ATHENS, Ga. — More than a week and a half later, not all Georgia players have moved past the punch-to-the-gut loss to Alabama in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.
“I literally replay the entire game pretty much every night before I go to bed,” quarterback Aaron Murray said Wednesday. “It’s stressful. It’s a game that will probably haunt me the rest of my life, honestly.”
Georgia’s national title hopes died when Murray’s back-shoulder fade intended for Malcolm Mitchell was tipped at the line of scrimmage and caught by Chris Conley, who slipped at the 5-yard line. Time ran out on the Bulldogs as Alabama escaped with a 32-28 win.
Coach Mark Richt’s Capital One Bowl news conference on Wednesday was filled with questions about the game 11 days earlier, not the one against Nebraska on Jan. 1 in Orlando, Fla.
“You know what? I think most of them know that you can’t turn the clock back,” Richt said. “We fought hard, we had a great plan, we did what we could do that day, we just couldn’t get it done.”
Richt reiterated that he would not have done anything differently in the final 15 seconds. Georgia had Alabama’s defense on its heels on the final drive and did not spike the ball after a completion to Arthur Lynch brought the Bulldogs to the Alabama 8-yard line.
“If we had clocked the ball, we would have called the same play,” Richt said. “It was the play that we wanted to call. The problem was the ball got tipped and it landed in play.”
Conley said there was a “short grieving process” for the team. He didn’t sleep well the night after the game but said he was ready to move on the next day.
Linebacker Christian Robinson said it took “a while” to get over the loss. He didn’t watch the game film until earlier this week.
The SEC Championship Game loss might have seemed to be the end of the 2012 season because of the Bulldogs’ long-time focus on getting to Miami.
“We’re thinking we’re at the top of the mountain right now when it comes to college football,” Murray said. “I think we earned a lot of respect this season. Obviously we’ve got to finish strong in the bowl game. I definitely think Georgia’s back.”