August 1, 2012

Murray focused on fall

Yes, there are still a number of questions that Georgia coaches will need to find answers to once fall practice begins underway Thursday afternoon

.A trio of new starters must be found for the offensive line plus how will the freshmen running backs perform and whether there is enough depth in the secondary certainly qualify as three.

One area the Bulldogs aren't expected to worry about is quarterback, as Aaron Murray returns for his third season as the team's starter.

But despite passing for 3,149 yards and a Georgia single-season record 35 touchdowns, there are some who question whether or not Murray can "win the big game" or will ever lead the Bulldogs to a championship after committing 18 turnovers (14 picks, four fumbles) a season ago.

"In his defense, a couple of them were tipped balls and things of that nature, that maybe he couldn't totally control, but he knows that his job is crucial in regards to respecting and protecting the football," head coach Mark Richt said of last year's turnovers. "I think we all learn from our experiences."

But just in case, Richt hasn't been above reminding Murray just how important it is to do exactly that.

"I was just asking the question - what are the three biggest drive-killers in football?" Richt said. "The first thing he said was turnovers, which was right. Shawn (Williams) helped him out by saying penalties, which was right, and the third one is missed assignments."

As the quarterback, Murray is primarily responsible for two of the three.

"If you don't turn the ball over, limit the penalties and line up correctly, you're going to move the ball. If you have a combination of those three, you're going to punt or you're going to turn the ball over, not score and make life miserable for everybody," Richt said. "Players can control all three of those for the most parts, so that's Murray's job to make sure we're not turning the ball over and not having a situation where we don't know what to do."

For his part, Murray is apparently doing everything to live up to lofty standards many have for the Tampa, Fla. native, some who expect nothing short of perfection.

"That's fine and I understand that," he said. "I want that for myself."

To accomplish that, there's one area of his game he admits needs to get better.

"My biggest area of improvement that I've been working on all season is my footwork. We've done a LOT of drills, watching film and trying to figure out things that I need to do. I definitely feel better about my footwork, staying on balance and moving around the pocket. That's something I have to continue doing all season."

Meanwhile, Murray says he's already been taking steps to ensure last year's mistakes are not repeated this fall, beginning with today's first day of preseason drills.

"With me, a lot of my mistakes had to do with me just not making subtle slides," he said. "Sometimes it's a little step to the left, little step to the right, up, back, to find an open window and avoid the defender, while all the time staying balanced and making an accurate throw."

That's something he intends to improve on in 2012. But that's a challenge he welcomes.

"Definitely," he said. "I know I've got to be the best leader that I can be and that means continuing to work hard and keep doing the things I need to do to prepare."