Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray finally has that signature, top-10 victory that had eluded him, but it was hardly one of his top individual showings.
The redshirt junior got pats on the back as well as questions after tying his career-high with three interceptions Saturday against Florida to continue an up-and-down stretch of games over the last month.
Still, Murray called the 17-9 win over then-No. 3 Gators “probably one of the top ones for me regardless of personal stats in the game. I play to win games and that win was probably the biggest one I’ve been a part of ever since I’ve been here.”
Murray completed 12 of 24 passes for 150 yards with a touchdown and the three picks.
That came a week after going 30 of 38 for a career-high 427 yards and three touchdowns in a 29-24 win at Kentucky.
The game before that Murray had a career-low 109 yards in a 35-7 loss at South Carolina.
The South Carolina and Florida games were his Nos. 1 and 4 lowest passing efficiency ratings in the 35 games Murray has started at Georgia.
“I think it’s been two little rocky games,” Murray said of the games against teams ranked sixth and 13th in total defenses. “I’ve just got to play better at certain points.”
Tight end Arthur Lynch said he isn’t the least bit concerned heading into Saturday’s game against Ole Miss.
“I don’t expect this to become a trend,” Lynch said. “I expect him come out on Saturday and have a great game. I definitely think those three throws he’d like to have back, but you take away those three things, I think he played a pretty solid game.”
Murray reluctantly came in to watch the game film on Sunday like he usually does.
He saw three straight first-half drives end in interceptions.
“I think a little uncertainty by me sometimes with their coverage,” Murray said.
A pass intended for tight end Jay Rome was throwin into triple-coverage deflected and picked off.
“I should have checked it down to my fullback and got a little three or four yard completion,” Murray said
A pass across the middle intended for receiver Rantavious Wooten was tipped and intercepted. A throw after Murray stepped up into pocket sailed over receiver Marlon Brown was also picked off.
“That was probably the worst throw I’ve ever made in my life,” Murray said. “
Murray and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo broke down the plays on Monday.
“Just were bad throws,” Bobo said. “If you look at most of them, it would be fundamentally your feet are telling you to go to the next progression or run the ball and we didn’t do that.”
Bobo, on the press box level during the game, stayed positive with Murray after his interceptions.
“He doesn’t get on me too much,” Murray said. “He saves that for during the week in practice. He told me to calm down and relax.”
Bobo didn’t abandon the passing game despite Murray’s shaky day. Georgia still led 7-6 heading into the third quarter.
“At halftime, I said, ‘Hey, we’re going to have to do both,” Bobo said. “You’re going to have to play well in the second half. Just relax and go do what you do.”
Murray said his footwork reverted back to what he was looking for in the second half Saturday, but he still had completed just 7 of 16 passes for 67 yards until the final quarter.
On Georgia’s final scoring drive, Georgia passed with Murray on six of seven plays, including the 45-yard touchdown to Malcolm Mitchell, the school-record 76th of his career.
“That’s a test of a guy’s toughness at the quarterback position,” coach Mark Richt said. “Can he have some bad plays and then shake it off and go make some plays that will help you win the game at the end?”
Bobo told Murray in the meeting room Monday when they went over the film that “We believe in you or we wouldn’t have called those passes in the fourth quarter. We’ve just got to play with confidence and cut it loose.”
Murray still ranks 15th in the nation in passing efficiency and his teammates say they still believe in him.
“It’s frustrating no doubt,” center David Andrews said. “But it’s frustrating for him when he’s getting hit against other teams when we’re messing up. It’s just that bond between everyone not to lose faith.”