The Bulldogs really wasted what should have been a touchdown drive thanks to a big run by J.J. Green, and I didn’t like the red zone execution from the Bulldogs. The 3rd down throw to Wooten was a bad decision, because there was simply no way that he would have scored a touchdown on that throw. While he did drop the pass, Wooten was hit well short of the end zone, and you can criticize Murray for throwing it to a receiver who was in a position to get hit hard. So yeah, I’ll put that one on Murray.
Murray started to get antsy when backed up into his own end zone and nearly got sacked before quickly throwing the ball away on second down. His third down throw would have been a tough catch for Reggie Davis on the sideline, but I expected him to come down with that at such a critical juncture. It wasn’t a great throw, but it was a pretty good one from Murray given the circumstances. Once again, Murray did a nice job finding a receiver who was open, and it was simply a case of a WR not making the play. You always hear QBs saying that they just threw the ball in the hopes that their receiver could make the play, and this was an instance of that not happening. Tough to totally blame Davis for that one, though, because it was a relatively high pass right next to the sideline. It takes a lot of body control to make those plays, but it hit him right in the hands.
I thought his first throw on the next third quarter drive was awful. Reggie Davis had a half-step on Mizzou’s DB, but Murray severely underthrew him. In fact, that would have been picked if the defender turned around in time, so Murray lucked out on that one. He should have put a lot more air under that one and trusted that a receiver as fast as Davis would be able to catch up to it. Again, he was just ahead of the defensive player covering him, and that’s a throw a star QB like Murray needs to do a better job on.
His ten-yard pass to J.J. Green a player later was a really nice play, because Murray did an exceptional job of sensing the pressure on him. His left tackle was beat, allowing the DE to move in behind Murray. But Murray was able to sense and evade the pressure by running to the right and nailing Green for an easy first down on a critical third-and-seven play.
Aaron Murray was lucky that the overly-aggressive Missouri secondary kept the drive alive with an absolutely horrible pass interference play. It was completely unnecessary, and it saved Georgia’s drive on third-and-two. For some odd reason, Murray decided to take a shot deep on third-and-two, and it was another poorly thrown, severely underthrown ball. The Missouri defender could have easily made a play on the ball, but he was instead more focused on tangling with the receiver.
After another rough throw, Murray was able to hit Chris Conley on fourth-and-five to convert, and it was a critical reception from Conley, who deserves most of the praise for that one.
Arthur Lynch got in behind the linebacker on a 21-yard pass play, and it was as easy of a throw as Aaron Murray will ever make. He had a ridiculous amount of time in the pocket, as Theus in particular did a great job of holding Simon at bay. Lynch did a great job of stretching the seam and getting behind the LB on a crossing route, so it was an easy strike for Murray. I wish the Bulldogs ran a lot more crossing routes, because the Tigers were awful at defending them.
An awful drop was negated by yet another offsides penalty, and Murray threw an absolute beauty on the ensuing first-and-five play. He and Wooten were connecting on some big passes, and this one was Murray’s best play of the day. He needed to be perfect on this throw in order for it to be a touchdown, and he threw an amazing back-shoulder throw to Wooten. It was vintage Aaron Murray on that seven-yard TD, and it took a lot of arm strength and accuracy in order to make that play work. Those kinds of throws have very little margin for error, and it showed just how good Murray is. He was able to give his receiver enough room in the end zone and delivered it right where it needed to be; excellent ball placement and solid velocity on that throw.
With about thirty seconds left in the third quarter, Murray was able to run away from the pressure and hit up Brendan Dougulas for an easy strike.
Murray’s first throw of the fourth quarter came on first down at the Mizzou 26 (13:33), and it was just an awful decision. He should have never made that throw, because Wooten was as well-covered as it gets. It was nearly an interception, and it was actualy a good throw but it was a bad decision from a QB. It looked like a drop from Wooten, and that’s the second half of the play. But the first half of the play came when the Mizzou defender nearly picked the ball off. The throw was well-placed, so he was only able to deflect it. It nearly worked out for Georgia and became a lucky play, but I think they are lucky enough that the pass wasn’t picked.
