After Boise State, Murray foresaw Georgia in SEC title game

Aaron Murray brings something to Georgia's offense far more important than statistics. (Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@ajc.com)

Aaron Murray brings something to Georgia's offense far more important than statistics. (Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@ajc.com)

ATHENS – Several weeks ago, when Georgia was looking like Liberty Bowl bait and Mark Richt was waiting for that first thrown rock through his office window, Aaron Murray did something rather unexpected. He prophesied an SEC championship game for the Bulldogs.

We can’t be certain if this should be attributed to Murray’s unwavering confidence or the fact that he had just been hit in the head 37 times by Boise State. But the sophomore quarterback walked out of the Georgia locker room after the Bulldogs had just laid a 35-21 egg against Boise State at the Georgia Dome to open the season, met up with his former high school coach and uttered these words: “Coach, we’re going to the SEC championship.”

At that point, Robert Weiner, Murray’s coach at Plant High School resisted temptations to alert medical personnel who might still in the Georgia Dome. He had seen this side of Murray before, like when the quarterback was sprawled on the field with an apparent broken ankle during his senior season at Plant and he told Weiner, “Get me ready for the second half.” (Didn’t happen. But Murray made it back from a four-month injury in seven weeks, in time for the playoffs.)

So how did Weiner respond to Murray’s comment?

“I just said, ‘Alright, Aaron,’” he said, laughing. “I wasn’t too sure. But I’ve seen what Aaron can do. With most people, you blow off a comment like that as blind optimism. But Aaron started going through the rest of the schedule with specifics on each game. He said, ‘You’re coming back here to the Georgia Dome at the end of the year to see us.’ I guess he was prophetic.”

Murray said he felt confident because he saw talent and heart. “We just weren’t ready for that game yet,” he said.

When asked about his prediction, he said, “Based on how we played that game, I would’ve thought I was crazy, too.”

One 10-game winning streak later, Bellevue is firmly in the rearview mirror.

The Bulldogs are 13-point underdogs to unbeaten LSU in Saturday’s SEC championship game. Murray is the X-factor. He has been great lately and he will have to be great against LSU because there’s no guarantee of a decent running attack with the hobbled Isaiah Crowell.

But his strength is his calm demeanor. At 0-2, the house was burning down and Murray was brushing the ashes off his jersey. All Georgia players get credit for not caving early, but the quarterback is the one in the middle of the huddle.

“I understand that even though I’m only a sophomore, there are players who are looking at me,” Murray said. “When you play the quarterback position you have to stay even-tempered.”

Weiner, who drilled that into him, said, “I never doubt two things about Aaron: His will to win and his ability to mobilize the people around him.”

That’s how football teams win 10 straight after losing two. The Dogs didn’t suddenly become faster or stronger. But they grew up and found ways to win. Murray battled some consistency problems earlier this season but leadership and resolve never were problems.

Said Richt, “If things are going rough and your quarterback spits the bit, you’re in big trouble. But if you can stand in a gap and stay strong and keep fighting, your quarterback can pull you out of a bad situation. Nobody questions Aaron’s toughness, mentally or physically. No one questions his dedication. He’s got everybody’s respect.”

Murray is likely to be a four-year starter. By the time he leaves Athens, he’ll likely own every career passing mark at the school. But he said earlier this week, “Championships [are] all that matters. My goal is to win a few while I’m here, and my first one, my first opportunity, is this weekend.”

The odds are long. But the odds were long on Georgia getting here. To most people, anyway.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter (@JeffSchultzAJC). Friend me on Facebook (Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC).

446 comments Add your comment

Prime time

November 29th, 2011
4:40 pm

TheTruthHurts

November 29th, 2011
4:44 pm

Murray was about the only one. Not to change the subject, but there are a lot of head coaching jobs out there now. I wonder how many Bobo will be interviewing for?

BigDawg

November 29th, 2011
4:46 pm

Go Dawgs! Bobo got better this year, but Mark Richt can call the plays if he leaves.

atlantainsight

November 29th, 2011
4:47 pm

Murray is a great QB, maybe 1 more year after this at UGA.

ATL Insight Sports Blog | Analyzing Paul Johnson – http://bit.ly/atlblog

Boise Dawg

November 29th, 2011
4:50 pm

Not too crazy when you consider Boise State beat Oregon to start the 2009 season. Guess what… Oregon wins the PAC-10. Boise State then beats Va Tech to start the 2010 season. Guess what… Va Tech wins the ACC Coastal division and then wins the ACC. Boise State beats Georgia to start the 2011 season…. I am starting to see a pattern here.

