Aaron Murray went down as he has always played — battling like a warrior

Senior Night saw a great performance by Aaron Murray end prematurely. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Senior Night saw a great performance by Aaron Murray end prematurely. (Jason Getz / AJC)

The future of Georgia football at quarterback arrived a bit earlier than any of us expected Saturday night at Sanford Stadium as the latest player to go down in an injury-plagued season was the seemingly indestructible Aaron Murray.

Having already injured his left knee earlier in the second quarter on a 29-yard QB keeper, Murray refused to be taken out of the game and continued to play, though it was obvious something was wrong. Then, on an interception resulting from a tipped ball, Kentucky defensive end Za’Darius Smith hit him (perhaps a tad late) and Murray didn’t get back up.

He wound up being taken to Athens’ St. Mary’s Hospital for an MRI, the results of which had not yet been announced at this writing, though Coach Mark Richt indicated it was unlikely Murray would be able to play in next week’s game against Georgia Tech.

Watching him carried off the field by two Georgia trainers and straight to the locker room was a sight that no doubt sickened UGA fans but also should have upset any college football fan who appreciates the courageous way Murray has played in his four years as a Dawg. He has the heart of a lion and literally had to be dragged off the field.

Starting his 52nd game as the Bulldogs’ quarterback on a Senior Night that had seen him choke up after being given an extended pre-game standing ovation by the Sanford Stadium crowd that was mostly dressed in black in his honor, Murray had gotten off to a blistering start in a game in which Georgia uncharacteristically took the ball when it won the toss and scored a minute and 4 seconds into the proceedings.

(Richt may not have been able to fulfull the wishes of Murray and Georgia fans to let the Dogs play the season’s final home game in black jerseys, but he obviously wanted his team to shake off last week’s last-minute Auburn loss by coming out with guns-a-blazing.)

In his last game before the home fans, Murray (18-for-23, 183 yards in less than two quarters) already had thrown four touchdown strikes and had broken the 3,000-yard passing mark for the fourth consecutive season before he went down — the only SEC quarterback ever to do that and one of only four NCAA QBs who have that singular distinction.

Hutson Mason looked cool and confident stepping in for an injured Murray. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Hutson Mason looked cool and confident stepping in for an injured Murray. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Hutson Mason, the heir apparent for next season who had waited not-always-patiently for his turn behind Murray, came in with 2:17 left in the first half and did a fine job, completing 13 of 19 passes for 189 yards and one touchdown and sneaking for another. He seemed cool and confident and continued to show a nice touch on the ball, although his relative lack of experience still showed up on a couple of rough plays and he doesn’t quite have Murray’s arm strength.

But while UGA fans can feel fairly confident going into the Tech game with Mason at quarterback, it remains to be seen whether he will be able to step fully into the mighty big shoes of Mr. Two Minute Drill, Murray. Let’s hope he’s up to it.

It’s worth noting that Murray hit the 3,000-yard mark exactly on a 16-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tailback Todd Gurley, who ended up pulling a “Knowshon” with a Superman-like leap to break the plane of the goal with the ball in one hand.

Overall, it was another productive night for the remarkable Gurley, who played sparingly in the second half but ran for 77 yards on eight carries (a 9.6-yard average) and continued to make himself a force in the passing game, catching five balls for 90 yards and two touchdowns (including a 24-yarder from Mason near the end of the first half).

The two Bulldog QBs spread the ball around, with 11 different Georgia players catching passes, led by Rhett McGowan, who pulled in seven for 90 yards and a touchdown and senior tight end Artie Lynch, who caught four for 42 yards and two TDs.

Defensively, Georgia mostly played its most consistent game in weeks, recovering three Kentucky fumbles. Only on a 69-yard touchdown run on which the Wildcats’ Dyshawn Mobley shot right up the middle on a third-and-1 play did the Bulldog defenders look really bad.

Otherwise, the downside of the game for Georgia was another epic fail on the part of the special teams when the Dogs muffed a punt reception that Kentucky ultimately turned into 3 points.

Todd Gurley pulls a "Knowshon" on one of his touchdowns against Kentucky. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Todd Gurley pulls a "Knowshon" on one of his touchdowns against Kentucky. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Still, it was a fine night for Georgia’s offense, which racked up 602 yards on 82 plays in a 59-17 win that wasn’t as close as that (the Wildcats scored one last touchdown in garbage time against Bulldog third-stringers). It was the most points Georgia had scored against the Wildcats since a 62-17 win in Lexington in 2004 as well as the most in any SEC game since that contest. Georgia’s 59 points was the most scored by the Bulldogs since a 63-16 win over New Mexico State in 2011.

