Chan Gailey says the Bills are looking to develop a quarterback for the future but the Head Coach added he doesn't think its the "near future". Here's hoping Gailey's definition of the "near future" is limited to the remainder of the 2012 season.
This weekend, you have a chance to personally evaluate a quarterback who the Bills should consider for the future, if indeed he declares for the draft. Georgia's Aaron Murray will face Alabama in the SEC title game Saturday at 4pm.
Murray is a junior and has given no indication as to whether or not he will return for one final season with the Bulldogs or place his name in consideration for the 2013 NFL draft. At this point, Murray is not considered a first rounder by most draft experts but my guess is that would change if he has a big game against a very strong Crimson Tide defense.
I fired up the DVR this week and watched Georgia's game against in state rival Georgia Tech from last Saturday. There were a number of things to like about Murray although the game was a clear mismatch as the Bulldogs dominated the Yellow Jackets in a 42-10 victory.
Murray, who is listed at 6-1, 210 pounds, showed a strong arm, good accuracy, command of the offense(as a third year starter should) and solid recognition skills as he deciphered what the Yellow Jackets were showing. Murray's decision making was strong throughout the game as he led Georgia to touchdowns on six of their first seven possessions.
The Tampa, Florida native ran the no huddle extremely well and ran it at different tempos, sometimes getting the snap off very fast while other times using a few more seconds to see what the defense was showing and bark out instructions to his teammates. He operated with equal success out of the shotgun and under center.
On one first half drive he did miss what should have been an easy 20 yard touchdown because his pass was off target for a receiver by the goal line. Georgia still scored a touchdown on that drive and Murray came back on the very next possession and threw a perfect deep ball, traveling about 45 yards in the air. It went for a 63 yard gain and would have been an 85 yard touchdown but his receiver stumbled shortly after making the catch and was tackled.
Murray made nice plays on two other TD passes. The first coming on a play where he had to sprint to his left to avoid some pressure. Murray, the nation's leader in passing efficiency, turned back to his right so he could set and make a perfect throw to the left corner of the end zone.
In another instance, Murray showed good patience and poise in the pocket. He saw a favorable matchup with a tight end facing a safety and waited for the tight end to get some separation. Murray then led him perfectly on a 24 yard TD toss.
He also showed the ability to make throws outside the numbers with accuracy. Murray was also adept at getting the ball out on time although he didn't face much pressure because the Bulldogs offensive line dominated Georgia Tech's defensive line. There was only one time where Murray held on to the ball too long and took a sack.
His career in Athens, Georgia has been an impressive one. Murray is the first quarterback in SEC history to record three straight 3,000 yard passing seasons. He is 5th all time in the SEC in touchdowns(89) and pass yards (9,399). He's led the Bulldogs to back to back SEC East titles after a 6-7 season during his freshman year.
Murray made the SEC ALL Freshman team in 2010 after throwing for 24 touchdowns. In 2011, he was without stud receiver A.J. Green who left early for the NFL yet his touchdown total increased to 35 and he earned ALL SEC 2nd team honors.
One of the knocks on Murray was that he took too many chances. After throwing just 8 interceptions as a freshman, he was picked off 14 times in 2011. But this season, Murray has improved his decision making and isn't trying to force passes into tight windows. His interception total has dropped down to just 7.
Murray will also face questions about his size since he is 6-1 and that might be generous since teams have been know to fudge a bit with heights and weights. But remember that Drew Brees is only 6-0 and Seattle's rookie starter Russell Wilson is 5-11.
One other criticism is his performance in "big" games and thats why Saturday's SEC Championship game is so important. Murray was awful in last years SEC title matchup against LSU, going 16-40 for 163 yards, one touchdown and 2 interceptions.
In two key matchups this season, he did not fare well either. In the Bulldogs lone loss of the season, at South Carolina, Murray was 11-31, 109 yards, no TD's and 1 INT. Georgia beat arch rival Florida but Murray was only 12-24, 150 yards, 1TD and 3 INT's. Good news though as Murray has not been picked off since that game with the Gators.
He has never faced Alabama in his 3 year career and the Tide have one of the best defensive units in the country. A win and a strong performance could lead to Murray sky rocketing up the charts in a year where there are no clear cut, stars in the waiting in the collegiate quarterback crop.