After his third interception, this time an ally hoop-type lob to a Gator defender, it looked like all was lost.
Was this kid, who came to Georgia with tremendous accolades and hope, ever going to do what was needed when a national audience was watching? Was Aaron Murray going to go down with the rest of Georgia’s long line of quarterbacks as a consistent loser to Florida?
Put simply: Was history going to remember Aaron Murray as tough enough to get the job done?
The questions and doubt were in place… then came the nail biting second half, and the evidence of Murray’s growth.
Murray was better after halftime – it would have been difficult to have been worse, but it certainly would have been easy for Murray to cave in to the negative.
Murray after throwing his third pick of the second half (left) and after throwing the game-winning TD in the 4th quarter. (Dean Legge/Dawg Post)
His receivers were in the midst of a pass-dropping competition, and the Gators seemed in position to score at any moment. But Murray didn’t let it affect him.
What Murray did was continue to compete. Period. Part of competing is just doing simple things, and not trying to overdo things… that’s where Murray played much, much better. He did not force or press, and that matters.
Was it an impressive show of signal calling? It certainly wasn’t what the Tampa native did the week before in Lexington where he was locked in on targets like I’d never seen him in a game. The Dawgs needed Murray to play to his full potential physically to beat Kentucky; they needed him to play to his full potential mentally to be Florida.
Murray getting pressured in the second quarter. (Dean Legge/Dawg Post)
Aaron Murray didn’t have to beat Florida by himself. All he had to do was get the ball to his receivers (again, do the simple things) – eventually they would break through, and eventually Malcolm Mitchell did.
A ground-level view of Mitchell taking off (Dean Legge/Dawg Post)
In the meantime, Murray held on like crazy. He respected the football. He stayed positive even though, with three interceptions, the notion of what would await him in Athens after a loss in Athens amongst his peers on campus and the crazies in the Bulldog tent had to cross his mind. After all, Mark Richt would get his typical share of the blame for another loss to the Gators, but this time the knives would have been drawn on Murray for sure. The narrative wouldn’t change, and Murray would get the brunt of it.
Murray lifted up by John Theus after the fourth quarter touchdown. (Dean Legge/Dawg Post)
During all of that Murray, for lack of a better term (and I know you are rolling your eyes as you should be when I use a RichtBot term), stayed the course. It needs to be pointed out that when Jarvis Jones is sinking the other guy’s ship the waters are a lot easier to navigate.
Aaron Murray didn’t have to beat Florida – he just had to not lose the game in the second half. Quarterbacks at Alabama are celebrated for doing just that – being so-called game managers. Murray doesn’t get the benefit of that. Georgia quarterbacks are expected to win games… not just manage them. But he needs to be given credit for this: He did just exactly what he needed to do to win, and in sports that’s all that matters.
Murray with Mitchell after the touchdown. (Dean Legge/Dawg Post)
Somewhere between running for his life from Jadavion Clowney, his father’s fight with cancer and jumping into the arms of John Theus after the touchdown pass to Mitchell, Murray grew up – probably not all the way grown up, but he grew up a ton.
He needs to be given credit for that.
Mitchell bursts through Gators on his way to glory. (Wes Muilenburg/Dawg Post)