ATHENS – Speaking to reporters well before pre-practice meetings started on Monday, Terry Godwin was somewhat dreading getting to the wide-receiver room. He knew he was due some serious razzing inside that player/coach private sanctum.
There would be praise as well. Godwin was back to his highlight-reel making self this past Saturday against Vanderbilt. His 75-yard catch and run — punctuated with a square-dance worthy dosey-do-and-dive for a touchdown — was must-see TV on all the college football wrap-up shows.
But Godwin knew he’d first have to catch some grief from his compadres for the mental lapse he suffered just moments before that.
Godwin missed a signal and therefore was blocking down field rather than running free when Jake Fromm designated him on a hot route that very likely also would’ve had him ending up in the end zone. He probably would’ve hit paydirt on that one without any fancy two-stepping, too.
“I’m pretty sure I’m gonna get it pretty good today,” Godwin said, smiling and sighing the same time.
The good news is the Bulldogs didn’t have to wait too long for Godwin to make good. It came on the first play of the Bulldogs’ next possession, the second of the game.
But this is kind of how Godwin’s senior season has gone. It has been a series of fits and starts, with plenty of hitches and hiccups in between.
Halfway through the 2018 season, Godwin’s just now getting to full speed. A knee injury sidelined him at the beginning of preseason camp, then a calf injury further slowed him at the outset of the season.
The Bulldogs’ leading returning receiver from the 2017 SEC Championship team finally worked his way back into his starting role two weeks ago. Godwin’s first touchdown and highlight-reel catch didn’t come until the season’s sixth game.
“Just for me personally, with the injuries, the first couple of games, you know, were kind of bumpy, not being able to be 100 percent,” Godwin said Monday. “Just finally getting back to being who I am feels very good.”
What happened in those back-to-back possessions is a perfect illustration of where Godwin is. He’s a little rusty, but he remains the big-play threat he’s always been.
On the first possession, “I just missed a signal call,” Godwin said. “I took my eyes away for a split second and I just missed a signal. It was a miscommunication on my part. I was over there by myself and I just took my eyes off the signal call and missed it.”
The frustrating part is Godwin is sure that one would’ve gone for six as well.
“That was a touchdown, because I knew the safety was gone and I knew Fromm was going to put me in the best position to make the play,” Godwin said. “I was like, ‘dang, opportunity lost!’”
Thankfully, Fromm came right back to him the next series.
“It gave me an opportunity to make up for that, so it was good,” Godwin said.
Godwin remains the Bulldogs’ most experienced wideout, so it’s important that he get back in the flow of the offense. Georgia has plenty of other options at the position, but none with the combination of knowledge and exceptional play-making ability.
Godwin remains best known for his one-handed TD catch Notre Dame last year, but in practice he makes such plays seem routine. Fellow wideout Jayson Stanley said they’re seeing that on the regular again.
“Every day of practice Terry will do something amazing that I don’t think anybody else could do, like a one-handed catch, from any direction,” Stanley said. “He definitely has something special.”
The Bulldogs are especially pleased to see Godwin now carrying that over into games.
“I thought it was big for him to get that catch and get over the top behind the defense,” Kirby Smart said after the Vanderbilt game. “But I see that from him every day in practice. He got two really key blocks. He had one on James Cook’s run when he steps out by a centimeter, and on D’Andre Swift’s run. People don’t give Terry enough credit, he gets his hands on people and he drievs them, he’s a tough guy, plays hard.”
That’ll be especially important this Saturday as the Bulldogs’ try to mount a balanced offensive attack against a stout LSU defense. The Tigers feature one of the best defensive backfields in the SEC, led by sophomore cornerback Greedy Williams.
“We’ll just find out when the matchup comes,” Godwin said. “I know he’s going to be a competitive guy. He’s going to go out there and try to prove a point like everybody else. We’ll have to see.”
Godwin vows to be ready if and when his signal comes.