By: Dan Hancock (@danhancock1978)
If the expression is true that football is a game of inches, then here are many playing the game at a natural disadvantage. The meaning is intended to be a reference of the forward progression of the football. In this media driven game, the game of inches can also refer to the measurement and perceived abilities of a player based on height and weight.
Because I blog for the SEC, I try not to show bias towards anyone school or player—although it’s pretty obvious that I don’t always stick to that rule. I guess I can claim allegiance, however, to my Jacksonville Jaguars. I mention this fact because the Jags are in obvious need of a quality quarterback. Not since the days of David Garrard have Jags fans felt confident in the man under center. Not since the days of Mark Brunell have the Jaguars felt completely confident in the team, as a whole. Having said this, I hear the constant noise about who, in this year’s draft class, is the best fit to fill the role of franchise quarterback.
The name most often noted is Teddy Bridgewater from Louisville. At this point in the season, he seems to be the one slotted for the Number 1 pick in next May’s NFL Draft. Why? I would like to say that the guy that is going to lead my team back to NFL relevance has earned that spot for a spectacular college career on a consistent basis and did so against the best of the best—regularly. The Louisville Cardinals list Teddy Bridgewater at 6-3, 196lbs. “Experts” claim that he has room to fill out to add a few more pounds to be better suited for the rigors of the NFL. Teddy has the benefit of always playing, seemingly, on a Thursday or Friday night so that he gets a lot of national attention. Fortunately, he has yet to lay an egg against the likes of Ohio, Eastern Kentucky, and Temple. Sure, Louisville beat Kentucky (27-13), but how much credit can we gave to that win?
I ask this question, not to beat down Mr. Bridgewater, but to ask someone reading this with more smarts than me why a guy who I liked a lot more coming into the season isn’t getting as much love. The thing these two both have in common is that they both beat the University of Florida last year. That’s about it. I give Aaron Murray a lot of credit for what he has done in his four season at Georgia. This year, he’s finally broken some pretty big records in his conference and has played at a high level in all four years. The supposed drawback to Murray is that he is “short.” He is two inches shorter than Bridgewater, although he’s 10 pounds heavier.
To compare other numbers, Murray has thrown 52 more college touchdowns than Bridgewater (112 to 60). Murray has also accounted for 4,196 more yards of offense than Bridgewater. In fairness, Bridgewater has played one less season than Aaron Murray. On his best year, Bridgewater wouldn’t match either one of those numbers. To be fair to Murray, he is also playing while being two inches shorter. Is that a valid argument now? What if Teddy was two inches taller? He’d be Zach Mettenberger. LSU’s QB is 6’5, 230lbs. His stats aren’t impressive enough to write down, but he is considered a winner and has a rising draft stack. Possibly more because he’s vertically gifted than physically talented.
So we’d prefer to say that Murray “just can’t win the big game,” as opposed to blame his height for his draft status. Sorry Peyton Manning, how was your record in college “in the big game?” (We won’t even ask about the NFL. That’s a favor from me to you). It’s a valid argument, I guess. I prefer that over the height argument. When I see Aaron Murray play, I see a guy with similar measurables and the same first name: Aaron Rodgers. I truly believe Aaron Murray, at the next level can be that good. In a discussion for another time, about how QBs can benefit from not starting right away and learning from a mentor like Rodgers (and Brunell) did under Brett Favre, I think that Murray in the appropriate system-like Green Bay—would be a great fit.
I hope the guy gets a shot. Do I want Aaron Murray to play for Jacksonville? Gosh no. He’s a Bulldog. Oh yeah…I can’t show bias. Sure, maybe he’d be good at Everbank too with Blackmon, Shorts, and Sanders. We’d just have to tell him it’s the Gator Bowl. Aaron has never lost in regulation there during the Florida-Georgia (yes, Florida-Georgia) game. In 2010, the Bulldogs won in overtime. I just thought of something. Can Murray declare next week for the Draft? The Gators haven’t beaten Georgia in awhile.
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