Key Matchup: Georgia QB Aaron Murray vs. South Carolina QB Connor Shaw
By Zach Crowl
The key matchup this week features two players that will not directly face each other on Saturday, but will have the greatest impact on the game for their respective teams. Georgia’s Aaron Murray has been crucial to the Bulldogs’ excellence so far this season, ranking third in the SEC in passing with 1,370 yards and 12 touchdowns thus far. However, he is far from a dual threat quarterback. When it comes to rushing, Murray is one of the worst in the nation, averaging negative eight yards per carry. This chink in Murray’s armor doesn’t seem to deter Georgia’s offense, however, which has yet to score under 41 points in a game this season. But statistics don’t fully represent Murray’s impact on the game. He’s a competent leader that keeps the Bulldogs’ offense running like a well-oiled machine. It will be interesting to see if Murray can stay calm and poised while facing one of the toughest defensive lines in the nation, especially without one of his most talented receivers. Michael Bennett went down on Tuesday during practice with an ACL injury and will be out for the rest of the season. Murray’s skill and leadership will be paramount to the Dawgs’ success.
Leading the offense for the Gamecocks is junior Connor Shaw. Shaw may not be as impressive on the stat sheets as Aaron Murray, but he has played just as well if not better. Shaw is the epitome of a dual threat quarterback. He does a brilliant job of recognizing when to escape the pocket, and is adept at creating positive outcomes out of broken plays. Shaw is averaging a little over four yards per rush this season and has passed for 571 yards and five touchdowns in four games, but his most impressive feat is his 89.3% completion rate over the past two games. This truly attests to his great decision-making and accuracy. Shaw will face a tough challenge this weekend against the Bulldogs’ secondary, so expect him to try to make plenty of plays with his legs.
Edge: Both Aaron Murray and Connor Shaw have proven their mettle this year, achieving quarterback ratings of over 170 so far this season. This matchup will boil down to which player can make better decisions under pressure. As excellent as the performance of both quarterbacks could be this weekend, Murray will outshine Shaw purely because of his arm strength and poise in the pocket.