Given the wide-open nature of the race in the Southeastern Conference’s East Division this week and the fact that Georgia would like nothing better than to avenge last year’s 34-27 loss to Kentucky, the Bulldogs are more than enthused about tonight’s game against the Wildcats.
Rainier Ehrhardt/Morris News Service Georgia’s Rantavious Wooten caught touchdown passes of 21 and 43 yards in last year’s 34-27 loss to Kentucky.
Morris News Service
It’s possible, however, that no player is looking forward to the game more than sophomore flanker Rantavious Wooten, who turned in a dazzling performance in the loss, snagging two balls for 64 yards (21 and 43 yards) and two touchdowns.
“The Kentucky game didn’t have a happy ending, but it wasn’t a bad day for me,” the 5-foot-10, 177-pound Belle Glade, Fla., native said. “I got the chance to start because A.J. Green was hurt, and we saw some weaknesses in their secondary and wanted to exploit them. Coach (Mike) Bobo came up with a great plan to attack them because they were going to challenge us by playing man-to-man. He called the right plays at the right time and I was fortunate to make the plays.”
Wooten wins high marks from coaches and teammates for his ability to make plays, but playing behind Green does pose challenges in getting opportunities.
“He’s done well,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “Part of his problem right now is he plays the same position A.J. plays, and even (Kris) Durham was playing the position when A.J. was out. Wooten is improving and is becoming a guy we believe we can count on, but our top three guys right this second are A.J, Durham and T.K. (Tavarres King).
“Sometimes it’s hard to get other guys involved – Marlon (Brown) is another guy who’s improved. But I’m glad they are where they are because, in time, it will be their day.”
“When he gets the chance, he does the job,” redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray added. “I’d say he’s one of our quickest receivers – you get him the ball, he makes a move and it’s boom, boom, boom. He’s a shifty guy.
“The more chances he gets, the better he’ll be. Woot does a tremendous job for us in practice, but it’s tough when you’re backing up one of the best receivers in the country. But he works his tail off every day so that when he gets his chance, he’s ready to go. He’ll have two years to run things, and I think he’ll do a great job when it’s his turn.”
Wooten, who thus far this season has five receptions for 26 yards and a touchdown and three rushing attempts for 5 yards, admitted he’s frustrated with the situation, but added he wants what’s best for the team.
“I take it day by day,” said Wooten, whose 2010 touchdown reception came against Tennessee on Oct. 9. “I just want to go out at practice and show them I can make plays and let them know they can’t forget about me. It does get frustrating, but at the same time, I’m playing behind A.J. Green, you know? It’s like that sometimes.”
Split end King, who is Georgia’s second-leading receiver (327 yards, 54.5 ypg) behind Durham (543 yards, 75.5 ypg), said Wooten understands his lot and his responsibilities.
“Everybody has a role and in our unit, everybody knows their role,” King said. “I know when we get down in the red zone, I’m not going to go catch a fade when we’ve got guys who are 6-5 and 6-4 there in A.J. and Kris Durham. I know my role. Wooten knows he’s a speedster and a playmaker and we know we can count on him.
“Going back to last year, he’s always been a guy who could step up and make big plays. He caught two big touchdowns against Kentucky and what he does to help this team out is awesome.”
Wooten is among many who believe the Bulldogs finally have the 2010 campaign on track.
“You will always face adversity and this whole team has faced adversity this season,” he said. “Normally, teams that have faced as much adversity as us fall apart, but we’ve stuck together as a team and have continued to fight.
“Nobody pointed a finger at anyone else or was blaming anyone. We know we’re all we’ve got. I’m playing for the guy beside me. I’m playing for everybody on the team. I’m not playing for myself. I’m playing for the team and nobody else.”
Although he largely plays a waiting game, Wooten is content in the knowledge that he’s proved himself before and prepares himself to do it again.
“I’m working hard every week, trying to get into the rotation and (Kentucky) is pretty much the same team as last year,” he said. “They’ve got guys who will line up and play man again. We’ve got a great gameplan and when I get my chance, I’ll make the most of my opportunity.”
► PHOTO GALLERY: Kentucky football prepares for Georgia