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

Eric C.

October 6th, 2013
10:56 am

Special teams are so underrated…a big special teams play can turn a game and a season around in a heartbeat. e.g., 2002 Falcons vs Packers playoff game, 2006 Saints vs Falcons, LSU in 2011, etc. etc. These catastrophic failures by the punt team are killing the Dawgs right now…get that $$$$ corrected!

short memories

October 6th, 2013
10:59 am

The defense is pretty bad but they had only given up 3 points into the 3rd quarter. The problem is Bobo always going into a cowardly shell. Murray did a heckuva good job of overcoming Bobo and injuries and terrible special teams and pulling out a great UGA victory.

Mobile Dawg

October 6th, 2013
11:03 am

Flat, I agree, the D hasn’t shown any consistency all year. Richt should probably make a change but we know that won’t happen and why. This is one of several areas Richt fails as a head coach. Fortunately for him he’s able to recruit some great athletes that mask most of his weaknesses as a Head Football Coach.

truth

October 6th, 2013
11:03 am

Defense: Don’t blame the LB…they have had to play every snap of every game which means they are doing it in practice also. They are the only group that doesn’t get a break during a game. If you read the interviews they have to stay on the field because of the way TG has the defense structured. WOW.

JHC is a safety not a knickel back. Not a cover guy. He would be more useful at safety..more athletic but they are determined to have Matthews (even though he didnt play) play that spot. Because Granthom “likes” him even though we can see is isn’t ready. dont get it wrong he will be a great player for the dawgs but not yet.

Offense: JJ Green had 129 yds….if any other back had those numbers EVERYONE would be talking about it. His runs were huge. Bobo should have kept running that kid he could have had more and kept Tenn. off and OUR defense on the sideline where they belong.

Brendon Douglas is a full back. period. Yet they are trying to sell to us he is a tailback. Why is the staff forcing him and Hall on the field when it is clear JJ and Hicks are the better back ups??? …THINGS THAT MAKE YOU HMMMMMMM!!!

TEAM: I read a post on here that said that there are few athletes on the team that remain out of favor with the coaches or that the staff has issues with them so they are not playing. Sheldon Dawson may be one of them. Shaq is a good kid…I knew Langly was in trouble after the interview he gave last week…but the fact that Dawson can’t sniff the field as bad as this secondary has performed….and there are a few others. Gotta be good at the POLITIC game Sheldon.

kybodawg

October 6th, 2013
11:05 am

o.k. who is next man up is blake tibbs ready to play, will rumphs hammie ever heal, or would they ever consider trammel terry if he is well. what about a. j. turmans redshirt, rip it off.

Mobile Dawg

October 6th, 2013
11:10 am

Habbernash, I see battles right now with Missouri, UF, and AU. We won’t survive the close fights all year long. What can the D do to cut down on the third and fourth down conversions. That’s what Todd Grantham needs to fix.

truth

October 6th, 2013
11:14 am

Honestly…Oregon plays a HIGH SCHOOL football schedule. Really…they play 1 ranked team…Stanford..when they play 3 top ranked teams in 4 games or even 2 or even 2 in one season I may have a little repect.

Ol Ball Coach

October 6th, 2013
11:19 am

Habbernash, I see LOSSES right now with Missouri, UF, and AU. We won’t survive the close fights all year long. What can the D do to cut down on the third and fourth down conversions. That’s what Todd Grantham needs to fix.

Fixed it for ya. No D=losses to quality teams

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 6th, 2013
11:20 am

Mobile

The D hasnt shown consistency since Grantham has been here

Frankly there was no excuse for last years joke of a performance with 7 NFL caliber players; the excuse of they got the big head or whatever else is made is a laughable joke

The consistency I have seen is Grantham interviewing for NFL jobs at the end of every season leaving the program in limbo as to if it will have a D-coordinator

Eric C.

October 6th, 2013
11:20 am

Hey, I agree about JJ Green…wow, really impressed with him! He makes quick decisions and has great acceleration! He will fill in for Marshall nicely. I’m not sure what was going on with Douglas…it seemed the Vols were all over several of his runs and not sure even Gurley would have gained a thing. That catch and run by Douglas in the last drive however was one of the biggest plays of the game.

truth

October 6th, 2013
11:26 am

Douglas is a good player but i think he is more of a “tom Rathman” (49ers…showing my age here) kind of back. he isnt quick enough to run the tailback in the SEC. They used him in the wrong situations…A LOT.

