ATHENS, Ga. — Aaron Murray is reaching a milestone for durability as he chases yet another SEC record.
Murray will make his 50th consecutive start when Georgia takes a break from its Southeastern Conference schedule to play Appalachian State on Saturday. Murray’s endurance stands out in a year where every other starting quarterback in the SEC East has missed at least one game.
Murray already has set SEC career records for yards passing and total offense this season. He needs two touchdown passes Saturday to top Danny Wuerffel’s conference record of 114 at Florida from 1993-96.
Murray is completing his career as a graduate student. He completed his degree in psychology in 2011 with a 3.3 GPA.
He has never missed a start for Georgia (5-3), and sounded surprised this week when told he was approaching his 50th start.
“Is this it?” Murray asked. “Oh, wow. I mean, that’s a lot of starts. It’s definitely an honor to have played this long at this university, at this type of program. I’m definitely blessed.”
Murray has been the reliable constant as Georgia has had to overcome injuries to most of its other top starters on offense.
Tailback Todd Gurley returned for last week’s 23-20 win over Florida to preserve Georgia’s hopes of catching Missouri in the SEC East. Gurley had 100 yards rushing, 87 yards receiving and two touchdowns against the Gators.
Georgia tight end Arthur Lynch has bruised ribs and is not expected to play.
Appalachian State (2-7) is struggling in its last year playing as a Football Championship Subdivision team.
The Mountaineers are moving to the Sun Belt in 2014 and are looking for their first win over a Football Bowl Subdivision team since their famous 2007 upset of No. 5 Michigan in 2007.
First-year coach Todd Satterfield, an assistant in 2007, said there is no comparison with the 2007 Appalachian State team that was on its way to its third consecutive FCS national championship.
“I think we’re too far away from that,” Satterfield said. “There’s not anybody on this team that was around during that time. Back then we were coming off a couple of national championships ... I just think that was just a different era, a different time and different kids.”
The Mountaineers have four losses by no more than seven points, including last week’s 35-28 loss to Chattanooga.
Here are five things to watch, in addition to Murray’s pursuit of the SEC record for career TD passes:
HOMECOMING: Appalachian State has 22 players from the state of Georgia, including freshman Marcus Cox, who rushed for 158 yards with three touchdowns against Chattanooga. Cox, from Dacula, Ga., has more than 100 yards rushing in three straight games. He leads the team with 857 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. “Obviously, those guys are excited about it,” Satterfield said. “Growing up in that state, everybody talks about Georgia. For them it’s a great opportunity to go out and show what they can do in front of a lot of their family and friends and guys they know from that state.”
AVOID LETDOWN: Georgia will play at No. 7 Auburn next week and then will play Kentucky in its final home game on Nov. 23. This is late in the season for the Bulldogs to play a nonconference game other than Georgia Tech. Georgia is 50-9 in nonconference games under Richt, including 35-1 in home games against teams outside the SEC.
REMEMBER US? Georgia suffered a free-fall from No. 7 to out of the AP Top 25 with back-to-back losses to Missouri and Vanderbilt. Even though Appalachian State has a poor record, an impressive win by Georgia might be enough to catch the attention of some AP voters. Georgia was No. 2 among teams also receiving votes this week.
WATCHING WASHINGTON: Washington, a senior, stays busy for the Mountaineers. He has 46 catches for a team-leading 637 yards with two touchdowns and also returns punt and kickoffs.
ANOTHER SPREAD OFFENSE: Satterfield says his team can’t outmuscle the Bulldogs so instead will try to create good matchups by spreading the field. The Mountaineers, led by dual-threat quarterback Kameron Bryant, average 414.2 yards per game, third in the Southern Conference.