Georgia’s young receivers impress with toughness, skill

MichaelBennettTD(UGA)

Georgia redshirt freshman Michael Bennett reaches across the goal line to record his first career TD as fellow freshman Malcolm Mitchell trails on the play. (UGA photo)

ATHENS — After Isaiah Crowell scored on a 15-yard run to give Georgia a 35-31 lead over South Carolina this past Saturday, everybody ran up to congratulate Crowell as soon he came to the Bulldogs’ sideline.

Everybody, that is, but Mark Richt. The Bulldogs’ head coach made a bee line for Michael Bennett and engulfed the big wide receiver in a bear hug.

“I was happy for the run Isaiah made, too,” Richt explained this week. “But I grabbed that kid [Bennett] and gave him a big hug because that was a heck of a play he made.”

The play to which Richt refers was Bennett’s catch on third and one at the South Carolina 28. Bennett’s number was called on a slant pattern and he pulled off an amazing shoe-top grab off a deflection for a four-yard gain and a Georgia first down. Two plays later Crowell notched the go-ahead score around right end.

“After watching it on film I thought that was one of the best catches I’ve ever seen,” Richt said. “Especially considering how important it was at that moment. It’s third down and if we don’t make it we might be deciding to kick a field goal. He makes it, then we go score.”

“It was an unbelievable catch,” quarterback Aaron Murray echoed. “It hit one guy’s helmet and I thought, ‘oh, no, it’s an incompletion.’ I didn’t even think he caught it at first. I thought it hit the ground. It was unbelievable the way he adjusted to the ball. Pretty nice.”

As surely no one has forgotten, Georgia ended up losing the game anyway. But it wasn’t because of the wide receivers, a unit that entered the season as one of the Bulldogs’ question marks. It was a group about which many were still unsure after the season-opening loss to Boise State where some critical drops contributed to the outcome.

But all along, Georgia coaches and players maintained that the infusion of young talent at the wideout position was significant. Fans are now getting a glimpse heading into the season’s third week.

Bennett, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound redshirt freshman from Alpharetta, had two other catches this past Saturday, including a 19-yard scoring grab in which he dodged one defender and broke another tackle. True freshman Malcolm Mitchell leads the team with eight catches for 116 yards and had a 51-yard score in the opener.

In all, five different receivers have caught passes and four have recorded touchdowns.

“I’ve been very impressed,” Richt said. “There is a toughness about them that I really like. Sometimes it takes time to get a guy tough enough to play the game the way it should be played and get after it they way he should get after it. I really think these guys showed up with some physical and mental toughness that I really like.”

Georgia was in dire need of some moxie at receiver. After losing A.J. Green and Kris Durham to the NFL, the Bulldogs had no proven play-makers beyond Tavarres King, who had 27 catches for 504 yards.

But King said he knew this summer what Georgia had in these young wideouts.

“I called it,” King said this week. “I said guys like Malcolm Mitchell and Michael Bennett were going to step up and be huge contributors for us. They have been, thus far.”

Actually, the Bulldogs realized they had an exceptional receiver in Bennett last fall when he redshirted. Richt said Bennett was good enough to play last season. But with Green and Durham in the fold and already established, it seemed prudent to redshirt Bennett.

I’ve been excited about him since last season when he was out there making plays as a scout teamer,” Murray said. “He has all the abilities and he’s a big strong kid who works hard.”

Bennett played his way into the six-player rotation at wideout in preseason camp. He did not have a catch in the season opener, so he was especially anxious to contribute against the Gamecocks.

“I think [redshirting] helped me a lot,” said Bennett, who had had 1,084 yards offense as a senior at Alpharetta High. “I knew I was going to play this year. So whenever you go out there on that field you know you’re going to have to make plays. That’s the only way to get playing time.”

Bennett said he was taken aback when he was embraced by Richt on the sidelines.

“That was a real cool moment,” he said. “I can’t even remember what he said I was so zoned out. But I just remember saying I love you and he said I love you, too. It was a cool moment to impress him like that.”

