Georgia, Nebraska quarterbacks seeking first bowl win

semerson@macon.comDecember 29, 2012 

ORLANDO, Fla. -- As quarterbacks, as well as interview subjects, Aaron Murray and Taylor Martinez are almost polar opposites.

Murray is basically a pocket passer. Martinez depends on his legs.

Off the field, Murray is constantly smiling, sprinkling his long answers with words like “tremendous” and “awesome” and “great.” Martinez, by contrast, keeps his comments as short as possible, and he is almost sullen.

But the two quarterbacks who will lead their teams in the Capital One Bowl do have one statistical blemish in common.

Murray is 0-2 as a starter in bowl games. So is Martinez.

In fact, Murray has never even won a postseason game in college. His record there is 0-4. Martinez is 0-3.

So one of them will knock an albatross off Tuesday.

Murray always laughs off the issue of his play in big game, but this week he brought up the lack of a bowl win himself.

“It’s a fun week, the attractions and all that stuff. But like I said, I have yet to win a bowl game,” Murray said. “So this is an opportunity -- my third time is hopefully a charm.”

Martinez, in a moment of reflection, granted that it stings him “a little bit” that he doesn’t have a bowl win. But he doesn’t consider it a grand personal failing.

“I haven’t really thought that much about it,” Martinez said. “We just go out there and play. It’s not really in our hands. It’s a team sport, so you can’t really put it in your hands.”

But a lot of it will be in the quarterback’s hands Tuesday. Or perhaps the legs, in the case of Martinez.

In three years as a starter, Martinez has rushed for 2,812 yards. His running ability is a major part of a Nebraska offense that ranks eighth nationally in rushing.

“He’s extremely talented,” said Georgia head coach Mark Richt of Martinez. “He’s been in a lot of big games. I don’t know how many big games he’s started in his career, but a bunch of them. So he’s a veteran who can make things happen when they’re not there, so to speak. But they design a lot of things to make sure he’s running the ball. He’s a very athletic runner. …

“That’s impressive. That’s hard to defend. And we haven’t had the greatest success defending those types of guys. But not many people have done a good job of defending him either.”

Indeed, Georgia’s defense was burned several times this year by quarterbacks who could run, from the expected (South Carolina’s Connor Shaw) and the unexpected (Buffalo’s Alex Zordich.)

So stopping Martinez will be a major thrust of Georgia’s plan, and its ability to do so will have a big impact on the game.

“We’ve faced a couple athletic quarterbacks that are gifted with speed,” Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones said. “He’s explosive. We understand we have to execute our game plan and prepare to do our best when it’s game time. The coaches have been doing a great job of putting us in situations to make plays this season. We know Nebraska is very capable of going the distance on some plays.”

Murray, on the other hand, began his career as a running threat. But his rushing total has gone down each of his three seasons at Georgia, and it stands at minus-71 yards this season because of sacks being included.

Murray knows that Martinez has that on him.

“I’m not a 4.3 guy like he is. He has some burners,” Murray said. “I might pull it down (and run) every now and then when I need to, but I prefer just standing there and picking it apart with my arm.”

And his ability to do that could dictate the game for Georgia. While Nebraska’s porous run defense in the Big Ten championship was a major reason it was routed by Wisconsin, the Cornhuskers actually rank first in the nation in pass defense. They’re yielding just 148.2 passing yards per game.

So if Murray can lead his team to the win, that may say something.

“I always prepare pretty hard for every game,” Murray said. “Maybe a little extra this week, I don’t know.”

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service