Editor’s note: Today we complete 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 third play is Murray’s 87-yard touchdown pass to receiver Chris Conley. which gave Georgia a 45-31 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Here’s the breakdown:
The score: Georgia 38, Nebraska 31
The situation: Georgia faces third-and-12 from its own 13-yard line after a sack and a run for no gain early in the fourth quarter.
Play breakdown: Conley and Tavarres King split right and Rhett McGowan is alone on the left. Nebraska brings a blitz as Murray takes a shotgun snap and hits Conley cutting across the middle at the 12 on a tunnel screen.
“They brought a full-house blitz, man-to-man coverage blitz. I think about seven guys, leaving the last four in coverage on our four receivers. Perfect. Just how you draw it up, exactly what you want to do,” Murray said.
Tight end Arthur Lynch walls off Conley’s defender, Cornhuskers cornerback Ciante Evans, with a key block to spring him into the open field. Meanwhile, left tackle Kenarious Gates sprints into the open field and upends Nebraska safety Daimion Stafford at the 24, cutting off the last defender who has any chance of catching Conley.
The Georgia receiver, meanwhile, turns on the afterburners and sprints down the middle of the field for the win-clinching touchdown.
“Kenarious Gates made an unbelievable block downfield, which a lot of people won’t see, but he did a great job of chopping Conley’s guy down at the knees and Conley did the rest of the work from there,” Murray said. “It was a pretty impressive run. I’ve never seen him run so fast in my life. He was galloping pretty nicely down the field and ... just really sealed the deal for us.”
Why it mattered: Nebraska had given Georgia all it could handle for most of the afternoon, recovering from an early deficit to lead at halftime and throughout the third quarter. But the Bulldogs closed the game on a 22-0 run, capped by Conley’s long touchdown.
The Bulldogs were up by just a touchdown at the time, however, so Conley’s score provided some much-needed breathing room.
“It definitely did put the game away,” Murray said. “Up 38-31, about middle of the fourth quarter and third-and-12, backed up and really needed a first down because if we would have punted the ball in that area, they probably would have gotten pretty good field position and a good chance to tie the game. So it came at a perfect time.”
Playing it forward: Departed senior Tavarres King made three catches for 104 yards in the bowl game, but the other six Bulldogs who made catches against Nebraska return for 2013 -- along with a number of other players who should make an impact this fall.
The depth and talent available among Georgia's pass catchers obviously excites their quarterback as the Bulldogs attempt to post more record-setting numbers on offense.
“We’ve been very excited about the talent that we have back this year,” Murray said. “That’s not even including Michael Bennett, who was out for that game and came back and had a great spring and is looking phenomenal right now.
“And including some other young guys, and Jonathon Rumph is back, as well, and probably the most depth that I’ve ever had at receiver and at the tight end position. And also you throw in the two running backs that can catch the ball out of the backfield, as well. So it’s going to be an exciting season.”