Tag:Aaron Murray
Posted on: February 1, 2011 2:57 pm
 

Logan Gray to transfer from Georgia

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Wednesday may be signing day, but apparently Tuesday is "Former Four-Star Quarterbacks Transferring Day." Earlier on Tuesday the news broke that Ryan Mossakowski was leaving Kentucky, and now Georgia quarterback-turned-wide receiver Logan Gray has announced that he'll be leaving Athens following his graduation this spring.

"I will graduate in May from UGA with my degree in Speech Communication,” said Gray in a statement. “I plan on playing my last year of football while pursuing my Master's degree at another school, most likely close to home, where my family can attend all of my games. I would like to thank Coach Richt for giving me the opportunity to be a Bulldog the last four years, and sticking beside me throughout the whole experience. I would also like to thank my teammates for everything. They are like another family to me and I know I will be close with several of them for the rest of my life."

“I want to express sincere appreciation to Logan for his many contributions to our program the last four years,” said Mark Richt. “He’s been an asset to our team and program as both a player and student and we wish him nothing but the very best.”

Gray came to Athens as a four-star recruit, and after redshirting in 2007, spent 2008 and 2009 as a reserve. After losing the quarterback battle to Aaron Murray last spring, Gray moved to wide receiver where he caught 9 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown for the Bulldogs in 2010.
Posted on: December 31, 2010 9:56 pm
 

Bowl Grades: Liberty Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

A late touchdown gave Central Florida its first bowl victory ever as the Golden Knights beat Georgia, 10-6.

Central Florida

Offense: Sometimes winning football is pretty. And sometimes it's what Central Florida did. UCF's freshman phenom quarterback Jeff Godfrey didn't exactly set the world on fire in today's game, going 16-29 for 117 yards (a paltry four yards per attempt) and throwing two interceptions -- including one on a truly lousy fade in the end zone in the second half. But when it came down to it, UCF put together a touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, complete with several 3rd down conversions, and on that drive Godfrey was more like his 2010 self, as he led the C-USA in passing efficiency. The hero of the day was Latavius Murray , who scored the lone touchdown and rushed for over 100 yards on the day. Grade: C

Defense: Hard to argue with six points allowed. Georgia had been scoring at a clip of nearly 40 points per game after A.J. Green came back from suspension, and even in its losses after Green's return, Georgia scored nearly 30 points a game. Shutting the Dawgs down like this, then, was a Herculean task and never something one would expect from a Conference USA team. But here it is and here we are. Grade: A

Coaching: First bowl win and it comes on a fourth-quarter comeback against an SEC team? That's enough for an A in our book any day. Grade: A

Georgia

Offense: Aaron Murray (no relation to Latavius), Georgia's own freshman phenom quarterback, was just about as wretched as Godfrey; Murray was 21-38 for 198 yards and two of his own interceptions. More troubling was the fact that Murray was in gloves all day, and several of Murray's throws were well off-target and/or absolute ducks in the air. He got quite a bit of help from Green and Tavarres King at wideout, each of whom made some highlight-reel catches, but all in all the Georgia offense was as out of whack as Murray's throws all day long. Grade: D

Defense: Normally, allowing 241 yards, 3-10 3rd down conversions, and 10 points is more than enough to ensure victory. That's what Georgia did, and putting this loss on the defense's shoulders since the lone touchdown allowed came in the fourth quarter is pretty short-sighted. When taking the opponent into consideration -- no offense, Vanderbilt -- this was the best performance by the Bulldog defense all season long. Grade: A

Coaching: In the first quarter, Mark Richt's Bulldogs started a drive at their own 2-yard line. 95 -- 95! -- yards later, Georgia faced a 4th and inches at the UCF 3-yard line. A touchdown was nine feet away, and a first down was one foot away. Up went a field goal, and Georgia took a 3-0 lead. The Bulldogs would not treaten to score a touchdown again until the very last drive, when Aaron Murray was forced to heave a pass into the end zone as time expired. Why Mark Richt didn't go for the touchdown in the first quarter is, frankly, a mystery. That's a statement of absolutely no faith in the offense by Richt, and his players responded with their worst offensive showing of the season. Grade: F-

