Sunday, October 28, 2012

Just call him Clutch

A kid who was known as a hell of a playmaker had not quite taken the fanbase by storm.  There were mixed emotions.  We saw the potential.  We had seen some results.  But, in crucial moments in the past (namely big games like the SEC title game), he had faltered.  Many thought perhaps we'd just been caught up in the hype of another highly-rated recruit, who seemed to have all he needed on the field, but perhaps not everything he needed between the ears.  Perhaps he wasn't the kind of player who will win you the game in the waning moments.

I'm talking, of course, about Malcolm Mitchell.  (See what I did there?  You thought I was taking a step back on my disapproval of BigGame Murray.  Nope.)

With about 7 minutes to go in the first quarter, Malcolm Mitchell caught his second of two consecutive passes.  He wouldn't catch another until Georgia's final scoring drive.  In the interim, he would frighten fans by catching a punt with three gators surrounding him and no fair-catch called.  He would inexplicably run the ball out from six yards deep in the endzone on kickoffs.  After his first catch on that final drive, he would even talk trash, and cost his team ten yards.  He didn't look like a player who was going to win the game for Georgia.

Then he made a clutch reception on 2nd down.  The play was initially called incomplete, but careful review showed Mitchell pull the ball in, turn, and touch his knee to the ground (ending the play) before the ball was stripped.  This gave the Dawgs a 3rd and five instead of a 3rd and ten, which was the key in the final play.  Because the Gators had to defend only five yards instead of ten, they couldn't sit back in deep zones.  They would have to play up on the Dawgs receivers, so as to not allow a quick-hitter for a first down.  Purifoy, the best cover-corner on Florida's roster, covered up Mitchell and played bump-and-run.  What's the best route-pass combination for that coverage?  A stop route, with a back-shoulder throw.  Murray made the throw, and that's why you may want to lean toward calling HIM clutch...but it was Mitchell's run-after-catch that was truly the gamebreaker.  Not only did he run a fantastic route and make a fantastic catch, but he read the men in front of him, made his cuts, picked up enough of a block to get a crease, and then exploded into the endzone.

It was clutch.  Bobo put the game in the hands of Aaron Murray and Malcolm Mitchell.  Murray had been struggling.  The receivers hadn't been helping.  But when the game was on the line, they came through.  Murray made a few throws, and then Mitchell helped his qb in the best way possible - by scoring a TD that would prevent the much-maligned Junior from needing to make another decision.  Murray wouldn't have to decide what coverage he was seeing.  He wouldn't need to go through his progressions and worry about forcing a pass.  No, Malcolm Mitchell had scored a TD that put the Dawgs ahead by 8, and Murray's big-game woes were gone.

That, my "Clutch."

Go Dawgs.

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