Throws three touchdowns, has four turnovers
By CHRIS WHITE
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Georgia receiver A.J. Green said he could see it in quarterback Aaron Murray’s face before the game. The freshman was a little shaken-up.
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“He was a little rattled, a little nervous, a little tight, he didn’t want to mess up,” Green said. “But it’s expected. It’s a big rivalry game. He didn’t want to mess up.”
For stretches of Saturday’s loss to Florida at EverBank Field, Murray looked ready to pick apart the Gators like a veteran of the rivalry game. He passed for a career-best 313 yards and for three touchdowns while leading Georgia on a second-half rally.
But those nerves may have shown a little, too, as he threw three interceptions and fumbled the ball away, accounting for 17 points in Saturday’s 34-31 overtime loss.
After that, he wasn’t too hung up on any of his personal accolades.
“I don’t know if that was necessarily a good day,” Murray said. “A win is a good day.”
The first two times Murray was intercepted, Georgia escaped without damage. Florida missed a 42-yard field-goal attempt on the drive after the first pick, and the second one led to a punt.
And neither was Murray’s fault, Georgia coach Mark Richt said.
Murray’s first interception was thrown where it was intended to go, and the second was probably catchable by its intended receiver, the coach said.
“I don’t think he was making mistakes out of immaturity or being a first-year starter; I just think sometimes those things happen,” Richt said. “You’ve got to decide how you’re going to rebound from it. And he rebounded extremely well, and the whole team did.”
No such luck on interception No. 3, which Florida nearly returned for a touchdown and used to set up Chas Henry’s game-winning field goal.
Murray said his performance was more about controlling the ball than being nervous.
“I just have to be smart with the football, which it’s been in my mind all year to respect the football and not make those costly mistakes,” Murray said. “I just wasn’t doing that, especially in the first half, in being protective of the football.”
Green was closely covered much of the game and limited to 42 yards and a touchdown on four catches, but other receivers benefited from Murray’s big day. Orson Charles caught six passes for 108 yards and a touchdown, and Kris Durham had three catches for 41 yards.
Chris White, 706-571-8571