Final Grade

Hey, we'll take any game that ends with the ball in the air and a win in the balance. Aaron Murray's Hail Mary would fall harmlessly to the turf, but still, the two teams used all of the 60 minutes in this struggle. Moreover, UCF's win only further proved that despite what the BCS conferences maintain at every step, the difference between AQ teams and non-AQ teams erodes further every year. That's scant consolation for Georgia fans who just watched their team drop a 10-6 decision to some C-USA school with no bowl tradition, but tradition's always been an overrated factor in college football anyway. Grade: B

Posted on: December 29, 2010 3:57 pm
 

CBS Bowl Bonanza: Liberty Bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The Basics: UCF (10-3) vs. Georgia (6-6), Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m. EST.

Why You Should Watch: The SEC's bowl tie-ins give the non-AQ teams of the world just one shot at the nation's highest-profile conference, and this is it; the Liberty annually pairs one of the SEC's also-rans against the Conference USA champion. But even with the field seemingly as tilted in favor of the C-USA upset as it could possibly be, it hasn't happened yet, as the SEC has swept all four of the SEC-vs.-C-USA Liberty Bowls to date. UCF represents maybe the best chance for C-USA yet, as they have both the airtight defense (18th nationally) and offensive starpower (in freshman quarterbacking prodigy Jeff Godfrey) to give Georgia all they want.

Of course, the Dawgs have A.J. Green and Justin Houston and Aaron Murray and a whole bunch of other SEC athletes, not to mention a statistical profile much better than their 6-6 record. Last year's Liberty went into overtime, and on paper this one's evenly-matched enough to make it 2-for-2. For depth of talent on display and a well-balanced, competitive matchup, you're not going to do much better before New Year's than the Liberty.

Keys to Victory for UCF: Frankly, the Knights should come into this game the substantially more motivated team. They're coming off of a championship season, but one without a win over BCS competition (after close losses vs. N.C. State and at Kansas State); they couldn't ask for a more perfect finishing touch than beating a traditional SEC power for the program's first-ever bowl victory. That should give the Knights an emotional edge, one that could give them a fast start against a Bulldogs team that badly underachieved to land at 6-6 and no doubt had their sights set on a bowl destination more glamorous than Memphis.

If the Knights do come away with a halftime or three-quarters lead, Georgia will be in trouble. Godfrey was a revelation after taking over for the injured Rob Calabrese at midseason, finishing eighth in the country in passer rating with a sparkling 68.4 completion percentage and 9.8 yards-per-attempt average. He added 10 touchdowns and 546 yards on the ground for good measure, pacing the Knights to the kind of balance (2,502 rushing yards, 2,493 passing) and steady efficiency (fifth in the FBS in time-of-possession at 33:09 a game) that most teams can only talk about.

But as effective as the Knight offense was, it was the defense that did the heavy lifting, starting with a secondary that placed both corner Josh Robinson and safety Kemal Ishmael on the All-C-USA first team and finished in the national top 30 in opponent's passer rating, opponent's yards-per-attempt, and interceptions. But the Knights also have a pair of fearsome defensive ends in Bruce Miller and Darius Nall, who combined for 21 tackles-for-loss and 15.5 sacks to give UCF the nation's 10th-ranked rush defense. (Ishmael's team-leading 82 tackles helped, too.) The absence of a big-play passing game means they won't want to fall behind, but if the Knights can get out in front, their combination of sound defense and clock-killing offense will have them well-positioned for the victory.

Keys to Victory for Georgia: It's simple: if the Dawgs overcome their disappointment of a season and match UCF's levels of energy and focus, they win.