If you want to win a conference title, schedule Boise State for your opener. Look out BIG conference, I think Michigan State opens with Boise in 2012.

schultz for brains

November 29th, 2011
4:50 pm

Schultz, That is two consecutive articles without negative UGA bias, back handed bashing or sneaky criticism. That streak might be more monumental than UGA’s 10 win streak! If you do three I might have to drop the handle, if only momentarily.

Sic’em

Preston

November 29th, 2011
4:50 pm

I think Bobo looks better because CMR is actually calling a lot of the plays this year.

Snoop Dawg

November 29th, 2011
4:51 pm

To keep getting better, we need a new OC for next year and we need to let Richt go at the end of his current contract.

Preston

November 29th, 2011
4:51 pm

The only one’s he’s (Bobo) calling are the Carlton Thomas up the middle. lol

Alphare

November 29th, 2011
4:52 pm

Coach Weiner must be thinking something else after dawgs lost to SC the week after.

Of course, he can brag about whatever he wants now, in a way he likes.

Preston

November 29th, 2011
4:54 pm

Snoop, people were saying the same thing about Les Miles a year or two ago. They’re eating their words now just like a lot of UGA fans. Me included.

sam

November 29th, 2011
4:54 pm

Loving Murray more and more. Atlantainsight–I do not hear the NFL folks clamoring for Murray. He might make it, but if so he will do so as an underdawg (get it?). Bobo will need a few more years like this one to be considered for anything other than a FCS school IMHO.

Preston

November 29th, 2011
4:55 pm

I agree with the OC need though. Richt needs to call his own again or hire a new one that’s proven.

DawginLex

November 29th, 2011
4:55 pm

Bobo looks better because the defense is stopping people and we don’t have to play arena ball like with willie martinez

Preston

November 29th, 2011
4:57 pm

Murray is a winner at the HS and FBS level but not tall enough for the pros. You don’t see any Doug Flutie’s in the league any more.

DawginLex

November 29th, 2011
4:57 pm

i’m pretty sure the article is not about anyone bragging but is about Murray believing in his team

Of course an alabama fan will spin it in a negative way

True SEC East Champs

November 29th, 2011
4:58 pm

“Murray foresaw Georgia in SEC Title Game” Really?? What did he see regarding the game the following week against South Carolina? I recall Murray serving up a few TDs via Int & Fumble. SMH

USC Gamecocks are 9-0 vs Bama, UGA, Florida, Tennessee & Clemson in the past two years!!

merbertmoover

November 29th, 2011
4:58 pm

Why does everyone say UGA got “lucky” with their scheduling?

Maybe LSU and bama got really really lucky with scheduling this year because they avoided the two toughest teams in the SEC East – UGA and S.Car…..

Durrty Dogg

November 29th, 2011
4:59 pm

I can’t understand why people are shocked. I honestly predicted we would be right where we are. In fact, I made a bet with my friend who is a loyal UGA basher. Thanks for the 40 bucks partner! It was not hard to predict. Our schedule sucked. The only problem I saw was of course the Florida game. Only because we seem to get in a weird funk when we play them. But if you look at it, we could have easily been 11-1. I honestly thought our record would be that at the end of the year.

What bothers me most is reading comments about our coaches leaving. What? That doesnt make any sense at all. This is the first year in a few seasons that we actually are trying to become relevant again. Why would any coach leave? Once we have won and established ourselves as a national power, which will happen in the next couple of years, then I can see them moving on. But not now. Its too much work to do.

Dawg48

November 29th, 2011
5:02 pm

Dan mullen is the top pick for Penn st.
Keep up the good work dawgs!

ARdawg

November 29th, 2011
5:02 pm

ViningDawg

November 29th, 2011
5:04 pm

Like the QB attitude… And I like the Dawgs having a chance. Stuff LSU run game, and Murray tosses it like a artisan pizza!

Preston

November 29th, 2011
5:04 pm

They had better wrap CTG up contractually ASAP! The D is the primary reason we’re in this thing. We haven’t seen defense like this since CBVG and we all know what we went through for a while after he was lured away. He says he loves Athens but wants a contract extension so we better give it to him before someone else sweetens the pot.

Dawg48

November 29th, 2011
5:04 pm

Coach friend deserves a lot of credit also has the OLine playing well and it’s good to see Dallas lee back practicing.

harold

November 29th, 2011
5:05 pm

UGA WILL GET ABUSED SATURDAY. LSU IS NFL LIKE. THIS GAME WILL BE A MASSACURE. UGA MAY NOT EVEN SCORE A TD

Lord

November 29th, 2011
5:05 pm

LOL @ this article

SimpleDawg

November 29th, 2011
5:06 pm

I guess I have to take back the disparaging things I said about him earlier in the year.

