When we compared Murray to David Greene back in May we noted that the protection and the rushing totals have a large effect on the quarterback's stats. This undoubtedly has been the case ever since Steve Spurrier invented the forward pass in Gainesville in the early 1990s.
In all seriousness, the "how talented is Murray" debate bounces between both ridiculous and understandable. I'm willing to bet that Murray is at the front of the line in terms of wanting more yards, big time wins and less turnovers. When push comes to shove and when the game is on the line, big time quarterbacks make big time decisions. Sometimes that's a check down for the tight end on a seam route. And other times its a ball thrown away (into the sideline's reserves) and living to punt the ball.
Recently, Seth Emerson broke down Murray's game performances against ranked opponents. You can see the article here and the statistical summary here. It all bears the point that Murray is but one player and it's the team that wins or loses. However, the quarterback is the one player that has the greatest opportunity to directly affect the outcome. Which is presumably why Bobo raised the bar.
To round out the whole argument, if Murray is to reach that level of efficiency then we should see:
- protection. And a top 5 SEC running game.
- better footwork. Murray can appear quite polished and in good rhythm early in a play's development. But too often, when time is needed, he either bogs down in his reads or has trouble deciding if he should run. Better footwork will deliver the ball more effectively while allowing for fewer negative plays.
- better decisions under pressure. His reads will be easier and the decisions to chunk the ball away will exceed those that end in costly turnovers.
- more designed runs. One way to slow down those linebackers is to give them more to think about after the ball is snapped. With greater depth at QB than in the previous two years we shouldn't be afraid to let Murray loose with his legs more often.
- a top 5 SEC running game. And protection.