Watch Henderson Pull in the Game-Winner
And it seemed like a simple enough decision. Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo had called a long pass play that if successful would win the game.
“Coach Eason was like, ‘Is there any guy in particular (wide receiver) you want?’ and Mike said, ‘No, just throw any of them out there, and let’s see what happens,’” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “He said, ‘Just put somebody out there who will make a play.’”
Eason’s choices were 6-foot-5 Kris Durham, 6-foot-3 Kenneth Harris, 6-foot-2 Mohamed Massaquoi, 6-foot-1 Sean Bailey or 5-foot-something Mikey Henderson. As numerous replays around the country have shown, Eason chose Henderson.
Henderson, a senior, is listed in the Bulldogs’ media guide as 5-10 but is actually “5… well I’m not going to say, but I’m definitely not the ideal person” for that play, he said.
“He could have thrown anybody in there, and he went with me,” Henderson said. “Every time I saw him today, I thanked him. After the game, I hugged him like eight times. It was just a blessing.”
The win vaulted Georgia (3-1, 1-1 SEC) to No. 15 in the national rankings heading into Saturday’s home game against Ole Miss (1-3, 0-2).
Richt was skeptical when he saw Henderson lined up as the first option on the play, but he tried to keep a positive outlook, he said.
“I just knew Mikey’s strengths, and Mikey used his strengths, which are his quickness and his speed,” Richt said. “His quickness got him clean off the jam and his speed kept him far enough ahead where the ball didn’t have to be a jump ball.”
(Assistant coaches are not available to speak to the media on Mondays.)
A pass to one of Georgia’s taller receivers probably would have simply been thrown high in the air for a jump ball, Stafford said, but he couldn’t do that with Henderson on the receiving end.
“It’s just got to be a better throw,” Stafford said.
As soon as Henderson, who finished the game with three catches for a career-high 36 yards, heard the play call, his thoughts turned to a pass he had dropped earlier in the game, he said.
“I was like, ‘Please don’t let me drop another ball,’” he said. “I ran the route, and I saw it coming to me and I said, ‘Pleeeaase don’t let me drop this ball.’ I’m so happy that they had the confidence in me and for Matt to look my way and give me the ball. It was a great confidence boost. I’m glad I delivered.”
Henderson’s catch was nominated for this week’s Pontiac Game Changing Performance, and he was soliciting votes after Monday’s practice (www.pontiac.com/ncaa). Henderson’s day on campus reminded him of his time as star at Buford High School, he said, when every passerby seemed to know his name and have a congratulatory word.
“It’s incredible,” he said. “I wish it was the last game of the season so I could replaying it, but we’ve got Ole Miss, so I have to let it go.”