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.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

224 comments Add your comment

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 5th, 2013
11:01 pm

Blake Tibbs
Johnathan Rumph

There are still options and they will have to step up.

The TE’s will have to be more involved in the passing game.

J.J. stepped up… 130 yards rushing

Wooten stepped up – 6 catches and two T.D’s

Dirty Dawg

October 5th, 2013
11:18 pm

Does the League review games and administer punishment for illegal hits…even those that aren’t called during games? The reason being that the hit on Barber after the blocked punt was as blatant a helmet-to-helmet blow as any I’ve seen, and especially one that wasn’t called…and furthermore, it very well should have been called ‘targeting’. Hell, even the announcers said the block wasn’t needed as it was nowhere near the ball-carrier. If Barber misses any games as a result, then so should the Tennessee player. And while both the Scott-Wesley and Bennett injuries didn’t involve contact, the low-blow on Marshall was reminiscent of when UT targeted Lattimore’s knee and ended his college career and potentially the rest of his football career as well. You go after a players knees often enough, sooner or later somebody’s gonna be seriously injured.

Dirty Dawg

October 5th, 2013
11:18 pm

Does the League review games and administer punishment for illegal hits…even those that aren’t called during games? The reason being that the hit on Barber after the blocked punt was as blatant a helmet-to-helmet blow as any I’ve seen, and especially one that wasn’t called…and furthermore, it very well should have been called ‘targeting’. Hell, even the announcers said the block wasn’t needed as it was nowhere near the ball-carrier. If Barber misses any games as a result, then so should the Tennessee player. And while both the Scott-Wesley and Bennett injuries didn’t involve contact, the low-blow on Marshall was reminiscent of when UT targeted Lattimore’s knee and ended his college career and potentially the rest of his football career as well. You go after a players knees often enough, sooner or later somebody’s gonna be seriously injured.

From Where I Sit

October 5th, 2013
11:19 pm

Georgia is not as good as their fans think they are since they struggled against a NON-RANKED team! Had to win one in OT when on paper, GA should have dominated the game! They should drop in the overall polls and they will lose to Florida!!!!

Enough Said!!!

Creativity Dawg

October 5th, 2013
11:29 pm

FLO-Ri-da! Good points bru! Was a lil confounded that Murray-Lynch was non existent…

From Where I Sit all teams have games like this..WINNERS prevail.

Russell Hall

October 5th, 2013
11:45 pm

The hit on Barber was dirty. Should have been a penalty, and should result in a suspension.

Southgadawg88

October 5th, 2013
11:51 pm

Grantham’s problem is gameday play calling.He was NOT the DC in Dallas,he was a DL coach.To my knowledge,his only play calling experience was in Clevland as the DC for one season.This is his major weakness

Desert Fox

October 5th, 2013
11:53 pm

F. Sinkwich

October 5th, 2013
8:30 pm

Doofus! not a costly win but “at a high price”? What’s the difference dummy!!!

RED DOG 77

October 6th, 2013
12:09 am

Flo-Ri-Duh…………….Son, you nailed it………..keep that positive posting up ! you are dead on the money, Georgia is deep as the ocean and will have a brand new crew if need be for next weeks game in Missouri………………GO DOGS

RED DOG 77

October 6th, 2013
12:18 am

Flo-Ri-Duh…………..Thanks for the positive post, it would seem some are unaware of our depth at Georgia………..Richt Bobo and Grantham will have a plan in place for the game in Missouri before Monday and several days to put it in place, besides, the 5pm Sunday press conference will tell us who is hurt badly and who is not……………Oh yea, I have my problems with the D as well, but there is still time to tighten the ship…………GO DOGS

RED DOG 77

October 6th, 2013
12:18 am

Flo-Ri-Duh…………..Thanks for the positive post, it would seem some are unaware of our depth at Georgia………..Richt Bobo and Grantham will have a plan in place for the game in Missouri before Monday and several days to put it in place, besides, the 5pm Sunday press conference will tell us who is hurt badly and who is not……………Oh yea, I have my problems with the D as well, but there is still time to tighten the ship…………GO DOGS

RED DOG 77

October 6th, 2013
12:18 am

Flo-Ri-Duh…………..Thanks for the positive post, it would seem some are unaware of our depth at Georgia………..Richt Bobo and Grantham will have a plan in place for the game in Missouri before Monday and several days to put it in place, besides, the 5pm Sunday press conference will tell us who is hurt badly and who is not……………Oh yea, I have my problems with the D as well, but there is still time to tighten the ship…………GO DOGS

RED DOG 77

October 6th, 2013
12:23 am

Bill King……….What in the world is wrong with this site dude?………I try to post …..it doesn’t print……….I try again………..and the first post shows up………….where is the second post?….Who’s on first……….How Bout Them Dawgs!!!!!

