ATHENS — Georgia freshman receiver George Pickens made sensational catches appear routine for the second straight game Saturday afternoon against Arkansas State.
Pickens led the No. 3-ranked Bulldogs with five catches in their 55-0 victory over the Sun Belt Conference Red Wolves at Sanford Stadium. The dynamic 6-foot-3 target leads UGA with 9 catches on the season for 162 yards despite not having a catch in the season-opening game.
One of Pickens’ greatest receptions on Saturday had more to do with his head than his hands on Saturday. Pickens bailed out third-year quarterback Jake Fromm on an under thrown ball, adjusting while it was in flight for a 32-yard gain on the second series of the game.
“I was trying to throw it deep and let him go get it, but actually I got bumped and the ball came out the way it did, and I got a little bit worried,” said Fromm, who has yet to throw an interception through five games this season.
“But he came out and made the play, so good for him, good for us.”
Pickens starred in Georgia’s two-minute drill at the end of the first half, making three catches as Fromm went 6-for-6 on a 66-yard TD drive.
Pickens caught a 15-yard seam route, and then reeled in a 13-yard pass before making a 12-yard catch that featured him twisting back for a ball behind him while tight-roping the sideline.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) September 14, 2019
Coach Kirby Smart has praised Pickens’ blocking, and on Saturday there were no signs of the emotion that got Pickens in trouble with a personal foul last week.
But the head coach said Pickens still has room to grow, and the good news is that Pickens is accountable and responsible to know he needs to work on his game.
“You’re seeing (growth) because we’re trying to use his talents more,” Smart said. “The first game we didn’t know how he would respond and we tried to get him the ball some late. The second game we certainly had some opportunities to use him, and he’s improved and proving that he can become accountable.”
Another amazing George Pickens’ grab, Curtis Compton / AJC
But, Smart said, there’s even more that Pickens can be doing in the Bulldogs’ offense.
“All people see is the catches, (and) you don’t see what he does when he doesn’t have the ball or you see a busted route,” Smart said. “He had several things today that he didn’t do right, so he has a lot of improving to do.
“I know the consensus will be he had catches, he had wows, he had this. But when he didn’t have the ball or the ball wasn’t thrown to him, it was because he wasn’t doing what he was supposed to do.”
Tailback D’Andre Swift, who Smart said has grown into a team leader, has been impressed with Pickens’ progress.
“He’s definitely lived up to the hype, he blocks well, he catches the ball well in practice,” Swift said. “He’s just got to keep getting better and being consistent at it.”
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