In the year since Aaron Murray took his first shot at his home state Florida Gators, the Georgia quarterback figures he’s viewed the game film “close to about 15 to 20 times.”
Murray watched the footage “a couple of times a day” soon after the 34-31 overtime loss. He watched it even more in the offseason and summer and this week told his backup, Hutson Mason, that he watched it again on Tuesday.
The redshirt sophomore isn’t trying to torture himself by pushing the rewind button again and again on the game that he calls “the toughest to swallow” in his Georgia career, but is hoping to glean something that will help him Saturday when he gets another try at the Gators.
“It was a tough one to lose,” said Murray, who hails from Tampa. “I want to get that taste out of mouth and I want to be able to go home without having all my friends ragging on me about losing to the Gators.”
Murray’s first pass in Jacksonville was picked off by Janoris Jenkins and so was his last in overtime by Will Hill.
“I know it ate him for a long time and even this offseason,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “I know he’s going to prepare very hard and I expect him to have a very good game.”
After a rough first half in which he completed just 5 of 14 passes, Murray helped Georgia rally from two touchdowns down to force overtime. He completed 18 of 37 passes for 313 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions, matching his interception total in his first eight games. He also lost a fumble.
“I was probably a little too juiced, a little too anxious,” Murray said. “A lot of friends and family there. It’s a big game. Hopefully I got that out of my system last year and I can just go out and relax and play.”
Georgia coach Mark Richt said he won’t talk to Murray about last year’s game this week.
“I think the less said the better,” he said. “We’re trying to focus real hard on not the fact that it’s in Jacksonville, not the fact that it’s even Florida. We’re looking at the team we’re playing as far as their personnel, their scheme. … I want him to focus on what’s going to help him win when the ball is snapped.”
Murray considers himself “a lot calmer” now heading into games, which may make him better equipped to handle the stage of a game he watched as a kid.
“I know Aaron personally from being here two years and I know how much this one means to him,” Mason said. “He always talks about being from Florida, him and Orson (Charles). When we were sitting in the meeting room the other day, we were going through their roster just seeing where guys were from. He knew a lot of guys on that team. He does take it personally. This is kind of like his going-back game. I know a lot of his family is going to be there. He probably doesn’t talk about it, but I know he wants this one deep.”
While growing up in Tampa, Murray said he was a Miami fan because his mother’s side of the family is from there. He grew to like Texas and in high school and liked Florida “a little bit” because he would attend games in Gainesville.
“I wasn’t a big-time Florida fan, but obviously living in Florida, you’re going to watch the Florida-Georgia game,” Murray said. “You just see it on TV and then actually getting in that stadium and being a part of it, it was a lot of nerves, a lot of jitters, a lot of butterflies.”
He picked Georgia, he said, because he loved the coaches and the program and wanted to play in the SEC. His final two choices were the Bulldogs and Gators.
“There’s definitely a little bit more added to this one,” Murray said. “It’s a big game. It’s Georgia-Florida.”
Fullback Bruce Figgins called Murray “one of the most professional guys on the team” in how he handles game preparation. Murray thinks can keep his emotions in check this time.
“I think I’ve definitely matured, I think I know what the environment’s going to be like,” Murray said.
Bobo said he will tell Murray to focus on playing the game, don’t get too hyped up and enjoy playing in the high-profile contest.
“He can’t let last year haunt him,” Bobo said. “He can’t worry about that, he’s got to be perfect. He’s got to go out and play and react to what happens in the game.”
“I’m looking forward to it,” Murray said. “I’ve been looking forward to it since we played them last year, so I’m ready to go.”