ATHENS — Georgia’s Aaron Murray has had a well-documented arrangement with his offensive line this fall. If the line manages to keep Murray upright, the Bulldogs’ quarterback will buy them all the ice cream they want on Sunday. They call it “Sundaes on Sundays.”
And at an average of 308 pounds apiece, the Bulldogs’ linemen can eat a lot of sundaes.
But there were no frozen desserts for Georgia’s grunts this past Sunday — not after Murray ended up getting sacked five times against Ole Miss.
“Nope,” Murray said, laughing. “A deal’s a deal.”
The Bulldogs’ linemen lodged no complaints.
“Shoot, the way he got hit, we do not deserve ice cream or a pat on the back or anything,” sophomore center David Andrews said. “A deal’s a deal and he’s hung in there with that deal. No hard feelings between us and him. The deal is zero sacks.”
In fact, after the beating Murray took, at least one lineman offered amends. “(Guard) Dallas (Lee) said he’s going to take me out to eat on Thursday,” Murray said.
The good news for the Bulldogs is they were able to get it turned around against the Rebels. After getting dropped five times in the first half, he wasn’t sacked once in the second. Not coincidentally, he began to carve up the Ole Miss defense like a Thanksgiving Day turkey.
Murray ended up with 384 yards passing and four touchdowns. He was 13-of-15 throwing the ball in the second half.
“There really wasn’t an assignment adjustment or anything like that,” Andrews said. “It really was just us waking up and deciding to play. That was the biggest thing we were able to do. We finally started to play like we can towards the end of the first half and the start of the second.”
No, most of the adjustments came through the headset of Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo.
After coming into the game with a plan of wanting to smash-mouth Ole Miss with their run game and throw the ball off play-action, the Rebels proved an unwilling participant. Later in the first half and for most of the third quarter, the Bulldogs opted instead to spread the field. They often lined up in four-receiver sets and had Murray get rid of the ball quickly. When Ole Miss blitzed, Murray simply hit the hot route. Repeatedly.
“We went more five guys out and changed up our protections a little bit,” Bobo said. “The main thing we talked about at halftime was just doing our job.”
The most amazing part of Georgia’s midstream adjustment is it came while it offensive line was in disarray. Starting right guard Chris Burnette went down with a shoulder injury in the first half and did not return to the game. So the Bulldogs brought in sophomore Mark Beard to play left tackle and moved starting left tackle Kenarious Gates to right guard.
Burnette still had not practiced as of Wednesday and remains questionable for Saturday’s game. So that’s likely the lineup the Bulldogs will go with against Auburn. It remains a work in progress.
“I don’t know for sure how we’re going to do it,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said after Wednesday night’s practice. “We’ve been rolling some guys in there. Austin (Long) has been getting some reps with the ones. He’s not going to start but he may get some work. Watts (Danntzler) is trying to get there.”
It would behoove the Bulldogs to get it worked out because, while Auburn has been infamously bad on defense this season, its still pretty good about getting after the quarterback.
The Tigers feature one of the SEC’s best edge rushers in Corey Lemonier. The 6-foot-4, 246-pound junior defensive end from Hialeah, Fla., finished second in the league to Georgia’s Jarvis Jones in sacks and tackles for loss a year ago and has five sacks this season. And Auburn’s defense this season is under the director of former Georgia and Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, who has been known to dial up tricky blitz or two.
“They’ve got a great team, a great front four and some great linebackers,” Georgia freshman right tackle John Theus said. “We know we’re going to have to bring our A-game.”
The Bulldogs have actually been pretty good when it comes to pass protection. They’re fourth among SEC in sacks allowed (1.89 per game) and twice have kept Murray unsacked. The last time came against Florida on Oct. 27.
“They are very good up front,” Andrews said of Auburn. “They’ve got good pass rushers and we’ve just got to be on our toes and ready to go and not start out in a daze like it looked like we did last Saturday.”
If not, there will be no sundaes on Sunday.
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