King says you can expect more such moments from the young guys.

“Absolutely,” he said. “I think the nervousness and all is out of there. The jitters are out. They know what it’s like to play between the hedges in front of a huge crowd in an extremely intense game. I think all of that is out of there and they’re ready to roll now.”

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94 comments Add your comment

Roswell Dawg

September 14th, 2011
6:17 pm

Roswell Dawg

September 14th, 2011
6:18 pm

First post ever!!!!!

slydog

September 14th, 2011
6:19 pm

You know what? The more I think about it, Murray has not developed trust with his receivers yet nor is he familiar with their tendencies and vice versa. He has some with Mitchell, Wooten , and Charles, but that’s it. I believe he had gotten too comfortable looking for Green and Durham and now he doesn’t have a “go to” guy. This season will test his true ability as an elite QB by learning to spread the ball around. This can be done despite the play calling.

Chip Towers

September 14th, 2011
6:21 pm

Way to go, Roswell Dawg!

Dr. Luke

September 14th, 2011
6:25 pm

DR. LUKE THOUGHTS

Well I learned alot more about my favorite teams and some that I hate. UGA played better BUT still lost. Some dawg fans and Richt think they can win out. He was happy with the way his team played. I never see Nick Saban or Les Miles happy when they play well but lose. Recent history says they will lose at least 4 more games and settle for another Liberty Bowl and a “dream team” that was actually just a dream…Alabama played lights out aganist Penn St. Hats off to Joe Pa but the crimson tide were too much to handle.Well coached, strong defense, no mistake and no turnover football has Nick Saban eyeing another SEC championship…The “Luck of the Irish” has officially run out. Im not sure which seat is hotter, Richts or Kellys both have alot of talent and are 0-2 to start the season. The Irish lost in a nail bitter in the Big House. Coach Hoke for the wolverines looked like he knew what he was doing all along. Kirk Herbsterit advised from the booth to kick the field goal to go into overtime but thats why he is in the booth calling games. Coach Hoke decided to take a shot in the endzone with 8 seconds left and well the rest is history…Lastly, I had a great weekend spending time with my buddy Coach Lee down at the swamp. Even though UAB did not play well on this particular night it was a enjoyable. I witnessed more mullets and jorts (blue jean shorts) than I care to ever see again. For this reason I will NOT be returning to the swamp and I understand now why Ga plays UF in Jacksonville.

Predictions:

Thursday Night Football 8:00 ET PM

LSU travels to Miss St- Dan Mullen needs this win and needs it bad. After coming off a heartbreaking loss to Auburn he would love nothing more than to get his team back on track in the SEC West. I have to say Im pulling for Miss St but the Mad Hatter Les Miles always finds a way to win..LSU 38 Miss St 35

12:00 PM ET No. 21 Auburn at Clemson- SEC is always picked over lower tier ACC teams. War Eagle.

1:00 PM ET Coastal Carolina at UGA-Coastal Carolinas Coach had some funny commentary after last weeks game about cats and dogs. If you have not seen it check this video out!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EChnZTJicw..You will not regret it..
Please win this one ga…Be more like dogs…Go Dawgs

3:30 PM ET Michigan St at ND- For some reason since I was living near South Bend my hate for ND has grown exponentially so that means I have to follow how many games they lose every season. Remember last year Michigan St beat ND with a fake field goal. Im taking the Spartans..ND should consider moving down to Division II next year.

3:30 PM ET Tennessee at UF- This one is a tough call. Both teams have coaches that have UGA connections. Coach Muschamp played at UGA, coached at Valdosta State University (my alma mater), moved to Auburn to be the defense coordinator then went to Texas to be the DC. Coach Dooley graduated law school from UGA and well you may of heard of his dad, Vince Dooley (Wikipedia him if not)… I think both teams are going to play well but Florida is too much in the 4th. Close game but Fl wins.

