Murray, Lynch, Smith among Georgia seniors playing final home game

Murray, Lynch, Smith among Georgia seniors playing final home game

November 20th, 2013 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

ATHENS, Ga. -- Saturday night will be the final game at Sanford Stadium for 28 seniors on Georgia's football team, including 10 who arrived on scholarship.

Among the seniors are five offensive starters: quarterback Aaron Murray, tight end Arthur Lynch and offensive linemen Chris Burnette, Kenarious Gates and Dallas Lee. Murray is certain to draw the loudest ovation during the festivities before kickoff against Kentucky, having set Southeastern Conference career records in passing yards (12,983), passing touchdowns (117) and total yards (13,348).

"I've felt honored every single week to go out there and strap on that 'G' and play for Georgia and represent this university," Murray said Tuesday. "It's an unbelievable privilege, and it's been a lot of fun doing it every week."

Murray considered turning pro after last season but elected in January to return. He has a 34-17 career record and said his favorite wins at home were in September of this year against South Carolina and LSU.

"I don't think I was trying to prove anything," he said. "I came back to continue getting better as a quarterback and to continue to be able to be on this team and to compete and play for Georgia."

Also among Georgia's offensive seniors is Rhett McGowan, a former walk-on from Calhoun High School who has 12 catches for 134 yards this season and 32 career receptions for 380 yards.

The only defensive senior starter is nose tackle Garrison Smith.

"I don't feel like this is the end for me," Smith said. "I feel like I'm just entering the next phase of my life, though I don't know what that is. I'm going to let God be in control.

"I don't want to make it emotional. I don't have anything to be sad about. I gave my all here."

Still believing

Remember when Kentucky upset Tennessee in Lexington at the end of the 2011 season when the Wildcats used receiver Matt Roark at quarterback?

That remains Kentucky's last SEC win. The Wildcats went 0-8 in league play last season under Joker Phillips and dropped to 0-6 this season under first-year coach Mark Stoops with last Saturday's 22-6 loss at Vanderbilt.

"I see us getting better," Stoops said Monday at his weekly news conference. "I see us fighting to win through the entire game last week. We didn't make a couple of plays; otherwise we would have had the opportunity to win. We're not there yet, but we're getting better."

Seminole linkage

Saturday's game will pit two former Florida State coordinators as head coaches, with Mark Richt having guided the FSU offense for most of the 1990s and Stoops more recently heading the defense of the Seminoles.

"I've gotten to meet him at some of the official events that we're at, but I really don't know him well," Richt said. "He seems like a great guy, and I know he's a great coach."

Odds and ends

Georgia holds a 52-12-2 series advantage over Kentucky, including a 26-4-2 mark in Athens. ... Murray and Lynch have received invitations to play in the Senior Bowl. ... Junior inside linebacker Ramik Wilson's 18 tackles at Auburn were the most by a Georgia player since Orantes Grant tallied 22 in a 1998 triumph over Kentucky. ... The Bulldogs are minus-8 this season in turnover ratio, tying Arkansas for last in the SEC.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.