As happy as he was with the outcome, quarterback Aaron Murray wasn't necessarily pleased with his own performance during Saturday's 24-10 win over Mississippi State.
Although he threw touchdowns in the first half of 21 yards to Orson Charles and 6 yards to Malcolm Mitchell, the redshirt sophomore couldn't help but lament the three interceptions he threw, including one that was returned 72 yards for MSU's only touchdown of the afternoon.
"There were some passes I wasn't as accurate as I needed to be. When you play a great SEC team, you've got to be pin-point on every pass," Murray said. "If you throw any pass wrong great athletes are going to make plays so I've got to continue to work on my game and make sure it doesn't happen again."
Murray's first two picks occurred on back-to-back series in the second quarter when he overshot Mitchell on a slant route, instead throwing right into the arms of safety Nickoe Whitley at the MSU 25.
On Georgia's next possession, Murray attempted to connect with tight end Aron White on a comebacker but threw the ball too flat, right into the arms of linebacker Cameron Lawrence at the Bulldogs 28.
Fortunately for Murray, the mistake didn't cost the team any points as Sanders Commings intercepted MSU quarterback Chris Relftwo plays later.
His third interception, which took place early in the fourth quarter, was a flag route that safety Darius Slay stepped in front of and returned 72 yards for Mississippi State's only score of the game.
"I like to hedge what I say because I'm not standing behind him where he's standing. I don't know what he sees all the time so I don't want to be too critical," head coach Mark Richt said. "But the second pick was a ball where we've just got to learn to throw with a little more arch to it. He threw it just a little bit too flat. I think the receiver was open downfield behind what was happening but I think we threw the ball too much on a line drive."
So what's the problem?
Murray threw just eight interceptions all of last year but with three on Saturday, has six thus far in 2011.
"It's not mechanical at all," Murray said. "I feel like I'm throwing the ball fine. There were just a couple of balls that weren't to the exact spot or I may have forced here or there. I just can't do that."
Richt attributed some of the first-half issues to spotty pass protection by the offensive line.
For the second week in a row, Murray took his share of shots from opposing defenders, and although he was sacked just two times against MSU, Richt believes the punishment he took in the first half did take its toll.
"He made a lot of great plays in the first half, but he was getting knocked around. We didn't protect well. We've got to get better. We were improving quite a bit on the protection issue before these last couple of games and I don't even know what the issue is because I've got to watch the film there, too," Richt said. "But what I do know is we're calling protections where I know we've got a hat for these guys and guys are coming clean, forcing him to throw the ball a little sooner than he's wanted to and getting hit after he released the ball. Even so I thought he stood in there, really focused firm and made some good throws downfield under pressure. We've just got make sure he makes those great throws without pressure."
Murray would go on to complete 13 of 25 passes for 160 yards. Ironically, his longest completion of the day was his 21-yard touchdown to Charles during the Bulldogs' opening possession.
His 6-yard pass to Mitchell followed by a 7-yard Carlton Thomas accounted for Georgia's 21-3 halftime lead, but not much went right offensively for Georgia after that.
The Bulldogs rolled up an impressive 237 yards of offense during the first two quarters, but only 78 in quarters three and four as Murray only competed 2-of-9 passes for 23 yards and the one Pick-6.
"We definitely want to put the foot down and put teams away. We didn't do that and that's something we need to do," Murray said. "We don't need to put our defense in situations where they have to continue stopping teams over and over again. We need to put teams away when we have the opportunity."
Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]