ATHENS – UGA President Michael Adams had a message for Aaron Murray in Georgia’s locker room following Saturday’s 24-10 win over Mississippi State.
After shaking the sophomore quarterback’s hand and telling him, “good job,” he leaned in and added with a wink, “Get the mistakes out of the way now because, down the road, then they’ll be gone.”
The Bulldogs can only hope, for Murray did not play like his normal safe-guarded self. He threw three interceptions, which doubled his total for the season. Murray had just eight interceptions all of last season.
“Just a couple of passes where I wasn’t as accurate as I need to be,” Murray explained afterward. “We were playing a great SEC team today and you’ve got to be pinpoint with every pass. You throw enough passes and great athletes are going to make a play on it. So I’ve got to continue working on my game and make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Murray’s pass efficiency has been the hallmark of his tenure as Georgia’s quarterbacl He was 14th in the nation as a freshman last season when he had a 154.48 rating with 24 TDs and just 8 interceptions. He entered Saturday’s game second in the SEC with a pass efficiency rating of 163.0 with 11 TDs and just 3 picks.
Murray said he didn’t think Saturday’s interceptions were the result of misreads or any sort of arm problems.
“It’s nothing mechanical at all,” he said. “I feel like I’m throwing the ball fine. It’s just I threw a couple of balls that weren’t in the exact spot or maybe I forced a ball here or there. I just can’t do that.”
Asked what he thought of his signalcaller’s performance, head coach Mark Richt said: “”Hot and cold. He’s getting knocked around too much. We didn’t protect well. We were improving on that issue but we regressed today.”
Meanwhile, the Georgia offense was limited to just 78 second-half yards after rolling up 237 yards and 21 points in the first half.
“I don’t think it was relaxing,” Murray said. “You’ve just got to make plays and we weren’t making them in the second half today anad that’s something we’ve got to do. But I think we’ll be fine. We’ve got too many playmakers on this team. We’ve just got to keep playing hard and play hard all 60 minutes.”
Christian Robinson returns
There was some question whether junior Christian Robinson would play at all Saturday. As it turned out, the Bulldogs’ “Mike” linebacker and defensive captain was on the field for virtually every important defensive snap.
“I played on our two-minute defense and every third down,” said Robinson, who estimated that totaled 25 plays. “They wanted me in there for communication mainly, especially on third down.”
The Bulldogs were especially good in those situations. Mississippi State finished 4 of 15 on third-down conversions.
Robinson was thought to be out for at least four weeks when he sprained his left ankle ij the final minutes of the South Carolina game. Instead, he missed just two contests. He finished with one tackle and a pass breakup.
Meanwhile, Michael Gilliard and Amarlo Herrera continue to fill in nicely with starters Robinson and Alec Ogletree sidelined. Gilliard led all defenders in tackles for the third consecutive week with 9. Herrera, a true freshman, added six and a tackle for loss.
Where was Crowell?
Numerous times throughout the game Georgia fans could be heard yelling for the Bulldogs to put Isaiah Crowell back in the game at tailback. The freshman from Columbus recorded his third consecutive 100-yard game with 104 yards on 22 carries.
But several times in critical situations he was on the sideline in favor of juniors Carlton Thomas or Richard Samuel. They combined for 63 yards on 17 carries.
“We have a certain rotation,” Richt explained. “I’m not interested in Isaiah getting 30 carries a game.”
Crowell, for one, doesn’t see to mind.
“That’s the way it needs to be,” he said. “I don’t think any running back can stay in the entire time. It’s all right with me.”
Still no ‘home runs’ for Crowell
Crowell thought he finally broken free for the long run he so wants. It looked like he had busted free for a 49-yard TD run on a sweep around left end in the first half Saturday. But officials ruled he stepped out on the 35-yard line. Georgia ended up losing yardage and had to punt the ball away.
“I just trusted my o-line, trusted my receivers, got around the end, saw some daylight and just went for it,” Crowell said. “I saw the sideline. I don’t think I stepped out but the referees call the game.”
Fourth and no-go
Once again, Richt erred on the conservative side as far as going for it on fourth downs. Twice the Bulldogs’ coach opted to forego the chance to go for a first down on fourth and short in the third quarter.
In one case Georgia punted on fourth-and-inches at its own 34. In the other, Richt opted to attempt a field goal on fourth-and-one at the Mississippi State 5. Drew Butler mishandled the low snap and the Bulldogs never even got off the 22-yard try.
Said Richt of the first: “It was third and inches and they didn’t make it. If you’re going to make it, make it on third down.”
As for the second: “I could see where fans wouldn’t be too excited about that. I don’t like being put in that position, quite frankly. Maybe I should have, I don’t know. But at that point my goal was to go up by three touchdowns.”
Brandon Boykin injured when upended on Georgia’s kickoff return to start the second half. The tackle knocked out Boykin’s mouthpiece and his facemask raked down over his mouth win he landed, knocking some teeth loose and busting his lip.
Boykin returned for Gerogia’s third defensive series of the second half but left for short periods a couple of other times, including shortly before the end of the game. Richt seemed to think Boykin will be ready for the Tennessee game.
Also, starting strong safety Shawn Williams had to be helped off the field with a left arm injury at the 3:05 mark of the second quarter. He also was able to return and finish the game.
Offensive lineman Chris Burnette (knee) sat out for second straight week. He was the starter at right guard the first three games of the season. . . . Freshman cornerback Damian Swann was sidelined for a second week in a row with a groin injury. He started the Coastal Carolina game and played in all three previous game. . . . Backup wideout Israel Troupe did not play due to a bruised knee.
Etc. . . .
Blair Walsh missed another 48-yard field goal attempt. It was is sixth miss of the season. He had only five misses combined the previous two seasons. He’s now 6-of -12 on the year. . . With his 21-yard TD catch in the game’s opening three minutes, tight end Orson Charles now has a team best four touchdown receptions. . . . Cornerback Sanders’ Commings recorded his first interception of the season and fifth of his career. . . . Georgia doubled its sack total for the season and now has 10. . . .
Former Bulldog David Jacobs, whose career was cut short with a stroke, served as Georgia’s honorary captain for Bulldogs. . . . Longtime swimming and diving coach Jack Bauerle was recognized for his recent selection as Hartman Award recipient for 2011-12. The Hartman is the highest award UGA offers to former student-athletes.