Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray tore the ACL in his left knee on Saturday night on a non-contact injury on a zone-read run early in the second quarter, but didn’t do further damage by continuing to play on it for the rest of that drive and another, coach Mark Richt said Sunday.
“There was something wrong, and he knew it, and couldn’t hide it anymore,” Richt said.
Murray’s college career is over, but it didn’t end until he stayed in the game for 13 more plays after Kentucky’s Ashely Lowery dragged him down by his left leg at the end of the 28-yard run.
“He felt it pop, he felt something pop whenever it happened on the run,” Richt said. “Then he didn’t know for sure what it was. We’ve had other guys feel or hear something pop and they were fine. …He could have just run out bounds but he decided to make a right-hand turn and try to get more yards. As he was changing direction, that’s when it happened.”
Murray, a fifth-year senior who is the SEC career touchdown and passing yardage leader, got up and tossed the ball to the official after the run and winced as he started to walk.
He leaned over clearly in pain before throwing a touchdown pass to Arthur Lynch three plays later.
On the sideline, Murray rubbed the left knee. He rode a stationary bike. He returned to field with the knee braced for his final drive.
Georgia coaches talked of taking him out of the game, going so far as telling backup Hutson Mason he was going in a game that Georgia led by 21 and won 59-17.
Richt said he told Murray: “`You’re out, dude.’ He was like, `No, no way.’”
Murray convinced offensive coordinator Mike Bobo that he was able to continue to play.
“He wanted to keep playing,” Richt said. “He was moving around well enough to put him back in there. …I think he kind of knew. He knew something happened, but he didn’t know what. He’s a competitor. He wants to play.”
After a 32-yard pass was ruled incomplete, Mason was sent into the game, but Murray waved for him to go back.
“Just kind of a crazy situation right there,” Mason said.
“He wanted to lead his team his last night in Sanford Stadium,” Bobo said.
Georgia called time and Murray came to the sideline and got on the headset to talk to Bobo.
Murray stayed in, but his last pass on his last play was picked off.
Kentucky’s Za’Darius Smith slung Murray around after the interception and threw him to the turf. That was it.
Murray’s next play he hopes will be in the NFL.
“I think he’ll get drafted,” Richt said.
–Please follow me at Twitter.com/marcweiszer