ATHENS — It may just be a case of a head coach trying to push one of his best players. Or it may be another reason to be wary of Georgia’s passing offense this year.
Amid a bunch of unknown variables, the known one should be Terry Godwin, the sophomore who was Georgia’s second-leading receiver last year, and with leading receiver Malcolm Mitchell now in the NFL, Godwin figured to easily slide into the role of No. 1 target for whoever won the quarterback job.
Enter Kirby Smart to be the wet blanket.
“To be honest, I’ve seen Terry up and down,” Smart said after Tuesday’s practice, when asked assess Godwin’s camp. “I know the athlete that Terry is, I know the athlete that Terry can be. But Terry needs to get a little more consistency. And I tell him that every day.”
What does that mean? Godwin’s pure abilities as a receiver aren’t in question, which he showed last year, hauling in 35 catches for 379 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed seven times for 47 yards and a touchdown, and for good measure threw a 44-yard touchdown pass in Georgia’s bowl game. It all backed up the five stars by his name as a recruit.
It’s the other parts of it that may be lacking right now.
“He has to block with the same vigor that he runs a route with,” Smart said. “He has to practice starts and take-offs and all the little fundamentals just as hard as when he’s getting the ball. And that’s the part that Terry’s got to do. He’s got to be more consistent. So that’s what I want to see from Terry. If he does those things, he can be a good player. But Terry can’t be a great player until he does all those little things. He’s not doing all of them right now.”
The blocking part may just be fundamental: Godwin is 5-foot-10 and 174 pounds, so there will simply be guys he struggles to block. It could also be developmental, as freshmen aren’t typically good blockers, but become it over time. Mitchell wasn’t a great blocker as a freshman and sophomore, but was perhaps the team’s best blocking receiver last year.
The other small things Smart alluded to, like starting his route, may also fall in the latter category. Godwin was able to beat most of his opposition in high school with his pure speed and athleticism, and last year other defenses would key on Mitchell, allowing Godwin to line up on the No. 2 or No. 3 cornerback. This year he’ll get the other team’s best defender.
Speaking after Monday’s practice, before Smart’s public criticism a day later, Godwin was asked how much more comfortable he was now as a sophomore.
“I would say a year makes a very big difference,” Godwin said. “because you know the speed of the game, you know exactly what coaches want. It’s going to be a big difference.”