Aaron Murray enters the weekend with a school-record 32 touchdown passes, well ahead of the 25 Matthew Stafford threw for Georgia three seasons ago. He ranks 14th nationally in passer efficiency, having completed 61 percent of his passes and thrown only 10 interceptions.
When the All-Southeastern Conference team is released next week, the sophomore from Tampa, Fla., could very well fulfill his preseason status as the league’s top quarterback.
Does any of it concern him?
Not a bit, Murray said.
“Winning championships is all that matters,” he said. “When people talk about stats or this and that, I think the biggest stat is how many championships you’ve won. My goal is to win a few while I’m here.”
He will have his first shot Saturday when he leads the Bulldogs against LSU in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.
Georgia is making its first trip to the game since 2005.
“I do think as a quarterback, you’re judged on championships,” Murray said.
In a season of SEC football marked by upheaval at the quarterback position, Murray has been one of the league’s few constants.
Against Florida, he led Georgia back from a 17-3 deficit, completing a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes in the 24-20 win. Against Georgia Tech, he threw for 252 yards and four touchdown passes in a 31-17 triumph, carrying the load for an offense that played without its top two running backs.
Murray threw for a career-high 326 yards against Vanderbilt. He tied a school record for touchdown passes in a single game with five against New Mexico State.
All the while, he has helped Georgia piece together 10 straight wins on the heels of an 0-2 start.
“There’s been some moments in time when he hasn’t played as good as we would like. But I like what he’s done all season long,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “You wish your quarterback would be hot as a firecracker every time he drops back and throws it. I don’t know if anybody is that accurate.”
Like a good point guard, Murray gets everyone involved.
A dozen Bulldogs have caught at least one touchdown pass this season. Six have caught three or more.
LSU coach Les Miles called Murray a “more headsy, more confident” version of Arkansas junior Tyler Wilson, the only quarterback in the SEC who has thrown for more yards.
“I don’t think there’s any question a guy in this game should be considered for all-conference honors, and certainly a guy that’s meant as much to his team as Aaron Murray has to Georgia,” Miles said.
The arrival of the Bulldogs as an SEC title contender may be a bit of a surprise given their ominous 0-2 start. The arrival of Murray as an all-conference candidate certainly is not.
Murray, 6-foot-1, 211 pounds, earned Parade All-America recognition as a senior at Plant High after leading the school to a pair of state championships and completing a Hillsborough County-record 84 career touchdown passes.
When the starting job opened at Georgia following the 2009 season, Murray was in a battle with Zach Mettenberger to win the job, but had a clear path to the position after Mettenberger (now at LSU) was dismissed from the team for off-field issues.
Murray didn’t disappoint.
One of the few bright spots in a 6-7 finish, he passed for 3,049 yards and 24 touchdowns, picking up Freshman All-America recognition along the way.
A year later, he entered his sophomore season as the quarterback on the SEC’s preseason all-conference first team.
He may end up right where he started.
But as the Bulldogs prepare to face LSU seeking their first league title in six years, Murray said postseason honors are the furthest thing from his mind.
“This is a goal that, as a team, we set since January - to be able to make it to Atlanta to compete for an SEC championship,” he said. “There’s no other conference championship game like this. This is the big one. I’m not concerned about the accolades. I’m just worried about getting a victory this weekend and getting an SEC championship for the University of Georgia.”