There's no question that quarterback Aaron Murray jumpstarted the Bulldogs and the sold out Sanford Stadium crowd of 92,746 when he found an opening and broke off a 35-yard touchdown run for Georgia's first score in Saturday's 41-14 rout of Tennessee.
Funny thing is, it wasn't the original play that was called.
As Murray explained, his first progression was to go over the middle to Orson Charles. But when the sophomore tight end got tangled up in coverage, Murray said his eyes got as wide as saucers so he took off toward the end zone and didn't stop until he fell across the goal-line to give Georgia a quick 7-0 lead.
"I was actually trying to get out of bounds so I wouldn't get hit," Murray laughed. "But the field was pretty clear and when T.K. (Tavarres King) gave me a great block down field that let me run in for the score."
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said he and the rest of Georgia's coaches are learning pretty quickly that Murray has an uncanny ability to make something happen when plays break down.
"They were doubling A.J. (Green) and Orson would have been wide open down the middle of the field, but he got hung up at the line of scrimmage and Aaron recognized it," Bobo said. "He couldn't' find the check-down so that's when he took off; he did a great job."
Statistically, Murray couldn't have done much better.
Besides completing 17-of-25 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns on passes of 22 yards to A.J. Green and 9 yards to Rantavious Wooten, Murray also rushed for 41 yards and two scores.
"It was his best game. I can only think of one time where he did something he probably shouldn't have done as far as a decision that was made," head coach Mark Richt said. "There were probably a few more. During the course of a game it's hard for a quarterback to be right every time, especially when we give our quarterbacks a lot of leeway to make a lot of decisions, before the snap and after the snap. But his decision making has really been very solid. He's rarely thrown the ball in position where the defense would have a better chance than we have, and I mean all year long."
With the season at its halfway point, Murray is posting some impressive first-year numbers having completed 97-of-157 passes for 1,326 yards and 10 touchdowns. He's also rushed for 121 yards and four scores.
He's only been intercepted three times.
"That touchdown-to-interception ratio for a first-year quarterback is really pretty good," Richt said. "He's hitting over 60 percent of his passes and in this game I thought he was very accurate. I can't think of a one he threw where he didn't give our guys a chance."
Richt said his quarterback has also impressed him with his ability to run the ball.
"We knew he was a good athlete but I didn't think he would be able to make as many plays with his wheels," Richt said. "I didn't think he would run for that many yards across the line of scrimmage. I felt he would move well, bide time to maybe throw the ball downfield and occasionally get first downs here or there but I really didn't think he would be able to break out and run the ball like he has."
Murray's second touchdown run - a five yard jaunt - was arguably the most exciting play of the day.
Facing a third-and-goal, Murray rolled left after using a nifty spin move to escape the grasp of a would-be tackler.
With nobody open, Murray took off, breaking toward the goal line before reaching out with the football to cross the plane of the goal. The officials initially ruled that Murray stepped out of bounds, but after the review, a touchdown was the result allowing Georgia to ice the game at 34-7.
"That second one he was looking for his high school buddy (Charles) when he should have been looking for someone else," Bobo said. "He really didn't do what we said, but he made play. That's the thing about Aaron, when things aren't perfect, he can make a play."
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