October 21, 2011

Murray seeks redemption

Some might say that Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is a glutton for punishment.

After his interception in overtime resulted in the Gators' 34-31 win, one might think reliving old wounds would be the last thing he'd want to do.

Not quite.

"I've watched it probably close to 15-20 times. I watched it numerous times. I think the week after the game I watched it five, eight times, somewhere around there. I know I watched it a couple of times a day there for a while and throughout the off-season, I watched it throughout the summer and preparing for this game," Murray said earlier this week. "It was a tough one to lose. I want to get that taste out of my mouth and I want to be able to go home without all my friends ragging on me, losing to the Gators."

Yes, this game means a little bit more to the Tampa native.

Although protocol and proper media etiquette often dictate otherwise, Murray concedes next week's game in Jacksonville, (3:30, CBS) is different.

So, although the Bulldogs (5-2, 4-1) need a victory over the Gators (4-3, 2-3) to maintain their high standing in the SEC East, the fact that it's Florida adds a dose of spice to the game others don't have.

"There's definitely a little more added for this one. It's a big game - Georgia-Florida," Murray said. "It doesn't matter what the records are. Even if one team has a losing record and the other a winning record, there's going to be a bunch of guys flying around trying to kill each other. It's a heated rivalry. I love being a part of it."

The end result, well, maybe not so much, after safety Will Hill picked off the quarterback - Murray's third interception of the game - and returned it to the four to set up Chris Henry's game-winning field goal.

Murray's start wasn't much better. On the first play from scrimmage, former Gator cornerback Janoris Jenkins intercepted Murray on the game's first play.

Florida would then miss a field goal after getting as close as the 16, but the mistake typified the type of start it was for Murray, who rushed a number of his early throws before hitting Tavarres King with a 63-yard bomb for Georgia's first six points.

"I was probably a little too juiced and too anxious," Murray said. "I had a lot of friends and family there. Hopefully, I've got that out of my system so I can just relax and play."

Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo agreed Murray's nerves got the best of him at the start of last year's game.

"I think that's a fair assessment. Early on he was off on his targets and that I think had to do with nerves, but he settled in well and played well the second part of the game," Bobo said. "But that's something we've been watching all year; we want him to just be more consistent to start the game. There has been some improvement, but he needs to continue getting better in that area."

Although Florida was his second choice behind Georgia, Murray said he never counted Gators as one of his favorite teams. Then again, neither was Florida State.

"My father's family is from Syracuse and my mom's family is from Miami," said Murray, who before last year had only attended one Georgia-Florida game, his freshman year at Tampa-Plant. "I really didn't have any favorites; I just knew I wanted to play in the SEC."

Murray said he'll never forget playing in the game for the first time.

But now that he is, he hopes to take whatever wisdom he might have learned and pass it on to a couple of freshmen getting their first taste - Isaiah Crowell and Malcolm Mitchell.

"I've told them just to relax and have fun. It's going to be pretty much the same thing we told them going into the Boise Game, the first game, a big environment against a top team," said Murray, who completed 18 of 37 passes for 313 yards. "Everyone is going to have a little something here or there in their stomach, but I think they've performed well under pressure this year and have really grown a lot. There will be some nerves but I think they'll overcome them once the game starts."

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]