If that was Murray’s farewell game for the Dawgs, he goes out in style

Aaron Murray hoists the MVP award at the Capital One Bowl. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Aaron Murray hoists the MVP award at the Capital One Bowl. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

If Aaron Murray does decide to leave early for the NFL, his performance in Tuesday’s Capital One Bowl seems to perfectly encapsulate his career at Georgia.

There was the shaky start that saw him throw a couple of interceptions, one resulting in a Nebraska touchdown, and then a record-setting day passing in which the Georgia junior quarterback threw five touchdown passes (and what should have been a sixth) in leading the Bulldogs to a come-from-behind victory.

And all of that against the nation’s top-rated pass defense!

Particularly impressive in his Capital One MVP performance was the 24-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter where Murray, scrambling to his right, managed to find back Keith Marshall down near the corner of the end zone and delivered a superb pass that Marshall did a great job of snatching out of the air. With the PAT, that put Georgia ahead 38-31 on a day that saw the lead change hands four times.

I’d said in my bowl game preview that if the Dogs and Cornhuskers got into a shootout, I thought the advantage would be Georgia’s, and that was based on my confidence in the big-play capability of Murray and Mike Bobo’s explosive offense.

In the end, they lived up to expectations in notching a 12th Bulldog win for only the third time in the school’s football history.

But plenty of others besides Murray deserve credit for Georgia’s hard-fought win over the Cornhuskers.

It took a while for the Dogs to get their run game going, aside from early success with the “Wild Dawg” formation, but ultimately Todd Gurley notched his ninth 100-plus yard game of the season.

Chris Conley scores on an 87-yard pass play against Nebraska. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Chris Conley scores on an 87-yard pass play against Nebraska. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

The depth of Georgia’s receiving corps stepped up yet again after Malcolm Mitchell had to leave the game in the first quarter with a concussion. Chris Conley caught a remarkable two passes for 136 yards — both touchdowns — and Tavarres King made three catches for 104 yards and a touchdown. (TK should have had another but couldn’t hang on to well-thrown ball in the end zone late in the game.)

And then there was the beleaguered Georgia defense, which was shorthanded without starting nose guard John Jenkins and started out the game exhibiting the same trouble defending the run that we saw against Alabama. While dual-threat quarterback Taylor Martinez was held in check most of the day, Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead at times looked unstoppable in the first half.

I’ll be honest: I was mighty concerned when Nebraska opened the second half with a 13-play, 75-yard scoring drive that lasted 5:18 to take a 31-23 lead. Toward the end of that drive, the Georgia defenders already were starting to look a bit tired on a warmer-than-expected day in Orlando.

But with Jarvis Jones (who surpassed David Pollack’s single-season sack record in the game) and Alec Ogletree stepping up the pressure on Martinez and Damian Swann snagging the second of a pair of interceptions, Todd Grantham’s defense shut out the Nebraska offense for the final 25 minutes of the game in as gritty a performance as I’ve seen from a Dawgs defense in quite a while.

Most of that defense is not expected back next season, so that second-half turnaround may be something we’ll have to savor for a while.

However, the bulk of the offense that managed to keep Georgia in this game when things weren’t going so well defensively will be back next fall.

I’m definitely among those fans who hope Murray will be among them.

Feel free to share your own views of Georgia’s New Year’s Day bowl win.

Got a question for the Junkyard Blawg? Send it to junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

Find me on Facebook.

Follow me on Twitter.

— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

129 comments Add your comment

Ed g

January 1st, 2013
6:45 pm

Hope AM stays. Could be in running for the Heisman

DawgFan

January 1st, 2013
6:53 pm

We can thank Nebraska coaches to some extent for our win. Why in the world they got away from the run late in the 3rd quarter and in the 4th quarter is beyond me. I noticed several drives where they passed on 1st and 2nd down after running the ball right down our throats. They were gouging our D for 5-8 yards a pop with the run. The 3-4 scheme Grantham runs is horrible unless you have 3 studs up front. We were missing Jenkins and Geathers simply could not play every snap. minus Jenkins and Geathers and the Dawgs were way over matched up front. we’re playing linebackers on the D line. No depth whatsoever too. And preliminary indications from how how recruiting is going shows that OL and DL will once again be a problem. Tired of reading recruiting updates about this DB or this LB committing, etc. With Garner being gone my New Year’s wish is that the Dawgs place TOP priority (TOP PRIORITY) on recuiting the line on both sides of the ball. And if they are prioritizing the line as a recruiting priority than we have serious problems. Theus starting as a true freshman is case in point. I’d be hard pressed to see Alabama starting a true freshman (5 star at that) on the O- line. PLEASE get some linemen!!!!

Hairy Dawg

January 1st, 2013
6:53 pm

Whether Murray comes back or not, we will be able to run the ball next season. That will make it a hell of lot easier on whoever the signal-caller is.

Strat Cat Dawg

January 1st, 2013
6:56 pm

Good ending to an outstanding season. We played 4 quarters and showed the desire to go out on a win. Martinez and Burkhead are excellent players and we had to overcome mistakes and adversity. Sure, we’d all like to have been in Miami but you have to play the cards you’re dealt and we showed character in this one. We’re now 1-1 against Nebraska and the prior humiliation is avenged. Go Dawgs!

Macclenny_dawg

January 1st, 2013
6:57 pm

If Murray leaves its next man up!!! How good could Murray be if he actually showed up for a whole game??? He always seems to come out to jacked up to start the games. Oh well Go Dawgs!!!

MT

January 1st, 2013
7:04 pm

UGA has a good core of players returning and I don’t think the defense will be as bad next year as some people think. While they had a lot of NFL-caliber players, I don’t think they always played well as a group. With guys like Jordan Jenkins and Damian Swann returning and a potent offense that should be even better, I hope they’re even better next year!

SEC East: 3 wins, 0 losses! SEC East>SEC West (top to bottom)

That70sdawg

January 1st, 2013
7:06 pm

AM is a DGD, however,I’m ready to see Hutson Mason next year. With Gershall and all the receivers we just need to recruit a kicker (and kicking coach) and stock some more BEEF on the OL! It’s going to be a loooong 9 months until the next game. GO DOGS !!!

jack bull

January 1st, 2013
7:08 pm

A few observations…

-All of our Jr’s leave to go Pro
-CTG needs to throw out the page where we only have 2 down lineman and 2 rush ends. That alignment is guaranteed to give up 7-8 yards a pop..
-How we’re not recruiting another PK is beyond me!
-All we do under Bobo as OC is score 40+ pts a game.

Go DAWGS! Great season

MT

January 1st, 2013
7:10 pm

I agree with you That70sdawg… I’m kinda ready for Hutson Mason, too. Aaron Murray was a great player for UGA, but I’d like to see Mason get his shot. It’s a great spot to be in for him with such a potent running game. What a catch by Marshall today!

Back to Murray, this is weak QB draft class and he’s coming off a great game (against the “#1″ pass defense.) His stock can’t get much higher.

headley lamar

January 1st, 2013
7:12 pm

It’s sad the way the Dawgs had to struggle against a team that let Wisconsin score 70 pts. on them.

Chris Attaway

January 1st, 2013
7:17 pm

Dawgfan is so right about the lines. We need to recruit offensive linemen big time. It was fun being at the game today. Glad to have a win, but if we were better against the run game we would be playing next week. On paper this year’s defense looked great. On the field, not as good. I think (if AM comes back) our offense will be even better and our defense should be better as well. Sure, the big names will be gone (shame about Ogletree not staying) but all of those early enrollees, etc should help our defense be better. Go Dawgs!!

Snoop Dawg

January 1st, 2013
7:18 pm

Let’s get rid of Granthan. If his A;-American Defense can’t stop anyone from running for 350+ yards every game, then why are we paying him in excesss of $750K per game?

This guy is just another scam artist wtith no leadership ability in the mold of Richt and Bobo.

Give me a Dabo Swiney or a Franklin any day who can actually lead a team.

