ATHENS — Malcolm Mitchell has been with the Georgia football team for more than four years. Greyson Lambert has been around for just over two months, which is about how long he’s known Mitchell.
And yet four games into the season the pair are starting to look like long-lost passing partners. Especially the past two games, after public remarks by Mitchell could have jeopardized the relationship.
The past two games are Mitchell’s second- and fourth-most receiving yards of his five-year career. He has combined for 13 catches for 218 yards and two touchdowns over the past two weeks, playing a key role in the surge by Lambert, Georgia’s new starting quarterback.
“I feel really good with him at quarterback,” Mitchell said.
Contrast that with two weeks ago, after the shaky offensive performance at Vanderbilt, when Mitchell vented his frustration at the overall state of the passing game: “Any time I’m singled up and it’s man on man, let me do what I do best.”
Whether it was Lambert or the play-calling or whatever, what Mitchell wanted is now happening.
“I’m not sure if that was the reason or that’s the cause for where we are today. I don’t know,” Mitchell said Saturday when asked if his post-Vanderbilt comments had the desired effect. “I think our focus at practice has been a lot better since then.”
Lambert, the transfer from Virginia, may have just needed some time to continue to gel with Mitchell, and get comfortable in the offense.
“Nothing’s necessarily changed with anybody, other than just us doing our job,” Lambert said. “That Vanderbilt game, I didn’t do my job for the first half – and for the first two passes of the second half. When that doesn’t happen people get frustrated. I get frustrated. We’ve been able to execute a little bit here the last couple of weeks, and when we’re executing Malcolm is a target for us who we want to get the ball to. Along with all of our other playmakers.”
But Mitchell has been the main one, and a main focus for Lambert. The first “progression” on many of Georgia’s pass plays is Mitchell, and because he’s usually in single coverage – a result of teams having to focus on the run – that often means the ball is going his way.
“So it’s not like we’re throwing to Malcolm no matter what,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “When it has been the right coverage and he’s been the right progression he’s gotten open and Greyson’s done a pretty good job of putting it on him.”
There’s also a budding chemistry between the quarterback and his top receiver, as each attested Saturday.
Lambert described a couple plays that were a run-pass read, as in the quarterback calls the play at the line depending on the defense. Lambert said he would sense it was a good time to go to Mitchell, would look at him, and Mitchell would understand it too.
“Like I’m talking with coach Schotty after every series,” Lambert said, meaning offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, “I’m also talking with Malcolm a lot after every series we kinda can understand what each other is thinking.”
“One pass I had no idea he was gonna throw,” Mitchell said, chuckling. “Because I was sitting inside. I don’t know if I came in under or over him. I saw Greyson winding up to throw the ball. Gotta make the catch for him.”