Georgia Football: Is Aaron Murray or Todd Gurley More Important to the Offense?

Brian JonesContributor IOctober 10, 2013

Dec 1, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray (11) and running back Todd Gurley (3) celebrate after a touchdown during the fourth quarter of the 2012 SEC Championship game at the Georgia Dome.  Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

With the injures the Georgia Bulldogs have suffered this season, they will need their leaders to step up in a big way moving forward.

One of the leaders is running back Todd Gurley, who is currently nursing an ankle injury. He did not play in the Tennessee game, but has a chance to return on Saturday against Missouri.

The other leader is obviously quarterback Aaron Murray, who has played outstanding football since the loss to Clemson. He was the reason the Bulldogs were able to slide past Tennessee in overtime, as he orchestrated a game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter.

So the question is, who’s is more important to the Dawgs offense?

That can be a tricky question. The obvious answer is Murray because he’s the quarterback and the one that makes the offense go. But Gurley has been such an impactful player for the Bulldogs that having him in the lineup is essential for Georgia if it is to win a national title.

What Murray has been able to do on the field in the wake all of Georgia's injuries has been extraordinary. He is third in the SEC in total offense (321.4 yards per game), leads the conference in passing yards per game (306.8) and is second in the conference in passing touchdowns (14). He now holds the SEC’s career mark in passing yards and is only a few scores away from becoming the conference's all-time leader in passing touchdowns.

In a year when the defense is struggling, the offense has to play at a high level in order to for Georgia to win consistently. That has been the Bulldogs' M.O. from the beginning. The defense has surrendered 32 points per game so far this season, so Georgia's offense has had to score a lot of points in order for the Bulldogs to win.

Led by Murray, the offense has been able to do that, averaging 39 points and 530 yards per game. The Bulldogs have been especially good through the air, averaging 315 passing yards per game.

Oct 6, 2012; Columbia, SC, USA; Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray (11) hands off to Georgia Bulldogs running back Todd Gurley (3) n the first half of the game at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

The reason that Murray is so dangerous is that he likes to spread the ball around. Out of the 14 touchdown passes he has thrown, eight players have at least one TD reception. He seems to always try to get seven to eight players involved in the passing game each week, and he is not shy about throwing the ball down the field.

Murray has developed into a complete college quarterback, and he is proving himself ready to take the Bulldogs to the next step.

But there will be a time when Murray will struggle, and the running game will have to play at a high level to compensate. Despite losing to Clemson, Gurley was able to rush for 154 yards and two touchdowns. And despite not playing in the Tennessee game as well as missing three quarters of the LSU game, Gurley is third in the conference in average yards per game (112). He has also scored four touchdowns.

Gurley has the speed, strength and balance that keeps a defense on its toes. He is tough to bring down, as he is always fighting for extra yards. Just like Murray, Gurley has the ability to make a big play at any given point of a ball game, so the Bulldogs can’t wait to see him back on the field.

There is still a lot of football left to be played, and the Bulldogs offense needs to keep firing on all cylinders for the team to have a successful season. This also means that Murray and Gurley will each have to be on top of his game all year.

So who’s more important to the Bulldogs offense? With Gurley injured, Murray holds the title. But both players are vital if Georgia wants to hold the crystal ball in January.