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July 12, 2012

If Murray's NOT a "Gamer," what Dawg was?

Georgia's loss to MSU in the Outback Bowl dropped
Aaron Murray's "Big Game" record to 0 and 9.
"Aaron Murray makes me nervous," a friend of mine said the other day.  He then went further, stating that of all the Georgia quarterbacks that started for at least two seasons, the last one that made him more nervous  the one he trusted the least when he lined up under center for the Bulldogs was, in his words, "well... probably Greg Talley."  (By the way, I think two seasons was his benchmark so Joe Cox couldn't be considered.)

For those of you who remember Greg Talley from the late-1980s/early-1990s, that was a strong statement, and presumably a slight exaggeration, by my friend.

"Murray is not a gamer," my friend continued, "he hasn't won a single big game."

His opinion is certainly nothing new; Murray's production against formidable competition has often been criticized.  There has been much discussion on how Murray lights it up against the cupcake opposition, but crumbles in the big games.

But, this leads me to ask, what exactly is a "big game"?  And, after defining it, does Murray's performances in such contests differ much from the Bulldog signal callers that came before him?

So, after some thought and discussion, my friend and I finally decided on our opinion of what exactly is a BIG GAME: any bowl opponent, an SEC title foe, a team ranked in the AP's top 15 entering the game, and/or a meeting where the Bulldogs entered as underdogs.

Under such conditions, I discovered Georgia had played in NINE "big games" in 2010 and 2011 combined, all under the direction of Murray: South Carolina (underdog), Arkansas (top 15), Miss. State (underdog), Auburn (top 15, underdog), and Central Florida (bowl) in 2010, and Boise State (top 15, underdog), South Carolina (top 15, underdog), LSU (SECC, top 15, underdog), and Michigan State (bowl, top 15) in 2011.

And, under these conditions, my friend was correct in his assessment Murray has indeed yet to win a big game, going 0-9 thus far in his career, while he is 16-2 against other opponents.  Perhaps as telling, Murray has a remarkable passer rating of 161.20 versus the weaker competition, but 131.16, or a decrease of nearly 20 percent, in big games:

BIG GAMES: 131.16 rating (154 of 275, 56%, 2125 yards, 14 TD, 9 int)
OTHERS:      161.20 rating (447 of 745, 60%, 6198 yards, 59 TD, 22 int)

Based on my friend's comments, I decided to go back when the Bulldogs first began to really open up their passing game, which started ironically right after Talley, beginning with Eric Zeier in 1991.  Of the six Georgia quarterbacks from then to the present, who were considered starters for at least two seasons, I discovered their career starting records in "big games":
Of Zeier's five "big" wins at UGA,
FOUR resulted as a freshman in '91.

DAVID GREENE, 11-6 (.647)
*MIKE BOBO, 4-4 (.500)
QUINCY CARTER, 4-6 (.400)
*ERIC ZEIER, 5-9-1 (.367)
AARON MURRAY, 0-9 (.000)

*Considered are two big games of Zeier's (Alabama and Clemson in '91) and one of Bobo (Auburn in '96), where the two quarterbacks didn't actually start the games; however, in each case, they played for nearly the entire contest.

I then felt it would be interesting to figure the other five Bulldogs' passer ratings in only big games compared to Murray's 131.16 big-game rating, and was somewhat shocked to see our current signal caller go from the bottom of a list to the top:

MIKE BOBO, 129.96
ERIC ZEIER, 121.28

So, I thought, our beloved Murray is 0-9 in big games, yet he has the best Bulldog big-game passer rating over the last 20+ years???  Maybe our boy has gotten a bad rap; perhaps Murray's winless record in big games over the past two seasons has been little fault of his own, but rather that of his teammates and coaches.

On the contrary, the typical football stat geek, like myself, will tell you that passer ratings nowadays are a tad inflated from those of yesteryear; Murray's rating shouldn't be compared to those from a decade or so ago, especially Zeier's from the early-90s.  Also, what does a quarterback's passer rating exactly show besides how "efficient" one is at passing?  And, some would argue it really isn't much indicative of that...

However, in comparing quarterbacks' passing performances against big-game foes and non-big game opposition, what might be indicative of big-game production is any drop-off in passing efficiency –  the six quarterbacks' passer-rating decrease in non-big games to big games:

MATTHEW STAFFORD, -3.9 percent
MIKE BOBO, -10.7 percent
DAVID GREENE, -13.3 percent
QUINCY CARTER, -13.7 percent
ERIC ZEIER, -17.1 percent
AARON MURRAY, -18.6 percent

If you're confused by all of this statistical mumbo jumbo, I'm sure you're not alone.  Even I got a little lost just now reading over what I had typed.  Regardless, what's clear from the third set of rankings is that Stafford, for example, was a steady passing performer, whether playing in big games or against weaker competition.  Throw in the fact that he won 70 percent of his big games the first set of rankings  and there is little doubt Stafford was a "gamer" during his Bulldog career.  Based on this analysis, the same could be said for Greene, and even Bobo to some degree.

