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November 24, 2013

Opinion: Murray a winner

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Fate can be a cruel son of a gun. Lady Luck a mistress with an evil heart.

The sight of Aaron Murray being helped to the locker room by two trainers late in the second quarter to what we now know was due to a torn ACL, had to have been one of the more heartbreaking scenes witnessed at Sanford Stadium in recent memory.

It was enough to make you ill.

Just an hour or so earlier, Murray - who will undergo surgery on Tuesday - received a rousing ovation from the crowd of 92,746 as he jogged onto the field for introductions.

Props to Georgia's event management staff, too.

It hasn't always been a smooth operation for the Bulldogs in that department this fall, but it was a nice touch to allow Murray to be introduced last. For those who weren't there, Sanford was rocking when No. 11's name was announced.

Rightfully so.

Bulldog fans can be a cantankerous bunch, and Murray - despite some incredible numbers - has certainly taken his share of slings and arrows from some, who really until this year, questioned whether or not he possessed the mettle needed to be a big-time quarterback in America's toughest conference.

Turns out he had more guts than many gave him credit for.

No, Murray didn't bring Dawg fans a championship during his four years in Athens, but anyone who doubts that this guy isn't a winner had better take another look.

That's why the sight of Murray being helped off the field was so tough to see.

Head coach Mark Richt called it sickening.

Tight end Arthur Lynch summed it up pretty well.

"It's really unfortunate, especially the way he's played the last couple of games and really the entire season," he said. "This one is tough because I know it was real emotional for him. It's just a shame. I'm just hoping for the best."

One thing's for sure, if there's any way for Murray to put on the red and black one more time, he will.

Although it looks pretty doubtful for Saturday's game against the rival Yellow Jackets, barring any damage to his ACL, don't count him out for the Bulldogs' bowl game at the end of the year.

Remember, this is the same player who recovered in time from a broken leg to lead his Plant High team to a Florida state championship as a high school senior.

However, when it comes to Saturday's game at Georgia Tech (3:30, ABC), Richt is realistic.

"I think it will be tough for him this week," Right said. "I wouldn't count out of the bowl right this minute, but it would be tough. I would think it would be tough. We'll see."

It was good to see the Bulldogs respond once Murray left the game.

The Bulldogs scored 31 more points after his departure, with backup Hutson Mason leading Georgia on four more touchdown drives to complete the rout.

"They came in with an attitude and took it to us from the opening kickoff to the end of the game," Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said.

It definitely looked like an angry bunch of Bulldogs, obviously still smarting from last week's shocker in Auburn.

Seeing Murray get knocked out of the game appeared to only make them madder.

"We played with a lot of energy. My thing all week was to try and really push the idea of playing your best game if you're a senior and playing your best game for the seniors," Richt said. "I thought everybody bought into this and that's easy to sell when these guys are such a good bunch of guys."

Murray deserved at least that much.

It's still disgusting to think that somebody actually egged Murray's house like they did following last year's loss at South Carolina.

It's almost as surprising to note that many still didn't take him seriously until he led the Bulldogs to their victories over South Carolina and LSU, who were both ranked sixth when Georgia beat them.

Even last week's loss at Auburn, when Murray basically willed the Bulldogs back from a 20-point deficit in the fourth quarter.

Only the flukiest play in college football this year kept that from happening.

So, here's to you Aaron.

If indeed you took your last snap in a Bulldog uniform Saturday, you went out a winner.

No one dare suggest otherwise.



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