ATLANTA – The subject of Aaron Murray’s play in big games came up near the end of Mark Richt’s pregame press conference on Friday. Richt was asked if he discusses Murray’s struggles with him or leaves it alone.
“No, we didn't talk about that,” Richt said. “We are talking about the scheme, we are talking about the game plan, we are talking about what it's going to take to have the victory. So the goal with Aaron is to just prepare him and he is trying to prepare himself in such a way that whatever comes up, he's able to handle it. It's just like I always liken it to a math test or something like that. That's one thing about Aaron, is he prepares, so he'll be ready to play.”
Murray leads the nation in pass efficiency rating, and has thrown for 3,201 yards this season, with 30 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. Three of those interceptions came in the first half against Florida, but Georgia won anyway.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban praised Murray for being a good decision-maker, and for getting rid of the ball quickly.
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“A very good rhythm sort of quarterback, and they have a rhythm passing game in terms of how they do what they can do,” who added that disrupting that rhythm had to be an emphasis for Alabama.
There has been no debate about the meaning of this game: The winner will move on to face Notre Dame in the BCS championship game.
But Richt was asked Friday why Georgia and Alabama should right now be considered the two top one-loss teams, with the winner moving on.
“Because that's where the BCS voted us,” Richt said, laughing. “I don't know, there's a formula and here we are. I'm just thankful that we are here.”
Incidentally, Richt was asked if he would consider voting the winner of Saturday’s game No. 1 on his ballot for the USA Today coaches poll.
“No, I’ll vote Notre Dame No. 1,” Richt said. “I vote the winner No. 2.”
The last time Georgia faced Alabama was during the 2008 season, in what is now infamously called the Blackout Game. That’s because the Bulldogs wore black uniforms, and then were promptly stomped, 41-30.
Richt was asked Friday what he could apply from that game.
“Don’t wear black jerseys,” Richt said, laughing. “We’re wearing red.”
Cotton on table
The Bulldogs are hoping it doesn’t become an issue. But their bowl destination if they don’t beat Alabama could be getting a bit clearer.
ESPN reported on Friday that the Capital One Bowl is set to pick Texas A&M, although it can’t announce it until Sunday. The Capital One has the first pick of SEC teams after the BCS.
By picking a team from the SEC West, that would free up the Cotton Bowl to pick a team from the East if it wanted. That makes Georgia a possibility for the Texas-based bowl, along with LSU.
If the Cotton passes on Georgia, the Bulldogs are likely to end up back at the Georgia Dome: The Outback Bowl seems to prefer South Carolina, and the next bowl in the SEC selection order is the Chick-fil-A, which would be contractually obligated to take Georgia because of its record.
Georgia last appeared in the Cotton Bowl after the 1983 season, beating Texas 10-9. The Longhorns are being predicted by many analysts as the Big 12 team most likely to go to the Cotton this year.
Georgia Dome, not quite home
The Bulldogs have the shortest drive of any SEC team to Atlanta. But it’s been a long time since thye’ve won in the Georgia Dome:
The last time was Dec. 30, 2006, in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, a 31-24 win over Virginia Tech. Then the Bulldogs went four full seasons without an appearance in the dome.
That ended with last year’s opener against Boise State, which the Bulldogs lost, along with the SEC championship game to LSU.