Aaron Murray the difference-maker in Georgia win over Tennessee

He's done it before and Aaron Murray did it again against the Vols. (Jason Getz / AJC)

He's done it before and Aaron Murray did it again against the Vols. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Mark Richt’s Bulldogs kept all their season hopes alive with Saturday’s 34-31 overtime win over Tennessee but, man, what a costly victory.

The fates seemed stacked against the Dogs as the UGA sideline looked like a triage area, with three key offensive playmakers — Keith Marshall, Michael Bennett and Justin Scott-Wesley — all helped off the field with demoralizing knee injuries, forcing Georgia to rely on a pair of relatively untested backs and a decimated receiving corps.

But with a gritty next-man-up attitude that saw little-used senior Rantavious Wooten catch six passes and score two TDs and true freshman tailback J.J. Green run for 129 yards, Georgia managed to pull it out before a noisy UT crowd, thanks in part to a sudden about-face by Lady Luck when the Vols’ Pig Howard lost control of the ball diving for the end zone in overtime, resulting in a touchback and Georgia’s ball.

But chiefly the Bulldogs won the game because of Mr. Cool, fifth-year senior quarterback Aaron Murray, now the Southeastern Conference’s all-time leader in career passing yards.

Even as Tennessee ate up clock driving to take a 31-24 lead, I was thinking, “We just need to put the ball in Murray’s hands.”

Richt and his staff probably were thinking the same thing, as it looked like possibly the Georgia defense was told to go ahead and let Rajion Neal waltz into the end zone untouched in order to preserve time on the clock for the Dogs’ comeback. If that was indeed the case, it was a very smart decision.

With 1:54 remaining on the clock, Murray brought his team down the field yet again, and the 75-yard, 10-play scoring drive culminating in a 2-yard touchdown pass to Wooten was exactly what we have come to expect of No. 11.

With Todd Gurley not playing and Keith Marshall hurt, Georgia had to rely on a pair of freshman backs. (Jason Getz / AJC)

With Todd Gurley not playing and Keith Marshall hurt, Georgia had to rely on a pair of freshman backs. (Jason Getz / AJC)

True, it was a much tighter game than it should have been, largely due to a couple of special teams mistakes (a field goal attempt bouncing off a goal post and a blocked punt for a UT touchdown) and the apparent inability of Todd Grantham’s defense to get off the field most of the time on third and fourth down.

In the end, however, placekicker Marshall Morgan, who earlier had set a Neyland Stadium record with a 56-yarder, came through with a clutch OT field goal and his delighted team swamped him in celebration. (My daughter was amused to see a UGA student’s tweet at that moment pleading with Morgan not to tear an ACL in the melee. It was that kind of day.)

If style points are awarded just for running up the score on a lesser opponent, the Dogs won’t be getting any for this win over the Vols. But Georgia probably impressed a lot of folks with the way it managed to earn a gutsy win under pressure on the road with a couple of starters not able to play and amid numerous new injuries.

There’s a lot of football left to play and the Dogs have a lot that needs fixing, particularly on defense. But on this day in Knoxville they got the kind of ugly victory that usually is a hallmark of a special season.

Feel free to share your own views on the nail-biter between the Dogs and Vols. …

Got something you want to discuss concerning the Dawgs? Or a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Email me at  junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

Find me on Facebook.

Follow me on Twitter.

— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

224 comments Add your comment

F. Sinkwich

October 5th, 2013
8:30 pm

Definitely a character builder. But a high price.

Backups played well though.

F. Sinkwich

October 5th, 2013
8:35 pm

Just hoping NW can hang on against Zero-State…

NC Dawg

October 5th, 2013
8:42 pm

How bout dem dawgs!? Unlike any game I have seen injury wise. Unreal. To think that the top 5 offensive weapons(aside from Murray) beginning this season with Mitchell, Gurley, Marshall, JSW, and Bennett all out, what a gutsy win. However our season is probably done, can only sustain so many losses.

Owen Scott, III

October 5th, 2013
8:44 pm

Time for another round of apologies from the haters to Aaron Murray. And best wishes for recovery to Keith Marshall, Michael Bennett, Justin Scott-Wesley, and Collin Barber. What a gutsy win.

firetoddgrantham

October 5th, 2013
8:46 pm

Todd Grantham needs to go. He is most overrated and over payed Defensive Coordinator in nation.

