Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray owns SEC career records for passing yards (12,287) and total offense (12,591) and needs two passing touchdowns to set a new mark at 115. (Reuters)
ATHENS — Aaron Murray will start his 50th consecutive game as Georgia’s quarterback Saturday. Only David Greene, who got 52 consecutive starts with the Bulldogs from 2001-04, has more in school history.
That in itself is an impressive statistic. But it’s even more amazing when placed in the context of what has been going on in the SEC this season. Quarterbacks have been dropping like flies, especially in the Eastern Division.
Florida (Jeff Driskel), Kentucky (Jalen Whitlow), Missouri (James Franklin), South Carolina (Connor Shaw) and Vanderbilt (Austyn Carta-Samuels) have lost their starting signal-caller for at least a game because of injuries.
Not only has Murray managed to stay off the injury report this season, he has done it his entire career.
“It’s luck,” said Murray, who owns SEC career records for passing yards (12,287) and total offense (12,591) and needs two passing touchdowns to establish a new career mark, with 115. “That and some good protection from the offensive linemen. But I’m definitely thankful. There’s always bumps and bruises along the way, and I’ve had my share of minor injuries here and there. But luckily nothing serious has occurred, and hopefully it will stay that way.”
Murray has left games twice, and both came against Auburn (in 2010 and last season). But both were for short periods before he returned.
The hardest hit Murray said he has absorbed was the one from Alabama’s Quinton Dial in the SEC Championship game last year. As it turns out, that one was illegal — though it went uncalled — and helped spur the controversial targeting rule that we’re witnessing this season.
Georgia coach Mark Richt was knocking on wood when he was asked about Murray’s durability. He said at least some of it has to be attributed to the senior’s training-and-conditioning regimen.
“A quarterback like Murray is in the weight room for protection as much as he is to run the football and all that kind of thing,” Richt said. “He works on flexibility and strength and all that type of thing to be as quick and athletic as possible, but also because he’s going to get hit from time to time. …
“So we’re thankful Aaron’s been able to stay healthy throughout his career, and we want to keep it that way, if at all possible.”
Mason Watch: Of course, Murray’s durability hasn’t been good for everybody. His backup Hutson Mason has arrived at this point in his junior season having appeared in only nine games. Mason’s only action this season came at the end of the Bulldogs’ 45-21 win over North Texas on Sept. 21, and he did not attempt a pass in that game.
The Bulldogs hope the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Mason gets in the game Saturday against Appalachian State, a 2-7 FCS team. But there is no special plan to do so.
“My goal is for us to get him in there every week,” Murray said. “He prepares just like I do, just as hard, knows the game plan just as well. Hopefully we can dominate the game so we can let him and some of the other young guys play.”
GURLEY WATCH: Someone who appears certain to play Saturday is sophomore tailback Todd Gurley. That is somewhat of a surprise, considering he’s coming off a four-week recovery from an ankle injury and was unable to play the entire game against Florida.
But Gurley, who gained 187 yards of offense and scored two touchdowns while playing three quarters against the Gators on Saturday, practiced without limitations Monday and Tuesday. The Bulldogs appear to be getting Gurley ready to play Saturday.
“He just had the usual soreness in the game, and he’s probably not in the best shape,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said.
“He’s got to go out there and work and get into playing shape. We’re expecting him to play and he’s expecting to play, and we’ll take it from there. … We’ve got to get him ready to play and win this ballgame.”
Of course, the Bulldogs face Auburn in a critical SEC contest Nov. 16. Bobo said he and the Bulldogs will monitor Gurley’s condition closely and be careful not to overwork him against the Mountaineers.