Georgia vs. Florida: Previewing Aaron Murray vs. Vernon Hargreaves

Brian Jones@Brian_L_JonesContributor IOctober 31, 2013

Oct 19, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray (11) drops back to hand off against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the first half at Vanderbilt Stadium. The Commodores beat the Bulldogs 31-27. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports
Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

After both Georgia and Florida having a bye last week, both teams are ready to get back on the field and try to take each other out on Saturday.

It has not been a good season for either team, but a win for either the Bulldogs or Gators would give them a chance to win the SEC East.

When it comes to a game like this, matchups play a huge role in the outcome of the game. And probably the biggest matchup not only in this game, but for any game in the country, could be when Aaron Murray goes up against Vernon Hargreaves.

Murray is one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC, while Hargreaves is making a name for himself at the cornerback position. Whoever comes out on top will give his team a chance to win and keep fighting to stay in the race for the Georgia Dome.

Here’s a closer look at each player.


Looking at Aaron Murray

The reason Murray wanted to return to Athens is to have one more shot at winning the SEC title.

With the losses to Missouri and Vanderbilt, that will be more of challenge than ever before. However, if the Bulldogs get some help and Murray plays like he has all season long, then the Bulldogs will return to Atlanta in December.

Murray is having another strong season, as he’s third in the SEC in passing average (277 yards per game), sixth in passing efficiency (154.4) and third in total offense (289.4 yards per game).

Murray has played his best in the “big games.” In the win against LSU, Murray threw for 298 yards and four touchdowns. In the game against South Carolina, Murray threw for 309 yards and four touchdowns.

But over the last three years, Murray has struggled against the Gators despite compiling a 2-1 record. Here’s a look at Murray’s stats against the Gators.

Aaron Murray's Career Stats vs. Florida

The one thing that Murray does well is spread the ball around, which will be key to beat the Gators secondary. Murray normally connects with eight different receivers a game and relies on them to make plays when their number is called.

What will help Murray in the game on Saturday is if Chris Conley and Michael Bennett will play, which is uncertain at this point.

Regardless, Murray realizes he has to play better in order to defeat the Gators. The last two games have been close, but Murray was able to make a play at the end of the game. Can he do the same thing this year?

Not if Hargreaves has something to say about it.


Looking at Vernon Hargreaves

The true freshman has played outstanding football all year, placing fourth in the conference in interceptions (three) and leading the conference in passes defended (10).

CBS Sports named Hargreaves to the Mid-Season All-American team, making him the only freshman to make the team. Hargreaves is also the only freshman to be named as a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award.

Oct 12, 2013; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers wide receiver Jarvis Landry (80) catches a pass as Florida Gators defensive back Vernon Hargreaves (1) during the first half of a game at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

What Hargreaves does well is that he is patient. He waits for the receiver to make his move and then he attacks. He is also very disciplined and rarely, if ever, gets beat deep.

Hargreaves will more than likely go up against Conley, which will be a very interesting matchup. Conley can stretch the field with his speed, and because the Bulldogs did not throw the ball deep against Vanderbilt last week, expect them to challenge Hargreaves and the rest of the secondary down the field.


Final Look

If Murray is a smart quarterback, he will stay away from Hargreaves. But his young receivers such as Reggie Davis and Jonathon Rumph will have to step up, assuming that Bennett and Conley can’t play.

But Hargreaves will do whatever he can to disrupt Murray and the Bulldogs offense, which has struggled to score points the last couple of weeks. If Hargreaves can make an early interception, he will set the tone for the Gators and give them a chance to win.

This has the makings to be the best one-on-one matchup in all the games going on in Week 10 of the regular season. Hargreaves is the new defensive sensation in the conference, while Murray is the offensive veteran that has seen and done it all. Who will come out on top?