MEMPHIS - Was it the gloves?
Georgia coaches didn't think so following Friday's 10-6 loss to Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl, but nobody could argue that Aaron Murray ended a marvelous redshirt freshman year with his worst showing. He completed 7 of 8 passes in a solid first quarter but was 14 of 30 the rest of the way and was intercepted twice.
Murray, who finished with 198 yards, wore gloves for the first time all season.
"He had practiced in gloves all throughout the bowl practice because of the cold weather and the rain," Bulldogs offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. "It really wasn't that cold today, but he had just gotten used to them and wanted to stay with them. He threw with them all spring and felt good, so I really didn't have a problem with it."
Murray was not available for interviews after the game because he was getting treated for a cut near his right eye.
The 6-foot-1, 209-pounder from Tampa wore gloves throughout spring practice and in the G-Day game. He wore gloves for a while in summer workouts, but they were gone by the start of preseason camp.
"He's been throwing the ball really well with the gloves on actually, so I don't think that was a factor," head coach Mark Richt said. "It was really more windy than wet, but I don't even think the wind was a big factor. He just misfired.
"A lot of it had to do with the outstanding defense that was being played. They did a good job of containing Aaron in the pocket and squeezing him to make him uncomfortable, and a couple just got away from him."
Murray's two worst games this season occurred against the teams from his home state. His only multiple-interception games occurred against the Knights and the Florida Gators, and he had a sizzling 21-to-3, touchdown-to-interception ratio against everybody else.
Only a mediocre bowl performance was needed for Murray to set Georgia's single-season efficiency record, but Bobo's mark of 155.8 in 1997 remains the school standard. Murray entered with a 162.7 rating and left at 154.5.
As Murray's passes began to sail away from their desired targets, Bobo said he never discussed removing the gloves.
"I just told him to step in there and fire the ball," Bobo said. "He made a couple of mistakes, but I just told him to rebound and keep throwing it. I told him to just relax and play your game, because it wasn't like we were out of the football game."