Quarterback Aaron Murray is the main reason the offense hasn’t missed a beat.
Murray kept the offense moving after the No. 6 Bulldogs lost top receiver Malcolm Mitchell for the season in their opening game. He then threw four touchdown passes to lead Georgia to a 44-41 win over LSU last week after Gurley left with a sprained left ankle in the first half.
Georgia (3-1, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) has averaged 41.2 points per game against a tough early schedule that included three top-10 teams. The highlight was last week’s win over then-No. 6 LSU. Murray threw a go-ahead, 25-yard touchdown pass to Justin Scott-Wesley with 1:47 remaining.
“I thought Aaron played good during the game,” coach Mark Richt said Tuesday. “When the game was over I thought he had played good. Then I watched the film and I thought he played great.”
Richt said Murray “was on top of everything — all the checks, all the protections.”
Murray, who ranks fourth in the nation in passing efficiency, should pass former Georgia star David Greene SEC record of 11,528 yards passing this week. Murray is only yards away from matching Greene’s total from 2001-04.
Murray is also on the verge of breaking Florida standout Danny Wuerffel’s SEC mark of 114 career touchdown passes. Murray has 106 TD passes.
“It’s crazy to think about,” Murray said. “I’ve never been a guy who’s worried about stats. It’s all about winning, winning, winning, but it’s definitely an honor to be alongside some of those guys like Greene and Wuerffel, guys who did some unbelievable things.”
Murray’s senior leadership has been especially important after Mitchell was lost with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee against Clemson. Now Gurley’s status is in doubt for the game at Tennessee.
Gurley ranks third in the SEC with his average of 112.5 yards rushing. Murray said losing Gurley would hurt but added Georgia will be ready to move on with Keith Marshall and freshmen J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas at tailback.
“It’s the next guy up,” Murray said. “We do a great job every week of getting everyone prepared because you never know the situation, you never know who is going to go down and we’re very confident in everyone on offense at every position.”
No position inspires more confidence than Murray at quarterback.
“I think he has stepped up his game, even more so than in the past,” said tight end Arthur Lynch. “It’s not just about who we’ve played but about his decision making, his ability to make the big play when we need it most, and third down throws that are pretty vital.
“I think that’s all something that comes with maturity and hard work and preparation, and those are three things that have always been in his corner.”
Tennessee coach Butch Jones said Murray has a future in the NFL.
“He is as good as any quarterback in the country,” Jones said. “He is a Sunday quarterback. He can make all the throws.
“The great quarterbacks have the ability to defeat tight coverage and throw it in there. Murray can defeat tight coverage. That’s what makes him a special player. He’s poised and he’s in control.”
Murray threw a combined eight TD passes with one interception in wins over top 10 teams South Carolina and LSU. He threw for 323 yards with one interception and ran for a touchdown in Georgia’s 38-35 loss to Clemson.
Lynch, who pointed out Murray also has started in back-to-back wins over Florida, said Murray’s old label as a quarterback who couldn’t win the big game “is out the window.”
Gurley did not practice Tuesday and may be held out again today.
“When we say day to day, that’s the best way to describe it because we just don’t know how fast it will heal or how fast the swelling will go down,” Richt said. “He was supposed to be on crutches, but I looked out the window and watched him walking with his crutches over his shoulder, so I don’t know if that’s a telltale sign, but hopefully it won’t be too long.”