ATHENS – While Georgia’s ill-fated fourth-and-1 call against Vanderbilt has garnered plenty of attention, the previous play has been largely overlooked.
But not by Michael Chigbu.
On third-and-1 from Vanderbilt’s 41, the sophomore receiver couldn’t haul in a Jacob Eason pass that would have been a first down, and close to field-goal range. The pass was behind Chigbu, so it’s hard to classify it as a drop. That doesn’t appear to matter to Chigbu.
“Even with that ball behind me, it’s my fault,” Chigbu said. “I can’t blame nobody. Jacob threw a ball to me, I’m supposed to be there for him and I wasn’t.”
It was an underrated important play. Chigbu and Eason had hooked up on the previous play, a 9-yarrd completion on second down, to set up third-and-1. It was Chigbu’s second catch of the game. Right away, he would get a chance for a third.
In four-down territory, Georgia could have called a run, but opted instead to catch Vanderbilt off-guard and try another throw. It almost worked: Chigbu ran a route towards the sideline and was open. But Eason’s pass was behind Chigbu.
Whether it was his fault or not – it really didn’t appear to be – Chigbu didn’t get a chance for redemption. He didn’t figure in the infamous final play.
It’s been an up-and-down sophomore season for Chigbu, who is on the field very often and has nine catches for 88 yards. He’s been targeted a handful of other times, but has had a few notable drops. The one against Vanderbilt shouldn’t count, other than in Chigbu’s eyes.
“I should have caught it. Everything that touches my hand, I should have caught,” he said. “Every drop I had this season is my fault, it’s me not focusing.”
So as the bye weekend arrives and other teammates head home, Chigbu will be sticking around Athens. Of course, he’s from New Orleans, so that would be quite the haul just for a day or two away. But he said he doesn’t plan to stay away from football this weekend.
“Going over plays. Watching film,” Chigbu said. “The Juggs machine. Just relaxing. No sir, I’m not going home.”