The Staff OVER COACHED this game. Made the game harder than it should have been.

truth

October 6th, 2013
11:29 am

The entire country is about to find out how deep UGA is at the reciever position.

dawgfan

October 6th, 2013
11:32 am

Yeah, not sure why everyone thinks the rest of our schedule is such a cakewalk. I expect more nail biters and crazy games. That’s how it is when you have no defense. It’s hard to imagine not losing another one at some point. It really is.

DoubleDawg

October 6th, 2013
11:34 am

I’m just thankful we got the win. This is the type of game we would have lost in the past. Now we are winning these games and people still complain. I get the frustration with the defense but the complaints about the offense and bobo are unfounded. We lost our top 2RB’s and 2-3 WR’s. At some point that does impact the game.

Play in the SEC and you will have games like this almost every year. We will have more games like this later this year…

Sure the game was too close for comfort but we got the win and CMR and Murray and the whole team deserve some credit for pulling out the win.

Randy Marsh

October 6th, 2013
11:48 am

What is up with these crazy injuries? 2 ACL tears from non-contact (Mitchell & Wesley) and Bennett’s injury looked fluky too. It just seems UGA is jinxed. What was the deal with the penalty on the punt that changed it from 4th & 6 to 4th & 1? I have never seen that called before. Mizz will be tough unless our D drastically improves in 1 week. I’m getting more nervous about this season unraveling.

Irishmafia116

October 6th, 2013
11:54 am

How lucky can one team get? Two TN dropped passes for sure TD’s, a fumble andtouchback instead of a TD, 5 seconds left and one play from losing ball inch from hitting the ground, lucky last week, lucky vs Clemson, luck wont last forever puppies. BTW oh yeah no other team suffers any injuries do they? Isn’t that why UGA stockpiles the team with HS All Americans and All state player?

SatillaDawg

October 6th, 2013
11:57 am

Bill, I fear these Cardiac Dogs are gonna kill me. My heart was pounding sound loud I thought it was going to burst from my chest.

But a win is a win, and I’ll take it. Incredible late game effort Dawgs!!

Aaron, we couldn’t have won without you. And thanks to everyone who stepped up when our starters went down. We’re gonna need that kind of special effort again, soon.

As for the criticism of CTG on this thread, I totally agree. Could we P L E A S E stop these incessant 3rd and 4th down conversions? Vols were pouring through our defense like flood waters through a shallow trench.

And once again, special teams look confused, hapless, and hopeless. Sound familiar, CMR? We’ve seen this movie before. When are you going to do something about it?????

A lot of work ahead, but hang in there Dawgs. Bulldog Nation is behind you 100%. Keep fighting the good fight….and GO YOU HAIRY DAWGS!

Whiznot

October 6th, 2013
12:17 pm

I would like to thank Butch Jones for choosing to score a quick touchdown instead of draining the clock before kicking an easy winning field goal. The decision to throw away a sure win was very good sportsmanship and also totally stupid. Thank God that I’m not a Vol fan because, if I was, I’d be tearing my hair out.

7576DAWG

October 6th, 2013
12:33 pm

I hate when officiating nearly changes or does change the outcome of a game. Tennessee was going to punt and would have if the official had not thrown a flag on Sailor’s for stepping to his right because he was trying to time the snap . Him doing this didn’t even make a Tennessee player flinch . That one phantom offense kept Georgia from winning in regulation by 7 to 14 point’s.

7576DAWG

October 6th, 2013
12:46 pm

The latest poll just came out and Missouri isn’t even in the top 25. Missouri is now 5-0. The problem with that is Georgia will be Missouri’s first real test on their schedule, so we really don’t know how good they are.

truth

October 6th, 2013
12:51 pm

@757…I agree.

mdawg

October 6th, 2013
1:27 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.

