Murray eager for Florida game

ATHENS, Ga. -- Aaron Murray can admit now that he was not as composed as he needed to be at the beginning of last year's Georgia-Florida game -- and that when his slow start and back-breaking interception in overtime played a direct role in the Bulldogs' loss, he had a difficult time letting it go.

The sophomore quarterback estimates that he watched film of the game 15 or 20 times, many of which came in the week after the game, when he seemingly had it on repeat.

"I think the week after, I watched it five to eight times. Something like that," Murray said Tuesday. "I watched it a couple times a day for a while, and then throughout the offseason I watched it in the summer."

Murray dwelled on the loss to the point that offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo had to practice some amateur psychology. Repeatedly re-watching the tape in an effort to correct mistakes is one thing, but Bobo didn't want his quarterback continuously viewing the game as some form of self-abuse.

Eventually it reached the point where he encouraged the Tampa native to get over the loss so as not to allow it to affect his confidence or performance.

"A guy being from Florida wants to play well against Florida," Bobo said. "Usually kids, they bounce back pretty easy. They're ready to go, and they're ready to get out there and play again, and coaches sometimes dwell on the past, and we could've done this, could've done that. But that week, he couldn't let that game go a little bit. He kept watching it and kept watching it and it was, 'Hey, you've got to let it go,' and he was like, 'I just want to learn so I don't make those same mistakes again.'

"That was good, but at the same time, he's just still got to go out and play. He can't let last year haunt him. He can't worry about he's got to be perfect. He's got to go out and play and react to what happens in the game."

Murray got off to a horrendous start last year, throwing an interception on the first play of the game and struggling with his accuracy as the Bulldogs fell behind 21-7 at halftime. After ranking as the Bulldogs' breakout offensive star in the first several games of the season, his poor start against the Gators came as a bit of a surprise.

"It's a big game, so I was probably a little too juiced up," he said. "Hopefully I got that out of my system last year and can go in there and just relax and play."

Now that he has been through a season as a starter and has that first start against Florida under his belt -- including a furious second-half comeback where the Bulldogs forced overtime at 31-31 before Murray's overtime interception led to defeat -- Bobo also expects to see a more composed quarterback when the Bulldogs and Gators play in Jacksonville on Oct. 29.

"I think it's a learning experience for him and one of those that sometimes you've got to go through to get better," Bobo said. "I know it ate at him for a long time, and even this offseason, so I know he's going to prepare very hard, and I expect him to have a very good game next week."


Bobo once stayed in close contact with his former Georgia teammate and coaching cohort Will Muschamp -- now the first-year head coach at Florida -- but they fell out of touch once Muschamp became a Gator.

"I don't ever talk to him hardly anymore," Bobo said. "I might have talked to him once since he's got the job. When he was at Texas or Miami, it would be every week or two weeks: 'Hey, how you doing? What's going on up there?' Now it's pretty much he's at Florida, I'm at Georgia."

Bobo lamented that as an unfortunate part of the coaching business but said they can always catch up on conversation later in life when they're no longer on opposite sides of a bitter rivalry.

"We're playing Florida," Bobo said. "I'm not playing him, he's not playing me. You just go out there and coach and get your guys ready to play those guys. Aside from a, 'Hello, good luck,' that will be about it. It'll be something we can talk about later when we get old."

Break for receivers

When asked about Georgia's depth at wideout for last weekend's Vanderbilt game, receivers coach Tony Ball offered a correction of sorts: There wasn't any.

Malcolm Mitchell, Rantavious Wooten and Israel Troupe did not play, and Marlon Brown was still not back to 100 percent after a high ankle sprain, so the Bulldogs were down to preparing walk-ons Rhett McGowan and Michael Erdman to play if necessary.

"In practice, it's tough for me, because you're trying to get plays rehearsed that you know you've got to get rehearsed, but also don't wear guys out -- but also keep in mind that you know you're going to get guys like Rhett or Mike that's going to be limited with what they know and what they can do," Ball said.

Despite the injury, Brown still had a career game against Vanderbilt, catching four passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns.

Now the Bulldogs expect to get a much-needed boost when this week's open date allows Brown possibly to get back to full strength, while Mitchell (hamstring) and Wooten (concussion) could return by the end of the week.

Mitchell ran at Tuesday's practice while wearing a green non-contact jersey.

Bobo also observed that the break will be good for Georgia's receivers, as the few healthy regulars -- including Tavarres King and Michael Bennett -- have played an inordinate number of snaps in games and practices thus far.

"We're pretty thin there at that position," Bobo said. "You've got guys still going, but those guys are a little worn out. Guys have been playing a lot of plays in Tavarres and Michael Bennett, and then Malcolm before his injury was playing a lot of plays. It was good to get Marlon back. We've got to get Wooten back, hopefully this week, and get Malcolm back and really get all our guys fresh and ready to go, because it's another season about to start up."

Extra points

Mitchell, snapper Ty Frix, outside linebacker Chase Vasser, running back Carlton Thomas and defensive end Dexter Morant all worked in non-contact jerseys during Tuesday's practice. Linebacker Alec Ogletree, returning from a broken foot, was not in green. ... The Bulldogs practiced under a heavy rainfall Tuesday, which had a way of water-logging the footballs. "(The quarterbacks) just took three footballs out there, so they weighed about 20 pounds each. My arm got a little bit of a workout in," Murray said. ... Running back Isaiah Crowell was slowed by wrist and elbow injuries against Vanderbilt but he said the injuries are improving and "should be better by next week." ... Crowell said he became friends with Alabama running back Trent Richardson during the recruiting process and texted Richardson congratulations after his four-touchdown performance against Ole Miss last Saturday.

David Ching covers University of Georgia sports for DawgNation. He can be reached at davidchingespn@gmail.com.