HE IS TERRIBLE nothing else to say, last year with a defense loaded with NFL talent the exact same thing happened. I will say these young players play hard and dont give up. Enough of the blown assignments, complete confusion, players have no idea what to do, where to line up etc.
Terrible tackling and basic fundamentals obviously are not being taught by Grantham.

Get rid of Grantham…. cut him loose and move on, or its ala Willie Martinez all over again.

OrlandoDawg

October 5th, 2013
8:51 pm

I’m worn out, this has already been a whole season of drama! I am worn out…Go Dawgs!

Apopka, FL Dawg

October 5th, 2013
9:02 pm

It’s going to be tough for the rest of this season. With the loss of so many of our offensive weapons and a defense who can’t stop any team, I don’t know how long the offense can continue to outscore the other teams. It almost happened tonight. But, great win.

Love the dawgs

October 5th, 2013
9:02 pm

Bobo is the man. He overcame Grantham, awful special teams and probably the most injuries to an offense in the history of the SEC…. Thank you, coach Bobo!

SC Dog fan

October 5th, 2013
9:02 pm

Very, very proud of you, Bulldogs, and A. Murray especially, but I’m getting old. This is really just too much excitement for me now. I did something tonight I never would have done years ago. I’m ashamed to say it, but I didn’t have faith. I went and sat down at the table with my family and ate my last few bites of dinner without watching Murray’s final pass attempts that sent it to overtime. My oldest son stood in the hall and shouted updates to me. Come on, Dogs, have some mercy from here on. Could we please have some of those FSU style 63-0 blowouts? In our favor? .

Hairy Dawg

October 5th, 2013
9:06 pm

Great win! This shows how we own Vols. Aaron Murray made great plays and reason Dawgs is winning BCS. He simply wills Dawgs win in big games. That is why Coach Richt got him to make big plays when we need its for winning. Can’t wait to put a smackdown on Judas Muschump and Gaytors and then make Bammers pay for last years game.

Go Dawgs! Sick E’m!

Quayvon Hicks

October 5th, 2013
9:06 pm

Isn’t he always the difference maker? As long as we have Aaron Murray, we will win out IMO. He simply won’t let anybody outscore his offense

Love the dawgs

October 5th, 2013
9:10 pm

Grantham is the worst DC in ALL of college football. Bobo is the best OC in college football…

dawgfan

October 5th, 2013
9:15 pm

Aaron Murray should win the Heisman.

Hairy Dawg

October 5th, 2013
9:17 pm

And another thing was how team believes because we have Christian praying on our side. That is why we in every game with winning all time.

The players that won this today need go party in Athens and enjoy it finding nice ladies. Then rest up some and get healths till we get chance to show Gaytors that we is the Big DAWGS that own East and we dominants them for years to come.

Dosta Dawg 1

October 5th, 2013
9:18 pm

Enter your comments here

Love the dawgs

October 5th, 2013
9:19 pm

Fire the UGA defensive coordinator… If there really is one.

TallaDawg

October 5th, 2013
9:20 pm

If Grantham’s defense is too complicated, he should adjust it. A good DC would simplify the defense to fit his personnel. Grantham does not seem to adjust well at all.

alex

October 5th, 2013
9:25 pm

anyone still saying Aaron Murray is not a winner or a big time college player is brain dead.

no way Huston mason could have done what Murray’s done this year.

Mangocrazy

October 5th, 2013
9:27 pm

Incredible game. Any win in the SEC away, is an awesome win. I am watching Ohio State losing in a high school stadium! Go NW

UGA Season Ticket Holder since1986

October 5th, 2013
9:28 pm

Wow! What a win! Wow! What a costly win. All the Murray haters can just eat crow. BTW What’s with leaving a ten foot gap between the center and the guard on the punt team? Three guys come through that gap at full speed without being touched. There were at least six UT players in the Georgia backfield when the punt was blocked. Protection FIRST. Then cover the kick.

Roswell Dawg

October 5th, 2013
9:30 pm

Big, ugly win. Think we won the battle but just lost the war with all the key catastrophic injuries. Injuries, poor, non-improving defense and incredibly poor special teams play are going to be our undoing. Memorably win, but I think the die is cast. What could have been!

