Daily Archives: January 9, 2022

Aaron Murray knew the job was difficult when he took it.

Man, talk about your bad first date

Aaron Murray had already committed to Georgia in 2008, but he’d never been to a game at Sanford Stadium before the Bulldogs’ regular-season showdown with Alabama that year.

Murray was among the top recruits in the country, and his No. 1 priority that Saturday was convincing a few other big names to join him as part of the 2009 signing class. This game figured to be the perfect opportunity to close the deal. Georgia had entered the 2008 season ranked No. 1 in the nation, led by Matthew Stafford, Knowshon Moreno and A.J. Green, and was off to a 4-0 start. It was a prime-time game, national TV. ESPN’s College GameDay was on campus that morning, and the Bulldogs had already announced they’d be wearing their famed all-black jerseys, which they’d worn to much fanfare during wins over Auburn and Hawai’i the year before. The environment was electric, well, until about 20 minutes after kickoff.

By halftime, Alabama led 31-0. The Nick Saban era had officially begun, and Georgia’s hopes for a national championship in 2008 were all but over.

“I just remember at halftime, they’re getting their butts spanked,” Murray said. “And all these recruits were saying, ‘I thought Georgia was good. What’s the deal?’ I just said it must’ve been an off night but, ‘Hey, those jerseys look sweet.'”

Fast forward to the scars of 2012…

Murray knows the feeling.

In the 2012 SEC championship, with the Tide leading 32-28, he led Georgia on a potential game-winning drive. The Dawgs had the ball, first-and-goal at the Alabama 8 with just 15 seconds to play and the clock running.

“People say we should’ve clocked the ball,” former Georgia coach Mark Richt explained in a measured, matter-of-fact tone that suggested he’s told this story a million times before. “But if you throw into the end zone, you’re going to get three plays. If you clock it, you’re going to get two. Strategically, it was not a bad thing.”

Problem is, the strategy backfired. Murray’s first-down pass was tipped and caught by Conley, who couldn’t get out of bounds before the clock expired, sending Alabama on to the BCS national championship game, where the Tide annihilated Notre Dame.

“I’d love to put it behind me, but I don’t think that’s ever going to happen,” Murray said. “I still have nightmares about that drive.”

And you thought you had it bad.

“The media is going to continue to talk about how you haven’t beaten Alabama and look at recent history and look at what happened four weeks ago,” Murray said. “You can look at the film and say Georgia is more talented, but every single day all you hear is Georgia can’t get over the hump, Georgia can’t get over the hump. You want to walk into the stadium with the confidence of knowing you can win the game, but that’s in the back of your head. That’s part of the reason Alabama has had so much success the past 15 years. When a team looks across the field they see Nick Saban, and the trophies. And the success. And the first-rounders. And the Heisman Trophy winner. And you say, ‘Man, how can we get through this?'”

Good question.  We find out tomorrow if they do.



Filed under Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules

On my way to see the Dawgs play…

By the time this post pops up on the blog, I’ll have been on the road for a couple of hours, heading towards Louisville, Kentucky to spend the night before going on to Indianapolis.

Believe it or not, my mood is pretty nondescript, neither anxious nor confident.  It’s a game Georgia can win, but they’re gonna have to prove themselves.

Posting will be sparse between now and kickoff, but not nonexistent.  In the meantime, behave, you scamps.


Filed under GTP Stuff

Will second time be the charm?

Football Outsiders:

Bennett is probably not quite as good as his numbers (10.1 yards per attempt, 27 TD, 7 INT) indicate, and we saw why when Georgia met Alabama—their first top-15 opponent of the season by the most recent rankings. Like any quarterback, Bennett isn’t as good under pressure (7.9 yards per attempt, 4 TD, 3 INT), and the Tide produced a little more of that than usual (28.3% of dropbacks to Georgia’s season average of 25.0%).

But what proved to be the Bulldogs’ undoing on offense wasn’t the Alabama front seven; it was the secondary. On non-screen pass attempts, Bennett was downright impressive this season, averaging 10.4 yards per attempt with 22 TD and 7 INT. PFF graded him better on those plays than on screen passes, and his non-screen numbers are surprisingly close to Heisman Trophy finalists CJ Stroud (10.1 yards per attempt, 41 TD, 6 INT) and Kenny Pickett (9.1 yards per attempt, 36 TD, 6 INT). But Alabama tore Bennett apart on these more difficult attempts: he went 20 for 41 for 263 yards, 6.6 yards per attempt, one touchdown, and two interceptions. It was surprising stuff from a pass defense that had, to that point, not really looked all that great: Alabama’s secondary ranks 13th in EPA per pass, 47th in success rate, and 46th in havoc rate. All of those figures have soared recently as a result of overpowering both Bennett and Desmond Ridder (17 for 32, 144 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT) in their last two games.

How much of that do we chalk up to general improvement on the part of Alabama and how much to making the Georgia offense one-dimensional after the offensive onslaught that put the Dawgs in a two-touchdown hole from which they never recovered?


Filed under Alabama, Georgia Football, Stats Geek!