One ball was thrown to him in the Arkansas game. Overthrown, actually. Then Rantavious Wooten made his first reception for UGA in the second quarter of the Arizona State game, a spectacular catch for a 27-yard gain on 3rd-and-12.
“When I caught it,” Wooten said a couple of days ago, “it felt like having a burden lifted off my shoulders. I felt relieved, and I felt excited. I just wanted to keep playing.”
He made the second catch of his collegiate career late in the fourth quarter, a crucial 11-yard gainer on 3rd-and-4 early in the drive that led to the game-winning, game-ending field goal.
Obviously, Wooten had gained the coaches’ confidence with his work on the practice field — a prerequisite for a freshman to be called upon in a tight game, let alone in a game-deciding drive.
“I knew what I had to do, and I focused and worked real hard and did my best every day to prove to the coaches that I can make the plays and am ready to play,” Wooten said. “That is what I’ve had my mindset on every week.”
He said he had “a great week of practice” before the Arkansas game. “Everything seemed to be falling into place for me, and then I felt like I’d get my chance.”
And how is the other receiver in the 2009 signing class, Marlon Brown, doing? “He’s actually stepping up,” Wooten said. “He’s catching the ball. . . . I expect him to play soon.”
As you know, nothing goes unnoticed or unanalyzed in Bulldog Nation. Example: some players dancing to the music that blared through Sanford Stadium during timeouts late in last Saturday’s game. Mark Richt was asked his feelings about it this week, both on his radio call-in show and in a meeting with reporters.
“Well, that’s a good question,” Richt said to a caller. “If you go by how it affected our defensive players, Scott [Howard] just mentioned that in the last four drives of the game we held [Arizona State] to minus-13 yards. So if that is going to be the result, I don’t mind them doing that.
“I don’t think it’s something that is a lack of discipline or a lack of respect. I think there are a lot of guys that have got the spirit inside of them, and if that gets rid of a little bit of nervous energy before the next play or whatever, that’s fine with me. If you noticed, the other team was doing the same doggone thing.
“I don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” Richt said, “but I’m sure there are about 50 percent of the folks out there who think it is.”
He added: “If the fans don’t like it, they need to start booing when [players are] dancing instead of cheering.”
– Georgia and LSU have met in football just 27 times despite both being charter members of the SEC.
– LSU leads the series 14-12-1, including a 6-6 record in Athens, where the Tigers have not won since 1987. Georgia has won the past three meetings and six of the past eight. None of which will mean a thing on Saturday, of course.
– LSU says only seven of its current players were born when the Tigers last won in Athens.
– Georgia’s Drew Butler leads the nation in punting with a 50.1-yard average.
– LSU’s starting center is T-Bob Hebert, the son of former Falcons and Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert. He was born in Louisiana and grew up an LSU fan, but played his high school ball at Greater Atlanta Christian.
– Georgia is 0-3 in its last three games against top-10 teams (Alabama and Florida last year, Oklahoma State this year).
– A.J. Green isn’t the only receiver entering Saturday’s game on a hot streak. LSU’s Brandon LaFell has caught five touchdown passes in four games.
– I think I mentioned this in a story earlier in the week: LSU safety Chad Jones and defensive end Rahim Alem (formerly Al Jones) are brothers.
– LSU sophomore Jordan Jefferson is the youngest starting quarterback in the SEC, 19 years and one month.
– Both LSU and Georgia have struggled to get their running games going, so consider this: The Tigers are 28-0 under Les Miles when rushing for 100-plus yards and holding their opponent to less than 100.
– Points off turnovers: Opponents 54, Georgia 6. That’s crazy.
And finally, here’s the lineup for book signings in the UGA Bookstore before Saturday’s game:
10 a.m. until noon: Larry Munson (”From Herschel to a Hobnail Boot”) and Herschel Walker (”Breaking Free”).
12:30 p.m. until 2:30 p.m.: Vince Dooley (”Dooley’s Play Book”) and Fran Tarkenton (”Every Day is Game Day”).
Also, Kevin Butler and David Greene will be available for autographs from 1:30 to 2:30.