- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
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Editor’s note: Each day between now and Georgia’s Capital One Bowl date with Nebraska, we will review the season for a key Bulldogs player and attempt to project what’s next. Today we’ll look at quarterback Aaron Murray.
No. 11 Aaron Murray
Junior, quarterback: 231-353, 3,466 yards, 31 TDs, 8 INTs
Role in 2012: In his third season as a starter, Murray skillfully guided Georgia’s offense to multiple school records and established himself as one of the top passers in SEC history.
The good: How good was this season for Murray? Not only did he become the first quarterback in SEC history to pass for 3,000-plus yards in three straight seasons, he ranked second nationally in passer rating (172.36) and passed Tennessee’s Peyton Manning for second in league history with his 90>th career touchdown pass. Murray’s expert leadership helped this season’s Bulldogs score more points than any team in UGA history.
The bad: Although he performed well in a loss to Alabama, Murray’s career results against top defenses remain the biggest source of criticism in an otherwise outstanding career. Murray struggled against South Carolina this season and threw three interceptions in the first half against Florida, but threw 15 touchdowns and just one interception since then. Had he completed a touchdown pass attempt in the final seconds against Alabama -- it was instead deflected and caught by Chris Conley inbounds at the 5 just before time expired -- those questions would no longer exist.
Crystal ball: Murray is another of the underclassmen who have a big decision to make once the season is over. The fourth-year junior has all the intangibles that NFL teams look for in a quarterback, but he does not have ideal height (6-foot-1) for his position. He’s probably not going to grow over the next year, but he also could benefit from returning and delivering composed performances against some of the strong teams on Georgia’s 2013 schedule.