Auburn’s game-winning 73-yard touchdown pass with 25 seconds left Saturday made the NBC Nightly News on Monday.
Safety Josh Harvey-Clemons deflected the pass that safety Tray Matthews was trying to intercept and it fell into the hands of Ricardo Louis,
Georgia coach Mark Richt echoed the comments of cornerback Damian Swann a day earlier.
Coaches, he said, never told the players during the timeout before the fourth-and-18 desperation pass to bat down the ball in the 43-38 Bulldogs loss.
“Obviously at the end of the game, you’ve got to know to knock a ball down in that situation,” Richt said. “We had a timeout prior to that. I’m in there. (Defensive coordinator Todd) Grantham is in there. We’re all in there. I could have easily said, `Hey guys, if the ball’s launched deep, bat it down’. I could have said that. That’s a good reminder for our young bunch of guys back there, you know.”
Nobody did, he said.
“I, quite frankly, didn’t think it was time that they were going to launch one,” Richt said. “To me, there was enough time to move the chains. We weren’t thinking they were going to launch a bomb into super deep coverage. You really shouldn’t throw a post into that look. You’ve got two or three guys deeper than the guy. They launched it and we didn’t bat it down. I certainly could have said, `Hey, if that ball’s anywhere where you could knock it down, don’t think about pick, think about knocking the ball down because it ends the game in essence.’ I had my chance to coach that up and didn’t do it.”
Said Grantham: “At the end of the day, you’ve got to percentage-wise knock it down. Don’t want to tip it up.”
Grantham showed his players this week a clip from the Ravens-Broncos playoff game last year when the Ravens got a 70-yard touchdown with 31 seconds left in regulation with a pass over the top of the Broncos secondary and went on to win in double overtime.
“My point was that’s why you celebrate in the locker room because you won a game, you finished a game,” he said. “It’s never over until it’s over. You’ve got to play every play and finish the game out.”
Richt said a Hail Mary would have been considered more likely if Auburn was 50 or 55 yards from the end zone and there were only a few seconds remaining.
“It wasn’t really a typical Hail Mary situation,” he said. “There was a dig route and a post and some other concepts underneath to read. …He let it rip and it turned out to be a good thing for them.”
Richt said the coaches work Hail Mary-type situations every week in practice.
“We bat it down every Thursday,” Richt said.
Added Grantham: “I’m sure it’s something that if they’re put in that situation again, they’ll know what to do.”
Richt's words with ref not well-received
Simply the mention of referee Penn Wagers’ name brings a strong reaction by some Georgia fans.
He was the referee in Georgia’s 2007 game against Florida when Richt emptied the sidelines and drew a celebration penalty. And he was the one who threw the flag on Richt Saturday for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when Richt argued that Georgia should have got the ball after an Auburn fumble that he thought Harvey-Clemons recovered.
Richt said Wagers threw the flag after Richt got close to him and said: “I think you guys are the best SEC officials that we have. That’s what I said. Something very close to that.”
CBS’ field microphone, as picked up by Timothy Burke of Deadspin, caught Richt saying: “That’s crap.”
On Tuesday, Richt said: “That might have been. …I’m glad that’s the worst I did. I’ve done worser in the past. `That’s a bunch of crud. That’s cruddy.’ I think they’ll let you say you’re piece and get out of there, but I probably said my piece too long.”
Some thought that Auburn should have been called for targeting on the final play of the game when defensive end Dee Ford hit quarterback Aaron Murray after Georgia had reached the 20-yard line and Murray’s pass fell incomplete
Murray was asked about it often this week. He said he didn’t think it was targeting because “he pretty much hit me right in the chest.”
“It was a hard hit,” Richt said. “I don’t even know what a targeting is anymore sometimes. I’ll look at this one and it is and I’ll look at another one and they say it’s not. I’m like, `What’s the difference?’I think it’s been a very difficult thing for everybody to definie. I do think it will be the No. 1 rule that will be addressed to try to figure out what’s the best way to move forward. It’s been confusing, it’s been problematic in a lot of ways.”
Murray not lobbying publicly now for blackout
Murray isn’t making much of a push for a blackout for his final home game after all.
At least not publicly.
“If it happens, I won’t complain about it, but I’m more focused on winning the game right now,” Murray said.
Richt said on his radio show on Monday night that wearing black jerseys was a logistical issue.
“If I had black jerseys to give them, I’d have them wear ‘em,” Richt said. “We just don’t have them. I don’t know if that’s going to break everybody’s heart or not, but we don’t have any black jerseys in stock. If we did, I’d be all for it. I’ll say this: if the fans want to honor Aaron Murray’s request and bless him and the seniors, and I’m sure our players would love if the fans did a blackout. The players don’t necessarily have to wear the black jerseys to get a blackout, do they?
Lynch's pain from Florida game
Tight end Arthur Lynch said the injury he sustained against Florida and kept him out the next week against Appalachian State was actually a lacerated kidney.
“I was in a significant amount of pain, but it was kind of the adrenaline was helping me get through it,” Lynch said. “I had a messed up kidney from the hit. There was some stuff going on with my body that was kind of freaking me out. I told myself nothing is going to take me out of my last Florida game. You only get so many of them and that was my last one.”
Lynch, a fifth-year senior who will play his final home game Saturday, learned some hard lessons against Florida on the fumbled lateral that he thought was a pass.
“One, never put your head down after a play no matter what you think,” he said. “I thought it was a forward pass and I was like `Dang,’ I just let go 50 yards, possibly a touchdown.’ That was a rookie mistake by a guy that’s supposed to be a fifth-year senior, but luckily it didn’t hurt us so significantly that we lost the game.”
This and that
Murray is one of five finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award for nation’s top quarterback that is a senior or fourth-year junior. The other finalists are Alabama’s AJ McCaron, Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, Fresno State’s Derek Carr and Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch. Murray was invited and plans to play in the Senior Bowl, said Arthur Lynch, who already has been announced to play in the senior all-star game.
Safety Tray Matthews (sprained shoulder) was in a non-contact jersey Tuesday.
Backup inside linebacker Reggie Carter also practiced Tuesday in a non-contact jersey. He’s missed the last three games following minor knee surgery.
Inside linebacker Ramik Wilson (ankle) practiced in a regular jersey on Tuesday.