Nevertheless, it was difficult to fully enjoy the romp over the Wildcats knowing that Murray’s UGA career may well have come to an anguished end on that play that left him crumpled on the field.

As Richt said afterward, “I really had a hard time enjoying the rest of the game. … Even right now, I’m glad we won, but I really feel crummy thinking about Aaron.”

Me, too, Coach.

Feel free to share your own thoughts on the game and what the loss of Murray might mean for the remainder of the Dogs’ season.

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

140 comments Add your comment

Strange Murphy

November 24th, 2013
2:14 am

DAMN GOOD DAWG!!!!

Regalseagull

November 24th, 2013
2:38 am

Amen. Damn Good Dawg

jeeperscrow

November 24th, 2013
2:54 am

Just heard from friend who works with UGA…Murray our for season with torn ACL. This sucks so much for him as it I’m sure will affect his draft status as well.

7576DAWG

November 24th, 2013
2:55 am

Look how many play action running Quarterback’s have gone out with injuries this year either for the season or a number of games. Murray ran for a lot of yards his senior year but Bobo brought him in and made him a Pro style pocket passer. Anyone who questioned why Murray hasn’t run more in the last 3 years got your answer tonight. It is devastating for a team to lose their starting Quarterback and Bobo wanted to make sure we didn’t have to deal with that.
Murray thanks for the last 4 years . You are a damn good Dawg. If he can’t play at 100% Mason needs the work anyway for the Georgia Tech game. Don’t be surprised if Murray is back for the Bowl game.

Cali Dawg

November 24th, 2013
3:23 am

I think I’ll wait on an “official” diagnosis for Murray. He’s been a great example for UGA. A start on the road for Mason will not hurt his development with a week to think about it…I think Mason will do just fine.

Owen Scott, III

November 24th, 2013
3:37 am

Hats off to #11 for 4 outstanding seasons and best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.

bird dawg

November 24th, 2013
3:40 am

Damn Good Dawg is a huge understatement. Richard Samuel was a damn good dawg. Aaron Murray is an All Time Dawg Legend. We have been blessed as fans to witness his greatness and I for one will be forever greatful. We would have at least 2 SEC tiles and 1 crystal football if Aaron had Van Gorder’s defenses of the early 2000s. At the very least. You don’t back your way into that many SEC records. No one has wore the G prouder than A.M.
Lets hope Mason is more like Shockely than Joe Cox (no disrespect). Go Dawgs. BEAT TECH!!!!!

DawgsRalways#1

November 24th, 2013
3:46 am

Im with Cali Dawg i will wait till they announce it but no matter what Aaron has been a great QB and one tuff Dawg breaking all kinds of records in the SEC. You will be missed as you make your way into the draft good luck with everything and hope to see you playing on Sunday with a good team also hope to see you on the side lines of Sanford Stadium at some of our home games best of luck to you.

ashley

November 24th, 2013
3:54 am

Heart. Break. His leaving by being carried out, just deflated the game. Made me grieve a lil bit of life after Aaron. He’s just so beloved; brings a spark and heart we’ve come to expect, and need. I think we will forever say, we were fans during the Murray years.

ATLWood

November 24th, 2013
3:56 am

Aaron Murray it has been an honor to watch you play for the Dawgs these last 4 years! I can honestly say that you play this game with more heart and determination than probably anyone ive ever seen. It has been an honor to have you lead our team and you will forever be remembered as one of the greatest dawgs of all time! The definition of a Damn Good Dawg! Thanks for all the memories.

NoAxeToGrind

November 24th, 2013
5:35 am

A most unfortunate ending for a QB who has carried Richt on his shoulders for the past four years. Hopefully, his rehabilitation will be 100%.

1969 Graduate

November 24th, 2013
6:02 am

My thoughts and prayers are with Aaron Murray. It’s been a pleasure to watch him, and a greater pleasure to hear what a fine man he is.

Too bad our coaches didn’t give him what is necessary to win more games.

Go, Bulldawgs!

browndog

November 24th, 2013
6:27 am

Congrats to Aaron for the contribution he made to the UGA football program and to the University of Georgia in general. Best wishes for a speedy and compllete recovery and to a great career at the next level!

Sue Hebda

November 24th, 2013
6:41 am

Dawgone-it! I wanted to see this unselfish, totally dedicated, team leader play 2 more games! Without him at the helm, this team would never have made it through all the injuries and heartbreaks of the season. I am so tired of the “thugs” in athletics – that’s why I follow very few pro sports. The thieves(Auburn q’back) sexual assaulters(Fla. State q’back?) and other lawbreakers are increasingly being seen on the college level and we are expected to cheer their efforts on the field? Thanks for being such a great role model, Aaron.

