- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
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Editor’s note: Today we continue our review of three key plays from Georgia’s Capital One Bowl win against Nebraska with Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray and examine why those plays might matter for the Bulldogs moving forward.
ATHENS, Ga. -- Our second play is Murray’s 24-yard touchdown pass to running back Keith Marshall, which gave Georgia a 38-31 lead early in the fourth quarter
Here’s the breakdown:
The score: Georgia 31, Nebraska 31
The situation: The Bulldogs have first-and-10 at the Nebraska 24-yard line on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Play breakdown: Georgia lines up in the shotgun with three receivers -- Todd Gurley, Tavarres King and Chris Conley -- to the left, receiver Rhett McGowan to the right and Marshall standing beside Murray in the backfield. After taking the snap, Murray is looking left the entire time, but nobody is open.
“[We] had a play designed that we’d been working on for them,” Murray said. “I get the snap, look up and I was working to my left, my strong side, and it was completely covered. A play we’re like, ‘Hey, we’ve been drilling it all week long and one of the three guys were going to be open. Somebody’s going to be open.’ And they covered it perfectly. Every guy was covered.”
Initially Marshall runs a screen pattern into the flat, but breaks downfield when Murray begins to scramble right. Nebraska linebacker Will Compton does a solid job of covering Marshall, but is helpless to defend Murray’s back-shoulder throw to the running back, who makes an acrobatic fingertip catch and spins into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.
“I had nowhere to go and started scrambling around and he did a great job of working the scramble drill and going high,” Murray said. “He had a linebacker on him who was playing inside and once I got out of the pocket, made one of the back-shoulder throws that we work on all the time and he made a great fingertip catch and got into the end zone.
Why it mattered: Georgia was in the middle of a game-ending 22-0 run when Marshall put the Bulldogs ahead for the first time since the middle of the second quarter. The tailback’s touchdown capped a six-play, 74-yard drive that allowed the Bulldogs to take control of what had been a back-and-forth game.
“I don’t think it was our first lead of the game, but it was the first time we’d been in the lead for a while,” Murray said. “And it was a great way to start the fourth quarter.”
Playing it forward: The play showed off two big talking points for Georgia’s offense as they enter the 2013 season. First, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo has emphasized that Murray needs to do a better job of extending plays with his legs, and the quarterback did a good job of making something happen after his initial plan broke down. And second, the Bulldogs want to throw to Gurley and Marshall more often this season, and Marshall’s catch and nimble moves here show why that might be a good idea.
“They both had a lot of great catches last year,” Murray said. “I went back and watched the film over the past couple of weeks and not only did they have a great year running, but also catching.
“It’s something that they’ve worked on more this offseason of, ‘First year, OK we understand the running concepts, we understand the running plays, but now ... working a little bit more on their [route-running] ability and catching the ball out of the backfield and things like that. So I look forward to using them more and matching them up against linebackers.”
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