This season I am writing the weekend recap of the top quarterback performances among Golden Arm Award candidates. The award only keeps track of senior players, so you won’t see any Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater or Braxton Miller talk here, but there are some really good quarterbacks out there to keep tabs on. My top five performers round-up will be posted every Monday by Athlon Sports, but I’ll share a quick thought here as well on the top performer.
This week the top honor went to Georgia’s Aaron Murray. Murray led the Bulldogs to a huge rebound victory at home n Saturday against a team that has been a bit of a nemesis for the program the last few years, South Carolina. Murray completed 17 of 23 pass attempts for 309 yards and four touchdowns, and he did it a number of ways. He used short passes to the outside with his running back waiting, he did so while moving to his left and throwing from an awkward motion while on the run both on short distance and long distance. Everything Murray attempted to do in the clutch just seemed to click, and after taking the brunt of the blame for a loss the previous week at Clemson, perhaps no player needed to shine on Saturday the way Murray did.
I have been a little critical of Murray’s career but overall recognize him as one of the top quarterbacks in the game. Murray takes criticism for not winning the big games, and the empirical evidence is there to support that argument. Georgia had lost the last three meetings against the Gamecocks until Saturday. Georgia has lost the last two SEC Championship Games (to Alabama in 2012 and LSU in 2011). However, to suggest Murray is incapable of winning a big game may get a tad overblown. Murray and Georgia have beaten Florida each of the past two seasons, their first back-to-back wins since winning three straight between 1987 and 1989. The Bulldogs have won each meeting with Georgia Tech since Murray arrived on campus, and you don’t exactly get to the SEC Championship game two years in a row without piling up wins in conference play so somewhere along the line Murray came through when needed to secure a spot in Atlanta.
The Clemson loss in the season opener did nothing but add fuel on the fire suggesting Murray is good but will never truly be great. That’s what we get in a world of hot sports takes and instant analysis. But if you take a step back and look at what Murray has done over his career you will see that he really is among the best at his position and worthy of respect. Two games are in the books, which means there are ten games left to play in the regular season, and I would expect Georgia to be playing at least one extra game on top of that. What Murray’s legacy will look like at the end will still be up in the air, and Georgia still has an opportunity to end Murray’s career on a high note.
For me, Murray was an easy pick for top performer among the Golden Arm Award candidates this season. See who else picked up my recognition this week at Athlon Sports.
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