Jabberwock

November 24th, 2013
7:00 am

I don’t know If Aaron Murray will play on Sunday or not,nor do I care. I do know he will have a successful career. The kid has prepared himself for the future. DGD.

Also, I’m pulling hard for Keith Marshall to recover from his knee injury. He seems like a great kid as well.

Debriefer

November 24th, 2013
7:10 am

Sorry to hear of Aaron Murray’s injury. He was a very good QB.

Dano

November 24th, 2013
7:24 am

Sad to see the QB go down. One of the all time greats. Too bad he had to play such an incredible career for a coach who doesn’t know how to finish the drill. I hope Aaron gets the opportunity to play at the next level should that be his wish.

DW

November 24th, 2013
7:58 am

Thank you Aaron for choosing to be a Dawg. Dawgnation will miss ya’. Praying for a speedy recovery.

Spike

November 24th, 2013
8:25 am

Murray is tougher than a $2.00 steak. He broke his leg as a senior in high school, recovered and led his team to the State Championship. So maybe he can get healed quickly. I hope so. What a warrior!!

short memories

November 24th, 2013
8:48 am

Thanks for all the hard work and performance in the face of adversity Murray. Wish the bulldog nation could have given you an offensive line , half of a defense and a little bit of special teams and clock management and I believe you would have won it all. Your two minute drill is as good as it comes. I would trade your two minute drill for all those first down runs up the middle every time.

Elemenno P.

November 24th, 2013
9:02 am

Glad to see true UGA fans sharing their thoughts on Murray. He’s the kind of guy most would like to have for a son or son-in-law.

Just give the Murray haters time, though. They’ll soon be on here, or another post, talking about how Mason is better yada yada yada. They’ll get what they have long wished for and the reality may not be as good for them as the fantasy.

Mason is a DGD, but Murray has been the best DVD.

Voyager Dawg

November 24th, 2013
9:09 am

We are definitely praying for Aaron down here in Florida. A young man who exemplifies the best in college athletes. Georgia has been blessed to have him at the University. Take care young man and prayers for a quick recovery.

Elemenno P.

November 24th, 2013
9:15 am

Oops, make the last entry in my previous post “DGD”. Man, I just hate autocorrect.

dawg85

November 24th, 2013
9:21 am

Sad to see at this stage of the game. He’s meant so much to the program. Kid has a huge heart. As a fan, if he is done, we miss the treat of seeing him suit it up for the Dawgs two more times. For Aaron personally I’m sure that’s what he’s thinking about but also hope it’s not bad enough to effect his draft stock. AM took way too much blame over the years for things outside his control. If Georgia had had a defense to go with him it would have been something else, but that’s water under the bridge. Praying for a quick recovery. Hoping he lights them up in the NFL.

HobieJones

November 24th, 2013
9:25 am

And Aaron – nothing I can say that will add to your legendary collegiate career. I am grateful you chose UGA and conducted yourself as a student and an athlete in exemplary fashion. Your late game drives have been almost hard to believe….and I will never forget….in the final drive in the 2012 SEC championship game – YOU knew to ground the ball. You motioned repeatedly to the sidelines to no avail. I’ll never forget that.

Real Problem

November 24th, 2013
10:00 am

Kid is a class act….we will miss him dearly next year.
Wish some of our run your mouth kids would follow his example.

DawgByte

November 24th, 2013
10:03 am

Hate that Murray got hurt. Talk about your Bulldog warrior and damn good dawg. Murray will go down in history as one of the top, if not the best UGA QB’s. He has represented our program like a true champion, with class, skill, poise, toughness and an appreciation for all Georgia fans. I’m sad he never tasted a SEC or National Championship, because he deserves it.

georgiagirl

November 24th, 2013
10:15 am

Aaron, so sorry that you are hurt. Hope to see you in the NFL and back between the hedges watching some GEORGIA football. You are a true champion and will forever be a DAWG!! You have made the Bulldog nation proud and I wish you only the best.

I-DOG

November 24th, 2013
10:19 am

Murray is a damn good dawg and has had a fine career at UGA. It looks like we will be without him for the tech game, but am hoping that it isn’t as serious as it looks and he can lead the Dawgs one more time in a mid level bowl game at the end of the year.

While nobody wanted this to happen, it might actually turn out to be a good thing for the program. Next year’s team returns everything but a quarterback with experience and Mason was only getting mop up time against scrubs with a healthy Murray. This forces the coaching staff’s hand and coming off the bench against Kentucky and starting against tech could make all the difference to Mason and next year’s offense.

