Talking about Georgia’s kicking game yesterday at the SEC Media Days, Mark Richt sounded like a coach who wants to believe he’s got the right players in place but isn’t completely convinced of it.
Richt started off on a positive note. “I have a lot of confidence in Blair Walsh’s ability to kick extra points [and] field goals,” he said, adding: “I know we’ll be much improved in the kickoff.” You’ll note he didn’t say that he knew Walsh would be much improved. Having taken on another scholarship kicker in JUCO transfer Brandon Bogotay primarily because of Walsh’s failures in the kickoff department last season, Richt is definitely hedging his bets.
Then he moved on to punter, where Drew Butler, son of UGA legend Kevin Butler, takes over as the starter after being used infrequently last year on pooch kicks.
From what Richt said yesterday, it sounds like Butler is still a work in progress and the coach wanted to challenge him publicly to get better.
“Butler is unproven as a punter,” Richt said. “Butler has proved to me he can punt well enough to be outstanding in our league, just by observing him, but he hasn’t proved that he can be consistent enough. So I guess what I’m saying is maybe last year he’s five or six out of 10 that were outstanding. We’ve got to get him to where he’s nine out of 10, 10 out of 10, which he’s been working diligently to be that. When guys get their chance, they usually rise to the occasion, if they’re a competitor, which I know Drew is.”
You can talk about the pass rush, secondary, tailbacks or inexperienced quarterbacks all you want, the area that concerns some of us the most as the season approaches is the kicking game, often the difference in a close battle.
Richt’s words on the subject didn’t make me feel any more confident.