ATHENS – The poor Nicholls State player was almost there. Almost. He was about to try to grab Georgia’s Isaiah McKenzie, when the hit came: Georgia receiver Javon Wims clobbered him.
“I heard it, but I couldn’t see it,” McKenzie said later, smiling.
In a way-closer-than-expected victory, Georgia’s two most important plays may have been by two guys who weren’t touching the football at the time.
Wims’ block sprung McKenzie at midfield for a 66-yard touchdown, which put Georgia ahead in the third quarter.
And for Nick Chubb’s running abilities, his biggest play Saturday was a block. It very well may have saved his team from an embarrassing loss.
Georgia was clinging to a 26-24 lead with 2:55 left. The Bulldogs had third-and-7 from their own 10. A pass play was called, and quarterback Greyson Lambert dropped back, looking to the left sideline.
But from Lambert’s blind side came a blitzing cornerback. Chubb stepped to his right and hit him, enough to stop the rush for the split-second that Lambert needed. A pass to Michael Chigbu was hauled in for a 9-yard gain.
“Yeah it was a good block,” Chubb said later, shrugging.
If the pass doesn’t get completed, Georgia would have been punting from deep in its territory, Nicholls State getting a short field and only needing a field goal to pull off the shocking upset.
Instead Georgia got another set of downs, with Chubb converting on a third-down run, then Lambert taking a knee to run out the clock.
Chubb’s pass-blocking ability has been the only (minor) deficiency in his game.
“It just comes with experience. You’ve gotta see everything,” Chubb said, quickly adding: “I actually missed one.”
Georgia coach Kirby Smart reminded people of that afterwards, too.
“They had run that earlier and he missed it, actually,” Smart said. “It’s a corner blitz that he should’ve picked up earlier, and he picked that one up, which was great.”
Back to Wims’ block: A junior college transfer, Wims hasn’t caught a pass in Georgia’s first two games. His size (6-foot-5) makes him an intriguing target, but with Georgia’s problems in perimeter blocking, Wims’ block on that play could make the coaches think about using him more.
McKenzie was just glad that Wims was out there after he caught that pass, then cut upfield.
“I wouldn’t say I set it up,” McKenzie said. “But I made the right cut, and he made the perfect block.”