As far as Murray, so far, not so much.

The junior quarterback's 0-9 record in big games is obviously not his entire fault.  Some of the blame can certainly fall on the others surrounding him.  However, what's revealing is Murray's drop in performance when facing tougher competition; he can be mostly to blame for this unfortunate trend.

Perhaps fortunately for the Bulldogs and Murray, their next "big game" might not come until the sixth game of the year at South Carolina, and maybe not until a possible early-December date in the Georgia Dome.  Unfortunately for Aaron Murray, until he finally wins a big game, there are some in the Bulldog Nation, like my friend, who will continue to group him with those former quarterbacks, like Greg Talley, who may have made some of us "nervous."

But say what you will about Talley, although he was the loser of five, he did win TWO "big games" as a Bulldog...


TrboDawg said...


Are the 'big game' stats for Stafford, Bob, et.al. career or first two seasons?

Patrick Garbin said...

Hi, TrboDawg. Thanks for reading and your question. The big-game stats for the quarterbacks besides Murray are for their entire UGA careers...

meansonny said...

If you don't mind, please list Stafford's big game wins. I'm curious if a 7-6 Bama and 5-7 Vandy are on there. I'm also curious if Hawaii where he had a 111 passer efficiency rating is on there, too.

Patrick Garbin said...


Yes, no, and yes...

Stafford's 7 wins: Auburn 06, VA Tech 06, Alabama 07, Florida 07, Hawaii 07, LSU 08, and Michigan St. 08.

3 losses: Florida 06, Alabama 08, and Florida 08.

Thanks for reading and your comments.

joe_h said...

"If you don't mind, please list Stafford's big game wins. I'm curious if a 7-6 Bama and 5-7 Vandy are on there. I'm also curious if Hawaii where he had a 111 passer efficiency rating is on there, too."

With all due respect, Stafford was thrown to the wolves as a true freshman. Murray doesn't have that excuse. He redshirted and got a year stronger, a year wise, and a full year to learn the playbook. Stafford also played with some atrocious defenses, a mediocre to just plain bad OL, and a TE that couldn't catch a cold.

I'm not knocking Murray, but he is no Matthew Stafford.

Dr.Fletcher Law said...

Page header picture
My guess from memory
#79 Tom Nash OT
#91 Dr Chuck Heard DE
#34 Buzzy "Super Frog" Rosenberg DB
#22 Dick Conn DB
#84 Lynn Hunnicutt DB
#23 Gene Swineford? DB
#93 Jim McPipkin DL
#66 Royce Smith All-American OG
#58 Kendall Keith #58 center
I was in 7th grade then, please forgive spelling of names if wrong.

BuLLdawg said...

"DAWGS were on TILT; 31 – 0 at the half. Some say the DAWGS have never fully recovered. One thing that is not up for debate is that the DAWGS didn’t finish that season inside the AP Top 10 or since."
As there are site after site where data is compared including sites such as Coaches by the Numbers, National Champs dot Net, College Football Stats dot com and anyone else easily looking up where the team who started out the season a top-ranked team in 2007 only to end the season 6-6 not even in a bowl game and not even a winning record, here we have your Major Point in your lead-up GawdSport stating that we have not finished "that season inside the AP Top 10 or since."

Obviously the question is : Why then LIMIT your discussion to just where the team was ranked when we played them, rather than that which the opponent, or us for that matter too, actually earned for that season ? A team for a season either is or is not considered Top 10 that season, Top 5 that season, indeed Top 25 for that season, or not.

GawdSport, sir, this is based upon your own analysis

Perhaps you did not intend to start your treatise with these now famous words of yours :

finish " "that season inside the AP Top 10 or since."

But, you did, didn't you GawdSport, sir ?

We don't need an aggregate view, or a month-to-month review then do we GawdSport, sir ?

ITEM 1 : Off-the-field
We won the Fulmer Cup National Championship, and have suffered bad press after bad press for drugs, beating up girls, sassing Mark Richt, and suspensions and players kicked-off the team leaving us with but 68 signed scholarship recruits remaining of the 107 Mark Richt signed since your own study includes the 2008 class as you point out all of whom could be playing today with a redshirt.

