ATHENS — Malcolm Mitchell against just one defender is usually a good thing for Georgia, as was shown eight times last Saturday night against South Carolina. So how long will that last?
Maybe awhile. Mitchell was asked this week if he expected to be single-covered the rest of the season.
“Yeah,” he said, answering quickly. “You’re gonna have to. You want to be careful with not having enough people in the box against us, with the running backs we have. So I think it’ll continue. I don’t think they have a reason, at least right now, to stop.”
It’s the side benefit of other teams feeling they have to stack the box to stop Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and company. That’s a big reason Mitchell has been single-covered so much this season.
But even as Georgia’s passing game had a resurgence last Saturday, it wasn’t just Mitchell: Nine different players caught a pass, seven of them catching multiple passes. That included four wide receivers, three tight ends, a tailback and a fullback.
So if another team decides they need to keep two men on Mitchell, or at least have a safety keep an eye on him, that takes away from both run defense and multiple other weapons. That’s why Mitchell expects to keep seeing the benefits of one-on-one defense.
“It gives you opportunities. The ball can be placed in more than one place. You have more than one person on you the window is very, very small. So you got single coverage, it’s an opportunity for you and other guys to compete, to basically say who’s better than who.”
Quarterback Greyson Lambert, who didn’t exactly have all-conference skill position players at Virginia, sounded pretty happy to have Mitchell.
“He’s a guy that can do it all,” Lambert said. “He’s got great speed so he can get on top of guys. But if they’re playing off and I want to back-shoulder him he can do that as well. Like the one at Louisiana-Monroe. He’ll go up and get it too. He’s a guy that can, like I said, do it all. He’s a great route-runner, he scares DBs some with his speed. And that gives him a little extra cushion on the shorter routes and underneath throws. And those mostly were there all night this past Saturday, which gave us a pretty good little throw-and-catch system there.”