Dawgs' Murray: Time to win a big game

October, 27, 2011
10/27/11
2:02
PM ET
Georgia sophomore quarterback Aaron Murray has watched the tape more times than he cares to count.

The ending never gets any better.

“Just a very, very rough game,” Murray said.

[+] EnlargeAaron Murray
Daniel Shirey/US PresswireGeorgia's Aaron Murray passed for 313 yards and three touchdowns in last year's loss against Florida.
And one he hasn’t been able to entirely get out of his system.

The Florida-Georgia rivalry has a way of defining legacies. Ask Vince Dooley. Ask Urban Meyer. Ask Lindsay Scott. Ask Tim Tebow.

For Murray, who grew up watching the rivalry in Tampa, Fla., his first taste of the game as a player was about as sour as it gets.

Florida beat Georgia 34-31 in overtime last season, and Murray’s 313 passing yards and three touchdowns were overshadowed by three interceptions, including one in overtime.

Murray only threw eight interceptions all season a year ago, and three of them came in that game.

“Those are the games people remember,” Murray said. “The big games determine what kind of player you are, not only at the quarterback position, but all positions. You definitely want to win the big games, the big rivalry games, the championships. That’s something I’ve yet to accomplish since I’ve been at Georgia.

“I haven’t won a big-time game yet and haven’t won a championship yet, and that’s something I’m looking to achieve this year. As a team, it’s the same way. We’re feeling great, playing our best football and plan on going out and winning out.”

The Bulldogs have won five in a row since losing their first two games of the season to Boise State and South Carolina.

And on Saturday, they get another shot at Florida. Murray gets another shot at Florida.

In the realm of Georgia football, Florida has been a bad word for most of the past two decades. The Gators have won 18 of the past 21 meetings and 11 of the past 13.

Murray, who redshirted his first year on campus, has been around for two of the losses. He doesn’t want to see that number grow to three, especially after what he’s gone through since playing in his first one last season.

“It would be nice when I go home to walk around with a Georgia shirt on and not having people saying, ‘We whooped your butt,’ ” Murray said. “I don’t know if it’s a curse or what, but we definitely want to get it going in our direction when it comes to wins and losses.

“We haven’t been too successful playing against them no matter what kind of talent we have. Some years, we feel like we’re the better team and still lose the game. That’s unacceptable. The whole thing is. We have to go out there this week and start our own streak.”

Murray, who has thrown 16 touchdown passes and seven interceptions this season, thinks he’s a lot more mentally equipped to play his best game this season in Jacksonville.

“There were a lot of jitters last year instead of just relaxing and having fun,” Murray said. “It was just a crazy feeling to actually be playing in that game, having grown up in the state of Florida and seen all the hype surrounding it.

“Now, it’s more, ‘Been there and done that.’ It’s a huge game. That never changes. I just have more confidence that I’ll be able to settle down and play in that atmosphere.”

Because he’s been around for three years and started every game last season as a redshirt freshman, there might be a tendency by some to take Murray for granted. He’s still only a sophomore and has thrown 40 touchdown passes in 20 career games.

If he continues at that pace, he’s going etch his name in the SEC record books alongside some of the best quarterbacks to ever play in this league.

He’s a terrific leader and gained eternal respect from his teammates last season by the way he took a wicked beating in that Auburn game and kept getting back up and competing. Murray finished the season with 3,049 passing yards, the second most ever in the SEC for a freshman.

But it’s never been about numbers for Murray. That is, unless he’s counting championships.

If the Bulldogs are going to make it to this season’s SEC championship game, the first thing they have to do is figure out a way to unleash themselves from the Gators’ death grip.

“We don’t have a team right now that’s cocky and feels like we’re just going to roll the rest of the way,” Murray said. “We feel like we have a lot to accomplish and lot of tough ballgames left to play. We’ve worked hard and don’t think we’re complacent at all.

"We’re hungry and really want to finish off this season strong.”

Chris Low | email

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