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 5th, 2013
9:36 pm

I thought Bobo did a great job especially considering the injuries and O-line playing sloppy on several occasions tonight

Grantham was out-coached again and we need to go back to the 4-3

Please find someone that knows how to coach special teams

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 5th, 2013
9:38 pm

Bill King

Can you fix the blog; its getting almost impossible to post something on here

SC Dog fan

October 5th, 2013
9:39 pm

Hairy Dawg- that is a comment for the ages!

Paul

October 5th, 2013
9:44 pm

I am proud of this victory! It was a trap game from the start. We lost our second starting running back, both all americans, and lost our best two wide receivers, making that the top 3 receivers so far this season(which is not even halfway over and I’m exhausted already!). We also lost our PUNTER(seriously!) Did he think he was going to tackle the guy that was crossing the line as he getting blasted? This brutal schedule is taking a toll. Too many freshman, too early and their bones are not showing to be strong enough. Hopefully we can get healthier or we will have to keep winning games UGLYYYY!!!!

Gdawg

October 5th, 2013
9:45 pm

I am happy we won the game but I severely concerned with injuries and the (lack of) defense. I think the worst thing I saw all night was the Defensive False Start penalty called against us on 4th and 7. #27 for UGA jumped at the defender when they were about to kick the ball and the ref drops a flag on him… ? really? The guy was nowhere near the deep snapper! I’ve never seen that called in college…ever! No doubt UGA’s defense is the worst in the SEC. No excuses…we should have won this even with the injuries. I hope they get healed up before the Florida game. Go Dawgs!!

Gdawg

October 5th, 2013
9:49 pm

For the life of me can anyone tell me why Quayvon Hicks is not running the ball???? This kid was destroying SC at the end of the game. He is a big bruising back. What is the reason he is not toting the rock more?

SC_Dawg

October 5th, 2013
9:52 pm

Grantham has to go, not other option. Five years and not an ounce of improvement. Could have kept Willie and got the same results for less money.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 5th, 2013
9:53 pm

Just wondering if our d-coordinator was at the game today; anyone see him?

sc_dawg

October 5th, 2013
9:55 pm

GRANTHAM MUST GO !!!

Roswell Dawg

October 5th, 2013
10:05 pm

Gdawg,

Did you see who missed the block on the blocked punt? Poor blocking at times like that is why Quavon didn’t play much last week. Think he’s being punished. Maybe he needs to be, based on yet another special teams gaff.

LADawg

October 5th, 2013
10:13 pm

Van Gorder is LB coach with the hapless Jets. When he left Athens, the D went with him. Bring him back to rebuild the mess that Slick Willie and Goofy Grantham have established as the norm for the Dawgs.

Fair n Balanced

October 5th, 2013
10:13 pm

Loudest stadium I’ve ever been in. No question. Vol fans said this was the biggest thing they’ve had to cheer about for 4 years.

Never should have been this close! Illegitimate TD pass OB. missed call. Missed FG and blocked punt for TD shouldn’t have gone the way they did.

Our “special teams” …..by “special” we mean handicapped or retarded. I’m sorry, but they are pitiful. They have led to a difference of 31 points NOT in our favor.

Injuries…..if we win out (no chance) then we are really deep on RB’s n WR’s. We really need Gurley. With Gurley n JJ Green we are ok. But WR is getting thin.

ARdawg

October 5th, 2013
10:15 pm

Wah Wah Wah According to the Boo Birds the win doesn’t count. We didn’t win “good” enough. Fire somebody dammit.

Pago Pago DAWG

October 5th, 2013
10:19 pm

Looks like Ohio will never get beat.

kelly

October 5th, 2013
10:21 pm

HOW BOUT THEM DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU PLAYERS HELD TOGETHER AS A TEAM AND WON…………………………….. IM SO PROUD OF YOU AARON MURRAY ………AM SORRY FOR THREE INJURED PLAYERS , SADLY BUT GOD WILL GET ALL OF YOU THROUGHT THIS TIME.. GOD WAS WITH YOU ALL AND ALWAYS IS IN EVERY GAME.. KEEP UP THE SPIRIT AND FIRE GOING.. HOW BOUT THEM DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AMEN…………………

