Short takes: Murray, defense rebound; freshmen shine

Tavarres King goes up for a 75-yard touchdown from Aaron Murray, one of five scores thrown by the Georgia quarterback. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Tavarres King goes up for a 75-yard touchdown from Aaron Murray, one of five TDs from the quarterback. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

I’ll be back with my column on Georgia’s win over Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl shortly. Until then, here are my three “short takes” on the game.

1. Defense underperforms but rebounds: When the season began, we were led to believe that Georgia’s defense was stuffed with several potential NFL players. If that’s true, the Bulldogs underperformed in several games. They were missing two linemen Tuesday (nose guard John Jenkins was academically ineligible; end Abry Jones was out with an ankle injury). But even then, Todd Grantham’s defense too often looked undisciplined (leading to breakdowns and penalties) and was shredded for far too many big plays. However, like in some other games, Georgia’s D made some big plays when it mattered most: Alec Olgetree forced a fumble at the Dogs’ 37, and Damian Swann had two interceptions. Nebraska, after scoring 31 points in the first 2½ quarters, was shut out the rest of the game.

2. Aaron Murray’s mixed performance: He threw a Georgia bowl-record five touchdown passes, but he probably left NFL scouts thoroughly confused. He threw interceptions on two of the Bulldogs’ first three possessions and completed only 11 of 24 passes to start the game, misfiring with open receivers. Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said afterward Murray looked unsettled. But to his credit, Murray responded well to the adversity, as illustrated when he followed a first-quarter pick-six with a 75-yard touchdown pass to Tavarres King on the next play from scrimmage. Before two late-game incompletes, Murray completed seven of his eight attempts, with two of those going for touchdowns.

3. Marshall and Gurley will be story in 2013: Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, the Dogs’ two freshmen running backs, far exceeded expectations this season, and we witnessed their special talents again this game. Gurley rushed for 125 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown run. Marshall rushed for 38 yards on only eight attempts, but he also showed off his receiving skills with a back-shoulder 24-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter that gave Georgia a 38-31 lead. There won’t be any uncertainty about Georgia’s running game going into next season. And even if Murray turns pro, Gurley and Marshall figure to be the centerpieces of the offense.

– Jeff Schultz

146 comments Add your comment

Buckeye

January 1st, 2013
6:08 pm

phil

January 1st, 2013
6:13 pm

Murray inconsistent…..no kidding.

goFalcons

January 1st, 2013
6:13 pm

Those bombs including the one drop in the end zone had to impress anybody watching plus he showed he could run for a first down(I joke)…..the nfl seems to like a running QB these days.

phil

January 1st, 2013
6:14 pm

The story next year will be us losing 5 games….

Sigh.

goFalcons

January 1st, 2013
6:16 pm

UGA came out the 2nd half and crushed Nebraska, A rocky first half but still was in the game and then crused them in the 2nd half…….It was a great game for Dawg fans

phil

January 1st, 2013
6:16 pm

Fire someone!!

2 losses is too many.

Great year this year

January 1st, 2013
6:17 pm

What a great year! Top offensive year in Georgia history. If Murray returns, we will be impossible to stop.

goFalcons

January 1st, 2013
6:18 pm

The story next year Phil will be can the Dawgs win it all like the Falcons and the Braves will do!!! The ans. is yes and if Murray comes back,,,,they will be talked about as front runners to win it all.

phil

January 1st, 2013
6:19 pm

Everyone thinks when everyone returns, the team will be unstoppable…..

Wrong.

Rarely is that the case. Injuries, overconfidence, lack of effort, immaturity, big heads, egos, sense of entitlement, you name it.

We will regress offensively. Book it.

1972Dawg

January 1st, 2013
6:20 pm

Defense only gave up 7 in second half, while Murray tosses 3 TD’s. I love our entire staff and can’t tell you how proud our family is for the entire team this year. Thanks for the hard work and top 5 finish. A terrific year.

phil

January 1st, 2013
6:22 pm

1972Dawg – we lost when it mattered most…..

Don’t praise mediocrity. It only leads to more.

Finchdawg

January 1st, 2013
6:22 pm

Told you Dawgs would hang 45 on the Huskers. See my prediction in the pregame column.

gunter

January 1st, 2013
6:24 pm

Great ending to a great season! Will be fun to watch next year with all the weapons on offence!

phil

January 1st, 2013
6:24 pm

Congrats, Finchdawg….

No one cares.

phil

January 1st, 2013
6:25 pm

gunter – offence?

Pathetic.

Hiawatha Berry

January 1st, 2013
6:26 pm

Where are the anti-Mike Bobo clowns today? I think Murray will go, so the offense next year will be different, but clearly it will be loaded with OLs, WRs, and RBs. Let’s hope our redshirts on the DL get bigger and stronger, and that some of these recruits can come in and play well.

On another point, I do not pull for all SEC teams in bowls anymore….Will Muschamp is a scoundrel…..I despise his very existence.

Cohutta Dawgman

January 1st, 2013
6:27 pm

Huck Faters. GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!!!

1972Dawg

January 1st, 2013
6:27 pm

Phil, when the bowl games are over, there will not be a single college team in America that went unbeaten this year. So your advice to all college football fans is to sit around and complain and cry when your team loses, since every single one does. As for me, I will thoroughly enjoy every one of the 12 wins we had and a Top 5 finish and apprecriate the incredibly hard work of the staff and players over the past 12 months.

dawggirl

January 1st, 2013
6:30 pm

5 losses next year? Who is this 5th team you have us losing to? I must know.

goFalcons

January 1st, 2013
6:30 pm

Hiawatha Berry

I know how hard it is to pull for some of the SEC teams in bowl games but it is a reflection of our Dawgs so I still always pull for the Sec and it is a hard thing to do

kingdaddy

January 1st, 2013
6:30 pm

All they have to do is outscore the other teams, lol…

phil

January 1st, 2013
6:32 pm

I will appreciate it too!

