Murray has left his mark on Auburn, and vice versa

semerson@macon.comNovember 12, 2013 

ATHENS - Aaron Murray literally still has scars from his first game against Auburn. Yes, literally: There's a scar on his chin from a Nick Fairley hit in the 2010 game.

Murray didn't grow up in Georgia, so he didn't know much about the rivalry with Auburn until he got here.

"I never really disliked them too much I guess until after that game, and then a couple of those hits I was like, OK I don't like Auburn anymore," Murray said.

He was laughing as he said it. Over the years, actually, Murray's favorite team to face has been Auburn, at least if you go by his production.

In three games against Auburn, Murray has passed for 10 touchdowns, with no interceptions. He's averaged only 238 yards, below his career average, but the past two games have been blowouts. Murray's best game, stat-wise, was that 2010 game, when he threw for 273 yards and kept Georgia in the game for three quarters against the eventual national champion.

"I don't know what it is, but hopefully it continues this Saturday, for sure," Murray said. "We've gotta go out there and execute on offense. We've gotta keep control of the ball, keep their offense off the field, and do our part."

Murray has taken his share of hits from Auburn. He got the chin scar from Fairley, who also delivered a controversial hit in the back, causing a near-melee. Last year Murray briefly had to leave the game, one of the few times he's had to leave a game because of injury.

But when on the field Murray's been a big reason Georgia has cruised to the past two wins, by a combined score of 83-7.

This may be the most impressive stat: Murray has faced every SEC team except Texas A&M. And the only team he has not thrown an interception against is ...

"Oh yeah, them," Murray said, then smiled and knocked on his wooden chair. "It'd be great to finish off like that too, but hey ..."

Conley questionable

Receiver Chris Conley, who has missed the past two games with a sprained ankle, was among the players that head coach Mark Richt said Monday "has a chance" to return for the Auburn game. But while tight end Arthur Lynch is almost certain to play, Conley's status is in more doubt.

"He may not even play, but I don't even know that yet," Richt said.

Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo labeled Conley as questionable, adding it could be a game-time decision.

"If he was able to go it would give us a boost, but right now I'm not counting on him," Bobo said.

Conley was not able to practice on Monday or Tuesday, just running on the side, and Richt wasn't optimistic that Conley would be able to do much more than that this week.

But since Conley is so experienced, the hope is that he could still play on Saturday as long as the ankle feels better.

"I could get into hypotheticals, but the fact that he knows the system and the fact that he stays on top of everything and the fact that he has been in these types of games, I could see him rolling in and feeling good and then going into pre-game warm-up and having an impact," Richt said. "But with not practicing a lot, it will be hard to predict."

Todd Gurley, having dealt with the same injury, said he's told Conley to be patient.

"I tell him just don't rush it. Just take your time, and keep getting treated," Gurley said. "The trainers know what they're doing."

Other injury updates

Senior tight end Arthur Lynch appears to be a full-go for the Auburn game, after missing the Appalachian State game. Lynch practiced with the rest of the team on Tuesday, wearing a green non-contact jersey.

"Arty looked good out there moving around," Bobo said.

But starting left guard Dallas Lee missed practice with an elbow strain, according to UGA's injury report. He was replaced on the first team by freshman Brandon Kublanow.

Defensive lineman Toby Johnson, who has missed the past two games with an ankle sprain, was practicing in a normal capacity.

Freshman inside linebacker Reggie Carter, who had knee surgery on Oct. 29, missed practice after being able to run on the side last week.

Scheduling 'quirk'

Georgia has to play at Auburn for a second straight year, thanks to the adjusted SEC scheduling. When Missouri and Texas A&M joined the league for the 2012 season, it resulted in numerous scheduling headaches, and that season, this season and 2014 have all had to be stand-along schedules. The SEC and its athletics directors tried to keep home-and-home schedules, but in the case of Georgia and Auburn it couldn't be helped.

Auburn starts out as a three-point favorite on Saturday. The Las Vegas oddsmakers normally give the home-team about a three-point bonus.

"The quirk in the schedule didn't really work out to our favor," Richt said. "But that's what happens when you add two new teams and you're trying to make the scheduling work, so we're going back and looking forward to that opportunity."

Georgia and Auburn have been playing since 1892. This is the first time since 1958 that the game has been played at the same site for two straight years. The game was in Columbus from 1930-58, and prior to that some games were played in Montgomery, Savannah, Columbus, Atlanta and Athens.

Michael Bennett, microphone hitter

In the below video, watch Georgia receiver Michael Bennett have a run-in with play-by-play voice Scott Howard's microphone. The fun starts around the 1:45 mark:

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