For just a quick moment after Georgia‚Äôs pivotal 44-41 victory over then-No. 6 LSU Saturday, Aaron Murray let his guard down.
Asked if he felt like he exorcised a few demons by beating top-10 teams South Carolina and LSU in September, the Georgia quarterback said, ‚ÄúI hope,‚Äù and then quickly went in another direction.
‚ÄúLike I said earlier, it‚Äôs not about me,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs about this team and we‚Äôve grown up a lot this past month. I think it‚Äôs a great month for us.‚Äù
To many outsiders, they‚Äôve seen the fifth-year senior grow even more as a quarterback by playing some of his best football as a Bulldog in two of the biggest games of his career, knocking off the Gamecocks and Tigers.
‚ÄúI thought Aaron played good during the game, when the game was over I thought he played good, and then I watched the film and I thought he played great,‚Äù coach Mark Richt said of his film review of the LSU game. ‚ÄúHe was on top of everything ‚Äî all the checks, all the protections. The balls were extremely accurate. He had very few balls that were not catchable. I can‚Äôt even hardly think of one.‚Äù
Murray has completed 37 of 57 passes (64.9 percent) for 607 yards with eight touchdowns and one interception in those games and ran for another score.
‚ÄúI think he has stepped up his game even moreso than the past,‚Äù tight end Arthur Lynch said. ‚ÄúNot so much about who we‚Äôve played but his decision making, his ability to make the big play when we need it most‚Äîthird-down plays that are pretty vital and important.‚Äù
Tennessee coach Butch Jones faced the Bulldogs in 2008, when he was at Central Michigan. That Georgia squad was quarterbacked by Matthew Stafford, who became the
No. 1 overall draft pick.
‚ÄúTheir quarterback is as good as any quarterback in the country, he is a Sunday quarterback, he can make all the throws,‚Äù Jones said of Murray.
Murray‚Äôs NFL stock certainly rose Saturday and his name is now mentioned again among top contenders for the Heisman Trophy.
He is listed as No. 3 on SI.com‚Äôs Heisman Watch behind quarterbacks Tajh Boyd of Clemson and Marcus Mariota of Oregon. He‚Äôs also No. 3 in the HeismanPundit.com Straw Poll behind Texas A&M‚Äôs Johnny Manziel and Mariota.
Murray isn‚Äôt exactly clearing his calendar now for a trip to New York for the ceremony.
‚ÄúOh my God, I‚Äôm not even thinking about that,‚Äù Murray said Tuesday. ‚ÄúYou know me. It‚Äôs all about the next game. It‚Äôs all about getting ready for Tennessee.‚Äù
Murray has about killed off the storyline of not coming through in big games. He‚Äôs 3-2 in his last five games against top-10 opponents after starting his career 0-4.
Even playing an unranked Volunteers team, Murray will have a CBS national television audience watching as he becomes the SEC‚Äôs all-time career passing yardage leader probably sometime in the first half Saturday.
Murray (11,429 passing yards) is just 100 yards away from passing former Bulldogs quarterback David Greene (11,528).
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs crazy to think about,‚Äù Murray said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôve never been a guy worried about stats. It‚Äôs always about winning, winning, winning.‚Äù
Murray and Greene, who got to know each other when Murray was a freshman, talked after the LSU game not about that approaching milestone, but about how that LSU win will be remembered.
‚ÄúHe said, ‚ÄòYou might not realize it now, but this is a game that not only you will remember but everyone in the state of Georgia will remember for a long, long time. Anyone you meet or talk to is going to want to bring that game up.‚Äô‚Äù
Murray on Saturday passed No. 3 Chris Leak (11,213) of Florida and No. 4 Peyton Manning (11,201) of Tennessee.
Murray now has 106 touchdown passes and is nine away from holding that SEC record, as well
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs been amazing,‚Äù former Georgia coach Vince Dooley said. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs got the incredible fire of a sophomore the way he acts. It‚Äôs great to see that in a veteran. He is a veteran. He‚Äôs been around. I think he‚Äôs got such wonderful leadership qualities about him. If all goes well and he goes to the next level and he gets with the right coach, who knows? Players like that have succeeded and I think he will have an excellent chance to do that.‚Äù
Murray and Georgia aren‚Äôt coasting into the Tennessee week.
Even in Monday‚Äôs practice, usually ‚Äúa chill day,‚Äù Murray said offensive coordinator Mike Bobo had the quarterbacks go hard with pocket drills and other work.
‚ÄúI told him at the beginning of the year that I don‚Äôt want him to sugar anything this year,‚Äù Murray said. ‚ÄúI want him to push me to get better every single day, to not take a day off.‚Äù