But I will also not forgive our idiot coach for failing to clock the ball against Bama.

phil

January 1st, 2013
6:33 pm

Got me, dawggirl…

But 5 it will be.

goFalcons

January 1st, 2013
6:34 pm

The lowest point as a Dawg fan I felt was this year against SC…it was not the fact we got killed, it was one play that got me….when the game was out of reach, SC lined up on 4th and one and everybody knew they would not snap the ball and they jumped offsides…That play was the low point for me as a Dawg fan that I can remember. The way this team played after that game was great to watch as a fan

phil

January 1st, 2013
6:36 pm

I can’t count the low points….

Literally hundreds.

goFalcons

January 1st, 2013
6:36 pm

phil, it was smart to keep Bama on the field and not spike the ball,,,,,,the odds of a tip pass catch are unreal. I will stand by that play of not spiking the ball.

phil

January 1st, 2013
6:39 pm

Totally disagree….

Spike = three shots.

We blew it.

kingdaddy

January 1st, 2013
6:40 pm

Why do idiots want to “pretend” to be a fan of a team just so they can make snarky comments? Very childish and immature…

gabugman

January 1st, 2013
6:40 pm

Phil, aren’t u due for a rephil?!

phil

January 1st, 2013
6:40 pm

Now I’m depressed again about the Bama game….

What a stupid, stupid way to lose.

Someone’s head should roll.

phil

January 1st, 2013
6:42 pm

That’s true, Kingdaddy….

Makes no sense.

LakeDawg

January 1st, 2013
6:42 pm

Herschell left school and we went 11-1 with a Cotton Bowl win (back when the Cotton was still a big deal)…….with a TEAM. Wilkins left the basketball program and we go to the Final 4 the following year…….with a TEAM.

As much as I love the DGD’s on defense (except Shawn Williams- I am weary of his mouth and lack of class)- I predict a great offense next year, regardless of who the QB is (I hope it’s Murray), and I foresee a defense made up of aggressive, unselfish TEAM players- and an SEC crown.

phil

January 1st, 2013
6:43 pm

Fire Barry Alvarez!!

phil

January 1st, 2013
6:44 pm

LakeDawg, that makes sense. I can go with it….

rogeriter

January 1st, 2013
6:45 pm

Phil–and what colleges are bidding for your coaching services?

phil

January 1st, 2013
6:45 pm

Herschel was a turncoat….

I boo him now at every opportunity. Only the selfish leave school early.

Ken Cade

January 1st, 2013
6:46 pm

You really care about the Dawgs? Winning and losing? Drop off your coaching resume in Athens if your so freaking smart and have all the answers.

phil

January 1st, 2013
6:46 pm

Rogeriter – how did you come up with such a nonsensical name?

If only you knew where I actually do coach.

phil

January 1st, 2013
6:48 pm

Well, Ken Cade, i’m smart enouth to know better than not to spike that ball….

The game ain’t rocket science, boy.

wreckmaniac

January 1st, 2013
6:48 pm

Grantham’s defense is great as long as the offense scores 50.

kingdaddy

January 1st, 2013
6:48 pm

That’s right Phil. Pretend fake fans that just criticize their team is like really wierd , huh???

catlady

January 1st, 2013
6:48 pm

It appears that the SEC has a 3-1 record so far. Hope they will finish it up with no more losses. Will that be 6-1 for the bowl season if Alabama, Florida, and Ole Miss win?

Paul in NH

January 1st, 2013
6:48 pm

1972Dawg

January 1st, 2013
6:27 pm

Phil, when the bowl games are over, there will not be a single college team in America that went unbeaten this year.
———
Even with an Alabama victory over ND there will still be one unbeaten FBS team at the end of this season.

Dewnsav

January 1st, 2013
6:48 pm

Fire Phil…go dogs

Ken Cade

January 1st, 2013
6:49 pm

Who cares. It’s easy to sit back and bitch about things. Do something.

Dewnsav

January 1st, 2013
6:50 pm

phil…aka gtbob…go dogs

Paul in NH

January 1st, 2013
6:53 pm

catlady

January 1st, 2013
6:48 pm

It appears that the SEC has a 3-1 record so far. Hope they will finish it up with no more losses. Will that be 6-1 for the bowl season if Alabama, Florida, and Ole Miss win?
—–
Appearances can be wrong – LSU and MSU have both lost. Also – don’t forget A&M – SEC has a chance to finish 7-2

rogeriter

January 1st, 2013
6:53 pm

Well Phil, tell us where you coach! And for your info my name is Roger and I am a writer. But tell us where you coach…and how the bidding for your services is going?
If you coach anywhere it’s probably PeeWee.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

January 1st, 2013
6:54 pm

Grantham better recruit a defensive player that will call his defense out to get them motivated next year or else we are going to get run over by several teams; probably starting with Clemp-sons and most likely SC since Spurier has shown him up 3 yrs running

If Murray comes back though I think we win in a shoot out against Clemp-sons it will be a no defense all offense showdown most likely

Athensdawg

January 1st, 2013
6:54 pm

Phil give it a brake, you have been ranting for five hours now. BOTTOM line Georgia won the damn game, that is the object.