ATHENS -- Georgia’s Aaron Murray doubled his season total for interceptions Saturday. One of them resulted in Mississippi State’s only touchdown of the game.
It didn’t end up costing Georgia much, as a strong first half and a stingy defense powered the way for a 24-10 victory. But offensive coordinator Mike Bobo made clear that Murray had to be more careful.
“We’ve gotta do a better job of protecting the football,” Bobo said. “I’ve gotta do a better job of coaching him and getting him ready. We can’t have turnovers.”
Murray, who only threw eight interceptions in 13 starts last year, said nothing was bothering him. He threw three interceptions Saturday.
“It’s nothing mechanical at all. I feel like I’m throwing the ball fine,” Murray said. “It’s just a couple of balls that weren’t at the exact spot or maybe a ball forced here or there. I just can’t do that.”
Murray’s overall day was pretty good; he finished with 160 passing yards, continuing to hook up with tight end Orson Charles and freshman receiver Malcolm Mitchell.
“We’ve just gotta continue to play ball,” Bobo said. “We can’t be scared when we’re throwing the ball, I don’t want him to be scared when he throws the ball, worried about turning it over. Because we had some of that last year, and we just took too many sacks. I want him to just be ready to cut it loose, and if it’s not there tuck it and go.”
The debate about whether sacks matter may continue, but the question of when they would come for the Bulldogs is long over.
They had five Saturday, a week after busting open for four at Mississippi That adds up to nine in two weeks, after only having one -- on a cornerback blitz -- during the first three weeks.
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham maintained all along the sacks would come, that the outside rushers were doing a good job. Most of the sacks the past two weeks are coverage-related, Grantham said.
“These last few games it’s been more where the guys had to hold the ball because of what we’re doing in the back end,” Grantham said.
Outside linebackers Cornelius Washington and Jarvis Jones had two sacks apiece. Washington had 1.5 last week and Jones had one.
Nose tackle John Jenkins had the other one, the first of his Georgia career. Jenkins, a highly recruited junior college prospect, is another player whom coaches said was playing well but didn’t yet have the stats to show for it.
“I’m sure he gained confidence from what happened (Saturday),” head coach Mark Richt said. “Not that he’s not a confident guy. But you know you’re coming in from junior college, and there’s a lot of hype about you and that kind of stuff. And you want to be productive to the point where people notice it. And you couldn’t help but notice No. 6.”
One back, one on the way?
Inside linebacker Christian Robinson, returning from a foot injury, played after missing the previous two games. The junior said he appeared in about 20 to 25 plays, mostly on third downs.
“It’s sore. It hurts,” Robinson said. “But I just want to play, and you get the adrenaline going you don’t even feel it any more. It’s getting better every day, and that’s the main thing.”
Alec Ogletree, the other starting inside linebacker when the season started, is still out with a broken foot. But the sophomore was off of crutches and moving around on the sideline, and Richt said Ogletree was due to have an X-ray to evaluate his progress.
“It’s good to see Ogletree walking around without a boot or a crutch or something. So he’s getting closer,” Richt said. “We’re getting closer to getting everybody back.”
Richt and Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen had a long exchange during the postgame handshake. Richt said the conversation was nothing unusual.
“All the coaches have a tremendous amount of respect for each other. And I like Dan,” Richt said. “We were just talking about our teams. He felt like he thinks we’ve got a pretty darn good football team. We were just talking about who we play next week and stuff.”
He said it
“I was glad Drew didn’t try to do a Garo Yepremian.” -- Richt on punter Drew Butler not throwing the ball after a muffed punt snap in the second half. Richt, who grew up in the Miami area, was alluding to the infamous play in Super Bowl VII when the Dolphins’ place-kicker attempted a pass, and it was picked off and returned for a touchdown.