Tight ends Lynch, Rome ‘capitalize on opportunities’ to be targets in passing game

Without the tight ends, Georgia may have gone to halftime without a point on the board Saturday against Georgia Southern.

Junior Arthur Lynch came up big on third-and-9 from the Georgia 22 on its opening drive of the game. 

Quarterback Aaron Murray went through his progressions, put the pass on a dime and Lynch was able to break free for a 49-yard gain.

“The first play, I was the check-down in Aaron’s progression and he threw a great ball where I only I could catch it,” Lynch said of the 49-yard play. “I was able to come up field and there was some room to run which is something you want as a receiver. Get some to run (and) get some yards after the catch.”

Coach Mark Richt said that play got the team going and was crucial in establishing the offense on the opening drive.

“That was big. It’s third-and-long and we go to a check-down, and he was pretty well-covered,” Richt said. “Artie just started us with some very good momentum because a three-and-out wouldn’t have been very pretty to start the game.”

Lynch followed up the big gain with another 15-yarder on the next play. The drive resulted in a touchdown, and the 6-foot-5, 258-pound junior went directly to his fellow tight end on the sideline once the drive ended.

“Artie started us off with a couple of big catches on the first drive, and after we scored he came back and was like, ‘All right, it’s your turn,” redshirt freshman Jay Rome said.

Rome’s time to shine came on the final drive of the first half.


With Georgia leading 10-7 with 1:03 left in the half, Murray hooked up with Rome twice on the drive for 29 yards. The Bulldogs capped off the possession with another touchdown that gave the Bulldogs some breathing room at halftime.

Rome said he knew that Georgia Southern’s triple-option offense excels at taking time off the clock, and with the visitors getting the ball to start the second half, Georgia’s offense was aware of what they needed to do.

“I was like, ‘Man, we’ve got to come out here in this one minute and run it to perfection and get this score before we go to halftime so we can give our defense some cushion,’” Rome said. “Everybody’s mindset was like, ‘We’ve got to go out here and get this score.’ The ball came my way a few times and I made plays on it.”

Those would be Rome’s only receptions for the day, and Lynch finished as the second leading receiver with three catches for 68 yards.

Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said there has been a need for increased production from the tight ends with receivers Marlon Brown and Michael Bennett sidelined for the remainder of the season with ACL injuries.

“The tight ends have had to step it up, and they’ve done a nice job the last few weeks,” he said. “We tried a couple things to them in the game, and (Georgia Southern) just played a little bit different coverage than we thought, but … Murray always does a good job of finding the guy that’s open.”

The game plan hasn’t altered much since the start of the season, and Lynch said the recent improvement on the stat sheet is simply due to increased opportunities to make plays.

“I don’t think what we’ve been trying to do has changed since the beginning of the season,” he said. “Progressions have gone our way, coverages went the way we needed it to go and we’ve been able to capitalize on our opportunities. It’s one of those things where the opportunity arises, you’ve got to take full advantage of it, and that’s something we’ve done a good job of the past couple of weeks.”

While the position may not be as prominent as it has been in recent seasons, their work doesn’t go unnoticed.

“We’ve got faith in our tight ends,” Richt said. “They may not be quite as fast as the last bunch we had, but they know what they’re doing. I think our tight ends are being very effective whether they are catching the ball or not.”

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