To spike or not to spike.
Since the evening of Dec., 1, 2012, that notion has been debated a countless number of times throughout the Georgia fan base. Attempting to win the 2012 SEC Championship over Alabama on a drive in which former quarterback Aaron Murray drove the Bulldogs down the length of the field and inside the 10.
After a 26-yard completion to Arthur Lynch, Murray and the offense ran to the line of scrimmage at the Alabama 8-yard line. The clock, which stopped briefly for the first down, began to run again and Georgia didn’t have any more timeouts. The Bulldogs could have spiked the ball to stop the clock while regrouping for its next play. Instead, Murray looked to the sideline and received a call. It kept Alabama’s personnel, which had just been driven on almost the entire length of the field in less than a minute, from substituting.
But as everyone knows, Murray’s next throw, intended for Malcolm Mitchell, was tipped at the line of scrimmage by linebacker C.J. Mosley. It fell near receiver Chris Conley at the 5-yard line, and Conley used his instincts to catch the ball. He slipped to the turf and the game ended with Alabama winning the conference title game 32-28.
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That spawned the debate -- should Georgia have spiked the ball?
Almost three years later, it’s a lot easier to look the series of events without the knee-jerk reaction that generally occurs in outcomes like this.
When I think back to in-game coaching decisions such as this, I like to consider the multiple possibilities a coach may be thinking about before the play is executed. Just because an outcome is undesirable, it doesn't mean the call was wrong. People, a vast majority of them, point at Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll's decision to throw a pass at the goal line of this past year's Super Bowl against the New England Patriots. Well, what if the pass play goes for a touchdown? What if they decide to run the ball there and Marshawn Lynch fumbles? What if Russell Wilson mishandles the snap or handoff on a called run? It just so happened Malcolm Butler read the play and made the pick. If Seattle completes the pass for a touchdown, Carroll's decision is never debated and the Seahawks win back-to-back championships. If the ball is incomplete, Seattle gets to run another play.
(For the record, I would've given the ball to Lynch on first down. But I'm also not qualified to be an NFL head coach. But I do understand that as an NFL head coach, you're trusting Wilson to make that play and aren't thinking about an undrafted rookie making a game-winning interception.)
It’s easy to say Georgia should have spiked the ball in that situation because what occurred was among the worst-case scenarios, with the Bulldogs losing. Of course, the throw wasn’t intended for Conley. Murray was trying to go to Mitchell, who appeared to have an advantage on his defender at the time the ball was released.
If the ball gets there and Mitchell catches it, no one says a negative word about Georgia’s decision not to spike the ball. If the ball falls incomplete, Georgia still has one more play to run for the win.
And on top of that, the notion that a spike would have given Georgia a better chance to win isn’t true either. If Murray spikes it, who’s to say Alabama doesn’t record an interception, get a sack or stop the Bulldogs short of the goal line on the next play anyway? The criticism of the call stems from a belief that Georgia wins if it spikes the ball. No one will ever know, or could know, for that to be a fact.
In conclusion, I’ve never believed head coach Mark Richt and former offensive coordinator Mike Bobo made the wrong call by hurrying to the line to run a play. If the play works, they're geniuses for keeping Alabama's defense off-balanced in that moment. Mosley just happened to make an incredible play that devastated the Bulldogs.
And at the end of the day, that’s just the way football goes sometimes.
Hitting the links
Georgia coaching staff visits Southern's Devon Gales, who had spinal surgery on Sunday.
Rico McGraw's availability for Alabama game remains uncertain.
Mark Richt tied Wally Butts for second-most in program history with his 140th career victory against Southern.
The Telegraph's Daniel Shirley compiled the SEC's top story lines entering this week.
Five things we now know about Georgia following its win over Southern.
Georgia's grades following its win over Southern were affected by a sloppy second quarter.
The AJC's Seth Emerson revisits the 'heartbreaking' loss Georgia felt three years ago against Alabama.
The Athens Banner-Herald's Marc Weiszer writes that Georgia is expecting to see the same Alabama team despite having an early-season loss.
Two five-star prospects will be visiting Georgia this weekend, writes Dawgs247's Rusty Mansell.
Five years ago, it came down to Georgia and Alabama for receiver Malcolm Mitchell, writes DawgPost's Dean Legge.
My top 25
1. Ohio State (4-0) (Last week: No. 2)
2. Mississippi (4-0) (Last week: No. 1)
3. Baylor (3-0) (Last week: No. 3)
4. Michigan State (4-0) (Last week: No. 4)
5. Georgia (4-0) (Last week: No. 5)
6. Notre Dame (4-0) (Last week: No. 6)
7. LSU (3-0) (Last week: No. 9)
8. Florida State (3-0) (Last week: No. 8)
9. Utah (4-0) (Last week: No. 16)
10. UCLA (4-0) (Last week: No. 15)
11. Alabama (3-1) (Last week: No. 11)
12. Clemson (3-0) (Last week: No. 12)
13. Oklahoma (3-0) (Last week: No. 13)
14. Texas A&M (4-0) (Last week: No. 10)
15. TCU (4-0) (Last week: No. 7)
16. Northwestern (4-0) (Last week: No. 18)
17. Wisconsin (3-1) (Last week: No. 19)
18. Mississippi State (3-1) (Last week: No. 23)
19. Stanford (3-1) (Last week: No. 24)
20. USC (3-1) (Last week: No. 25)
21. Oklahoma State (4-0) (Last week: No. 20)
22. Florida (4-0) (Last week: NR)
23. Michigan (3-1) (Last week: NR)
24. West Virginia (3-0) (Last week: NR)
25. Toledo (3-0) (Last week: NR)
Dropped out: Oregon (2-2), Arizona (3-1), Georgia Tech (2-2), BYU (2-2)
Georgia quarterback Greyson Lambert on if his last two performances: “I haven’t really done anything differently. I have just kept playing. Bad things are going to happen and good things are going to happen. You have to keep playing and put those things behind you.”
Song of the day
"Impossible Winner" by The Dead Weather