ITEM 2 : On-the-field

(1) 30-41 Loss Alabama 2008 # 6*

(2) 10-49 Loss Crocodiles 2008 # 1*

(3) 42-45 Loss Georgia tek 2008 # 22**

(4) 24-12 Win Michigan State 2008 # 24

(5) 10-24 Loss Okie State 2009 Unranked**

(6) 19-45 Loss vols 7-6 in 2009 Unranked**

(7) 13-20 Loss LSU 2009 # 17

(8) 17-41 Loss Crocodiles 2009 # 3*

(9) 30-24 Win Georgia tek 2009 # 13

(10) 27-34 Loss Kentucky 7-6 in 2009 Unranked**

(11) 06-17 Loss Sakerlina 2010 # 22**

(12) 24-31 Loss Arky 2010 # 12

(13) 12-24 Loss Missy State 2010 # 15

(14) 31-34 Loss Crocodiles 2010 Unranked**

(15) 31-49 Loss Auburn 2010 # 1*

(16) 27-29 Loss Colorado 5-7 in 2010 Unranked**

(17) 06-10 Loss Central Florida 2010 # 21**

(18) 21-35 Loss Boise State 2011 # 8*

(19) 42-45 Loss Sakerlina 2011 # 9*

(20) 10-42 Loss LSU 2011 # 2*

(21) 30-33 Loss Michigan State 2011 # 11

GawdSport, even so, here is even your Summary :

"Overall the trend is feast on nonconference and weaker SEC opponents, but sub .500 against upper echelon teams, and in the last 2 years we’re getting behind the 8-ball early in the season, fighting in the middle to catch up and closing weakly."

I guess that about summarizes it.

BuLLdawg said...

GawdSport then goes on :

"A similar trend is continued against Top 25 and Top 10 teams. This time looking at losses against Top 25 at home and the QB throws 2+ INT’s the DAWGS are 0’ fer (0-5). The DAWGS have faced (20) Top 25 opponents in 4 years; in half of those game (10 for Barners reading) the DAWGS QB has thrown 2+ picks and the overall record is 1-9 when that occurs - the QB is making bad decisions."
GawdSport, sir : Top 25 at the time of game and Top 10 at time of game. And, sir, seems to me like I can recall vividly the myriad of fumbles by both Matthew Stafford (which still continue to haunt his NFL career as well) and fumbles by little Aaron Murray which just stand-out in my mind why we can't win the Big Games. Perhaps you struggle with what is a big game and what isn't. I do not suffer from that malady, sir. A Big Game is a game not against a 4-win Alabama team that season. Nor, is it a win over Alabama a season in which you criticize Alabama for also losing to Louisiana Monroe. A Big Win is a Win over a Conference Foe who makes a winning record that season, which you do not address and which we've not accomplished in 9 consecutive games starting with Kentucky was back in 2007 - and, then goes on to make the AP Poll Top 10.


Just to be consistent, right ?

A Big Win could be then any team who actually earns AP Poll Top 10 that season. By your own definition, then, we've not accomplished this either after the win over Auburn # 9 way back in 2006.

The closest we've come, GawdSport, you have this to say about as a Caption under a photo in your treatise, sir :

"Thank Gawd for GT being overrated." (2009)

Other than that, we have nothing. And, even with that win based upon not a Pass-Happy Offense, we did not make any top 25 poll.

And, as for your next foray into pictures of data sir, with this back-drop, you start out with Matthew Stafford in your 4-year study - like these trends have only occurred over the last 4 years only with our 3 wins in 16 games against your famous

finish " "that season inside the AP Top 10 or since."

And, you put at the top of this part of your study

Matthew Stafford & Joe Cox 18-8
Aaron Murray 16-11

Why not just leave it at that ?

For that is the same record as Georgie tek, whom you brag we beat in 2009.

34-19 same as Georgie tek current 4-year period in your study, sir.

Oh, we play in The vastly superior SEC ? Really ? By your own admission, whom is we've beat in The vastly superior SEC who even made a winning record that season starting with the Kentucky game way back in 2007, GawdSport, sir ?

BuLLdawg said...

"there are a couple of bagels in AM’s resume. 0’fer on the Road against Top 25 teams, as well as a bagel against Top 10 teams. Additionally AM has more than twice as many road losses as did his predecessors (9 to 4). Also, there has been the criticism that AM pads stats in non-ranked OOC games; it appears valid (130.1 in 8 games)."
Aaron Murray has a LOT more bagels than just that. Billed as a dual-threat QB, which at 5' 11" and 197 lbs of 4.7 speed - slower than SEC Defensive Linemen as we've all witnessed, Aaron Murray has 7 carries a game all 27 games averaging 1 yards per carry with 23 fumbles by him and 56 sacks sir. How could any analysis of little Aaron Murray not even begin to bring this up, GawdSport, sir ?

GawdSport, let me know when you get back to it - this discussion of Aaron Murray and how 3 senior Offensive Linemen are somehow to BLAME when all 3 are now in the NFL ?


Gawdsports said...