Because while UCF might have several awfully solid players, Georgia has several All-Americans. Houston led the SEC in sacks, finished second in tackles-for-loss, and was a finalist for multiple national awards; Murray might be the only freshman quarterback in the country to have had an even more impressive season than Godfrey, posting an incredible 24-to-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio; and Green might be the most purely talented college receiver since Larry Fitzgerald. And even aside from their headlining stars, Georgia can boast an offensive line packed with both experience and future NFL players like senior tackle Clint Boling; dangerous skill position weapons like tight end Orson Charles and running back Washaun Ealey; maybe the nation's best pair of specialists in punter Drew Butler and cannon-legged kicker Blair Walsh; kickoff returner Brandon Boykin, who's taken four kicks to the house the past two seasons; two steady senior linebackers in Akeem Dent and Darryl Gamble; etc.

All of that talent means it's something of a mystery how Georgia ever wound up at .500, though plain old bad luck in the form of poorly-timed fumbles and critical defensive breakdowns in close games -- the Dawgs went 0-3 in games decided by 7 points or fewer -- probably had something to do with it. Their average per-play margin of +1.2 (6.4 gained per snap, 5.2 allowed)
ranked first by a wide margin in the SEC East and fourth in the conference behind the leagues' two BCS teams and Alabama. In short, this is a team that's been much better than their place in the SEC standings (or their Liberty berth) would indicate, and if they play to that same standard, they should have enough to overpower the less-talented Knights.

The Liberty Bowl is like: That one sharp-witted, twinkly-eyed elderly gentleman in your neighborhood who you knew from church, or the diner down the street, or maybe just the rocking chair on his front porch, who told stories and though not all of them were classics, he always had one you'd never heard before and some of them stayed with you like Louisville beating Boise State 44-40 in 2004. The Liberty has been in business since 1959, making it one of the oldest pre-New Year's games, and though it's not the game it once was, UCF and Georgia promise to give it another memorable chapter in its distinguished history.


Posted on: December 8, 2010 6:08 pm
 

Could Zach Mettenberger take LSU over the hump?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

There's an argument to be made -- and you don't even have to break a sweat to make it -- that no single position in the SEC has had a greater negative impact over the past two seasons than quarterback at LSU .

In 2009, under new defensive coordinator John Chavis , the Bayou Bengals finished a strong 26th in the country in total defense and allowed the third-fewest points in the SEC; unfortunately, Jordan Jefferson finished eighth in the league in passing yards per-game and took enough sacks to place LSU 103rd in that category, and LSU lost four games in which their opponents scored 13, 24, 25, and 19 points, respectively. Chavis's unit has been even better in 2010, finishing eighth in the FBS in total D and ninth in scoring defense . It's a good thing, too; with Jefferson and Jarrett Lee combining for a dead-last finish in the SEC in passing and a next-to-last finish in QB rating, the Tigers managed to win games with scoring totals of 20, 16, and 24 points. The Tigers also lost when they scored only 17 points against Auburn's eminently flammable defense. It's fair to say that with competent-to-good quarterbacking, LSU is looking at at least back-to-back BCS bowl appearances, possibly an SEC title one year or the other, maybe even another national title game berth.

Which is why that even amongst the coaching hiring-and-firing-and-retiring mania, the news this week that JUCO quarterback Zach Mettenberger has elected to play for Les Miles and Co. shouldn't fly under the radar. Mettenberger was a consensus four-star recruit coming out of Watkinsville, Ga., and proved his bona fides as one of the top pro-style quarterbacks in his class by battling Aaron Murray tooth-and-nail for first the Georgia backup quarterback's job in spring 2009 and then the starter's position this past spring. After being booted from the Bulldog roster (more on this in a moment), he landed at Butler County (Kan.) Community College and went 176-of-299 for 2,678 yards this fall with an impressive 32-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Mettenberger will arrive at LSU with more than a little baggage, earning his ticket out of Athens by pleading guilty to two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery following an incident at a Remerton (Ga.) bar, as well as a host of other minor offenses. But time and a JUCO stint often heals all wounds in the SEC -- just ask Cam Newton -- and at 6'5", 250 pounds, with Mettenberger's pro-grade arm, he'll arrive at Baton Rouge with a real chance at winning the starting job as soon as next season. Mettenberger cited Miles's immediate interest as one reason he chose the Tigers over Alabama, Arkansas, and others; that LSU pursued him as fervently as they did should say something about confident they are in his potential to start from Day 1.

