 1945 with Johnny Rauch, or essentially the first season the quarterback position was the Bulldogs' primary passer the post-single wing era, if you will through Saturday's game, Georgia has faced 104 AP-ranked top-10 opponents, defeating just 32 while tying two (although I'm guessing the Bulldogs' .317 winning percentage in such circumstances is likely just as good as most major programs).  During this time, six Georgia quarterbacks besides Murray started at least five times against top 10 opposition, but only two have a better top-10 winning percentage than him:

.500 - Matthew Stafford (3-3 starting record vs. top 10 opponents)
.400 - David Greene (2-3)
.250 - Aaron Murray (2-6)
.200 - Mike Bobo (1-4)
.167 - Quincy Carter (1-5)
.083 - Eric Zeier (0-5-1)
.000 - Zeke Bratkowski (0-6)

A closer look at Murray's contests against top 10 teams reveals, granted, he didn't have a good game in his initial win (#3 Florida in 2012), but most of his six losses were hardly his fault.  In fact, of the nine top passing games in UGA history versus top 10 foes, three belong to Murray, including two of which resulted in losses. 

Ranked according to passing efficiency and needing at least 10 pass attempts to qualify, Georgia's top 10 passing games versus the top 10 (notice Murray's performance of 17 of 23 passing for 309 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions against the 'Cocks is tops, besting Rauch's game vs. Tech from nearly 70 years ago):      
244.2 - AARON MURRAY vs. #6 S. Carolina, 2013 (17-23, 309 yds, 4-0)
231.2 - Johnny Rauch vs. #7 Georgia Tech, 1946 (9-11, 117 yds, 2-0)
206.3 - Matthew Stafford vs. #9 Florida, 2007 (11-18, 217 yds, 3-1)
183.4 - D.J. Shockley vs. #3 LSU, 2005 (6-12, 112 yds, 2-0)
178.5 - Matthew Stafford vs. #5 Auburn, 2006 (14-20, 219 yds, 1-0)
177.4 - Quincy Carter vs. #6 LSU, 1998 (27-34, 318 yds, 2-0)
170.8 - Aaron Murray vs. #2 Auburn, 2010 (15-28, 273 yds, 3-0)*
158.1 - James Jackson vs. #7 LSU, 1987 (8-17, 170 yds, 2-1)* 
155.6 - Aaron Murray vs. #8 Clemson, 2013 (20-29, 323 yds, 0-1)*
150.2 - David Greene vs. #6 Tennessee, 2001 (21-34, 303 yds, 2-1)
* Georgia lost game
Murray's spectacular performance Saturday boosted his career passing efficiency against top 10 teams to the top of the seven Georgia quarterbacks with at least five starts versus the highly ranked.  The top five by passer rating: 
126.6 - Aaron Murray (8 games/8 starts vs. top 10)
124.5 - Matthew Stafford (6/6)
113.2 - David Greene (5/5)
112.4 - Mike Bobo (5/5)
111.6 - Eric Zeier (7/6)

And, even entering the South Carolina game, Murray's career passer rating vs. the top 10 was second in Georgia history, only behind Stafford, and ahead of notables Greene, Bobo, and Zeier.

So, after the recent passing clinic he put on in Sanford Stadium, I think the idea that Murray doesn't play well against top 10 foes should be put to rest.  Further, if the senior quarterback has another fine performance two weeks from this Saturday in the same stadium against a likely top-10 LSU team, maybe then the notion will be put to bed for good.


Anonymous said...

Don't almost everyone or team have a bad record against Top Ten teams? Top Ten teams are in the Top Ten because they beat most people.

Patrick Garbin said...

I hear ya'...that's part of my argument. I'd guess that Georgia's .317 all-time winning % vs. the top 10 ranks as one of the best in the SEC, if not in all of college football. But, that's only a guess... Thanks for reading and your comment.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he didn't start the game, but Zeier definitely played most of the snaps in the 1991 win vs. Clemson, which was ranked in the top 10 at the time of the game, anyway. I remember primarily because that was one of the best all around sports days of my youth (the worst-to-first Braves clinched the NL east that same day).

Gawdsports said...

To argue that he is 3rd best for an overall record of 9 of 32 is extremely woeful.
It is worst than arguing that there is a third pitcher in the Spann and Sain and pray for rain rotation. At least the Bravos had a winning record with them at the helm.

Patrick Garbin said...

In my opinion, third best is, well, third best... whether the combined record is woeful or wonderful, especially if its a better record than that of some pretty good QBs at Georgia. Thanks for reading and your comment.