RED DOG 77

October 6th, 2013
12:31 am

Oh Good Grief…………….Must be that crazy whacked out “bulldawg 35″……….where’s that pesky rascal when “my” DAWGS WIN…………..good night BULLDOG NATION, SLEEP TIGHT, GOD BLESS………….RED

GoDawgs

October 6th, 2013
12:45 am

“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.”

I think our defense is bad enough to have let that happen while giving max effort. It was a break, though. No doubt about it.

Anyway, Grantham has done a terrible job prepping his charges for situational defending. It’s been bad from the opening kickoff in Clemson and hasn’t gotten better. There’s plenty of youth over there, but he recruited these guys. They are his players. You have got to be able to get off the field. The opposition is lighting us up left and right on third AND fourth down plays and we have no answers.

And how about some special teams miscues?

Lady Luck and Aaron Murray have gotten us where we are. Other things are going to be required to help get us where we want to be.

Creativity Dawg

October 6th, 2013
1:00 am

LMFAO, godawgs! Lady Luck has a name: Christian Laeetner..Murray has been exceptional! Dawgs D has played their aces off! Perhaps playing for CMR and not Grunthum…..

Eric C.

October 6th, 2013
1:06 am

Let’s look at this objectively folks…the defense in the end did give up some bad plays and struggled again with some 3rd and longs and a few 4th downs late in the game. But keep in mind they held the Vols to 3 pts through half way in the 3rd quarter.

The wheels began falling apart with the missed FG (a chip shot by Morgan’s standards). A FG there would have put the Dawgs up by 3 scores and made TN more one-dimensional. Then consider the blocked punt for a TD…nothing to do with defense. Take away the special teams miscues and the Dawgs probably win this game by 10 in regulation.

The punt team is where the real concern lies…absolutely horrible. They were horrible all game and the blocked punt for a TD was nearly a knockout punch considering they were facing a big rival on the road with 100000 fans screaming late in the game.

UT wanted this game really bad…did you see all of the trick plays they pulled out? And who goes twice for 4th down inside of their own 35? These were plays run by a desperate team. And that missed FG and the big injuries in the third quarter gave them a taste of “blood.” There are people who didn’t see the game and just see the score and think…”hangover from last week’s big win.” While that was true to a small extent, UT sold out for this game and still couldn’t win in spite of everything going their way.

I praise the Dawgs and Murray for coming through in this game…a very gutsy performance in an incredibly hostile environment against a rival. UT is so upset right now they may just forfeit next week. Give the Dawgs credit and quit being so critical. The injuries are horrible, but get Gurley back, and get through the next couple of games against Mizzou and Vandy…then get the bye to prepare for a tough UF defense.

This team never gives up…the fans owe it to their team to not dwell in the injury woes and have faith! The defense will start getting some turnovers, and the punt team will finally get their act together.

greentow

October 6th, 2013
1:08 am

I haven’t read any of the other comments here but I would like to make two observations: 1) That touchback play in OT was really, really lucky and was not caused by any good play on the part of Ga, insofar as I could see (but hey, they would probably have won anyway with the charmed life they have been living); and 2) it looked like the Ga defense almost certainly let Tenn score so that they could get the ball back with enough time to do something. If so, this was good coaching by CMR (Paul Johnson did the same thing vs. Ga. in 2010 but it didn’t work out so well), and really poor thinking on the part of Tenn who had only to run a couple of plays and get a TD or FG with very little time left.

TOP DAWG

October 6th, 2013
1:10 am

Grantham really needs to adjust his DEFENSE to the talent we have and play to their strengths… Instead he’s trying 2 make everybody adjust 2 his NFL style D…He doesn’t have a clue. They ran the EXACT same bunch trips play and comverted both times…Todd G should either trust his DB o play more Man or start mixing in the old Tampa 2 defense…we have the pash rush and speed all over the Def to make it work…Regardless CMR is in a tough spot knowing Special Teams are very weak so far this season and Grantham has only made 2 plays worth remembering. The goal line stand vs SC and stopping LSU last drive.

