ATHENS — A.J. Green even managed to impress himself.
While Georgia’s super sophomore receiver has gotten used to making the acrobatic catches, he took it a step higher — and then some — to set up the 18th-ranked Bulldogs for a huge Southeastern Conference game against No. 4 LSU next weekend.
Sure, Green had another stellar pass-catching performance Saturday night, hauling in eight throws for 153 yards in Georgia’s 20-17 victory over Arizona State. He scored the Bulldogs’ first touchdown on a 56-yard play, then was on the receiving end of a 36-yarder that set up Blair Walsh’s winning field goal as time ran out.
But it was what Green did on the other side of the line that made this one stand out. After Joe Cox threw his second interception of the second half, giving the Sun Devils a chance to kick a go-ahead field goal with about 4« minutes remaining, the coaches sent out Green on the kick-blocking team.
The orders were simple: Just as high as you can.
The 6-foot-4 Green did just that. The ball caught his left elbow and fluttered harmlessly into the end zone.
"That’s got to be my best play ever. That tops all the catches right now," Green said.
"This was a great game for me. Getting the field goal (block), then keeping my composure and just going down there and making the great catch when my number is called."
Green’s magnificent play helped the Bulldogs (3-1) move up three spots in the latest Associated Press rankings and stay on course for an SEC showdown against LSU next Saturday between the hedges. The Tigers also avoided a major upset, holding on to beat Mississippi State 30-26.
While Georgia appears to be a team with several glaring flaws, Cox senses that something special could be in the making — something special beyond Green, that is.
"This the best team as far as attitude and unity that I’ve ever been on," the senior quarterback said. "I get a feeling when I come off the field if we’re not doing well (on offense), the defense will do well. Or vice versa. I think we have a good thing going."