First, I appreciate your taking time to comment on my article. I try to incorporate any feedback, because in the end it makes me a better researcher; better able to answer questions about the DAWGS and thus a better fan. Secondly, I read Patrick’s pieces fairly regularly. I think Patrick commands a unique niche of a historical prospective to today’s DAWG’s that is rare in the blogosphere. I enjoy his work. I was trying building upon what Patrick did – not tearing it down. Like I stated there were some DGD who made valid, well reason points and, not knowing myself, I wanted to investigate their critic.
Next, I thank you for showing respect for me by calling, sir, but it is unnecessary. When having a dialogue regarding the DAWGS, I like to be more informal because I believe that style of conversation lends itself to be more candid so long as decorum can be maintain. So that’s my ground rule. I’ll discuss the DAWG’s (and defend my writing) until the Yard Birds crow so long as it is rational, reasonable and respectful. I approach this dialogue with you, BuLLdawg, that you are a DGD and only want the DAWGS to improve. That’s my aim.
With the background and ground rules covered. I’ll answer your criticisms. I get the jest of your opening rant that I bastardized the review and drawing incorrect conclusions, but I had a hard time following your points. USCw opened the 2007 as the prohibitive favorite to win the NC. They finished the season 3rd behind the DAWGS and finished 11-2 I believe. Alabama opened that season ~ 23rd team and they did finish that regular season .500, in part because the DAWGS beat them in T-Town in OT, but they did go to the Independence Bowl. The Tide did lose that year to ULM late in the year – Saban’s 1st year on the job. And by my account that’s been their only inexplicable loss, and to your point every team does have some horrors, but the DAWGS seemed to have more than their share recently. I was trying to figure out why.
I did reach the conclusion in my “treatise” that the 2008 Bama loss counted more than some other “L’s”, and was a turning point in CMR tenure and the recent DAWG history. I did so because it is a data driven conclusion. The DAWGS finished #2 in 2007; they were well on the way in 2008 for another championship run until that game. And because of that loss and THE WAY they got beat, yes the DAWGS did not finish in the Top 10 that year or since. That is a fact that can’t be refuted. I stand behind that conclusion.

Gawdsports said...

Part II
Why limit my discussion? I clearly cited my reasons for starting my review at 2008. I did want my review to be extensive, but my no means was it exhaustive. If there are variables, in which you feel I missed, I encourage free thinking people to build on it. In other words like the Gap Band sez “Jump on it!” I’d love to read it. First in the data set, I did included the rank that the team finished and not just the game day rank. In addition, if your definition of big game is “A Big Win is a Win over a Conference Foe”, I stratified the data by SEC wins. I allow the reader to come to his conclusion about what is a big game; I have slice it numerous ways. Again you can slice it another, it is out there to download. I am not trying to hide anything. I was trying very hard to be concise yet illustrate salient points. Just because I didn’t mention something doesn’t mean that I didn’t examine it. It was. In this age of 140 character messages, I was trying to keep the article down to 1k words; otherwise, ppl won’t read it if too wordy.
On AM… I reached the same conclusion that Patrick did. AM is a gamer, more so than the combination of the previous 2 QB’s. Thanks for bringing to light the information. Yes, in games where AM has a lower QBR, his O-line hasn’t helped him out. No QB, not even Dan Fouts, looks good throwing from a horiztional position. In “L’s” to SEC and to Top 25 the DAWGS are allowing 2 sacks way too often. And yes even though we had 3 O-Linemen get drafted, they at times did not play well as a unit/ group. I stand behind that conclusion as well. Turnovers and rushing stats were considered in Part II. Again, I didn’t break it down by fumbles by position or individual, but its’ out there for you to add too.
Yes GA Tech does have the same a 4 yr record overall. I think that further illustrates my thesis: The existent that the DAWGS have fallen since the Bama loss has been a deep chasm, not that GA Tech has risen up. That was my reason for showing the aggregate view to gain a sense of how far the decline has been. Why not stop with just the overall records or the 2 year splits? I’ll explain this way: An 8 slice CT scan can yield better diagnostic results than a 4 slice scan. Still a 16 slice CT scan is exponentially better than 8 slice scan. In general, the more granular you become with the data the stronger, more definitive your conclusions can be.
Finally, you question “Oh, we play in The vastly superior SEC ? Really ?” In the last 6 BCS NC games, the SEC is 6-0. So yeah that is another data driven conclusion that I come to easily and yes I stand behind that too. Yes, we’ve struggled against the very top of the league since 2008. I stand behind that.
Please con’t the dialogue on LHB, because I get automatic notification of comments

Patrick Garbin said...

BuLLdawg and Gawdsports,
I appreciate your extensive comments in response to this particular post; I just now came across it when I was looking over my posts. Such discussion certainly improves on what I've posted, and my blog as a whole. I should post more similar pieces to stimulate such comments...

J.R. Clark said...

I think you put too much emphasis on the QB in the equation. MS, AM, and MB had some great receivers to work with.

EZ had Andre Hastings and Brice Hunter.

I contend EZ was the biggest "gamer" ever to play QB at UGA.