Its very deflating to entire team and coaching staff when our Def cord consistently gets out coached and cannot get off the field on 3rd downs/4th…Todd G please just adjust your schemes 2 better maximize our players strengths and talents…while also hiding their weaknesses. We have given up a TON of points thus far. last year with experience he didnt get the job done…this year we have young talent that ONLY NEEDS TO BE DEVELOPED . step up Todd G

TOP DAWG

October 6th, 2013
1:15 am

Im very proud of CMR, BOBO, and most imp AM…those 3 guys are locked in and all making critical decisions that are working…BOBO still tends to play a little conservative at times when he could trust AM to throw on 1st or 2nd downs instead of two run plays then ask AM to convert a medium-long 3rd down play…Overall I agree with 90% of BOBO play calling…He is showcasing AM strengths and making in game adjustments.

TOP DAWG

October 6th, 2013
1:25 am

CMR is the MAN…I love the direction he is taking the DAWG NATION. our defense is fast and athletic, strong, physical…Jenkins isnt having sacks/fumbles but then again Herrera misses tackles isnt helping. Jenkins can still make an impact and its just matter of time b4 he starts really growing into his own..Jenkins has all the talents 2 make all the plays. seems like his motor isnt as HIGH as i once thought…Ray drew, G smith, Bailey all are impact guys….Herrera must play like a JR…herrera is a VET but makes rookie mistakes with arm tackles and poor technique…please wrap up 1 time. I counted at least 4 significant plays when Herrera couldve made TFL but instead let the RB/WR gain extra yards. I dont see his value but i understand CMR staying loyal 2 his veteran guys. i rather see what reggie carter can do a few snaps instead of staying loyal to a fault of entire team..

Cali Dawg

October 6th, 2013
1:32 am

Too much talent on D to watch this every week. Only now there is worry…because the O is losing players to injury and we worry we can’t keep outscoring our D? Grantham is a joke.

stendec

October 6th, 2013
1:52 am

Of course after December, and long after the college football season has ended, there is this obligatory game in February that the winner of the SEC (National) Championship will have to play against some other team from some other division (because we don’t have play offs yet), for the “national championship” — but for many years now, that has never been much of a game, or much of a problem for the winner of the game in the Dome in early December.

Agree except for one thing.

Suppose the Dawgs run the table then knock off Bama in SEC championship showdown.

Hooray.

Think Bestards Control Show (BCS) will leapfrog one loss SEC champion over two unbeaten ones?

Really?

Remember that Oregon and Ohio State play cupcake schedules filled with girl schools and technical institutes.

Officiating crews just are not going to allow OSU to lose as evidenced by transparent Northwestern cheat job.

If that scenario surfaces I will pull for Crimson Tide in order to maintain SEC dominance in national title encounters.

I am sure Dawgs can take OSU and maybe Oregon but I am 100 percent certain that Alabama will crush either at any time.

If playoff is ever initiated then SEC champion will win mythical national championship in dominating fashion every year.

Until that glorious time…

stendec

October 6th, 2013
1:52 am

Of course after December, and long after the college football season has ended, there is this obligatory game in February that the winner of the SEC (National) Championship will have to play against some other team from some other division (because we don’t have play offs yet), for the “national championship” — but for many years now, that has never been much of a game, or much of a problem for the winner of the game in the Dome in early December.

Agree except for one thing.

Suppose the Dawgs run the table then knock off Bama in SEC championship showdown.

Hooray.

Think Bestards Control Show (BCS) will leapfrog one loss SEC champion over two unbeaten ones?

Really?

Remember that Oregon and Ohio State play cupcake schedules filled with girl schools and technical institutes.

Officiating crews just are not going to allow OSU to lose as evidenced by transparent Northwestern cheat job.

If that scenario surfaces I will pull for Crimson Tide in order to maintain SEC dominance in national title encounters.

I am sure Dawgs can take OSU and maybe Oregon but I am 100 percent certain that Alabama will crush either at any time.

If playoff is ever initiated then SEC champion will win mythical national championship in dominating fashion every year.

