ATHENS — Twice down the stretch in last week’s game a critical call went against Missouri, leading first to a Georgia field goal then tied the game, then another that won the game. A couple days later Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said he turned the plays into the SEC, which told him he was right.
Both plays involved Georgia receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who on Wednesday he offered his own thoughts.
Mitchell’s most pointed response was in regards to the second one, a fourth-quarter pass interference call against a Missouri cornerback. The penalty, coming on first down as Mitchell ran down the right sideline, pushed Georgia down to the 24-yard line. Four plays later the Bulldogs kicked what turned out to be the game-winning field goal with 1:44 left.
Pinkel felt it wasn’t pass interference, apparently because the ball wasn’t catchable. He said the SEC agreed. Mitchell had two problems with that.
First, it did appear Mitchell was at least held on the play, well before the ball was in the air.
“If I’m 15 yards downfield, the ball’s in the air, somebody hits me, what is that?” Mitchell said. “The ball’s uncatchable because I couldn’t get to it because I was being hit downfield.”
Secondly, whether or not it was interference on that play, Mitchell felt he was due.
“I thought it was pass interference the five times before that,” Mitchell said. “But as coach told me, you’ve gotta make plays, regardless of any situation going on you’ve gotta make plays, so I don’t want to make it sound like I’m complaining -”
Mitchell stopped himself.
“Yes I am, I’m complaining,” he said, laughing. “But it’s not an excuse. You’ve still gotta catch the ball.”
The other call Pinkel was upset about was the punt return fumble by Missouri’s Cam Hilton, who had the ball knocked away by Mitchell, the gunner on Georgia’s punt unit that play. Georgia recovered, leading to a game-tying field goal late in the third quarter. Pinkel felt Mitchell arrived too early and punt catch inference should have been called, and again said the SEC agreed with him.
The SEC doesn’t make public what it says are private conversations with coaches.
Either way, Mitchell agreed that the play was close. But he didn’t seem guilty about it.
“We got the ball that play, right? I don’t care what they (the SEC) say now, then,” Mitchell said. “It’s too late now, huh? I can’t get those pass interference (non-calls) back, now, huh?”
Mitchell offered one more thought on the punt fumble.
“I haven’t watched it enough to know that,” Mitchell said. “I’m not saying he’s wrong. I’m not saying he’s right. I’m just saying the game was over.”