June 17, 2010

Murray out to earn teammates' respect

For Georgia fans who try to picture what it will be like watching Aaron Murray lead the Bulldogs onto the field for their first drive in the season-opener against Louisiana-Lafayette, guess what?

Murray does, too.

"I've pretty much envisioned all the games that we play next year. I've thought about every team, pictured every stadium before I go to bed at night just thinking about my goals for each and every game," Murray said during an interview Thursday inside Georgia's Butts-Mehre Building. "I've definitely envisioned all those games, although I'm sure it's not going to be anything like I thought when I'm actually out there in front of 90,000-plus people. But I'm definitely excited about it."

It's been almost two and half months since head coach Mark Richt put Murray atop the post-spring depth chart, and barring something unforeseen will be the starter when the Bulldogs open the season Sept. 4 against Louisiana-Lafayette.

But Murray said he's taking nothing for granted.

"It was definitely was nice to hear that I was listed No. 1 but I've got to keep working and act like I've still got something to prove, which I do," said Murray, who worked out with personal trainer Jody Johnson when he went home to Tampa in May. "I feel ready to take on the challenge but now I need to step up into my position, try to earn that leadership role and see where I can go from here."

Right now, earning the respect of his teammates is Murray's biggest goal.

Be it in 7-on-7 drills with Bulldog backs and receivers, or film sessions with members of the offensive line, Murray said he's doing whatever he can to earn his teammates' respect.

"It's not going to be given to me and I'm not going to earn it in just a week or two. It's going to take some time just because we've got a senior group; we've got a bunch of seniors who are also leaders on this team," he said. "I just have to go out there and be me, not try to be someone I'm not. I've got to find my way to motivate people, figure out ways to push them to do things they didn't think they could do. Again, it's not going to come over a week or two, it's going to take some time to better understand the guys, better understand what I can say to certain guys to motivate them. I really hope to make strides in that category."

Right tackle Josh Davis has been impressed, noting that Murray has gone above the call when it comes to making points with the rest of his offensive mates.

"It's good to have a strong O-line, two backs who can run the ball and take pressure off of him, but he's stepping up to the challenge tremendously in my opinion," Davis said. "He's putting in the work, he's doing his best to lead because quarterback is a leadership position and Aaron's working his butt off every day to get it done - everyday. I told him(Thursday) we were doing run fundamentals today and said he wanted to come out and do handoffs with the running backs just because he wanted to work. He's doing well."

Murray is the only non- starter back on offensive for the Bulldogs.

Along with the entire offensive line, the Bulldogs also return running backs Caleb King and Washaun Ealey, coupled with experienced tight ends and A.J. Green on the outside at receiver, a fact Murray said makes his job as quarterback much easier than it otherwise would be.

"I think it takes the pressure off just because I can rely on those guys. We're not going to go into games where the whole game is on my shoulders to win," Murray said. "I know I've got to make some plays too, but Coach (Mike) Bobo always jokes with me, 'You're going to be what Matthew Stafford in 2007 when we won the Sugar Bowl because you're going to have to show me what we can do, gradually get more trust with the offense.' It's nice to have those guys around me that I can rely on to make plays where I don't have to be a superstar game in and game out."

If Murray needs an ear to bend he doesn't have far to go.

Former Bulldog quarterback Matthew Stafford has made himself available to Murray, as has David Greene, who plans sit down with the redshirt freshman to go over some of the finer points of the game.

Former NFL quarterback Brad Johnson has also lent his expertise and offered his advice on how to deal with some of the distractions that will inevitably come Murray's way.

"Last weekend, I had a little workout with Brad Johnson. I wanted to work with him a little bit and he gave me some great advice," Murray said. "He said people are going to be asking you to do this and that, go to this event, go to that. He told me it's whatever Aaron Murray is comfortable with and you can't please everyone. In the end, you've got to take advice from everybody, maybe take some from me, maybe take some from Coach Bobo and make it into your own thing."

Murray, who missed almost six weeks last year while recovering from elbow tendinitis, said he is 100 percent and there are absolutely no problems with his shoulder or arm.

However, to make sure there aren't any future problems, Bulldog team trainers continue to conduct weekly shoulder maintenance workouts with the quarterback.

"Track guys run to get their legs in shape. Well, I do this to get my arm in shape so I'm capable of lasting a whole season. This is my tool," said Murray, pointing to his right arm. "Other positions have different tools and different exercises they need to do in order to make sure their bodies are in great shape for the season. My tool is my right arm so I've got to make sure it's in great shape heading into the season so it's able to endure the punishment that a full season puts on it."

Murray is also giving tips to freshman Hutson Mason. With Logan Gray potentially moving to wide receiver, Mason could well be the No. 2 quarterback and Murray's doing his best to make sure the former Lassiter star learns the system as quick as he can.

"It's just like it was with me, it's going to be a learning curve picking up the playbook but he's willing to put in the time. I'll make up little quizzes to see what they can do on the field and he's picking things up pretty good," Murray said. "I'm pretty much in charge of him this year and his learning progress, so I'm going to help him as much as I can. I think Coach Bobo is going to be very happy with his learning progress and what he knows so far."

Murray admitted it's a little odd that he's teaching someone else consider he's yet to take a collegiate snap himself.

"It's weird, because I'm still learning the playbook. I know it pretty well but there are still a couple of things to ingrain in my mind," he said. "I feel the more I teach them the better I am to learn the offense. If you're able to teach it, then it really shows how much you learn so not only is it beneficial to him, it's beneficial to me."

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