Even if Mettenberger has to wait one season for his turn, both Jefferson and Lee are seniors. He'll get his shot eventually, and that's reason enough for the SEC to worry; given Murray's stunning first year at Georgia, Mettenberger's huge year at Butler, and his recruiting profile, the odds are very good that Mettenberger will be a quality SEC starter, and pairing a quality SEC starter at QB with Chavis's defense (not to mention the wealth of talent across the rest of the offensive board) could easily put LSU back on top of the SEC West.

In short, LSU's biggest Achilles heel these past two seasons may have been healed. Given how good they've been anyway, Mettenberger's commitment could prove to be a turning point -- not only for the Tigers, but for the entire SEC West. And if you don't think one JUCO quarterback can have that kind of impact, we'd ask you to take it up with Mr. Newton.

Posted on: November 29, 2010 1:27 pm
 

No coaching shakeup at Georgia

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's not often that an SEC team with an established coach goes 6-6 with a sub-.500 conference record and a loss to a wretched Colorado team winds up standing pat in the coaching department, but most SEC teams aren't as patient as Georgia and we've long since known that no coach in the league is as averse to change as Mark Richt . So it's not that much of a surprise that the moving vans may skip Athens entirely this offseason, at least if Richt has his way :
“Am I considering changes on the staff?” Richt said [Sunday]. “No" ...

Georgia has scored 30 or more points in seven straight games, something that Richt referred to when asked about fans’ criticism of offensive coordinator and play-caller Mike Bobo .

“All I can say, if I’m not mistaken, we broke some kind of school record of consecutive games of over 30 points and a lot of really good things happened offensively,” Richt said. “The bottom line is whoever calls plays is going to get critiqued, they’re going to get criticized. It’s just the nature of the beast.”

Richt has a point about Bobo, and you can make another one by making note of Bobo's quarterbacking-coaching duties and the wild success he had with redshirt freshman Aaron Murray , who wrapped up his regular season with a 15-of-19, 271-yard, 3 touchdown, zero interception masterpiece against Georgia Tech . Right now, Murray and the Bulldog passing game is the best thing the Dawgs have going; would replacing the quarterbacks' position coach and the architect of that passing game really be the best move?

We doubt it. Georgia's biggest problems this year were a nasty tendency to fumble at the worst possible time -- what coach do you blame for that? -- and a young defense that played lights-out against weaker competition but gave up 31 points to Arkansas , 34 to Florida , 49 to Auburn , etc. First-year coordinator Todd Grantham was installing a new 3-4 defense and wasn't given the prototypical defensive linemen needed for the scheme; firing him after a single season would be stunningly harsh and probably counter-productive.

With several other Georgia position coaches having been replaced just last offseason, Richt's best move probably is to stand pat. Given how perilously close he came to getting replaced himself after the Dawgs' 1-4 start (and how little margin for error he has entering 2011), that seems like a substantially larger gamble than looking for answers elsewhere in the coaching pool. But after a strange and often unlucky season, that's where Georgia stands.
Posted on: November 18, 2010 4:16 pm
 

Idaho safety suspended in concussion crackdown

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

College football's efforts to crack down on illegal head shots continued Wednesday, as the WAC suspended Idaho safety Shiloh Keo for the first half of the Vandals' next game for this blow to the helmet of Boise State backup quarterback Mike Coughlin :




Frankly, Keo is lucky he's only missing a half; he was initially suspended for the entire game but had it reduced on appeal. (Not that anyone at Boise can complain; Bronco cornerback Winston Venable also had a WAC-induced suspension reduced earlier this year.)

That Keo is suspended at all, though, further emphasizes the new, uh, emphasis in the sport this year on preventing head injuries. But is it coming at the expense of other kinds of equally nasty hits? The SEC raised eyebrows this week when it declined to punish Auburn defensive lineman Nick Fairley for a late blow to the back of Georgia 's Aaron Murray , and passed as well on issuing punishment to the two Bulldog linemen whose attempted retaliation on Fairley sparked a near-brawl. Notre Dame 's Kerry Neal went unpunished for this stomp on the torso of a Navy player.

