Commentary

Murray frustrated by deep misses

Georgia QB believes he and Tavarres King were close to several big gains at UT

Updated: October 12, 2011, 4:38 PM ET
By David Ching | DawgNation

ATHENS, Ga. -- If Aaron Murray could improve upon anything from his performances thus far, it would be his passing accuracy.

In particular, Georgia's quarterback wishes he had been just a bit sharper on a few deep throws -- such as the three balls to Tavarres King last week against Tennessee that barely missed their target.

[+] EnlargeMichael Bennett and Malcolm Mitchell
Dale Zanine/US PresswireFreshman WR Michael Bennett cracked wise about why he hasn't caught any deep balls.
"If you go watch the film, it's right there a couple times," Murray said. "It's close. It's sad how close. I wish it was even farther than how close it was. But it's something we've got to continue working on, he and I."

The sophomore actually has come within inches of connecting on several deep balls, and not just last week against Tennessee, although the near misses to King might have been the most painful.

"We worked on it for a while yesterday in practice," Murray said Tuesday. "T.K. and I are going to be working on that post all week, so hopefully we get our timing around those deep passes. It's a tough one, but I know if we connect on a couple of them, with his speed and his route-running ability, I know we can break some big gains."

Seven Georgia players already have a catch of at least 25 yards this season, but those seven don't include Michael Bennett -- the team's fourth-leading receiver with 11 catches for 101 yards -- whose longest reception covered 19 yards.

That is not because he hasn't been open, said Bennett, who leaned on his comedic chops to explain the problem.

"I was open a few times in the game, and Aaron didn't see me because he's like 5-6," Bennett said with a laugh. "But it's all right. We'll get that figured out. I'm just glad to be on the field and playing."

Linebacker shuffle Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham estimated that Chase Vasser played 80 percent of the downs at outside linebacker against Tennessee in place of Cornelius Washington, who is serving a two-game suspension for a DUI arrest.

Vasser said he was pleased with his overall performance against the Volunteers, but that he messed up on a couple of defensive calls and could have executed his assignments more quickly.

"I feel like I need to come off the ball a little quicker," Vasser said. "I know I had the tight end, so I was kind of hesitant to see if he was releasing or coming out at me. So when he released, you could tell I would start stepping in to jam him, and then I'd get up field."

Washington's absence also created the first substantial playing time for freshman Ray Drew, who played mostly in pass rush situations and received a passing grade from Grantham.

"I think Ray did a solid job," Grantham said. "I think Ray's going to be a guy that, the more comfortable he gets, the more things slow down mentally for him. ... I think as he gets to playing fast, he's going to flash."

Vandy memories Georgia coach Mark Richt opened his Tuesday news conference with an exaggeration that he quickly corrected.

Of his team's upcoming trip to Vanderbilt, Richt said, "I have a lot of wonderful experiences at Vanderbilt," before pausing and adding, "I'm being facetious there."

One might look at Richt's 9-1 record against the Commodores -- 5-0 in Nashville -- and assume that Georgia's coach would have little problem with visiting Vanderbilt Stadium.

But Richt remembers having to battle for some of those wins -- and none was more difficult than the 20-17 victory in 2007, when Georgia trailed 17-7 at halftime, saw Vanderbilt tie it at 17, then recovered a fumble at its own 7 in the game's closing minutes and had to drive for the game-winning field goal as time expired.

"I can't tell you how many times we've been at halftime just wondering what's going on," Richt said.

Injury update Richt said receiver Rantavious Wooten has not returned to practice yet because of lingering symptoms from a concussion suffered in a car wreck three weeks ago.

"We keep waiting for all the symptoms of the concussion to go away, where we can start to exert him physically and see how he responds to that before he even gets to practice," Richt said. "We're still in stage one, trying to get to where he's asymptomatic, and he's not there right now."

Tight end Arthur Lynch (undisclosed injury) practiced in a green no-contact jersey Tuesday. Linebacker Alec Ogletree (foot) was also in green and worked on the side with Georgia's director of sports medicine, Ron Courson.

David Ching covers University of Georgia sports for DawgNation. He can be reached at davidchingespn@gmail.com.