The best scenario at this point, would be if Mason gets all the reps this week and leads the Dawgs to a victory in his first start. Then, Murray comes back to lead the team in his last game as a Dawg in the bowl game.

Hoping that it isn’t anything that will affect Murray’s draft status or NFL career. While it looks serious, you have to be positive in that these days guys come back from bad knee injuries routinely after a year or so. Murray played with toughness and skill and gave it his all. What else can you ask?

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 24th, 2013
10:26 am

Aaron Murray – character – courage determination intelligence leadership athleticism – all you TROLLS aren’t!

Hairy Dawg

November 24th, 2013
10:29 am

It really bad how Aarron hurts his knee. Hope he get well soon cause he play good career with Dawgs in winning and record setting. He done exactly what NFL wants in leading drives with clock time running.

Hutson Mason showed he good to. We got him lead team a few games early and he showing how next year team loaded with talent for winning East and SEC in Dome. But first we got a make pestky bugs pay for all injuried on team. This one to play for Aaron and rest cause bugs deserve the beat down in how we own them. This is the game we finish thr drill by drilling bugs bad.

Final Score: Dawgs 51 – High School O Bugs 13

Go Dawgs!

SC Dog fan

November 24th, 2013
10:34 am

Thanks to Aaron Murray and the seniors. Thoughts and prayers with Murray.

Bobert

November 24th, 2013
10:41 am

Reading the headline and the first paragraph, you make it sound as if he’d died. Tone it down.

MopedMan

November 24th, 2013
10:42 am

a) Murray went down as he always played–throwing interception #41 (NCAA career record is is 44 interceptions)
b) Murray was selfish and waived off Mason and the Coach Bobo’s decision, which would have saved his knee–Murray already had 4 passing td’s, that series showed why UGA is 7-4.
c) Mason had the #7 QBR rating on ESPN in the nation at 94 qbr, Murray came in at 84 qbr. Mason is better than Murray, all there is to to it. Team went on a 28-0 run with Mason until they took out the #1’s on oline and defense. Love this kid
d) Next man up. Richt’s been saying that about every injury, so let’s don’t deviate because it’s his favorite player, Murray, Mason is next man up
e) Richt has the worst luck of any coach I’ve seen. Karma got Richt this year for the unmerciful way he treated Mett and Marshall, and the way Richt played favoritism with Aaron Murray over the years.

James 2:9 Favoritism is a sin.

Hopefully Mark Richt will learn from this that you reap what you sow, and will allow real competition at QB moving forward, instead of showing biased partiality to an individual not based on merit.

I hate it for Murray, nice kid, but…it’s just a little kneww injury, as Richt said after the Marshall and Mitchell knee injuries, next man up, time for the Hutson Mason era to begin.

Bulldawg35

November 24th, 2013
10:45 am

I went to the game! I didn’t get home till 3am in the morning. I must admit I shed a few tears when Murray went. Yes I’m a man but real men do cry. Plus Murray is my favorite UGA player ever! It was really emotional seeing Murray with his family as he walked out on the field. I’ve seen several tech fans making fun of Murray being injured. I will tell you now karma is coming for you trolls! Book it!

MopedMan

November 24th, 2013
10:48 am

This week talk SHOULD be about Hutson Msason’s INCREDIBLE game. Not Aaron Murray. This season has long been over. It’s about the future.

Hutson Mason looks like the future to me. His last game his espn qbr was top 20 in the nation, this time, it was top 10, kid got better. No interceptions, that’s the thing that killed UGA all these years with Murray (Murray tossed 41 interceptions, 21 on his own side of the field).

Grantham seems back to his old form, forcing turnovers and putting up a low scoring output like he did in 2010, 2011, and 2012, finished in top 30 in def scoring in 2010-2012, forced more turnovers than Bama in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. Man can coach.

Field goal kicker is MONEY. Love this kid. He’s hit on 90% of his field goals. Also has a nice return on kick off.

Nex year looking up, mainly because of Hutson Mason.

My favorite play was when Hutson threw the ball out of the end zone when no one was open. Hadn’t seen that in 4 years.

Supes

November 24th, 2013
10:49 am

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ This individual is all that is WRONG with college football fans today…nuff said.

Aaron Murray = DGD, wishing him a successful and speedy recovery (although it didn’t look good at all…possibly if he never plays another down in college he can get back to being healthy in time for the NFL draft and get drafted into a good situation that will allow him time to recover/grow with that team)

Very proud of the seniors, especially all the walk ons…Rhett McGowen what an example to strive for and give to other walk ons…just great night for all those guys.