The crackdown on blows to the head and concussions is, without question, an admirable one. But those are not the only dangerous -- and avoidable -- hits on the football field.

Posted on: November 17, 2010 2:53 am
 

Did bye weeks save Fairley from suspension?

Posted by Adam Jacobi

As mentioned earlier, Auburn DT Nick Fairley will not be suspended for the Alabama game by the SEC after a series of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties marred the Auburn-Georgia game last week. Alabama fans will no doubt be rankled by the conference's decision -- for reasons most certainly including Fairley's prodigious talent, of course -- and Auburn fans are pointing fingers at Georgia for the whole mess and calling no-foul on the decision, but Gene Chizik will get two weeks to punish Fairley in-house and then that'll be that.

Except, here's the thing: Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, the target of multiple late hits by Fairley last week, still isn't practicing yet as he recovers from injuries that knocked him out of the end of last week's game. Georgia's on a bye and Mark Richt is calling his quarterback "day-to-day," so Murray's probably unlikely to miss any playing time, but the freshman is certainly injured; even with the bye week coming up, it would be insane for Richt to hold his signal-caller out of practice if Murray's able to go, what with a must-win tilt with Georgia Tech looming. And we really mean "must win;" Richt's job might be on the line if he can't get the Dawgs to .500 and a bowl game, so if Murray's not even practicing with a no-contact jersey on, there's a good reason.

So since Murray is clearly injured at some level, if Georgia were playing a game this week, there is a significant (if not necessarily ironclad -- we don't really know) chance that if Georgia had a game this week, Murray would be too injured to go. And if Nick Fairley had indeed knocked an opposing quarterback out of not only the Auburn game but also the following week and with multiple instances of dirty play, there's absolutely no way the SEC would have left his eligibility up to Auburn's discretion for the following week. 

Ah, but Murray and Fairley both have the week off, and neither is likely to miss any time, so this is all largely an academic question. Still, it's worth wondering -- is Nick Fairley's conduct always going to be at least implicitly condoned by the SEC like this, or was his status for the Iron Bowl the result, in part, of some measure of scheduling luck?

Posted on: November 15, 2010 12:11 pm
 

Auburn awaits word on its pugilists

Posted by Tom Fornelli

While Auburn was able to bounce back from an early deficit and overcome all the distractions of the previous week against Georgia on Saturday, things did get a bit chippy at the end of the game.  It all started with what many felt was a cheap shot by Auburn defensive tackle/eater of souls Nick Fairley on Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray.   A hit that now has Murray's status this weekend in question.   In the closing minutes, with the game already decided, there was plenty of pushing and shoving by both teams, but only two players threw punches.

Auburn's Mike Blanc and Michael Goggans were ejected on consecutive plays for throwing a punch, and the SEC rules are pretty clear about what happens when you do that.  Not only are you ejected from the current game, but you're forced to sit out the first half of your team's next game.  In Auburn's case, that would be the Iron Bowl against Alabama in two weeks, which is a pretty important one for the Tigers seeing as how they'd like to stay undefeated.

Well, it seems that Gene Chizik is holding out hope that he might have both of his players available, though he'll have to talk to the SEC about it first.

"I'm not going to really comment on that," Chizik said on Sunday. "We're going to talk to the SEC [Monday] and we're going to figure exactly what their status is at that point.

"The SEC reviews every situation, penalty-wise, that is reviewable or brought to their attention. We haven't talked with anybody. We know what happened [Saturday]. We're just going to reserve all comment until we really get some clarification on exactly what the status of those guys will be. I haven't had that opportunity yet."

Now it's possible that the Tigers could appeal the ruling, and have the punishment delayed, but I don't see how having either player suspended for the first half of the SEC Championship is any better.  Besides, I'm not sure what there is to appeal.  The rules are pretty clear, and there's video evidence of both players throwing the punches.
 
 
 
 
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