JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Orson Charles finally had the game he was expected produce.
The Georgia sophomore had a career-high 108 receiving yards on six catches. It was by far the best the Bulldogs had used a tight end this season.
Entering Saturday, four catches was the most Charles and fellow tight end Aron White had combined for in one game. White also had a catch on Saturday.
“A lot of it is how they played,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “They were going to keep a safety deep, to help out on A.J. The middle of the field was open all game. You saw where we hit those passes we got big gains. And we missed a couple there early in the game. They could’ve been big gains as well.”
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Head coach Mark Richt said it wasn’t a concerted effort to get the ball to the tight ends; rather, this game, the throws went their way.
“It’s not like we haven’t been calling some plays that our tight ends could’ve been getting,” Richt said. “But this game in particular, when we called one where they were the first progression or sometimes the second progression, they were usually getting the ball.”
Tailback Washaun Ealey, whose health was a question, said his knee wasn’t “100 percent” but was close.
“I tried to fight through it,” Ealey said. “Just go out there when my team needed me and try to make plays.”
Ealey finished with 37 yards on 11 carries.
Caleb King, returning from a two-game suspension, came off the bench to have a stronger game (64 yards on 12 carries.) But Ealey had the team’s lone rushing touchdown.
Cornerback Branden Smith played after missing the previous three games, following his second concussion of the season. He had an interception, two tackles and returned a pair of punts.
“It felt excellent; I felt good,” Smith said. “I took the first hit, and, just being back out there with my team, it’s a good feeling.”
Smith’s one blip came in the final seconds, when he muffed a punt, then had to return it out of the end zone to avoid a winning safety for Florida.
“Basically, (it was) not looking it in,” Smith said. “Looking at the people running down the field, not looking in. I recovered.”
King’s big game
Wide receiver Tavarres King had the day’s biggest hustle play for Georgia, and he had his first 100-yard day of the season, propelled by a 63-yard touchdown catch.
King said he and Kris Durham (three catches for 41 yards) benefited from Florida’s attention on star wide receiver A.J. Green.
“They had a couple young guys guarding me and Durham, obviously not A.J,” King said. “We were going to exploit that, and I thought we did a pretty good job of that. That was it.”
Bobo said King’s touchdown-saving play in overtime — which only temporarily staved off defeat — was emblematic of the entire team.
“I’m proud of our whole football team,” Bobo said. “A lot of heart, all year, and just a guy like that at the end of the game, to hustle and knock that guy out of bounds, is a great effort.”