4:00 PM ET Tulane at UAB–the Green Wave lost to Tulsa last week 31-3. Ouch…They must play better if they can beat the mighty Blazers at Legion Field. UAB wins..Go Blazers!

07:30 PM ET No 17 Ohio St at Miami Fl–Not sure what to say about this one. Both programs are struggling and both programs are a bunch of cheaters. I feel sorry for Ohio St having to make that long trip to Miami this weekend. Ohio St players will likely make a tatoo parlor stop, lease some cars, and maybe hit up a few strip clubs on Friday night before the game…They will both find a way to cheat this weekend …Hurricane cancels the game and they both lose

08:00 PM ET No 1 OU at No 4 Florida State–This is going to be a great game! Josh and I have decided to make the trek to Tallahassee and Bobby Bowden Field to witness this game first hand. OU looks as good as ever with Coach Stoops trying to lead his players to another National Title game. It’s been 53 weeks since Oklahoma whipped the Seminoles 47-17 on Sept.
11, 2010 in what was just Coach Fisher’s second game as a head coach…But “not so fast my friend”, the Noles will be ready. They have the speed that kills and a great coach..Noles win in a close one after Chief Osceola claims his land back from the Sooners…GO NOLES!!!!!..(if that didnt make since refer below)

Sooners is the name given to settlers in the midwest of the United States who entered the Unassigned Lands in what is now the state of Oklahoma before President Grover Cleveland officially proclaimed them open to settlement on March 2, 1889 with the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889.

Dr. Luke Signing Off..

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

September 14th, 2011
6:28 pm

6th or 7th or 8th

Dean Tate

September 14th, 2011
6:31 pm

Thanks for a great post, Chip.

In a lot of ways, I’d rather have a hard working kid like Bennett than a prima dona like Green. He might not make as many phenomenal catches, but he’s a lot better for team morale and a lot less trouble off the field.

wait and see...

September 14th, 2011
6:32 pm

The dogs will win at least 9 and have a shot at 10 games. The miss state game is huge because of the way mullen’s team manages game, have a feeling they will sweep the rest of the schedule. Plus miss state hasn’t beating uga in like 50 years and karma is right the majority of the time and they wont be ranked in 3 weeks so we should definitely be favored in athens. With the dogs establishing a run game last week against one of the best d-lines in the country in my opinion look for murray to explode secondarys now that our run game WILL be sucessful. For all you haters, you better get back on the bandwagon before its too late because this team will be in Atlanta at the end of the year. Against LSU and Jarrett Lee throws 4 int’s. All of you will be loving Mark Richt after this stretch we are about to go on.

wait and see...

September 14th, 2011
6:36 pm

Malcolm Mitchell can split defenses like AJ green and Bennett is going to rise before the season is over. Mitchell will be a top receiver in the SEC at the end of the year.

slydog

September 14th, 2011
6:40 pm

Dean Tate

In what way is Green a prima dona? Because he is black and light years more talented than Bennett? How many times has Green put the Dawgs in a position to win football games or made the game winning catch? He never dropped balls cause he was pouting. He never screamed at a press conference “just give me the damn ball!!!” And why even mention Bennett before you mention Wooten or Mitchell. It’s subconscious man. Stop it!!!

wait and see...

September 14th, 2011
6:41 pm

dean tate go back to your shanty

Evansdawg

September 14th, 2011
6:42 pm

I’m certain that something special is about to take place in UGA football. Something all Dawg fans will celebrate.

slydog

September 14th, 2011
6:42 pm

@wait and see

And BTW, Miss. St. beat the dogs last year for the first time in 50 years, or something like that…lol

goodword_moxie

September 14th, 2011
6:44 pm

We need more Dawgs with moxie…no cats btw…good listen to Coach DB of CC today on mayhem n duh am…Richt has 3rd highest winning % in FBS now with minimum of 100 games coached. We sure as sheet aint gonna get the 2 that are higher so if Richt does get blown out at UGA we will get saddled with a turd probably…I can see it now….hey Coach Mason u wanna second chance to take the job n then turn us down?

slydog

September 14th, 2011
6:47 pm

heh heh… Dougie Stewart.. Isaiah.. Stop holding that ball way out there son…lmao

slydog

September 14th, 2011
6:48 pm

I say if CMR goes, get Mike Gundy

slydog

September 14th, 2011
6:48 pm

He’s a man, and he’s 43

slydog

September 14th, 2011
6:49 pm

Make that 44

It's about to happen...

