Aaron Murray was supposed to be the question mark for Georgia this season.
It comes with the territory when you’re a freshman quarterback in the SEC.
As fate would have it, he ended up being one of the few constants for the Bulldogs in the most unfulfilling season of the Mark Richt era.
They get one last chance to salvage a little something out of this season Friday against UCF in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, and Murray gets a chance to break a few more records.
“I’ve never been into individual numbers or records,” Murray said. “The thing that will stick with me about this season is that we didn’t win enough games. I came here to win championships. That’s how you’re measured.”
The fact that Georgia didn’t play for one this season was no fault of Murray’s. He’ll put the wraps Friday on one of the best seasons a freshman quarterback has ever had individually in this league.
Murray has already passed for more yards (2,851) and touchdowns (24) than any freshman quarterback in school history. With two touchdown passes in the bowl game, Murray could break Matthew Stafford’s school record of 25 touchdown passes in a season.
With one touchdown pass or touchdown run, he could break D.J. Shockley’s school record of 28 touchdowns accounted for in a season.
Murray also has a chance to reach the 3,000-yard plateau this season. Only one other freshman quarterback in SEC history has ever thrown for 3,000 yards in a season. Kentucky’s Jared Lorenzen passed for 3,687 yards in 2000.
“I still have a lot to improve on, and that’s been a big emphasis for this bowl game,” Murray said. “I wasn’t always accurate at times. My footwork needs to get better, and I need to get into my progressions faster.
“I was fortunate to have great talent around me this year. Not every freshman is lucky enough to have the kind of talent I did, and that was a huge help this first season.”
Murray also credits offensive coordinator Mike Bobo for having him ready for every game.
“Coach Bobo always gave me what I could handle and didn’t put too much on me where I was confused,” Murray said. “He always made sure I had a good understanding of what we were doing, and I felt completely prepared against every defense we faced this year.”
The only really bad game Murray had was against Florida when he threw three interceptions and lost a fumble. But he finished the regular season with just six interceptions and also showed a penchant for scrambling out of trouble. He rushed for four touchdowns during the season.
And given the way he was knocked around in the Auburn game and kept getting back up, nobody’s going to question his toughness.
So as the Bulldogs look to rebound next season, the one position they don’t have to worry about is quarterback.
Murray wants to see a greater focus across the board next season when it comes to protecting the football, finishing drives and scoring in the red zone. All three were killers for the Bulldogs earlier this season when they lost four straight games.
“We definitely kick ourselves because we just didn’t finish enough games this year,” Murray said. “Even when we were 1-4, we still had a chance to win the SEC, but couldn’t get it done. It stinks, but you learn from it and make sure you don’t make the same mistakes next season.”
Murray said how the Bulldogs play Friday will set the tone for the offseason. Moreover, nobody wants to be associated with the first Georgia team since 1996 to finish with a losing record.
“I definitely think we’re a better team than our record shows,” Murray said. “This is our last opportunity to prove that against a Top-25 team and go into offseason workouts and spring practice with some momentum and make sure we’re ready for Boise State [in the opener] next year.”