Mike Norvell will never forget the night Antonio Gibson went crazy against SMU. SMU probably won't either.
Norvell, who is now the head of Florida State, coached Gibson at Memphis and knew right away he had a special offensive weapon on his hands. But even he was completely floored by what the now-Redskin did in early November last season.
"It was probably the finest performance I’ve ever been a part of from a single game," Norvell told the Redskins Talk podcast during a recent interview.
When you let him tell the story, you'll understand why.
SMU rolled into Memphis that evening ranked No. 15 and undefeated. Memphis, meanwhile, was 24th and hosted College GameDay for the first time in its history earlier in the day. The winner of the contest would take sole possession of the American Athletic Conference's Western Division and find themselves on track for a New Year's Day bowl.
So, yeah, it was "as big of an atmosphere as you could get," Norvell explained.
And Gibson delivered.
In the second quarter, Gibson recorded a 50-yard touchdown reception. Then, to begin the third, he ripped off a 97-yard house call on a kick return. He saved his best for last on this 78-yard TD run, however, where he decided he just didn't want to be tackled and he didn't care how many defenders tried.
Let's all take a moment to reflect on these poor SMU Mustang defenders who thought they could bring down Antonio Gibson pic.twitter.com/axn6lK4SFf— Pete Hailey (@PeteHaileyNBCS) April 25, 2020
Norvell told Redskins Talk that Gibson made about 14 guys miss on that highlight. "A few of them came off the sidelines," he said, still amazed.
In the coach's mind, that effort was the perfect encapsulation of everything his dynamic former player is capable of. It showed that it doesn't matter how Gibson gets the ball; the only thing that matters is that he does get it.
"That defines him, because he had three touchdowns in three different ways," Norvell said. "It was just such an incredible night."
By the end of Memphis' 54-48 victory, Gibson had touched the ball 12 times and racked up 386 all-purpose yards. Let's spell that out just to be clear: Three hundred and eighty six all-purpose yards.
If that total is hard to believe, you aren't alone in that stance. Norvell actually had trouble comprehending it himself.
"When I was sitting there after the game and they told me what that number was," he said, "I thought there was something wrong with my ears."
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