September 14th, 2011
6:50 pm

Mark it down…Dawgs about to go on run!
UGA 65 Coastal Carolina 9
UGA 43 Ole Miss 24
UGA 38 Miss State 37
UGA 34 Tenn 32
UGA 44 Vandy 21
UGA 43 UF 35
UGA 55 New Mexico 17
UGA 38 Auburn 35
UGA 49 UK 24
UGA 37 Nerds 24

slydog

September 14th, 2011
6:53 pm

UGA 45 Coastal Carolina 17
UGA 35 Ole Miss 24
UGA 24 Miss State 37
UGA 27 Tenn 35
UGA 44 Vandy 21
UGA 21 UF 35
UGA 55 New Mexico 17
UGA 28 Auburn 42
UGA 49 UK 31
UGA 37 Nerds 35

Dawgs go 6-4 rest of the way

No more Kool-Aid for you!

September 14th, 2011
6:57 pm

“Mark it down…Dawgs about to go on run.”

Dream on. And stop swilling the Kool-Aid, fella. :-)

Knock 'em up and beat 'em up - The UGA Way

September 14th, 2011
7:05 pm

AJC headline: Former Georgia Bulldog Curran arrested

Beating up his girlfriend, who by the way, is not the same one he knocked up while he was at UGA and then abandoned her and never made child support payments to.

Just a freakin’ deadbeat, typical of the punks Mark Richt keeps recruiting.

Da'Rick and Justin

September 14th, 2011
7:48 pm

The best young receivers in the nation wear orange. Everyone knows that …

TampaDawg

September 14th, 2011
7:48 pm

Knock ‘em up and beat ‘em up – The UGA Way .. yeah, and no one else was recruiting Rennie .. whatever dude, these arguments are so weak.

TampaDawg

September 14th, 2011
7:51 pm

slydog, I don’t think they go 6-4 the rest of the way .. I think 9-1 is legit, and 8-2 at worst.

wes

September 14th, 2011
8:03 pm

so TK called it huh? he knew that they would be contributors. thanks for contributing to an 0-2 start.

CMS

September 14th, 2011
8:04 pm

It’s good that the young receivers are having early success. Bit what kills me is how some fans demonize AJ Green? He wasn’t a guy with an attitude problem. He never got arrested in Athens or any where else. And if all this angst is about that dang jeezy he sold then you need to be ashamed of yourself. Some of you all are some small.minded, jaded, petty people with absolutely no life outside of your worship of a football team.

That's right

September 14th, 2011
8:11 pm

Georgia can win out if Murray starts playing like Stafford instead of Tony Romo.

dawgfan

September 14th, 2011
8:11 pm

Richt hugs a reciever for doing what he’s supposed to do in the first place, CATCH THE BALL, and people wonder why we are 14-14 in our past 28 games.

There are Pop Warner coaches that don’t even hug their recieves for catching a ball.

angry mangy mutt

September 14th, 2011
8:14 pm

Throughout the spring and then summer we kept hearing Bennett’s name and then leading up to the season we were hearing all about Mitchell. Then in the dome it was Brown and King who seemed to have gotten the playing time. I understand they had the experience, but both have proven to be less than at first advertised. Not knocking the young men, not necessarily questioning Bobo’s thought process, nor attempting to in a roundabout way bash CMR. Just implying the guys who give us the best shot to win need to be out there.

sic'em now

September 14th, 2011
8:21 pm

Let the pups play!

