SEC Championship 2012: Why Mark Richt Made Right Call to Not Spike the Ball

T.J. Mcaloon@@tjmcaloonContributorDecember 1, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 01: Head coach Mark Richt of the Georgia Bulldogs watches as his team warms up before the start of their SEC Championship Game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at the Georgia Dome on December 1, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It’s always easier to play the result and question the decision someone has made if it fails. However, what Mark Richt did in the final seconds of the SEC football championship game Saturday night, letting quarterback Aaron Murray run a play instead of spiking the ball to stop the clock, was the right call. 

Could Georgia have killed the clock and given itself some time to draw up two final plays, instead of rushing to the line and throwing what looked to be an out-route? 

Of course that looks like the right decision now, after what we witnessed on Georgia's final play of its 32-28 defeat in the SEC title game to Alabama.

In fact, Zach Klein, who’s the sports director at WSB in Atlanta, caught up with Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo after the game:

According to a tweet from Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News, Richt wasn’t playing the result and continued to say that he had a play they wanted to run, saying: 

But there’s more to this result than Bobo saying that they should have spiked the ball and Richt saying that they had the play. 

Instead, the Bulldogs had two important things going for them after a review overturned an interception call: They had momentum and Alabama’s defense gassed.

Once Murray got the ball back, he made three straight completions that gained 64 yards and ate up only 21 seconds of clock. As you can see in the video to the right, on the final completion before Murray runs the game’s final play, Alabama’s Vinnie Sunseri had to drag down Arthur Lynch. 

On top of that, Alabama’s pass-rushers had to pick themselves off of the Georgia Dome turf, get set and then make another rush to sack Murray.

If he spikes the ball, thus killing the clock, it then gives Alabama a chance to sub out those winded defensive pass-rushers. That would enable the Crimson Tide a better chance to get to Murray for a sack. 

One fresh pass-rusher gets past a Bulldog lineman and the game is over on a sack.

Also, as seen in the video, the pass Murray throws is tipped at the line of scrimmage. If that pass isn't deflected, it has a higher velocity to either the receiver who catches the final pass, Chris Conley, or it makes it to what looks to be its initial flight path, the end zone. 

If the pass is intended for the end zone and it misses, then it’s an incomplete pass and the Bulldogs get another shot at a game winning touchdown.

And finally, Georgia is dealt a bit of bad luck when Conley catches the ball. 

If his heel doesn’t slip on the turf, then he not only has the speed but the space to reach the sideline. If he doesn’t fall, then he makes it to the sideline with about five seconds left on the clock and Georgia runs one more play.

It’s a shame how the SEC Championship ended. However, I loved the call of going for it when the offense was moving the ball. 

Coach Richt will take some heat for the result, but he shouldn’t be ridiculed for having the guts to make a bold call with his season on the line.