Now lets do what we always do…beat Tech and put them in their place…forever the red headed step child of football in the state of GA!

Bulldawg35

November 24th, 2013
10:50 am

7576 dawg

Yeah your right…..bobo made the right call by not running Murray his first 3 years. This year Murray probably talk bobo onto letting him run more. Even though if Murray got injured it would hurt his NFL chances….Murray didn’t care….he was not selfish….Murray wanted to wahaever he had too do to help the team. The man is a true warrior.

Bulldawg35

November 24th, 2013
10:53 am

Moped man

Grantham back to his old form? You do know we played Kentucky? You’re an moron. Also Murray is better than mason….I think the coaches know more than you.

MopedMan

November 24th, 2013
10:54 am

Cool not to win by 4 or 5 points like we did in Murray’s 6 games.

In the 2 games Mason has played, we have won by blowouts, the kid doesn’t play around, even when he gets a lead.

Mason is the real deal. All the critics who thought Murray was better have been proven wrong now, again, for the 2nd time this season, Mason had a better espn qbr than Murray.

richt should have gone with Mason all these years, he’s a better qb.

the Hutson Mason era is here

November 24th, 2013
10:57 am

One era ends, another began last night.

Let us cheer the NEW UGA QB on to greatness.

Question: With GT and the bowl opponent and with our first 2014 games, can our new QB start us on a undefeated run????

A newer has begun. I for one, am very happy about the future of UGA football. We still need to fire most of the D staff, starting with CTG.

Goooooooo Dogs!!

Bulldawg35

November 24th, 2013
10:57 am

Murray tore his ACL…..I can’t believe it! Pray for Murray and his family guys!

MopedMan

November 24th, 2013
10:58 am

Richt better say this when asked about Murray…

Next man up.

What do ya’ll want to know about Hutson Mason?

Bulldawg35

November 24th, 2013
10:58 am

Moped man

Go eat bag of rats!!!!!!

MopedMan

November 24th, 2013
11:00 am

Mason’s ball fakes were amazing, nice to see such superb technique, had me guessing wrong at least 10 times, much better at that than Murray. On play action great fakes, and on runs, made it look like he still had the ball.

I know one thing, the team is RESPONDING TO HUSTON MASON’S LEADERSHIP.

MopedMan

November 24th, 2013
11:03 am

If Murray had been allowed to play the 3rd quarter, and against GT,and the Bowl game, he would have easily broken the NCAA career record for interceptions (44). Murray’s at 41 now. WOuld have been really embarrassing for Richt & Bobo, so that’s one good thing that came out of the knee bruise. Richt & Bobo won’t have on their record they coached the worst qb in NCAA history when it came to interceptions. I think Murray will finish tied for 3rd worst in NCAA history all time.

walter back

November 24th, 2013
11:09 am

Murray is a great, solid qb and a class act. While so many thugs do wrong Murray has performed off the field as well as on it. He is one tough middleweight champ playing in a heavyweight league and he has more than held his own. We need more people like Murray and Tebow in college sports and fewer winstons, newtons, marhalls et al. Whatever Murrays injury, he will come back because he is a Dawg Braveheart. He should also do fine in the nfl if they give him a real chance, but that is always questionable in the cold, nutcase, criminal enterprise called the national football league. All around I consider Murray one of the top 3 qbs in college this year and right up there with the best all time career-wise. Like Tebow we will seldom see the likes of Murray again in the future. It has been a great pleasure for me to watch the little general perform. I am 80 years old and he’s one of the best I’ve seen. Get well soon beloved little general, other teams and players await your skills and leadership. Williamsburg va Fan.

RedShirt

November 24th, 2013
11:10 am

An apt quote form Richt earlier this season:
“Well, you know, I’m tired about talking about the injury report,” Richt said, according to dogbytesonline.com. “That’s all everybody talks about. We need to talk about who’s healthy. We need to talk about who’s going to play in this ballgame. We’re sorry for the guys that got hurt and I’m sure they can figure it out on the internet. It’s time to talk about the next man getting his opportunity and play well and certainly loving up the guys who got hurt. If we want to talk about it all week, I’m going to stop it now.”

Hutson Mason is healthy and next man getting his opportunity and playing incredibly well. Will be interesting to see if Coach lives by his own words.

ironcity

November 24th, 2013
11:13 am

how do we get WILL from FLA as our DC???

Russell Hall

November 24th, 2013
11:14 am

Sad for Murray to go out this way, but Mason can handle Tech.