ATHENS – Georgia’s coaching staff tried really hard to get Terry Godwin a touchdown pass on Saturday. They were risky calls. Neither worked, and one backfired badly.
But the Bulldogs could laugh about it afterwards. And while offensive coordinator Jim Chaney may have incurred the initial wrath for the disastrous first call, his head coach bailed him out.
“The first one’s on me,” Kirby Smart said of the interception thrown by Godwin, a receiver whose throw to the end zone was picked off by Auburn safety Tray Matthews, the former Georgia player.
Godwin played quarterback in high school, which Smart knew from having recruited him. And Godwin threw a touchdown pass in Georgia’s bowl win last season. He hadn’t attempted a pass in the first nine games this year, but in practice he had thrown two touchdown passes on that play against Georgia’s defense.
“So I told coach Chaney: I want it,” Smart said. “He agreed. We went with it. Terry just made a bad decision there.”
Indeed. Godwin, rolling right, said his first intended receiver Michael Chigbu, who got knocked down in traffic. So he tried to throw it away.
“But it didn’t quite reach the back of the end zone,” Godwin said.
It could have been very costly if Georgia didn’t rally back. Then, after taking the lead, the Bulldogs put the ball in Godwin’s hands again – for an even trickier play.
Quarterback Jacob Eason walked over to the right side of the line, pretending to yell instructions. The ball was instead snapped to Nick Chubb, who then flipped to Godwin, who was cutting towards the right. Eason then went into the end zone, and Godwin heaved the ball at the 6-foot-6 quarterback – who for a moment had it, but then it was knocked away.
“I saw Jacob coming out of his break, and I knew he was going to get it. But when I threw it I saw the safety inch on over, and he made a great play,” Godwin said, adding about Eason: “Most people don’t know, but he’s an athlete. He can do it all.”
This time Georgia at least was able to retain possession and get a field goal. But Smart had no regrets about the second Godwin pass call, having apparently seen it work seven out of seven times this year in college football.
“I thought it was an aggressive call. We were going to win the game,” Smart said. “You want to run the ball on third-and-4 at the goal? No, we want to find a way to get it in. We thought the kid, 6-foot-6, was going to get it. And their guy made a good play.”
As for Godwin, he ended with a rather ugly pass rating: Minus-100, which is hard to do. But he still has that one pass last year, a touchdown pass, to fall back on.
“I went over to the sideline and some of the guys were saying: ‘You’re completion percentage went down,’” Goodwin said. “The first one, they were like, ‘You’re one touchdown and one interception.’ The second one, they were like, ‘You’re 33 percent.’”