On fourth-and-short with the end zone less than 5 yards away, Georgia freshman running back Isaiah Crowell did not readily leave the field.
Georgia punter Drew Butler tries to avoid a tackle by Mississippi State defensive back Jonathon Banks after a botched snap Saturday.
The field-goal unit, led by senior kicker Blair Walsh, was sent out as wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell practically pulled Crowell the final steps of the way to the sideline.
"I felt like, you know, we needed to drop our necks a little bit and just go for it," said Crowell, who finished with 104 yards rushing on 22 carries. "Everybody was talking about how we were going to drop our necks and play football. I felt like we should have went for it."
The field goal, which would have extended a 24-3 lead, was never kicked. A botched exchange between longsnapper Ty Frix and holder Drew Butler cost Georgia the chance for any points. Fans showed their displeasure by booing the whole ordeal — perhaps a reaction to both the play call and the end result.
"I’m not happy," coach Mark Richt said recalling the moment. "I’m not happy. I don’t like to have to be put in that position, quite frankly. ?I could see where the fans would probably not get too excited about that. That’s a tough decision."
The lack of any points on the drive added to Crowell’s frustration.
"I already had thought we should have went for it," Crowell said. "Then we didn’t make the field goal. Why not go for it?"
Richt’s reasoning: "You do want to get a game where I think we would have gone up three touchdowns if we had made that kick, which is a good thing. It’s good to go up three touchdowns."
Mitchell had words of advice for Crowell as the two exited the field prior to the botched play.
"I told him, ‘It’s all right. We’ll make up for it later. We shouldn’t have put the coaches in the situation where they’re calling that on fourth down. We should have gotten it on third down.’ "
That wasn’t the only time in the game where Richt could have gone for a short-yardage conversion on fourth down. But the play of his team’s defense, which allowed 214 yards and only three points for the game, made conservative calls the easier route in such circumstances.
"Our defense is so good that we have confidence no matter what the call is in those situations," quarterback Aaron Murray said.
Leaving some on the table
The players that comprise Georgia’s defensive secondary keep to a code of sorts.
One of the most important rules: A player has to do pushups if he drops an interception.
While cornerback Sanders Commings and Shawn Williams each had a pick against Mississippi State, the group will be doing pushups in the coming week for some missed opportunities.
"We should have had seven interceptions," Commings said. "I dread it."
Commings missed out on at least two interceptions, one of which looked like a sure touchdown going the other way. Cornerback Brandon Boykin missed one as well.
"Even if you drop an interception at practice, if it hits your hands that’s your fault," said safety Bacarri Rambo. "You’ve got to do pushups."
Despite the missed chances, the unit enjoyed a stellar day. Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf was 19 of 31 for 157 yards.
Through all the success, doing pushups was the most talked about subject between Rambo and Commings in post-game interviews.
"I’ll have to stop bragging about our defensive back’s great hands," Richt said. "I’ve been bragging about what great hands they have. They do most of the time, but they dropped a couple that could have possibly stuck a fork in it."
The ‘third-down guy’
While he didn’t start the game, junior linebacker Christian Robinson saw his first time on the field since injuring his foot against South Carolina on Sept. 10.
Robinson subbed in for starter Amarlo Herrera on every third down.
"Yeah, I was going to be the third-down guy and in the two-minute drill," Robinson said. "It was so we could communicate and be on the same page. I think that’s a strength for me, just knowing what’s going on."
Robinson finished with one tackle and a pass breakup.
"It was good to see Christian back out there," Richt said.
With his foot recovering faster than initially thought, Robinson’s playing time should increase next week against Tennessee. A return to the starting lineup is not out of the question.
"My foot is good," he said. "It’s sore. I get better and better every day. I’ve been rehabbing so hard. I think next week I’ll be closer to full health."
This and that
Junior linebacker Mike Gilliard led the team with eight tackles. "The goal is for your middle linebackers to lead the team in tackles," Richt said. "That’s all there is to it." ? Senior wide receiver Israel Troupe sat out Saturday’s game with a right knee bruise. "It’s relatively short term," Richt said. ? Redshirt freshman wideout Michael Bennett made his first career start.