It’s a shame how much damage a big loss really can do to an athlete. A story last week that caught my attention was Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray having trouble sleeping due to the Bulldogs’ loss in the SEC title game to the Alabama Crimson Tide.
The Bulldogs had the ball inside the Crimson Tide 10 yard-line only to run out of time and lose by four. It’s one of the most painful ways to lose a football game. And for the quarterback, the leader of the team, the wounds can cut the deepest and take the longest to recover from. They shouldn’t because a team sport is won or lost by a team and not by only one player. But the mentality of the quarterback can be such that they embody the team, the team’s loss is their loss more than anyone else on the roster. And Murray seemed to still be the feeling the pain from Championship Week.
The game itself was a very defensive first half combined with a classic second half. It was a struggle, it was close the whole way, and it was in the Bulldogs’ grasp for a good while. The Bulldogs held an early lead until right before halftime when the Crimson Tide took a slim lead into the locker room. The second half was a back and forth battle with both teams’ defenses looking to contain their opposing offenses, only to fail most of the time. The Bulldogs had the ball last and made it nearly into the end-zone thanks to a big pass interference penalty and some big completions from Murray before coming up short.
What Murray needs to remember is that there is another game left to play and that he can’t change what happened in those final moments at the Georgia Dome. That game is over, now it’s about their final game. That game is the Capital One Bowl on January 1 against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. If Murray wants to be angry about anything, he should be angry at how far the Bulldogs pushed down in the rankings after nearly beating the number two team in the country. Besides that, it’s time to let go.
It’s not the game Murray wants to be in, obviously. But in this unwanted situation, take a note out of the playbook of the team that just beat you. The Crimson Tide had no desire to play in the Capital One Bowl after blowing a big lead against the Auburn Tigers in 2010. So what did they do? Made an example out of their opponent. In this case, the opponent was the 11-1 Michigan St. Spartans. The game turned out to be embarrassingly one-sided for the Crimson Tide. Their defense played with notable aggression while the offense wasn’t in the mood for letting up. Spartans quarterback and current Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins was taken out of the game in the third quarter after being brutalized too much. End result: 49-7 Crimson Tide.
So if Murray can take solace in anything, it’s that he will have a chance to take out all of his aggression and frustration on the football field. Yes it will be a different opponent and won’t be a BCS bowl game. No matter. If Murray plans on returning for a senior season, this would be the perfect chance to make a statement about his intentions for that season. And if Murray plans on leaving, this is the chance for him to up his draft stock with one more big performance in a Bulldogs uniform.
So sleep, number eleven, sleep. You still have a chance to end this season on a high note. So sleep and dream about how you’re going to do it.