However, we need to get Mason in the game some, he needs some PT cause after January he will be the man. Something more than just putting him in to kneel down and run out the clock.

mdawg

October 6th, 2013
1:33 pm

Tennessee was going to punt and would have if the official had not thrown a flag on Sailor’s for stepping to his right because he was trying to time the snap

Yep you right. That flag should have never been thrown. Also the Tennessee WR catch was not a TD
both feet were in the air when he caught the ball. Officials blew that call.

LuckyDawg

October 6th, 2013
1:44 pm

No amount of gray jerseys.
No amount of injuries.
No amount of dirty hits.
No amount of bad calls.
No amount of turf divots.

No excuses are adequate. There is no way to justify the University of Tennessee playing that game to a tie at the end of regulation. You can put on all the lipstick you want — this pig is still a pig. I’m surprised that Georgia only dropped one spot in the poll.

todd44dawg

October 6th, 2013
2:00 pm

Sorry about that doubledawg. I was a liitle heated about all the haters who post. No hard feelings. Just worn down from all this negativtiy.

ugaclassof2004

October 6th, 2013
2:18 pm

Bobo is the man? What game were you guys watching? Up 17-3, and he goes super conservative and settles for a field goal that we miss. Completely swung the momentum back in Tennessee’s favor. Our coaching staff is what it is, mediocre. Our talent wins in spite of them. Richt’s a good man, and I think he himself is a decent coach. But he is a lousy evaluator of talent, and his assistants are simply not very good. Gutsy win, but lets not go fooling ourselves. This is NOT a National Championship squad.

Todd's Big Salary

October 6th, 2013
2:41 pm

sure, the defense is mediocre, but I get paid big money—so it’s all good!

—Todd G

angela

October 6th, 2013
2:43 pm

the person who wrote great teams win the close ones must have not understood the reality here—–
great teams DONT HAVE CLOSE GAMES AGAINST REALLY BAD TEAMS
if don leebern who played for the bulldogs with tarkenton is still on the athletic board maybe he can find someone to replace the defense coach
think dick butkus type not this bend dont break
we have beat the drum one million times marc richt is a wonderfulll man
but we still need to use our brains and play the scheme that works for the talent we HAVE OR DONT HAVE
dont mind losing but losing to teams that have 30% of the talent of the bulldogs should have mr richt asking for more than prayers but a course in logic

CHDawg

October 6th, 2013
2:46 pm

uga2004, you may be right, but I really hate it when people throw in the towel at the first sign of adversity! A little history lesson from your elders: 33 years ago we barely beat a mediocre Tennessee team in Knoxville, 16-15. A few games later, #1 Alabama beat them 27-0, and those Vols would later go on to be just 5-6 on the year. Of course, you know the rest of the 1980 UGA story I hope! The point is–let’s not give up the dream just yet. It almost ended in Neyland, but you will have close games on every championship team, and you never know how it will play out. I am sure that anybody thinking about the #1 Tide back then, blowing the Vols out like they did, meant we didn’t stand a chance, but Alabama got their challenge later on vs. MS. State of all teams, and Notre Dame finished them. Everybody will have down games and we were perfectly set up on this one. These Dawgs overcame a lot of adversity to win in Knoxville. A lot of us fans can’t even overcome the adversity of watching the game, apparently. It could end this week, but let’s keep the faith until then! Go Dawgs.

CHDawg

October 6th, 2013
2:58 pm

The problems on D can be fixed, folks. CTG knows what he is doing. Our back end has to improve quickly, but our biggest problem is that we aren’t getting enough pressure on the QB. The line is actually doing pretty well. We have to get pressure from our OLBs in CTGs scheme. They are set up to do it, and so far Floyd has gotten some pressure but Jenkins hasn’t gotten much. If he can’t produce, we have to find someone who can. I love the kid, but his position *has* to get pressure on the QB to stop opposing passing games. Imagine our record last year without Jones. We got to step up!

dawgfan

October 6th, 2013
3:16 pm

CTG knows what he’s doing? If by that you mean he knows how to consistently field mediocre defenses then I wholeheartedly agree. That’s all he’s done since he’s been here.