Being wrong isn’t necessarily a rare occurrence for me, but being this happy about being wrong is.

Go Dawgs!

gspot

November 29th, 2011
5:07 pm

UGA is odds on favorite to beat LSU and be in the NCG this year!!! Or so say the UGA bandwagon riders.

Preston

November 29th, 2011
5:07 pm

Harold, I’m copying your post to throw it back at you Saturday! UGA’s got something for LSU’s ass! Bet on it!

Preston

November 29th, 2011
5:10 pm

gspot, you go too far with the ncg stuff! lol

Virginia DAWG

November 29th, 2011
5:10 pm

Why can’t people give Bobo any credit. You don’t put a QB in position to throw 34 TD passes by not coaching well in practice and during the games. Look what he did without any RBs to speak of. You might as well accept the fact that he is not going to get released as long as we have seasons like this last one. Wasn’t Malzon (sp) considered an offensive genius last year….so what happened this year. Your players execution often makes the coach look like a winner or loser.

Finebalm

November 29th, 2011
5:10 pm

I see a MNC this year for the DAWGS

Preston

November 29th, 2011
5:14 pm

Virginia Dawg, his play calling is terribly predictable and sometimes laughable. Carlton Thomas running up the middle multiple times in one game? Are you kidding me? I’m convinced that CMR has been calling a LOT of the plays lately.

The Wad

November 29th, 2011
5:16 pm

Gotta give CMR and company credit. They pulled it off when most everybody said it couldn`t be done. I said yesterday the Dawgs have a 10% chance at LSU. Today I`m up to 40%. By Friday I expect my brain will start functioning again and it will be back down to 10%. But this is why we play the games. GO DAWGS! Be proud of Richt and this year they put together.

StevoDeg

November 29th, 2011
5:16 pm

@Preston, Ever heard of Drew Brees? He’s 6-1 and he seems to be doing okay in the NFL

gspot

November 29th, 2011
5:17 pm

Preston – I was being sarcastic – UGA will get punched in the mouth like USC (south) did last year.

Preston

November 29th, 2011
5:17 pm

Finebalm, UGA had better learn how to play like this for an entire season to play for NC’s again. Early losses in 07′ and this year have proven very costly. If we played SC or Boise right now, we win big. I don’t know if it’s pre-season preparation or what but UGA just gets better as they go through the season instead of playing strong all year.

5150 UOAD

November 29th, 2011
5:19 pm

It doesn’t take a Magazine Major from UGA to see a loss to LSU in the Dome. UGA might get a shot at Houston in the bowl game. It will be just like 07. UGA can take a preseason #1 into 2012 after beating the Hawaii (houston) of 2011.

Preston

November 29th, 2011
5:20 pm

StevoDog, he’s a rare exception. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pulling for him but his NFL chances are slim to none because they have him listed at 6′ or 6′1″ but even that’s inflated a little. Who knows though?

Joey

November 29th, 2011
5:20 pm

“Several weeks ago, when Georgia was looking like Liberty Bowl bait…”
**************************************
Haha, boy that grabbed me, JS.

Funny, with just a pinch of smartass!

Classic Shultz . . .

Preston

November 29th, 2011
5:21 pm

5150, were you just on the ESPN blog? Someone on there said EXACTLY the same thing over there. lol

Dawg1

November 29th, 2011
5:24 pm

Snoop – your dreaming. CMR get’s a 5 year extension. Grantham gets 3 to 5. And that is that…

Harold – an your team is? Got to love the trolls…

5150 UOAD

November 29th, 2011
5:27 pm

no just on here PRESTON

Joey

November 29th, 2011
5:28 pm

I know one thing, Murray is tough.

He’s gonna need it every ounce of that toughness Saturday.

Dawg48

November 29th, 2011
5:28 pm

5150
We might fool you, we just might fool you!
Don’t count us out yet.

Dawg48

November 29th, 2011
5:30 pm

5150
Did you here Dan mullen is the top pick for Penn st as head coach?

@5150 uoad

November 29th, 2011
5:34 pm

Loser tech fan needs to go to loser tech blog ,didn’t you predict losses to tech , auburn ,Miss. state ,tenn, and florida, should change your name to nostradamus 5150.

5150 UOAD

November 29th, 2011
5:34 pm

Dawg48……..Either team Can Win. Question is will UGA? I just don’t think UGA can last 4 quarters with LSU.

5150 UOAD

November 29th, 2011
5:36 pm

48 no way. I would take the job for the money, but man is it going to be a hard job for a few years.

chilidawg

November 29th, 2011
5:37 pm

Stop yelling, Harold. We can hear in lower case.