August 3, 2010

Who does Murray remind coaches of?

If there's anybody in the Georgia football family who knows what quarterback Aaron Murray is going through as he prepares for his first start as a redshirt freshmen, it's former Bulldog David Greene.

Like Murray, Greene was a redshirt freshman when he ascended to the starting quarterback role in Mark Richt's first year as Georgia coach in what turned out to be a wonderful collegiate career.

Greene led the Bulldogs to an 8-4 mark that first season, eventually becoming the SEC's career passing leader with 11,528 yards and the holder of 15 Bulldog career passing marks.

Following a brief stint in the NFL, Greene is out of football these days, but that hasn't kept him from keeping close tabs on Murray, who no doubt would love to one day find himself in the same conversation as the former all-conference star.

Much has already been written and said about the steps Murray took this summer to get ready for his opportunity, from getting to Butts-Mehre at 6:30 a.m. to coordinating the offense's summer workout schedule.

But that's not all.

In an effort to better comprehend the task that lies ahead, Murray sought out Greene for help.

"I've talked to David Greene a few times and met with him a few times and he's done a great job of easing me into the situation. We had a two-hour meeting where we sat down and just talked, we talked about his situation when he was here compared to my situation," Murray said. "He really helped calm me down a little bit. But he's not the only one. Everybody else on the team is like 'hey, we've got your back, we're here for you, don't worry.'"

Apparently, there's more to the comparison than might originally meet the eye.

Richt sees similarities as well.

"When David was in our meeting rooms, the very first spring when he got to Georgia and we're installing everything, David was just a tremendous student of the game. You could see that he was absorbing it, he was able to verbally tell you what's going on, and then he was able to get on that field and able to take it from the meeting room to the field, so to speak. Aaron has a tremendous work ethic. You can tell he is learning it in a systematic way, that when it comes time to make these decisions he should have a better chance of making a good one," Richt said. "You have to train your mind as much as your body when you play quarterback, and I think he's doing a good job of that. He's just got to play. He has earned a lot of respect from his teammates.

"I was just talking to Chris Davis a moment ago and he was saying he was proud of the job Aaron did all summer and how much more confident he is in today's walk-throughs than even last spring because he worked all summer long mentally and physically. So I think right now he has the confidence of his veteran teammates."

Tight end Aron White concurred.

According to White, Murray couldn't have done any more to prove himself to teammates like himself than he did this summer.

Then again, White said that came as no surprise.

"He didn't have to prove himself to anyone. We already knew he had the ability; he just had to settle down and do it," White said. "He's grown a tremendous amount since he's been here, he's coming up on the end of his second year so he's been around a long time; the guys trust him. We're going to roll with him."

Now, it's all about getting comfortable on the field.

If Murray can stay in the pocket as adeptly as he handled the media horde during Monday's preseason session with the press, there will be no problems.

"It's fine. I'm not let anything get to my head," said Murray. "Just because I'm the starting quarterback there are a lot of things I want to accomplish. This (being the starting quarterback) is just one goal I want to accomplish here at Georgia."

The notion that he's the Bulldogs' "old man" at quarterback is an amusing notion.

With Logan Gray now at wide receiver, Georgia's quarterback meeting room consists of Murray, along with true freshmen Hutson Mason, Parker Welch and Greg Bingham, the latter of which are walk-ons.

"It's very weird especially coming from last year with two older guys and now I'm the oldest guy," Murray said. "I'm still considered a freshman and I feel a little bad for Coach (Mike) Bobo, but he's got what, five kids under the age of six so he's got some experience dealing with this."

Bobo couldn't help but chuckle at Murray's way with words.

"I told him I'm probably going to be bald after this camp is over," Bobo said. "But I tell you what, those young guys did a nice job and a lot of credit goes to Aaron for how he prepared them over the summer. Aaron's a very hard worker and he's very diligent, not only in preparing himself but making sure the rest of the team is prepared. By no means were they perfect but having an understanding of just some base stuff, I was really pleased."

Murray said he felt the summer went extremely well.

"I definitely felt that I got all I needed. All our guys, especially the receivers were helpful, they wanted to get out there with me after workouts, to work with me and make sure our timing was right," he said. "Those guys definitely pushed me to become better and make sure we were completely prepared for camp and the rest of the season."

One thing that won't be part of Murray's repertoire this fall will be the throwing glove he experimented with for most of the spring.

Murray created some waves back in March when he announced that he would be using a throwing glove, similar to the ones used by Tom Brady and the recently retired Kurt Warner in the NFL.

That will no longer be the case.

"It tried it on and off throughout the summer, but ultimately I just decided that I felt better without the glove," Murray said. "I'm going to go without it and see what happens."

He plans on playing using his head in other ways as well.

During Monday's press conference, Richt explained how he didn't want Murray to "prove his manhood" by trying to run over would-be tacklers, something the quarterback later laughed won't be a problem.

He'll also be smart in regards to his shoulder and arm.

Although he feels 100 percent, Murray conceded he wasn't very smart and regrets the way he tried to push through his triceps tendinitis that cost him three weeks of practice time last fall.

"No question about it. That was not one of the smartest things and I was definitely not mature from that aspect," Murray said. "I tried to push through it, but in the end I probably would have just missed two or three practices if I had just rested it. I've just got to be smart. I think I've definitely matured over the last year in college. I've seen what can happen if you try to push through it and not ready."

The way Murray explains it, there's no way he's going to jeopardize the opportunity he has, particularly with the bevy of talent he believes surrounds him.

He laughed that it's his job not to screw it up.

"I know I've got 10 other guys. I've got one of the best offensive lines in the SEC and probably in the country. Those guys have worked together for years now, plus I've got one of the best wide receivers in the country, some great tight ends and great, great running backs," he said. "I've just got to be smart, respect the football and when the play is there make the play. We're working on the same routes we're going to use in the game every day."



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