Dawg85

September 14th, 2011
8:39 pm

I like what Evansdawg September 14th, 20116:42 pm said, something goods gonna happen and then all the complainers will go to the other extreme claiming their never ending and always constant support and love for the Dawgs.

PigIron

September 14th, 2011
9:01 pm

I agree. Something very good is going to happen for the BullDawg Nation. I predict that it will happen before this season ends.

Just remember: The Lord works in mysterious ways.

JB

September 14th, 2011
9:05 pm

Very positive article and there’s been very little lately.I feel the kid is special( Bennett) and I wish we would recruit more kids like him on the lines, if you get my drift.

kybodawg

September 14th, 2011
9:06 pm

slydog he mentioned bennet because thats who the article was about no racism intended.

Captain

September 14th, 2011
9:14 pm

Oh don’t we attract some nasty posters! Dean Tate would be ashamed that some ass clown used his name in such an unseemly fashion to post such a false, malicious insinuation about a fine young man who NEVER had a moments worth of bad episodes associated with his name. No, Dean Tate would have whipped your tail right before he sent you packing. I knew Dean Tate, an absolutely great and wonderful man. You dishonor his name you idiot!!!!!

Yes, Michael Bennett’s catch was special, and I appreciate Coach Richt recognizing it.

No doubt those Tenn WR’s are awesome, and Da’Rick Rogers is as good catching the ball as he is kicking a man in the ground senseless. Someone to hold up as a role model and another wonderful role model for all big orange fans. How’s Janzen Jackson these days?

No idea how the Dawgs do from here going forward. Here’s hoping we go 10-2.

We Georgia fans have no quarrel with Alabama, great program, great team. Ala fans should feel good enough about themselves that they don’t feel it necessary to fret about us.

Auburn fans, you don’t respect yourselves, your school, so why should the rest of us bother with respecting you? The greatest Auburn tradition is cheating and probation. Happens every decade, it is who you are.

Please, you GT supporters, go back to your slide rules and tickle piles. I know disappointment has spread across the campus today with the news that the originator of DragonCon has been arrested. Seems as if he got out of his wheelchair, tossed aside his oxygen mask, disrobed, and climbed into bed with a 14 yr old boy. Heroes make mistakes also. Hey, the good news is Fish Fry has you boys 2-0 with stirring triumphs over West Georgia and Middle Tenn, just the thing that calls for a tickle pile celebration. Go Jackets!

Go Dawgs

JB

September 14th, 2011
9:18 pm

Someone give me a headline in the Birmingham News if Bama was coming off 8-5 and then 6-7 and were at 0-2 this year………..

Mine would be…….” Today, enough bricks were found on Saban’s office floor to build a fireplace”. No one hurt, See page 2D for pictures.

TNDawg02

September 14th, 2011
9:21 pm

I think we have some strong young playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. The problem is still in the trenches and all the coaching hype. Realistically the Dawgs will probably drop 2/5 big games (MSU, TN. FLA, AUB, GT) and finish 8-4, best case scenario. Worst case scenario is they keep finding a way to lose and Richt leaves with a 6-6 record.

On another note, Had a conversation with some guys at work regarding Georgia. Some of which played college ball so not all just arm chair coaches like myself. Consensus is Georgia’s offense, more particularly BoBo, is a problem. Georgia offensive numbers are decent on paper but the problem is game management. We don’t drive, eat up clock, and control games…no game management. BoBo scores points, but they’re quick strike and we put the defense right back on the field. This leads to the other team running down the field on a tired Georgia D. Hence the shoot out years we have seen since Moreno left and we gave up on the run. BoBo and RIcht get some faith in Mr. Crowel, O line steps up, and we start controlling games rather than scoring points and maybe just maybe we play in Atlanta again. Not optimistic after the last two seasons, but I’ll hunkered down every Saturday regardless. GO DAWGS

JB

September 14th, 2011
9:26 pm

You are correct about our Defense being ask to stop a team often starting about mid field for the offenses inability to get a first down and punting deep in our territory. Happens A LOT. We are the one who use to have 8-10 minute drives and wear out the other defense. Grantham boys held them to 17 points in my book Saturday. 28 point came of turnovers

trouble

September 14th, 2011
9:32 pm

got to say it, the recievers improved more from week 1 to week 2 than any other position.

