*Updates with quotes from Christian Robinson . . .*
ATHENS – Aaron Murray has gone silent.
Georgia’s record-setting quarterback has decided not to talk to the media this week as the No. 3-ranked Bulldogs’ prepare for Saturday’s monumental matchup against No. 2 Alabama in the SEC Championship game. According to Claude Felton, UGA’s director of sports communications, Murray “has requested that he be relieved of interview duties this week and Coach Richt has approved. . . . Apologies.”
Murray will apparently be available after this Saturday’s game.
Murray also bolted from the locker room after this past Saturday’s game. Traditionally Murray answers questions from the same stool in the southeast corner of Georgia’s locker room at Sanford Stadium after every home game.
“He told somebody he just wanted to hook up with his family,” coach Mark Richt said on Sunday. “I don’t know if his family was going to try to drive home after the game because it was not a late game or what. I think he wanted to get out and spend some time with his family before they took off.”
It has made for an interesting turn of events. Not only is Murray a fantastic player and leader on the field, but he also has served as a face and voice for the team for most of his three seasons as the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback.
Murray is playing the best football of his career at the moment. This past Saturday he became the first player in SEC history to pass for more than 3,000 yards passing in three consecutive seasons. He comes into the SEC game with 3,201 yards with 30 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, which gives him 9,399 yards, 89 and 29 for his career. Against Georgia Tech his past Saturday he was 14-of-17 for 215 yards and two touchdowns. Since the fourth quarter of the Florida game, Murray has thrown for 14 TDs and no interceptions.
Of course, the knock on Murray has been how he has played in marquee games against elite defenses. He threw three interceptions in the first half against Florida on Oct. 27 and was 11-for-31 for 109 yards and an interception in the Bulldogs’ 35-7 loss to South Carolina on Oct. 6. Perhaps Murray didn’t want to be answering again all those questions about not playing well in big games.
Meanwhile, Alabama comes into Saturday’s game with a defense that is ranked No. 1 in the nation in total defense (233.67 ypg) and scoring defense (9.25 ppg), No. 2 in rush defense (77 ypg) and No. 3 in pass defense (156.67 ypg).
Obviously Murray wasn’t available to explain. But senior linebacker Christian Robinson, one of Murray’s roommates and best friends, defended Murray’s decision.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with the media,” said Robinson, one of three UGA student-athletes to participate in an SEC conference call Monday. “I don’t think he’s trying to send a message. I just think he’s so dedicated this week to being prepared. He wasn’t at the house (Sunday); he was here studying film all day. He’s just a great competitor, one of my great friends, and I know this one means so much to him. He works his tail off every day and people don’t see that. He just wants to be completely ready and not have any distractions. He’s just trying to prepare and I don’t think it’s bigger than that.”
So what do you think? Is it a good call Murray has decided to shut it down from a media standpoint this week? Or is he making a mistake from the standpoint of breaking from his normal routine and treating this game differently than he has all the rest?
Ultimately, the answer will come on Saturday.