ATHENS — Georgia feels it has a lot of talent at wide receiver. So why has one guy caught almost three times as many passes as anyone else?
Part of that is because it’s Malcolm Mitchell, a fifth-year senior who quickly gained the trust of transfer quarterback Greyson Lambert. But part of it is because most of the options are true freshmen.
It’s time to get those guys involved more, the coaches acknowledge.
“We really need to force ourselves to get them in the ballgame,” head coach Mark Richt said. “Because that’s really the only way they’ll develop.”
The only true freshman who has double-digit catches through six games is Terry Godwin, who has 11, the same number as junior Reggie Davis. Leading the way is Mitchell and his 28 catches. Mitchell’s 456 receiving yards also dwarf everyone else; tailback Sony Michel is closest with 174.
The rest of the true freshmen – a talented group including Michael Chigbu, Jayson Stanley and Shaquery Wilson – have combined for three catches. Those three also offer more size – especially Chigbu and Stanley – than any of the current top four receivers. And Wilson was singled out by offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer as someone who has “made a lot of plays” in practice recently.
“It’s a lot going on for those kids,” Schottenheimer said. “There’s a lot of things they’re learning, doing special teams, things like that. But I think they’re more comfortable now and we’re seeing less of the mental mistakes than we saw in Week 1 or 2. We’re seeing less of those, which gives you more confidence to put them in there.”
“Certainly as the plays increase we need to get them involved early so we can save some of those guys’ legs for late in the game, guys like Malcolm, Reggie and people like that.”
Then there’s Godwin, who was the most heralded of the freshmen receivers and has received the most playing time. He’s made a few mistakes on running routes, but has also shown why the coaches believe he can really help the offense.
The quicker he develops, the more it could take pressure off Mitchell and help the passing game in general.
“The goal with Terry is just consistency,” Schoottenheimer said. “I think the sky’s the limit with him. The beautiful thing with Terry is how well he sees the field and understands the game of football. Which makes it easier for him to go out there and move him to different spots.”
“Us moving it forward, spreading the ball around, he’d be a big part of that as well.”