Bill Hodge

October 5th, 2013
10:27 pm

The D stinks, special teams stinks, & only way we keep winning is out scoring everyone which is getting harder with everyone injured, as long as Gurley comes back & we have Murray we will still win, but it would be great if they got some help, sooner or later a close call will catch up to us

TnDawg

October 5th, 2013
10:37 pm

For years people dogged Bobo’s play calling. All I can say is thank goodness for Bobo. Grantham makes twice Bobo’s check. He’s paid in the top 10 of DC and his defenses don’t rate in the top 40 in the country. He’s Willie for 3 times the price. How can this continue? The NFL is loaded with Dawgs on Defense. What’s the problem here???? For crying out loud, the Dawgs defense gave the same number of point to UT as South Alabama. Bobo, you are okay with me. Hopefully, you will get a lot more respect.

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 5th, 2013
10:38 pm

Refs did all they could for the Tick Hounds but it wasn’t enough.

Vols OL was holding all day but only got one call.

Refs gave Vols a phantom TD in the end zone when he was out of bounds.

Refs gave Vols another chance on a 3rd down defensive motion penalty – what?
It looked they were on the Vols payroll.
Not to mention – the helmet to helmet illegal hit causing a concussion to Barber on the blocked put after the play was over and no flag?

Hunkerdown

October 5th, 2013
10:38 pm

gratham needs to deliver or else CMr needs to make the difficult decision. Offense is carrying the team and now it is becoming depleted. gratham is over rated111

winedawg

October 5th, 2013
10:42 pm

I kept waiting for UGA to throw to the tight ends. Were there even any targets to our tight ends? We’ve got a couple of serious weapons at tight end and they were invisible. I agree UGA’s defense is awful, especially on 3rd down, but when you lose so many people on offense, why not use the tight ends? Special teams continue to be a problem. Somehow, we got the “W”. Way to go dawgs.

Gdawg

October 5th, 2013
10:42 pm

Roswell Dawg you are correct. He missed the block. I don’t discount that at all. I just think he is a serious home-run threat and big-time punisher when he is handed the ball at tailback. He usually hurts the Defense either figuratively or physically when he runs it. Maybe they need to put the Freshman Douglas on Special Teams…

jcrazy

October 5th, 2013
10:42 pm

a delay of game for stomping?

Ft. Worth Dawg

October 5th, 2013
10:46 pm

Do we need to hire a PLAY CLOCK COACH? And Bill, please find out why, with the game clock winding down, that MURRAY GOES INTO A LONG SNAP COUNT? He’s driving me crazy with his lack of time management skills! HE’S. A 4 YEAR STARTER!
I pray that our injuries are not as serious as they seem to be.

CherokeeDawg

October 5th, 2013
10:47 pm

LOL!! For some reason out of all the comments I’ve read so far, your’s resonates the most with me. Love it.

bubba4dawgs

October 5th, 2013
10:48 pm

It was the worst game I’ve witnessed that Bobo called! Bobo, why did you continue to run the ball in obvious passing situations? You absolutely amaze me! Aaron Murray didn’t have his arm in a sling. He is blessed with the best receivers in the SEC. Given this fact, I bet you throw next week when Missouri comes to town. If you don’t, you’re going to be in for a long afternoon! This one was a nail biter. Destiny was definitely on the side of the DAWGS this time! GO DAWGS!!

JRW7

October 5th, 2013
10:48 pm

Great win for the Dawgs, great game by AM, CTG needs to be fired, vols offense is awful, and our defense could not get off the field on 3rd down again, we can’t beat Alabama with this defense!!

Hunkerdown

October 5th, 2013
10:50 pm

UGA defense is pathetic! CTG has outlived his need at Uga.

Gdawg

October 5th, 2013
10:53 pm

TN Dawg, I love you my Dawg brother but I could call a better game than Boobooo. Come on, he has more talent on this Team than any opponent so far this year but he still calls predictable plays. Give this offense to a real offensive coordinator and the scores are in the 70’s. Whenever you go away from the plays that are picking up big plays to try to “trick” the defense of our opponents you are just helping our opponents. I’ll be glad when UGA has a real D-coordinator and O-coordinator. UGA should be crushing their opponents with this talent!

Creativity Dawg

October 5th, 2013
10:59 pm

Champions persevere to win games like this! Sic em!