COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Murray named SEC Player of the Week; Auburn’s defense looks strong

Quarterback Aaron Murray greets the fans during the Dawg Walk before the Georgia Bulldogs defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks, 41-30, on Saturday at Sanford Stadium in Athens. Photo by Ted Mayer

Quarterback Aaron Murray greets the fans during the Dawg Walk before the Georgia Bulldogs defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks, 41-30, on Saturday at Sanford Stadium in Athens. Photo by Ted Mayer


Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray (11) celebrates after beating the South Carolina Gamecocks at Sanford Stadium on Saturday in Athens. (Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports)

ATHENS — Georgia senior quarterback Aaron Murray was named the Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week following the Bulldogs’ 41-30 win against sixth-ranked South Carolina, according to a league announcement on Monday.

This marks the second week in a row that a Bulldog has won Offensive Player of the Week honors. Sophomore tailback Todd Gurley was last week’s winner.

Murray, who was also named CollegeFootballPerformanceAward.com’s National Performer of the Week, was honored as the league’s Player of the Week twice last season and twice as the Freshman of the Week in 2010.

Murray, a native of Tampa, Fla., shredded the Gamecocks on 17-of-23 passing (74 percent) for 309 yards and four touchdowns. He finished with a 244.2 pass efficiency mark.

This was the ninth time in his career that Murray has had at least four passing touchdowns in a game. He connected with eight different receivers, including first-time starter and Camilla native Justin Scott-Wesley, who hauled in a career-long 85-yard touchdown to put Georgia up by 11 points in the fourth quarter.

Murray moved to No. 2 on the school’s all-time list for total offense with 10,907 yards in his career.

After a bye week this week, the 10th-ranked Bulldogs (1-1, 1-0 SEC) will next host North Texas (1-1, 0-0 Conference USA) on Sept. 21 in Sanford Stadium.

AUBURN’S DEFENSE TURNING HEADS: What a difference a week makes.

In Auburn’s season opener against Washington State, only one area of the Tigers’ defense didn’t disappoint: the secondary. Thanks to three interceptions, two by “Star” Robenson Therezie and one by safety Josh Holsey, Auburn’s defensive backs were a bright spot in the 31-24 victory. The six players in front of them in Ellis Johnson’s 4-2-5 scheme, meanwhile, barely registered on anyone’s radar.

That all changed Saturday in a 38-9 win against Arkansas State, with both units putting together bounce-back efforts.

After tallying only five total tackles against the Cougars, the linebackers totaled 23 versus the Red Wolves, led by Cassanova McKinzy’s eight.

“Our main focus was to not let them come into Jordan-Hare and run the ball,” said McKinzy, as Auburn held Arkansas State to 150 yards rushing one week after it finished with 509. “I think the whole unit did awesome. We had our issues, but that is what practice is for. We will come in and fix it.”

The Tigers’ rushing defense was even more impressive considering the Red Wolves’ depth at running back. In Arkansas State’s 62-11 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff in Week 1, the Red Wolves had four different players run for 100 or more yards. Their top rusher Saturday was quarterback Adam Kennedy, who had 74 yards on 12 carries. It was a flip-flop in philosophy from what the Tigers saw against the pass-happy Cougars.

But the Tigers had no issues adapting, which pleased their head coach.

“We played a team that throws it just about every down and then we went to one of the better running teams,” Gus Malzahn said. “It was good for our defense to be able to adjust like we did.”

Similarly, the defensive line stepped up its play when it took the field against Arkansas State. The unit took heat for its inability to get into the Cougars’ backfield, and the stats bear it out: Auburn’s front four collected just five tackles for loss and seven quarterback hurries.

Last Saturday, the Tigers’ linemen had 8.5 tackles for loss, and nearly tripled their quarterback hurries tally, accumulating 22.

“We’re just a lot better,” junior tackle Angelo Blackson said. “We were more (of a) technique-sounded unit. We came off the ball faster, but we still have some things to work on. We are on the rise, though.”

BUCKEYES STAR QB DAY-TO-DAY: Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller is considered day-to-day with an injured knee sustained during Saturday’s 42-7 win against San Diego State.

Miller strained his left MCL on the first drive of the game when he was pinned between tacklers while running the ball. He did not return.

Miller’s status for Saturday’s game at California is uncertain.

Senior Kenny Guiton took over for Miller, throwing for 152 yards with two touchdowns and an interception and running for 83 yards with a TD.

CINCY QB OUT FOR YEAR: Cincinnati quarterback Munchie Legaux is out the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Legaux was injured in the fourth quarter of Cincinnati’s 45-17 loss Saturday against Illinois.

After spending Saturday night at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, Ill., Legaux was transferred to UC Medical Center in Cincinnati on Sunday.

The specific injury was not announced, but coach Tommy Tuberville said it was serious.

“It was pretty significant,” he told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Obviously we all saw it on TV.”

Legaux was hit low while he was attempting a pass, and his left leg bent awkwardly. He stayed down for a few minutes before being carted off the field.

“You see freak injuries like that on TV all the time, but it’s different when it happens to your brother,” Cincinnati running back Ralph Abernathy said after the game. “It affects some people differently, but I personally wanted to be out there to support him. … If he’s out for the season, we’re going to dedicate this season to him.”

Legaux thanked his supporters via Twitter on Saturday night.

“Doing good thanks for all your prayers and concerns,” he wrote.

Legaux threw for 237 yards with a touchdown and rushed for 52 yards.

Senior Brendon Kay filled in for Legaux and was dismal, completing six of 11 passes for 71 yards in the shocking blowout loss.