November 3, 2010

Charles finally catching on

Tight end Orson Charles enjoyed the game of his young career in Saturday's loss to Florida, catching a career high six passes for a career-best 108 yards and a touchdown.

But he was in no mood to talk about his breakout performance during an interview earlier this week at the Butts-Mehre Building.

"We lost the game, so it doesn't matter," Charles said with a shrug. "My whole focus is just wanting to play for these seniors. I feel real sorry for what happened last week; everything I do from here on out is for every one of those guys."

Although Charles preferred not to talk too much about his own performance Saturday, teammates and coaches were more than willing to do his talking for him.

When the season began, much was expected from the talented sophomore but for any number of reasons, Charles came into last week's game with just 10 catches for 139 yards after not having a single reception the previous week against Kentucky.

"No, he didn't have any catches in the Kentucky game but we thought he played with a lot of energy and he played with a lot of energy against Florida. Sometimes when a guy is wanting to produce and they come up and y'all ask them why they're not getting the ball and they get a little frustrated," offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. "But I think after last week he put it behind him and let things just happen. It took two weeks, but he let things just happen, he relaxed and made a lot of plays against Florida."

At 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, Charles is that rare combination of size and has enough speed that where's a mismatch for most linebackers and many safeties who attempt to cover him, especially one-on-one.

That's what happened against the Gators.

For most of the game, Charles found himself matched up against strongside linebacker A.J. Jones and occasionally safety Ahmad Black, neither of which were able to do much to slow the Tampa native down.

"They were overplaying A.J. and just letting the tight end go with single coverage underneath and we took advantage of it," fellow tight end Aron White said. "I'm just really proud of Orson; it was good to see him have some success."

His 29-yard touchdown catch from Aaron Murray enabled the Bulldogs to tie the game at 24-24 with 9:01 to play.

"It kind of took me back to my high school days," Charles said.

For Bulldog fans, Charles' numbers was a long time coming.

Many have wondered why the player Bobo compares to former Denver Bronco great Shannon Sharpe hasn't caught more passes.

The reason most given by coaches was the early absence of A.J. Green, who missed the first four contests due to his suspension. With Green out, opposing squads were able to keep a safety inside the tackle box, giving Charles and White one extra player to contend while attempting to run their routes.

While Charles would obviously have liked to be more involved, Murray said the lack of touches didn't get him down.

"I don't think he got too frustrated. He was doing a tremendous job with this blocking and when he was getting balls he was still making plays," Murray said. "You definitely want to get the ball in his hands, but it's hard to please everyone. We've got some tremendous playmakers everywhere, anyone of which can make something happen with the ball in their hands."

At the same time, Bobo knows he needs to do a better job of taking advantage of Charles' obvious talent.

"We've always felt Orson has that kind of ability and we've just been trying to make him that complete tight end, to make him a threat in the run game and the pass game," Bobo said. "He's getting there. He's still a young guy, but we feel potentially he can be one of the best who's ever played here at that position."

Head coach Mark Richt agrees that Charles can be as good as he wants to be.

"Orson does have a great skill set. Orson is very strong. He's got good speed. He's got really tremendous hands, strong hands. He can really snatch a ball like a receiver snatches a ball. Some tight ends, you feel like you better throw it right on his body or he's not going to be able to get a ball, or he's not going to be able to snatch a ball out of his body, but he can catch it just about anywhere," Richt said. "I've seen him dig it off the shoelaces, I've seen him jump and turn. I've seen him do what receivers can do as far as catching the ball."

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