Until that glorious time…

VolFan

October 6th, 2013
5:05 am

I’m not taking a thing away from Georgia in saying this: the Dawg defense is super shaky. Wow. I’ve watched Georgia 3 times or so now, but gave them the benefit of the doubt due to great opponents. UT is not great but still managed 31. No doubt key injuries gave UT a big advantage, but still, unless that defense improves I can’t see Georgia in the NC mix. Trust me, that defense does not want to see Oregon right now. Congrats to Ga on a gutty win.

mj

October 6th, 2013
5:11 am

Good point standec except here is another scenario: If Clemson wins out (they’ll have to beat FSU and South Carolina) they’ll go to the NC game against Oregon or Stanford if Georgia beats Bama or LSU or AM ito win the SEC championship game.

Flo- Ri - Duh

October 6th, 2013
5:13 am

Dawgs managed to overcome this brutal, schedule, injuries and awful refs to get a win. Next up more of the same – undefeated Mizzou comes to Athens and they should be ranked this week.

Flo- Ri - Duh

October 6th, 2013
5:20 am

Special teams cost UGA the game against Clemson and almost cost them the game against the Vols. Quayvon blocked his man but did not hold his block long enough and Barber takes longer than he should to get his kicks off sometimes. So I would the blockd punt was on BOTH.

Morgan is still erratic on his kicks. Missed a easy field goal and almost missed an extra point…. then made a 56 yarder and was clutch in over time. See him getting better but not there yet.

Flo- Ri - Duh

October 6th, 2013
5:24 am

Special teams break downs.
Inability of Wr’s to make any big plays early.
Injuries.
Poor Refs.
Missed tackles and assignments by the secondary.

STILL GOT A WIN.

dawgfan

October 6th, 2013
5:30 am

The defense doesn’t finish plays. They’ll hit a guy, not wrap up and then he’ll scurry forward for another 4 or 5 yards. It’s painful to watch. We have to give up more yards after contact than any team in the nation. Fundamentals are lacking. The scheme isn’t working.

Grantham has got to go.

BigDawg

October 6th, 2013
5:40 am

A win is a win, even an ugly win like this one, but the SEC office needs to fire the officiating crew from this game. They did not call one single targeting penalty or late hit on Tennessee and only one holding penalty. I wonder who paid them off. Then they call that phantom delay of game call on the Georgia defensive player on the 4th down punt. I have never seen that before.

Aaron Murray has really grown almost willing this team to victory, special teams are still a concern they take a step forward but the next game they take two steps back again. Time for Coach Richt to stop being so stubborn and hire a special teams coach. I scratch my head on this because he played at Miami under Snellenberger and coached under Bobby Bowden at FSU who both placed a premium on special teams. Still a win is a win.

Go Dawgs

CHDawg

October 6th, 2013
5:45 am

I was looking at the depth chart online from the start of the year, and we were without or lost our top two TBs, top three receivers, top two safeties, punter, and we were in a loud, hostile environment. Great and gutsy win! Because of the adversity, it might be our toughest win so far. That many injuries to key playmakers messes with morale and the coaches’ confidence. Kudos to Murray and all of our leaders for pressing the team. Vols played hard, too. Special teams were key contributors in the loss and keeping TN and UNT in their games. You can’t expect to win games with blocked punts; we are just giving away points. I thought we could have put it away, but we started playing and playcalling not to lose, or to just hang on to the lead, and that allows the other team to load the box and stop us, but the coaches had to consider a lot. We had receivers not turning around on back shoulder throws, backs dropping passes–Dawgs have a lot of work for an undefeated and strong Mizz team coming in…but, Great win! Congrats to all.

hope2013

October 6th, 2013
6:38 am

Enter your comments here

FGD135

October 6th, 2013
6:41 am

So the dwags won on a bad referee’s call and a kick by an 18-year-old convicted drunkard.

That’s real classy.

hope2013

October 6th, 2013
6:46 am

The best defense player is not playing, because Grantham dont like him.#44 TJ STRIPLING. Stop trying to make yourself look good for starting freshman players over him and turn him loose to do what he do. Grantham got to stop not letting a player play if he does’nt like them.

hope2013

October 6th, 2013
6:59 am

Ok Grantham you cant get off the field on 3rd down. Drop the grudge on Stripling and he can get in that backfield for.