His touchdown strike, though, more than made up for that bad decision (I was probably too critical of him), because it was a perfectly placed pass to Chris Conley for ten yards. The blocking on the play action pay was exquisite, and Murray was able to roll out to the right and throw it right between the defenders. That’s a throw a future first-round pick has to be able to make, and Murray did a great job of executing it. Conley technically dropped the two-point conversion, but it was a low throw and was very tough to handle.
The series that started at 9:22 showcased some awful blocking from Georgia on two occasions, as Murray had barely any time to throw the ball away on first down. Good run blocking on the next play allowed Murray to run for six easy yards on a keeper to the left side, but he was sacked on third down by Markus Golden for a loss of six. The pressure came far too quickly, as the right tackle did a poor job of blocking. Golden’s shove shouldn’t have had the lineman beat that badly, and it was a very easy sack for Golden to notch.
At 4:25, Murray made by far his worst throw of the game, and it’s one of the worst throws any quarterback should make. It was an awful pass to a receiver who was extremely well-covered by two defenders. One was right behind the wideout, whereas Randy Ponder, who intercepted the pass, was right in front of the receiver. Ponder read the play all the way, and I have no idea why Murray ever tried to throw that ball. Not only was it an extremely putrid decision, but it was also a terrible throw. It went right to Ponder, and enough can’t be said about how bad of throw it was. Murray paid the price after the throw, too, as he was hit extremely hard by a Missouri pass rusher a second after the pass.
With 2:17 left, Murray was under immense pressure again, but he absorbed a shove, evaded the rest of the pass rush, and then lofted a pass to J.J. Green for eight yards. It was a light lob from Murray, but I thought it was well-placed. While Green needed one hand to make the grab, it wasn’t a very difficult catch, and it was the only legitimate place on the field that Murray could have thrown it to.
Murray’s next throw was a bad shot deep that could have easily been intercepted, but Green was able to pick up a first down on third-and-two. Then, Lynch had one of the worst drops of the season. He once again managed to get himself wide open in the middle of the field, and he dropped a pass he normally makes 99 out of 100 times. Luckily for Georgia, Missouri was flagged for another penalty.
With 1:29 left and first down, Aaron Murray made another excellent play. His left tackle was beat handily again, but Murray was able to sense the pressure. The defensive player went in for a sack behind him, but he was able to run forward, bought some more time by stepping up a little bit more, and then he was able to find an open Chris Conley for an 18-yard pass. Once again, another instance of Murray finding the open guy.
So the last play I want to look at is Murray’s second interception, which was essentially a garbage-time INT. The Bulldogs were down 41-26 at that point with less than a minute left, so there was no chance of a victory. Plays at around this team lead to more interceptions, because quarterbacks have to take more gambles. It was a bad decision and bad throw from Murray, whose pass was undercut by Kentrell Brothers. By the way, Brothers is the guy who was beat by Lynch for that big play earlier in the game. Anyway, Brothers did a nice job getting a jump on the ball, and this pick can’t totally go on Murray’s record. It hurts his overall evaluation for this game, but it came from a QB trying to do everything he could do get his team back in it. It’s an interception that can easily be misconstrued or over-analyzed.
So how did Aaron Murray do overall? I thought he honestly played a pretty good game overall, and it would be unfair to pin this loss on him. The Tigers allowed him to complete a number of easy passes closer to the line of scrimmage, but the credit goes to Murray for taking advantage of those throws. He did a great job of sensing and evading the pass rush without making too many errant throws as a result of pressure, which is definitely a plus given that passing under pressure is generally viewed as one of his weaknesses. I thought he wasn’t as accurate as he normally is, and he made some very poor throws deep downfield. Missouri’s defense played an excellent game, so Murray definitely had his work cut out for him. He showed flashes of his overall talent with his TD passes and that big back-shoulder throw to Wooten. Murray showed great vision, and he gets a B- from me if I were to give him a grade. He was above-average, but he had a number of plays that he would undoubtedly like to have back. But if an average college QB had started for Murray in this game (you know, as a hypothetical situation for speculative, comparative purposes), I think Georgia would have never even had a chance. With Murray under center, you always got the feeling that they had a chance in that game.