I was arguing with someone I shouldn't be on a board I shouldn't be on, I have to do something to pass the time on 12 hour shifts at night, when I stumbled across something that goes against the grain when it comes to the numbers Murray put up last year. The basic question is did Murray put up most of his record setting numbers against weak defenses?
Well if you look at how good the teams he put up a lot of his numbers against they were not all that great. However if you go by where the teams finishing in passing defense he may have faced one of the most daunting schedules of any QB in the country. A quick trip over to cfbstats.com shows that UGA faced the following passing defenses:
USCe #2, UF #6, LSU #8, Mich State #11, UT #12, Vandy #18, UK #21, Ole Miss #22, Miss. State #27, GT 28, Boise State #43, AU #51, NMSU #82 and 1AA team Coastal Carolina.
By my count that is 10 out of 14 teams in the top 1/3 of defenses in the country against the pass. Only two teams, NMSU and CC, fall outside the top half of pass defenses in the country. Over a third of the teams he faced were in the top 12 in the country against the pass. Despite that he put up over 3000 yards and a UGA record 35 passing TD's. Take away the 8 TD's against the two defenses outside the top 1/2 of the country and he still sets the UGA record and leads the SEC in passing TD's. If you ask me that is a really good job against some pretty good defenses. He still has to do better in TD/INT ratio in the toughest games (9/6 in the 4 losses) but there is no way you can say he simply padded his numbers against weak defenses.
He will face that similiar slate this year but with these changes. In conference Miss State's 27th ranked pass defense for Missouri's 94th ranked pass defense. Out of conference Boise's 43rd for Buffalo's 36th (somehow I am not near as worried about Buffalo's defense as Boise's). Georgia Southern for Coastal Carolina is a wash. Finally NMSU's 82nd for Florida Atlantic's 59th ranked pass defense.
My biggest take for this year is that Georgia should get off to a better start, Buffalo for Boise, and that second game of the season against Missouri could be a huge day for Murray as he faces a defense that gave up 252 yards per game passing last year. Much has been made about Missouri's offense going up against a depleted UGA secondary. The opposite question should be asked, can Missouri's* defense hold up against Murray when every 1A team he played against last year had a better ranked pass defense?
*Footnote - Missouri returns only 6 starters off last year's team. The biggest place they might have been able to take advatage of UGA is in the trenches but they only return 1 starter along the DL.