Brian

October 6th, 2013
7:09 am

Those of you who post comments about the officials not making calls or “being on the Vols payroll” are cheapening this Georgia victory and making fools of yourselves.

National championship caliber teams almost always have at least one close game each year but find a way to win anyway and go on to the national title. I really do think Georgia may be in that category this season. The injury situation is serious, but hopefully the Dawgs have the depth to overcome that issue, too.

Elementary My Dear Watson

October 6th, 2013
7:18 am

Message to Barber. Quit the Sunday leisurely walk in the park and kick the ball.

And to my man JJ Green, a Camden County High stud when he was a mere freshman, great job but I am not suprised. Only 185 lbs, a speedster but also can run and punish the defenders as well.

Vampire Bill

October 6th, 2013
7:39 am

I agree with everyone else the D is horrible and TG is not getting the job done. Impressed with the players grit and toughness especially Murray. Heart Attack City with this last game. Kept waiting for Hicks to get in the game. What gives?

Mcdawg

October 6th, 2013
7:49 am

Cmr and bobo no killer instinct cost us the Clemson game and nearly this one. Game should of been out of reach by mid 3rd quarter,

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 6th, 2013
8:06 am

Lets go ahead and stop the National Title talk

The d-coordinator has yet to show the ability to stop any team in 4 years and you arent winning a title when we cant stop anyone; eventually the offense is not going to be able to pull it out

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 6th, 2013
8:07 am

Anyone know when the new special teams coach is coming to Athens?

The Truth

October 6th, 2013
8:09 am

Anyone who watches Georgia play should realize that Bobo has to go! He is without a doubt the worst OC in the nation! He consistantly puts Murray in 3rd and long situations with his 2nd and 10 up the middle calls! How long can we as Dawg Nation stand by and let this continue to happen???

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 6th, 2013
8:15 am

How long can dawg nation go without having a defense that can actually stop a team

Bulldawg35

October 6th, 2013
8:35 am

I’m so proud of our dawgs for beating the vol’s for 4 years in a row! We had them up 17-3…..in our first possession of the 2nd half…we drove all the way down the field by running ball…the vols stuffed us once we got into the red zone….only because of mike bobo’s poor play calling….I mean why didn’t we attempt a pass on that drive? It looked like we were just settling for a FG on that possession!!! Smh! We ended up missing the FG anyway. This is a problem folks. We get to conservative on offense when we have a lead!!!! How many leads have we blown this year? Also bobo still doesn’t know how to utilize all of our weapons! Where was hicks and Rome??

1969 Graduate

October 6th, 2013
8:38 am

I have an idea.

Let’s make CTG the special teams coach. Maybe there’s something he can do right!

Bobo sometimes reverted to form, called super predictable plays that didn’t fit our available personnel, didn’t consistently well use Aaron Murray, and seemed to forget about our tight ends. Still, CMB did his job 1000 times better than the person laughingly referred to as our Defensive Coordinator.

Aaron Murray – Fantastic Bulldog Super-Star.

Our freshman running backs – Wow.

Anybody notice how good Tennessee looked. Based on what I saw they should win out.

Without major help from the coaching staff – starting with Mark Richt having a come to Jesus talk with his staff – can Aaron Murray carry the team on his back, overcome all the coaching flaws, pull rabbits out of hats, and win out?

I sure hope so…

Go, Bulldogs!

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 6th, 2013
8:39 am

Missouri looks good on offense I wonder if we have any plans to stop them

Bulldawg35

October 6th, 2013
8:39 am

Bennett
Mitchell
Marshall
Mathews
Gurley
Norman
Jsw
All of these guys are injured!!!!!!!! I just can’t believe this!!!! We are cursed!!! Our season is basically over!!!

Bulldawg35

October 6th, 2013
8:47 am

I told you guys that we would make Justin Woolley look like Peyton manning!! Smh!! Lol @ our defense!! CTG is a horrible coach…. We are 99th in the nation at stopping opponents on 3rd downs!!! That’s not going to cut it at UGA folks….this whole coaching staff has no killer instinct!!! Lol@ the vols they had no business being in this game!!! The vols are terrible!!! But our poor play calling and special teams allowed all of this madness!!!

EastSideDog

October 6th, 2013
8:49 am

murray – best QB in the SEC — better than mccarron. In the SEC title game, murray will light up alabama’s average D for big points—book it!