Georgia fifth-year senior receiver Malcolm Mitchell has no way of knowing if this will be his first injury-free season or not.
He's just living in the moment.
Mitchell had eight receptions for 122 yards and a touchdown during Saturday night's 52-20 throttling of South Carolina in Sanford Stadium. It was his first 100-yard game since collecting 126 in a 20-12 win at Tennessee in 2011.
"I'm having a lot of fun," Mitchell said after the Bulldogs improved to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in Southeastern Conference play. "I can truly say that I just love being out there playing, regardless of anything else, because I know how it feels to not play for a while. I'm enjoying every moment of it."
Mitchell accounted for a third of Greyson Lambert's completions on Lambert's 24-of-25 performance (96.0 percent) that set an NCAA single-game accuracy record. He got open across the middle on Georgia's second play from scrimmage for a 25-yard reception and made another 25-yard catch on the sideline early in the fourth quarter to ignite the final scoring drive for the Bulldogs.
His touchdown occurred from 5 yards out with 17 seconds left in the first half, giving the Bulldogs a 24-10 lead.
"Whenever we call those downfield passes, I'm always going to try to see who's on him and what that matchup is," Lambert said. "He's a great receiver for us."
Saturday was Mitchell's first game with two receptions of 25 yards or longer since the win in Knoxville four years ago, when he was an early standout of the "Dream Team" signing class. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder from Valdosta injured his hamstring on a 71-yard reception against the Volunteers, however, and missed the next three games.facebook
An ankle injury sidelined him for the 2012 opener, and a torn ACL while celebrating a long Todd Gurley touchdown run in the 2013 opener at Clemson scratched that season. It took five games last year before Mitchell could return from his most notable setback.
"It's great to see him come back," sophomore tailback Nick Chubb said. "He's faced a lot of adversity. He and (tailback) Keith (Marshall) have been through a lot, and to see him make plays and snatch plays up and not just have plays thrown to him shows that he's been working hard in the offseason."
Said coach Mark Richt: "The fans are seeing him do things in games that we see in practice. He's really had a great offseason in regard to being healthy, and I think it's the healthiest he's been since he's been here. It's the longest stretch of not having something nagging him."
Mitchell was intentionally held out of summer workouts once a week, and he missed a couple of days of preseason camp by design.
His start to the season has indeed evoked memories of 2011, when he scored a touchdown in his debut game against Boise State and appeared headed for stardom. He was an early-season factor with 93 receiving yards at Ole Miss and 60 yards and a touchdown against Mississippi State on his way to Freshman All-SEC honors.
"It feels like that again," Mitchell said. "I just feel free out there."
Seeking CFL rules
The Bulldogs host Southern University, an FCS program, this Saturday. Jaguars coach Dawson Odums was asked Monday if he was more concerned about Chubb and the ground game or Georgia's newfound passing attack.
"We're going to play Canadian rules and they're going to play American rules," Odums said. "We're going to put the extra guy out there to give ourselves a chance."
Odds and ends
Next week's home game against Alabama was picked up Monday by CBS, and it will have a 3:30 kickoff. Lambert is fifth among Bowl Subdivision quarterbacks with a rating of 187.61. The Bulldogs practiced for 90 minutes Monday in helmets and shorts.
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.