Bulldog Born & Bred

October 6th, 2013
3:36 pm

our defense is pitiful is there anybody in the nation who cant score 30 against us

CHDawg

October 6th, 2013
3:40 pm

dawgfan, come on! UGA had the #5 D in ‘11. We slipped to #32 last year, but we were really hurt by suspensions and injuries. I don’t think anybody would have called those guys mediocre! CTG is a great coach and we will get better…I just hope it is quick enough to win out. Suck it up, buddy! Support your team.

angela

October 6th, 2013
3:47 pm

here is a history lesson for you coach richt

2008 oregon team was just about same talent as the team you have now minus most of the stars
oregon did not have a gurley but they won 10 games most by average of 19 points
oregon did not have great defense so they had to out score the other teams

now coach richt YOU SURE DO NOT HAVE A GREAT DEFENSE
YOU HAVE LOST 80% OF YOUR OFFENSE STARS

so what do you have in common with oregon 2013 or even the oregon team 2008
JJ GREEN USE HIM JUST LIKE OREGON USES THEIR 175 LB SCAT BACKS
DO NOT RUN UP THE MIDDLE STOP WASTING PLAYS ——-TELL BOBO THINK THINK THINK
TELL HIM TO WATCH OREGON WHICH HAS NEVER HAD THE BEEF OF ALABAMA OR EVEN STANFORD BUT TAKES THE HEART OUT OF OTHER TEAMS BY BEING ELUSIVE

they must have a class in pure logic at the university so take your coaches to this class because they seem not to be able to adapt to the new reality of college football ——texas am beat alabama last year only because saban forgot this is not bear football any longer

you have to make a drastic change NOW MONDAY MORNING
IF NOT MISSOURI WILL BEAT YOU BLIND

OUTSIDE RUNS OUTSIDE PASSES DUMPS SLANTS NO MORE POWER FOOTBALL ——-YOUR STARTS ARE MINUS THEIR KNEES ——WHAT HAPPENS IF MURRAY GOES DOWN–WHAT HAPPENS IF CONLEY GOES DOWN——WHO IS LEFT BECAUSE YOUR PLAYING DAYS ARE LONG OVER AND ARE YOU GOING TO ASK HERSCHEL BACK FOR THAT LAST YEAR OF ELIGIBILITY

this may be the year that the new breed of coaching takes over and woody and bear are long forgotten and even spurrier and saban are now pass their prime

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 6th, 2013
4:00 pm

CHdawg

The 2011 defense

LOL

why dont you take a look at that again; only this time look at those stats against the ranked teams we played not the lousy 10 we beat that werent even ranked

PiedmontDawg

October 6th, 2013
4:05 pm

Who in the whole universe could not see, except for the UGA coaching staff obviously, the blocked punt coming based on the prior two punts???

dawgfan

October 6th, 2013
4:11 pm

I think pretty much anyone and everyone considered last year’s defense mediocre except delusional Kool aid chuggers like yourself. And if you think we had the 5th best defense in the country in 2011 I’ve got some ocean front property on freaking mars that you might be interested in. We gave up more than 30 points to every good team we played that year.

It’s shocking to me that the performance of our defense over the past 4 seasons would be acceptable to anyone.

Buzz-off

October 6th, 2013
4:25 pm

Hey, let’s bench Murray and fire Bobo!!!! OK, I’m just kidding, but wanted to let the idiots know how stupid they have sounded for the past year or two. Of course, most of those Sunday morning quarterbacks are techies and they wanted their wishes to come true so they could possibly have a chance of beating UGa. Ain’t happening dudes!!!

Buzz-off

October 6th, 2013
4:34 pm

@UGa class of 2004@2:18

Is that the same CMR who is a “bad evaluator of talent” who recruited Gurley, Marshall, etc……and 3 current starting QBs in the SEC? Right, CMR is TERRIBLE…….you knucklehead!!!

Douglas

October 6th, 2013
4:45 pm

It is time for our DC to go — or cut his salary and give it to Bobo. He recruits all of this talent and then they suck on game day. If Richt will not fire him, then cut Richt’s salary — he is the CEO and is responsible for hiring this overrated DC. I cannot believe that years ago, Saban wanted to hire this piece of crap as his DC.

