COLUMBIA, S.C. — Georgia junior quarterback Aaron Murray entered Saturday night's game at South Carolina hoping to notch his first victory over a top-10 team.
Instead, he had the worst performance of his career.
Murray completed 11 of 31 passes for a career-low 109 yards and an interception in the 35-7 loss. His previous low was 113 yards two years ago at Kentucky, and his 35.5-percent completion rate broke his former low of 40 percent in last year's SEC championship game loss to LSU.
"We didn't do well offensively in any aspect," Murray said. "We didn't execute tonight, and when you play a great defense like that, you only get so many chances."
Murray had thrown at least two touchdown passes in every game this season but went without an aerial score for the first time since last season's 20-12 win at Tennessee. He remains with 71 career touchdown tosses, one shy of David Greene's program-record 72 compiled from 2001 to '04.
Murray's difficult night began on his first attempt, which was tipped by Gamecocks defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles and intercepted by DeVonte Holloman. It was just his fourth interception of the year but his second tipped pick in as many weeks.
Georgia's loss has the Bulldogs (3-1 in SEC play) behind both South Carolina (4-0) and Florida (4-0) in the East race, but the Gamecocks travel to LSU and Florida the next two weeks and the Bulldogs get to play the Gators in Jacksonville on Oct. 27.
Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said Atlanta is still the goal, and his players were still optimistic after the four-touchdown whipping.
"Not taking anything away from these guys, but we've got Kentucky, Ole Miss, Auburn and Florida," senior cornerback Sanders Commings said. "Florida is a great team, but we just need to focus and do our job to win the rest of these games."
Jones strikes again
One of the few bright spots for Georgia in a horrendous first half occurred early in the second quarter when junior outside linebacker Jarvis Jones sacked Connor Shaw.
The sack gave Jones 5.5 for the season and 19 for his two-year Bulldogs career. He led the SEC last season with 13.5 sacks.
Odds and ends
Saturday marked the first 21-0 deficit for the Bulldogs after the first quarter since the 38-35 loss to West Virginia in the Sugar Bowl following the 2005 season. ... The 70-yard punt return for a touchdown by Ace Sanders in the first quarter was the first allowed by the Bulldogs since LSU's Tyrann Mathieu went 62 yards in last year's SEC championship game. ... A 16-yard reception in the second quarter marked the 21st consecutive game in which senior receiver Tavarres King registered a catch. ... Kwame Geathers blocked a 32-yard field-goal attempt by Adam Yates late in the third quarter. ... Georgia made its mark in the NFL in September, with Cincinnati Bengals receiver A.J. Green being named the AFC offensive player of the month and Chicago Bears cornerback Tim Jennings earning the corresponding NFC defensive player honor.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...