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 6th, 2013
5:33 pm

Only cowards try to disguise themselves as true Dawg fans – all the while criticizing and complaining even when the Dawgs win. We know who you are and we know where you live.

ThatBoyAintRight

October 6th, 2013
5:38 pm

You people saying Bobo called a lousy game because we didn’t involve our tight ends obviously don’t know the first thing about football. There is not a single defined play like in a sandlot game. You don’t say “hey Rome, go towards the lamppost and I’ll hit you with a pass.” Every play is a progression and a read.
The decision on whom to pass the ball to is made in a rapid fire series of decisions based on the defense and the movement. The QB must see the TE getting off the block and into the route in real time. The TE may be the first option, but if the QB sees that the defense is shifting to cover him or he doesn’t get off the line clean, then he goes to the next receiver in the progression.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 6th, 2013
5:53 pm

NCDawg

Yes we won; and I think Bobo did a good job with what happened due to injuries

but

the continued not being able to stop anyone on defense and the idea that special teams is not important is going to catch up with us again like the Clemson game; probably against one of the following teams

Missouri
FL
Auburn
or in the SEC championship if we make it

Dawg89

October 6th, 2013
6:40 pm

With the emphasis on concussions these days, I wonder if that cheap shot on the punter will get a review. That was totally unnecessary even if it was legal.

dawgfan

October 6th, 2013
6:47 pm

Missouri is undefeated and now ranked. They are averaging 46.6 ppg. Our defense is still giving up 32 ppg. It took a couple of big plays from a guy who doesn’t play for us anymore for us to pull away from them last year.

Get ready for every single one of our remaining games to be on those “upset alert” lists you see every week.

Love the dawgs

October 6th, 2013
7:00 pm

TO “Thatboyaintright”… do not waste your time trying to explain football to these idiots…,
(But you are EXACTLY right…)

Bulldawg35

October 6th, 2013
7:30 pm

The best call Grantham made all night was to let tenn score with just a little over a minute left so we had enough time for Murray to lead us down the field to score! Haha

Dawn

October 6th, 2013
7:41 pm

Brian
You are right, all these fans talking about Tennessee paying the refs…..Tennessee got as many bad
calls against them just like Georgia. Like the touchdown which tied the game, that was a gift to Georgia because the defender did not touch the dawg.

Also, to FLORIDIOT, yes Tennessee does know Georgia’s defense and offense…Yes Tennessee has
played Oregon and Oregon beat them like a drum. You better hope Georgia does not play Oregon
because the Dawgs would be very embarrassed. You have heard “Speed Kill” that is Oregon!!!

Minnesota Dawg

October 6th, 2013
7:46 pm

I’m not so sure I’m worried about the offense as long as we have Aaron Murray healthy. He makes things happened even with 2nd string receivers. It’s the defense that will hurt us if anything will. We still put up over thirty points and that’s because of Aaron Murray.

Minnesota Dawg

October 6th, 2013
7:57 pm

Dawgs win a thriller and are demoted in the rankings. I don’t recall many others teams having that happen to them. Until we will a National Championship we will never get respect. Listen to ESPN, Fox, etc. and you will see the lack of respect. But if USC wins one game they will be heralded as turning their season around! Go DAWGS and keep wining your own way and prove them wrong. Those who score the most points win!

Top dawg fan!!

October 6th, 2013
8:24 pm

Enter your comments here

12 years old dawg fan

October 6th, 2013
8:32 pm

Not the best game I have ever seen but they pulled it out with out Gurley Marshall Mitchell Bennett and JSW and if that doesn’t prove a Nat’l Championship team I don’t know what does

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 6th, 2013
8:37 pm

Dawn – If it takes an idiot to make a village you built New York City.

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 6th, 2013
8:39 pm

Dawn – Duh.

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 6th, 2013
8:48 pm

Dawgs won the game on the Tick Hounds turf with every break except one going against them.

That is the mark of a winner.

angela

October 6th, 2013
9:10 pm

i will not call you names like the other fellow flo ri dah

but my father in law was a sports writer for many years covering georgia football
his next door neighbor was father of one of the most successful coaches for bear bryant
we knew personally tarkenton, rismiller, wilson, and certainly don leebern the athletic trustee of the bulldogs
how many times has my husbands co worker explained how he caught 5 passes from namath in the super bowl

the coaching of the bulldogs is not being aware of the change in college football
florida state scored 63 points on a ranked team this week
tennessee is a bad football team not ranked and something is really wrong

win or lose we support the players but the coaches are paid to use their brains

Bulldawg35

October 6th, 2013
9:13 pm

Jsw- gone

Bennett- gone

Mitchell- gone

Gurley- ankle

Mathews- hamstring

Marshall- gone…

Oh my gawd!! We are cursed and doomed! Unbelievable!!! Damn it!

Eric C.

October 6th, 2013
9:58 pm

The Dawgs will take care of Mizzou…something like 48-21 sounds about right. Murray, Conley, Wooten, Lynch and Green will carry this team.

Dawn

October 6th, 2013
10:51 pm

Angela,

You seemed to be a smart person unlike FLORIDIOT! He is just showing how small minded he
is……

Like you say, Angela, Tennessee is an unranked team….and the dawgs only beat them by 3,
they were a 10 1/2 point favor.

Dawgs season has a long way to go…..wonder how many dawgs will be barking at the end of the
year.

Buzz-off

October 7th, 2013
5:32 am

Angela and Dawn,

Ladies, FSU was not playing without their top 2 spectacular running backs and having to play 2 kids who rarely practice with the starters. FSU was not playing without their top 3 wide receivers and a 4th one also sitting on the bench. FSU was not missing their top 2 safeties. BESIDES, MARYLAND WAS AWEFUL AND ONLY RANKED BECAUSE THEY HAD BEATEN TERRIBLE TEAMS. By the way, I’m not implying FSU is not a good team, I’m just saying your sources obviously know a whole lot of famous people who still have a lot to learn about football!!!!

Buzz-off

October 7th, 2013
5:46 am

P.S. FSU played at home and UGa played on the road in a jammed (2nd largest) stadium in the Country, but let’s not confuse you with the facts. Also, I know all but one of the players Angela mentioned……and that means absolutely NOTHING. Having a 3rd cousin who had a neighbor who knew a guy who once spoke to a guy who knew a woman who dated a friend who had a relative who caught a pass from Joe Namath does not make your source an expert!!!

Whiskey Breath

October 7th, 2013
7:00 am

Bill give Murray all the credit you can. But don’t act like Richt knew what to do the whole time.
The man doesn’t do much coaching, he watches the game just like we do. Watch him on the sidelines when Ga scores a TD. He is the last to figure it out. It is not an isolated incident. He is pretty consistent. But go ahead and worship the man. I am sure on judgement day God will
give you an edge.

Dawn

October 7th, 2013
8:18 am

Buzz-off,

I know no one who got a pass from Joe Namath. So you were playing without some of your puppie
dawg starters. As bad as Tennessee is, even without these two starters, dawgs should have beat
Tennessee with no problem.

LuckyDawg

October 7th, 2013
10:50 am

Shoulda… Woulda… Coulda…