This post continues our series on 2012's most memorable plays. This post looks at another deep Damiere Byrd catch, this time the one against UGA. Here's the play:
What basically happens here is as follows. The Gamecocks open in a trips formation, with five men on the line, Qua Gilchrist and Marcus Lattimore in the backfield, and three receivers at the bottom of the screen. Bruce Ellington drops back for the check-down option (and could have gotten the yards for the first down if thrown the ball, as the man covers him begins dropping back) while Ace Sanders and Byrd take off down field. Sanders cuts back in around fifteen yards downfield, but isn't in good position to make a catch because he's being covered both by his corner and the defender who is trying to cover both Sanders and Ellington. Byrd goes deep over the post and beats him man, Bacarri Rambo. badly. Connor Shaw takes the shot downfield on what likely would have been a touchdown had the throw been on the mark. However, the throw is woefully short, and Rambo is in fact in great position to make the interception. Byrd, though, makes a great recovery and steals the ball from the usually sure-handed Rambo.
The more I work through this list I put together, the more I realize that I probably should have titled this series "Most Consequential Plays," or maybe "Most Memorable and Consequential Plays," because my rankings are based as much on my view of how consequential the play was as on some subjective sense of how memorable it was. This play is a really good example. It's not the play from the UGA game that everyone remembers--that honor goes to Sanders's punt return, or even to any of Jadeveon Clowney's amazing plays. However, this play by Byrd was quite consequential. My interpretation of why we were so successful in this game is that Spurrier had a good gameplan to take control of the game early. Our success in doing so (the playcalling for the first two series was absolutely superb) put us ahead by a good margin and forced Georgia to be predictable on offense, which allowed for Clowney's coming-out party. However, the game may have gone significantly differently had Rambo intercepted this ball. I'm not saying that Georgia would have won; given the way our defense played in this game, it's hard to imagine us losing. However, we wouldn't have taken the lead as quickly, which was instrumental in getting the blowout started. This play is one of those "what if?" moments where you wonder how things would have gone had the play turned out differently.