November 24, 2012

Mitchell knows Tide well

Malcolm Mitchell knows Alabama better than most.

If you'll recall the recruiting process, many assumed that the Valdosta native was going to wind up with the Crimson Tide, a program he made numerous visits to and one he had gotten to know quite well.

"Yeah, man, I know them pretty good," said Mitchell, who caught three passes for 88 yards in Georgia's 42-10 win over Georgia Tech.

"I know all the coaches; I'm pretty sure they still remember me," Mitchell said. "It's going to be fun to play against them."

Teammate Jay Rome didn't think Mitchell's path would take him the way that it has.

"I actually thought he was going to Alabama," said Rome, who recalled he was certain Mitchell was going to join the Crimson Tide when he showed up at his commitment part two years ago.

"A lot of people thought we made our decision together, but I made mine first and he later that day," Rome recalled. "I really thought he was so it was a surprise for me, too."

Mitchell laughed at the recollection.

"A lot of people didn't know what I was going to do," Mitchell said. "But in the end, Georgia was where I wanted to be."

The Bulldogs are certainly glad that he made the choice he did.

With Saturday's performance, Mitchell will go into the SEC title tilt at the Georgia Dome (4 p.m., CBS) as the Bulldogs leading receiver with 37 catches for 532 yards, that after missing the first game with an ankle injury then starting the next four contests at cornerback.

"It's been a crazy year," Mitchell said. "But we've obviously got a lot to still play for."

Another big test for Murray

Quarterback Aaron Murray was conspicuously absent from Saturday's post-game interview session, but offensive coordinator Mike Bobo was doing plenty of talking for him after Saturday's win over Georgia Tech.

If there's been one "knock" on Murray, it's been his apprehension in big games, which in the past have resulted in a few less-than-stellar performances for the junior from Tampa, Fla.

But with Murray's biggest challenge to date looming next week in the Georgia Dome, Bobo said the Bulldog quarterback won't be thinking about the past when he takes the field against Alabama.

"It's an opportunity to play for a championship and he's going to be ready, I promise you," Bobo said of Murray, who by completing 14 of 17 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns, became the first quarterback in SEC history to pass for over 3,000 yards in three consecutive seasons.

Don't get Bobo wrong.

He knows the Crimson Tide will likely come hard after Murray, who Bobo wants to be aggressive and not concern himself with any mistakes.

"Sometimes it's matter of him not wanting to make a mistake in a big moment, but I don't want him to play cautious," Bobo said. "He's fourth-year player; he's proven he can make big plays. We believe in him. I expect him to be aggressive next week."

Grantham indebted to Saban

Todd Grantham has carved himself a reputation for being one of the top defensive coordinators in the SEC.

But when it comes to one of the persons who Grantham considers responsible for that success, it's none other than Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

Grantham coached three years for Saban at Michigan State, where he coached the defensive line as well as held the title of Assistant Head Coach.

Saturday, he'll face his mentor for the first time.

"One of the reasons I've been able to be successful is because a lot of the things that we do come from him, things I've learned from him. I owe him a lot for a lot of the things I've achieved in my career," Grantham said. "There's a reason he's successful and I've tried to take some of those things with me. Obviously, this will be a challenge coming up and we're looking forward to it."

Grantham acknowledges the Crimson Tide will have one advantage.

After playing triple-option teams on back-to-back weekends, Grantham must now do an about-face and his defense primed for the challenge of slowing the Crimson Tide and their pro-style attack, led by quarterback A.J. McCarron.

"It's not an ideal thing, but it is what it is. We've kind of always battled all year against things, but it's going to be fine," Grantham said. "We'll take a little extra time Monday to work on some passes and things like that; because the people we're going to play can obviously do both well. But we'll be fine."

Injury update

Backup defensive lineman Mike Thornton went down with an apparent injury after becoming engaged with Georgia Tech Shaq Mason and had to be helped off the field, but that appeared to be the only serious injury suffered by the Bulldogs on Saturday.

Georgia and its fans did receive a major scare in the second half when starting nose John Jenkins appeared to injure his ankle.

Jenkins walked very gingerly off the field, but said after the game that were no issues and that he is fine.

"When it happened I was in pain, but I heard them after they started cheering," said Jenkins, who had a career-high 11 tackles. "Everything's cool."

This and that

Georgia Tech was held to a season-low 10 points on 426 yards of total offense. In the first half, Tech was limited to 3 points which was its lowest this year. Tech's lone touchdown came with 7:25 left in the contest as Georgia was up 42-3. Tech's first drive was halted at the Bulldog 1 by a turnover caused by senior Bacarri Rambo, and it led to a touchdown. ... Junior linebacker Alec Ogletree posted a career-high 15 tackles which was a team-best this season while senior inside linebacker Christian Robinson had a career-high 13.

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