ATHENS, Ga.— Georgia has been looking for a leader to emerge in the passing game and might have found its answer on Saturday night against Missouri. That man could be sophomore Mecole Hardman.
The newly converted wide receiver had his most productive game of his young career, pulling in two catches for 71 yards and one touchdown. Hardman also took in a touchdown run of 35 yards in the 53-28 win.
The sky seems to be the limit for Hardman and this Georgia offense. While this was a promising showing, Hardman believes he still needs to create more opportunities for himself.
“I’m still transitioning,” Hardman said. “I’ve still got some work to do and some improvement to clean up. But right now, I’m still trying to come into my own and do the best that I can do.”
Hardman is currently third on the team in catches and yards. He has pulled in nine receptions for 129 yards and two two touchdowns.
There is a chance that Hardman could be counted on even more next week against Florida if Terry Godwin’s rib injury does not improve by then. Godwin went down in this last weekend’s game with the issue.
It was against Missouri that UGA decided to rely more on the passing game, allowing for Hardman to have the performance he did. He was a fan of the adjustments made by offensive coordinator Jim Chaney.
“It feels good just to open up the offense a little bit more,” Hardman said. “It gets my feet wet a little bit more on the ground. It just shows what I’m capable of doing. Then the pass they threw to me, just try to make somebody miss and get into the end zone.”
Opening up the offense also allowed freshman Jake Fromm to show off his arm. The Bulldogs QB finished the game with 326 yards passing and two touchdowns.
This career-best performance by Fromm allowed for him to become the SEC’s Freshman of the Week. It also likely allowed for upcoming opponents to notice how dangerous Hardman can be with the ball in his hands.
Hardman is a player who has garnered praise from UGA coach Kirby Smart in the past. However, he has also heard calls for improvement from him.
Smart has talked about Hardman needing to “catch the ball” and try to avoid the dropped passes. The Bulldogs coach says that Saturday was not a fluke for Hardman, because he put himself in position to succeed.
“Mecole’s a very attentive player, that is passionate about the game,” Smart said. “I love the way he approaches each practice and the way he works. I hope that gives him a little more confidence, so he continues to grow.”
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