JB

September 14th, 2011
9:39 pm

Would like to see us get in a jumbo package with figgins and 3 TE’s, 2 on one side, and run some pitch out to Crowell and see what happens. Me thinks he gets 4-10 yards against anybody per down.

JB

September 14th, 2011
9:41 pm

also, figgins out of the backfield on a pass route worked Saturday. He has good hands and delays in the flats, he’s wide open a lot.

PigIron

September 14th, 2011
9:56 pm

I don’t think Saban would have made it past the 6-7 part. Nick is a great HC, but he’s not bigger than the University. There are other coaches out there. You’re right though, Richt would have long since been fired at any of the top 6* SEC schools by now.

1. Alabama
2. LSU
3. Florida
4. Tennessee
5. Auburn
6. Arkansas

Mobile Dawg

September 14th, 2011
10:01 pm

‘In what he called the “toughest decision I’ve had to make in my life,” junior linebacker Rennie Curran said he will forgo his final season of college eligibility and enter the 2010 NFL draft.”

Sometimes in life, the tough decisions require the tough action. Entering the NFL draft was the easy way out. I can remember telling my son that same thing during the challenging years , when the road forks, often taking the easiest way isn’t the right choice.

Gravy Train

September 14th, 2011
10:09 pm

When this team learns ball control they are going to be pretty darn good. I think many of us forget that there are a lot of pups that are being counted on. Making mistakes is part of the growing process, in life and in football. I look forward to watching them get better every week. The players and coaches are out there busting their tails and I’ll be damned if I wont support them. GO DAWGS!

fishook dawg

September 14th, 2011
10:12 pm

I think if you compare numbers, Murray and Joe Cox were about the same. And why is it everytime Murray has something to say about one of his young teammates, he calls them kids? What is he? I hope the Dawgs get a big early lead, so maybe then CMR will put Hutson Mason in for some much needed work.

Mobile Dawg

September 14th, 2011
10:13 pm

Gravy, I look forwad to seeing them get better weekly also. But, when’s the last time we were a ball control team? Richt coaches a fast break, flashy, finesse, style offense. Coach has to coach it before the team can learn it.

UGA grad 90

September 14th, 2011
10:39 pm

Going Down With The Ship

To take your chance in the thick of a rush, with firing all about,
Is nothing so bad when you’ve cover to ‘and, an’ leave an’ likin’ to shout;
But to stand an’ be still to the Birken’ead drill
is a damn tough bullet to chew,
An’ they done it, the Jollies — ‘Er Majesty’s Jollies —
Mark Richt and his Loyalists too!
Their work was done when it ‘adn’t begun; they was younger nor me an’ you;
Their choice it was plain between drownin’ in ‘eaps
an’ bein’ mopped by the screw,
So they stood an’ was still to the Birken’ead drill, Mark Richt and his Loyalists too!

TampaGator

September 14th, 2011
10:40 pm

Da’Rick and Justin…….

The two best young receivers in the SEC……Justin Hunter and Da’Rick Rodgers.

The best young QB in the SEC…..Tyler Bray

The best young defensive linemen in the SEC…..Sharieff Floyd, Dominque Easley, Ronald Powell

The best young defensive backs in the SEC…..Marcus Robertson and Pop Saunders

Vols vs. Gators………Should be a fun game to watch.

hotdawg

September 14th, 2011
11:09 pm

Two things…..first if we all can remember correctly harton was the) everybody raved about during camp and bennett was the reciever that received the same credit ….I hope to see them more often clearly they have earned respect from their teammates…..and marlon brown looks good….while playing hurt even….and dean tate….diva must b a new skin color….lol…u stink