Richt has enough money now; please relieve us of the pain and resign or retire.

WestOfAthens

January 1st, 2013
7:20 pm

Murray WILL return.
You heard it first, here.
HBTD

Snoop Dawg

January 1st, 2013
7:20 pm

Ogletree and Rambo are thugs. They let their team down. I say bulla bulla to them. I hope they are abject failures in life.

Disgusted Dawg

January 1st, 2013
7:20 pm

Our defense makes me want to puke. I remember much better from our defenses when we didn’t have NFL draftMEs on the team.

westtexasdawg

January 1st, 2013
7:21 pm

@headley: Get a life….

A Win is A WIN… Go DAWGS!!

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

January 1st, 2013
7:21 pm

Snoop Dawg

now now to be called one of those “Society of the Miserable”

Snoop Dawg

January 1st, 2013
7:21 pm

Snoop Dawg is putting a curse on Ogletree, Rambo, and Jenkins effective immediately.

Cela

Snoop Dawg

January 1st, 2013
7:23 pm

Westexasdawg. A win is not a win. You are a moron.

westtexasdawg

January 1st, 2013
7:24 pm

@Snoop: Please do not PUT Dawg after your handle. You are a shame and a thug..
@Disgusted: Take a break from the Dawgs games. You will feel much better.

What MORONS….so called FANS…

MT

January 1st, 2013
7:25 pm

C’mon now Snoop Dawg and anyone else down on Richt. How many programs in the country would you trade places with? It’s a very, very short list (maybe only one team.) Richt is a good coach, Bobo has improved greatly, and Grantham is still a good coach. I agree with you in that I don’t particularly like the way some of the players on defense act (with the “look at me” attitude,) but those guys are gone so no need to go on about it.

bigdawg

January 1st, 2013
7:25 pm

I hope Murray stays! I agree he had – and has had – many a boneheaded INT. But, do you REALLY believe HM or CL will be better than a SENIOR Aaron Murray running an offense for the fourth consecutive year?

Snoop Dawg

January 1st, 2013
7:26 pm

It’s all about the Hogs, boys. Herschel couldn’t gain 500 yards without hogs on the line.

Rationale

January 1st, 2013
7:27 pm

Murray should go Pro. He will not improve his draft status by coming back. Mason should be given the opportunity to win the spot. With most if the offense coming back next year it would give Mason the opportunity to grow into the position with quality players that have been on the offense together. That is a lot better picture than Mason coming in in 2 years, and not as strong of an offensive line.
Aaron Murray, thanks for 3 great years. You need to turn Pro this year. This is very little you can do to improve your NFL status by coming back, only bumping up your stats. Bless you young man, and good health for many years.

Snoop Dawg

January 1st, 2013
7:28 pm

westtexas dawg, who voted you HMFIC? You are an idiot.

Snoop Dawg

January 1st, 2013
7:31 pm

Murray should go pro.
The entire defense should go pro.
Grantham should go pro.
Bobo should go pro.
Richt should go pro.
Then we might actually have a college football team, and a pretty good one too if we can recruit in-state talent who loveGeorgia/

1969 Graduate

January 1st, 2013
7:31 pm

I’d like Aaron Murray to play another year for UGA. He’s a quality quarterback, and a student of the game. He’d be better next year, and that’s saying something.

I like how he overcame the Pick Six by throwing a touchdown on his next touch. That showed me something. His head has improved.

I agree that we need to recruit lineman. First. Lineman. Both sides of the ball.

Go, SEC!

Snoop Dawg

January 1st, 2013
7:32 pm

The UGA football team of 2012 sucks.

ATLNative

January 1st, 2013
7:32 pm

Way to finish the drill! Big plays when needed. S Williams brought some wood! Should have had 1 more TD too. Great job Dawgs!

bigdawg

January 1st, 2013
7:32 pm

@rational: Good points, but I don’t want to go 8-4 next year waiting for Matson to “get it.” That’s my only worry.
HNY!