Buzz-off

October 6th, 2013
4:53 pm

Am I the only one concerned about the time it takes to get a punt off? Even the network announcers said we would have one blocked……before it happened. I’m no expert on this subject, but I’m certain there must be a standard (in seconds) regarding the time it should take from snap to punt……just like we monitor “hang time” on punts. Geeeez guys, we may have 3 or 4 more blocks if we don’t fix this problem. Go DAWGS, I’m proud of you guys.

DawgVoiceofReason

October 6th, 2013
4:57 pm

A tremendous, gusty, come-from-behind (at the end) overtime game! I couldn’t be more proud of our team overcoming multiple devastating injuries, a highly-motivated UT team, and a deafening crowd that was in it to win it. Once again, Aaron Murray, his O-line and his receivers were outstanding!

As for Coach Grantham, what exactly does he do for us that any of a hundred DCs couldn’t do? We allowed one of the worst offenses in the conference (although admittedly with a very good Offensive line) to just dominate us a key times in the game. Yes, we are young, but we have gotten very little out of him as a DC in the big games since he has been a UGA. He still has time to get it corrected but right now he is just lucky to have this offense and to have a “Pig” fumble the ball and essentially give us the game.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 6th, 2013
4:59 pm

the blocked punt was due to a missed block

but hey our Special Teams coach we hired will have they fixed ;)

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 6th, 2013
5:02 pm

DawgVoiceofReason

October 6th, 2013
5:04 pm

For those of you who continue to refer to the “MNC” or “Mythical” National Championship, there is no such thing any more and technically has not been since 1997. There have been real championships since 1998 with the formation of the BCS. Now, you may not agree with the way it was setup (and YES it was and has been highly flawed) but it was certainly real. In any case, after this year there will be a playoff and you can definitely stop referring to any future (after this year) “MNC”s.

angela

October 6th, 2013
5:14 pm

before you bloggers get down on the players on defense think about if the coaches have the right scheme to fit their talents

the players may be playing their hearts out just not being in the right positions not because they are not trying but the coach has neglected to understand the talent base and instead of trying to keep the other team from scoring CONSIDER THE STRENGTH OF THE TEAM IS OFFENSE
SCORE TWO TDS FOR THE OPPONENTS EVERY ONE TDS LIKE OREGON AND PERHAPS THE CRITICAL COMMENTS ON THE DEFENSE WILL END
of course i still think the talent is lacking for 3-4 or whatever we play

NCDawg

October 6th, 2013
5:17 pm

We won! It should have become a rout with the injuries and the avalanche of momentum UT had but we won anyway. Aaron Murray carried the whole program from the middle of the 3rd qtr on. Unbelievable leadership. If that had happened on a battlefield he’d get the Medal of Honor and accolades for generations to come.

No debating anyone on this… we won that is more than 99% of all other teams would have done. 99.8%… only a couple of teams could gut that out and not every single time either. Never been prouder to call myself a Bulldawg.

Not sure about the future but we will see what happens next week when it comes.

DawgVoiceofReason

October 6th, 2013
5:19 pm

It seems like the referees have changed their approach in recent years with calls at the line of scrimmage. Like many of you, I had never seen a delay of game called because a player “stomped” his foot. They also now put more of the burden on the defense. It used to be that a player could come across the line and get back onsides and as long as no contact was made, it would not be called. Now, if the O-lineman jumps, the penalty is on the Defense.

On the other hand, with all of the movement allowed by the O-line when they adjust the play call, the refs are still very picky about movement by the O-line, calling a penalty if the lineman so much as bobs his head. A lot of it seems pretty arbitrary to me but maybe it’s because I don’t know the intricacies of the rules and changes that have been made.

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 6th, 2013
5:24 pm

Oregon doesn’t play in the SEC. Tennessee is familiar with UGA’s offense but has never played Oregon’s. UGA had both RB’s out and had to play true freshmen. UGA had 4 WR’s out. Starting SS and his backup were out.

Angela if you know so much why don’t you apply for the job and see if there any takers.

It’s easy to criticize when you have never been on the field of battle.

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 6th, 2013
5:31 pm

TROLLS are like roaches – just when you think you have gotten rid of the nasty, disgusting pests here comes one under the door.

Dawgs got a “W” and all you can do is whine and cry – get a life – get a hobby -get lost!