The sophomore cornerback made just his second career start, but hauled in Georgia’s first interception of the season, was exceptional in coverage, and set a school record with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
But glory is fleeting, and after being burned for two touchdowns against Arkansas last Saturday, Boykin isn’t letting the burdens of failure keep him down any more than he let the previous week’s success go to head head.
“I wouldn’t say it was humbling because just that one South Carolina game, it was just one good game and you have to get ready for every other week,” Boykin said. “But I was disappointed in the way I played as an individual. … There’s nothing we can do now except try to get better. I learned from my mistakes, and my teammates did as well.”
Boykin was hardly the only defensive back to have problems against the Razorbacks.
Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett threw a school-record five touchdown passes and racked up 408 passing yards in a losing cause, and the Georgia secondary was left to handle the fallout of a dismal performance.
For veterans like Bryan Evans and Prince Miller, it wasn’t a completely new experience. Eventually, every defensive back gets beat once or twice, Miller said. For Boykin, however, his performance against Arkansas was his first taste of failure at the college level.
Rather than lament his misfortune, however, defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said Boykin watched the game film with a critical eye the next day and immediately got to work on fixing the problems.
“He’s a kid who has got a lot of pride,” Martinez said. “He keeps working, he doesn’t really get down on himself, and that’s really kind of the swagger you’ve got to have as a defensive back. There’s going to be things that happen to you, but how you deal with them is the key. He’s handled it well, and he’s going to be fine. He’s going to get better.”
Not that watching the footage of his performance was particularly enjoyable, but Boykin said the experience had a few silver linings.
Watching the tape again, he said the first touchdown came when the receiver simply made a nice catch. His coverage appeared sound.
The second touchdown, he said, was a mistake on his part – a mental error in coverage that, while unacceptable, is easily correctable.
In essence, getting burned is no fun, Miller said, but it’s always a learning experience.
“It’s like a Catch-22,” Miller said. “You never want to give up big plays, but you have to learn at some point.”
That’s the advice Miller, the lone senior among Georgia’s cornerbacks, passed on to Boykin. The other insight Miller had was simple: It happens to everyone.
“Even the best in the professionals get beat once or twice,” Boykin said. “You can’t knock every ball down. But you have to keep your head up and learn from your mistakes and try not to let it happen twice.”
Of course, Boykin knows he probably isn’t the only one watching the film of his performance against Arkansas. Coaches from this week’s opponent, Arizona State, and the rest of Georgia’s competition this season will no doubt see it, too.
So while Boykin vows not to allow another quarterback to pick him apart like Mallett did, he also knows he’ll have to back up that promise soon.
Again, however, there’s a silver lining. Boykin is not just ready for the challenge – he’s looking forward to it.
“I did get beat deep, so if they want to come at me, that’s their choice,” Boykin said. “I’m not going to let it happen again, so it doesn’t really matter. That’ll be an opportunity for me to make a play when they come my way.”