Georgia QB Murray needs to keep emotions intact

Freshman quarterback Aaron Murray will need to check his

emotions before Georgia’s opener Saturday.

Here’s his plan: Slow country music on the headphones. Maybe add

in a few quiet jam songs, but nothing over-the-top before he goes

on the field.

”I get extremely pumped up,” Murray said. ”It’d be a great

thing if I was on defense and I was trying to take someone’s head

off, but offensive-wise, you want to be a little more mellow.”

Murray knows his eager tendencies will hardly serve the No. 23

Bulldogs well. Louisiana-Lafayette might seem like a pushover to

most Georgia fans, but Murray hasn’t taken a snap in a game since

helping Plant High School of Tampa, Fla., win a 2008 state

title.

The Bulldogs and Ragin’ Cajuns kick off at 12:21 p.m. as Sanford

Stadium hosts its 58th consecutive sellout under coach Mark

Richt.

For Murray to succeed, he likely will need to get the ball out

of the pocket quickly and avoid contact. After Zach Mettenberger

behaved his way off the team in April, Murray moved to No. 1 at a

position that has a true freshman, Hutson Mason, listed No. 2 and a

quarterback-turned-receiver-turned-swingman in Logan Gray at No.

3.

Depth is a major concern, but Mettenberger’s dismissal forced

Murray to mature quickly.

”It made me step up and take that leadership role,” Murray

said. ”Logan had moved to receiver. Zach was gone. The young guys

hadn’t come in yet. I was really the only guy. It was my job. I had

to step up and make sure I was doing all the right things.”

Richt and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo will help Murray

manage his first game by keeping the play-calling simple.

That plan worked well in 2001 when David Greene was a redshirt

freshman quarterback with no college experience. Four years later,

Greene left Georgia as the NCAA’s career leader in wins with

42.

”You are better off starting slow and repping him over and over

and over with (a) smaller package,” Richt said. ”And then

hopefully he’ll have success and you can kind of grow as you go.

That’s what I’ve learned and tried to help him understand.”

Murray has watched abundant film of Greene’s freshman season.

Greene was a left-hander and tended to scramble to the left side

when avoiding pressure. Murray will run the other way most likely,

but he doesn’t resemble a hard-throwing gunslinger like Matthew

Stafford, who left Georgia after his junior year to become the

NFL’s No. 1 overall draft pick.

As Richt says, the temptation for inexperienced quarterbacks is

to attempt a completion at all costs. Doing so often leads to

mistakes.

Stafford’s unpredictability as a freshman often made Richt

cringe. Like Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears, Stafford seemed to

think his arm strength could fit a pass into any spot, regardless

of tight coverage.

”Greene was really the only one who went through it unscathed,

or close to unscathed” as a freshman, Richt said. ”He was very

disciplined in what he did. Stafford wanted to make plays. He was

about doing great things. Guys with that kind of arm strength and

that kind of ability can’t help themselves sometimes. If you look

at Stafford, we struggled with him. At the end of (his freshman)

year, when he quit turning it over, we won.”

It appears Murray has more football skills and athleticism than

his predecessor, Joe Cox, who had the flu last year when Georgia

lost at Oklahoma State and dropped to 8-1 in openers under

Richt.

Cox was a senior and a decent leader, but he struggled at times

to connect with All-SEC receiver A.J. Green and never benefited

from a consistently strong running game.

Green is still one of the nation’s best threats, but starting

tailback Washaun Ealey is suspended for the opener, which leaves

Caleb King as the top option in the backfield.

Murray just wants to be even-keel emotionally.

”I wouldn’t say that I get nervous,” he said. ”I would say

that I get more juiced up. I get really excited, and I need to take

that down a notch.”