Snoop Dawg

January 1st, 2013
7:33 pm

Mark Richt has been a pox on the UGA house.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

January 1st, 2013
7:33 pm

Grantham is a good coach how is that?

Cuz

January 1st, 2013
7:39 pm

Good article Bill. It is still great to be a Georgia Bulldawg.

We will be fine whether Murray leaves or comes back.

Dawg_Mike

January 1st, 2013
7:46 pm

Nice to see Chris Conley come up big after his unfortunate catch in the SECCG. Future looks bright for him.

72/76 Double Dawg

January 1st, 2013
7:50 pm

I am incredibly proud of this year’s team. 12 wins! A top 5 finish. Extremely satisfying. Thanks guys, thanks Aaron, thanks Coach Richt and Coach Bobo.

Glory between the hedges

January 1st, 2013
7:53 pm

12 wins and nothing to show for…lets be honest.

72/76 Double Dawg

January 1st, 2013
7:58 pm

We need Aaron back. Otherwise Hutson or Christian will be starting for the first time against SEC defenses with zero experience and several years since they played competitively. Even Mettlinberg had a JC year of experience before LSU this year and he suffered all year (120 yards vs. Clemson). How did USC look with their unproven backup QB (heralded out of HS) vs. Tech? Without Aaron next year, it’s a big dropoff. and by the way,Glory, 12 wins is a lot to show for! A great season.

Return to Glory

January 1st, 2013
7:58 pm

Nice win and good year, love the Dawgs.
The defense this year was hard to figure, either talent was way over-rated or way under coached.
Next year we find out if CTG can coach.Every big game his unit gives up 30 plus.Hope it plays better next near.

Glory between the hedges

January 1st, 2013
8:08 pm

Double…please tell me what it is to show for? Did we hoist an sec championship trophy ? Are we hoisting up the crystal ball? 12 wins is 12 wins. Nothing more nothing less. So im guessing if the Atlanta falcons choke again in the divisional round its still a great season for going 13-3. Our mentality needs to be that if we have a team that should win.the national championship and.doesnt; the season was a failure. Especially when we haven’t sniffed a national title in.32 years.

bambam neloms

January 1st, 2013
8:21 pm

great win for the dawgs we will worry about next year next year go dawgs.

Snoop Dawg

January 1st, 2013
8:22 pm

The symbolic game for Murray was the last 15 seconds of the SEC championship game this year. The guy is a three time loser.

Snoop Dawg

January 1st, 2013
8:25 pm

Let’s all pray that Murray “goes pro.” What a joke.

Let’s pray that Bobo, Grantham, Richt and the entire incompetent coaching staff go pro, too.

Let’s pray that all the blind homers are struck by lightning, too.

bambam neloms

January 1st, 2013
8:25 pm

I think a lot of kids parents send them to uga because of richt

Snoop Dawg

January 1st, 2013
8:26 pm

BAMBAM, YOU ARE NUTS.

Snoop Dawg

January 1st, 2013
8:28 pm

The media has made Mark Richt into the facade that he is today.

If parents want to send their kids to UGA because of Richt, then just blame the AJC.

Snoop Dawg

January 1st, 2013
8:30 pm

Mediocrity is great in the State of Georgia, I guess.

How did Alabama, Florida, and South Carolina develop superior football programs to Georgia’s over the past ten years?

Minnesota Dawg

January 1st, 2013
8:35 pm

Glory between the hedges, you need to come live in Minnesota and see the Gophers play for a while and come back to Georgia and be thankful you have a great team whom you can be proud of. We will have a chance again to go to the big one. Be patient.

Snoop Dawg

January 1st, 2013
8:42 pm

taehehe ruf ruf wahooooooo lolofles

Snoop Moron

January 1st, 2013
8:45 pm

How many SEC Championships has SC won in the last 10 years?
answer: 0

How many SEC East titles has SC won in the last 10 y ears?
answer: 1

Snoop Dawg is an idiot.

Voyager Dawg

January 1st, 2013
8:52 pm

@Snoop Dawg (Troll) – Please go back to the Tech or Gator board or wherever you came from.