published Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Georgia's Aaron Murray recovers, becomes bowl MVP

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray throws a pass against Nebraska during the Capital One Bowl NCAA game in Orlando, Fla.
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray throws a pass against Nebraska during the Capital One Bowl NCAA game in Orlando, Fla.
Photo by Associated Press.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Quarterback Aaron Murray and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo worked together for the 41st time during Georgia's 45-31 win over Nebraska in Tuesday's Capital One Bowl.

Despite that longevity, things don't always go smoothly.

"If I could have gotten down to him in the first half, I might have choked him," Bobo said. "That's just football and how it goes. Sometimes everything is not clicking the way that you practice it, and guys give you a little different look. I thought he stayed the course and didn't get rattled."

After throwing two interceptions in Georgia's first three possessions, Murray wound up matching career highs with 427 passing yards and five aerial touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound redshirt junior from Tampa set Georgia bowl-game records in each of those categories, and that's just the tip of his new records.

Murray finished the season with 3,893 passing yards and 36 touchdowns, both school standards. He established the previous touchdown mark at 35 last season, but the previous yardage mark had existed since Eric Zeier amassed 3,525 in 1993.

"It was an awesome game," Murray said. "We definitely didn't make all the plays that were out there, but when you put up 45 points against a team like Nebraska, you've got to feel happy about that."

The Cornhuskers entered the bowl leading the nation in pass defense, allowing just 148.23 air yards a game.

"I kept waiting for us to make a play to turn it over or turn it around, but we didn't do it," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said.

Nebraska made its big defensive plays early, with the Cornhuskers snuffing out Georgia's first possession with an interception. Bobo said Nebraska ran a coverage he had not seen and backside safety P.J. Smith made a great play.

Later in the first quarter, linebacker Will Compton returned an interception of Murray 24 yards for a touchdown to put the Cornhuskers up for the first time at 14-9. Adding to Georgia's early woes was the fact sophomore receiver Malcolm Mitchell suffered a concussion on Nebraska's free quick following the safety that opened the scoring less than four minutes into the game.

Georgia responded to Compton's touchdown on the very next play from scrimmage when Murray passed to Tavarres King for a 75-yard score.

"Tavarres did a great job of boxing the guy out, making a catch and then bursting after that to get the touchdown," said Murray, who topped the 75-yard touchdown with an 87-yard scoring connection to Chris Conley with 11:03 left in the game to give the Bulldogs a 45-31 lead.

Murray also threw two interceptions as a redshirt freshman in the Liberty Bowl and as a redshirt sophomore in the Outback Bowl but wasn't able to overcome those miscues. Bobo said his message for Murray at halftime Tuesday was that Georgia had 300 yards of total offense "even though we haven't settled down at the quarterback position."

The Bulldogs scored more than 40 points for an eighth time this season and finished with a record 529 points and 37.8 points per game, but now Murray has two weeks to decide whether he should leave early for the NFL.

"I don't think this game will have any bearing one way or the other," Murray said. "I'm going to sit down with my parents in the next few days, and I have to draw up the pros and cons and go from there."

As Murray accepted Capital One MVP honors on the field after the game, Bulldogs fans chanted "One more year! One more year!"

about David Paschall...

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 ...

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