MACON - Somewhere, inside a darkened film room, Kris Durham figures quarterback Aaron Murray is hard at work preparing for the upcoming campaign.
"Aaron is an extremely intense guy," Durham said. "He works extremely hard and has really taken on the leadership role with this team. In fact, he's one of the best leaders I've been around. He's such a fiery competitor who I think is going to bring a new energy to this offense."
That's certainly what head coach Mark Richt is counting on.
It's been almost two months since Richt put the Tampa native atop the depth chart, and although Murray has not officially been tabbed the starter for the season-opener against Louisiana-Lafayette, there's no reason to think he won't be.
But Richt warns not to expect Murray to be Superman right out of the gate. There's going to be a learning curve.
"I think he's a tremendous prospect, an outstanding prospect and is a student of the game. But there are certain things you can't be good at unless you do them in a game. You can't simulate national TV, you can't simulate whoever we play on the schedule, so along the way there's going to be bumps in the road," Richt said. "But the fact that he's surrounded by veteran players should hopefully help that."
Time will tell.
Georgia returns 10 starters on offense, a fact Richt believes will greatly benefit Murray, particularly early in the year.
"I think he'll do fine if he doesn't try to do it all and just manages the game well," Richt said. "Those are the things we're asking him to do and minimize the plays that start out poorly. As long as he just respects the game, he'll be fine."
Richt said he and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo will do everything possible to ensure Murray gets off to a successful start.
"If we can get him started on the right foot, gaining some confidence, let him grow in increments he will be OK. We don't want to throw too much on him that he'll be drowning," Richt said. "But he's a leader.
He was the leader of his high school program, he understands 'Team,' he understands work and he understands winning. Yeah, it's a whole new level, but he's got the foundation for being a really good leader."
Richt said the fact that Murray is getting the opportunity to lead the team during summer drills will be important to his development.
"I do think it's good for Aaron to know he's the leader of this group for the summer because it will give him the opportunity to take charge and I really believe our veterans will rally around him," Richt said. "It's really an important time for him."
Richt also wants Murray to just be himself.
Because he was such a highly-recruited player, some have attempted to make comparisons to former Bulldog quarterback Matthew Stafford, when actually the similarities are few and far between.
Richt said there is one advantage that Murray has over the current Detroit Lions QB.
"Matthew had one spring before he got the chance to play, Aaron's going to have two springs, two camps and one summer between them to work," Richt said. "I think Aaron has more time under his belt, he's a got a little bit longer knowing he's the No. 1 man, so the transition may be a little easier."
Richt's going to be taking a personal interest in Murray's development.
As he indicated several months ago, Richt will be sitting in for all the quarterback meetings with Bobo, making sure he's in tune with every aspect of Murray's development as he moves forward in his Bulldog career.
"No. 1, I missed it (working with quarterbacks), I missed being in those meeting rooms. That's what I've done for 20-something years. The other thing was because we were about to make a quarterback decision again and I wanted to be in every single meeting and hear everything that Mike told them, and know exactly what was expected of them on a daily basis," Richt said. "The other thing is I hope I can add value to the room. I've been coaching quarterbacks a long time, offense for a long time, and I just want to be able to add anything I can to help us win."
...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!