Special teams: Georgia’s group looks as good as any anywhere

Ninth and final installment in a series breaking down Georgia’s 2011 football by position groups. . . .

Georgia senior punter Drew Butler, who sports a gawdy 46.1-yard career average, already has a Ray Guy Award in his trophy case. (AP photo)
Georgia senior punter Drew Butler, who sports a gawdy 46.1-yard career average, already has a Ray Guy Award in his trophy case. (AP photo)

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • Returning starters: P/H Drew Butler (Sr., 6-2, 214), K Blair Walsh (Sr., 5-10, 192), KOR Brandon Boykin (5-10, 183), PR Branden Smith (Jr., 5-11, 176), SN Ty Frix (Sr., 6-0, 210).
  • Others to watch: Senior Brandon Bogotay is on scholarship and occasionally handles kickoffs (10 in last two seasons). He has made field goals in each of the last two G-Day Games. . . . Junior Carlton Thomas and some incoming freshmen will be given a look returning punts.
  • Punters: Butler won the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s best punter in 2009 and was a finalist for that award last year, when he averaged 44.5 yards punt punt — 15 were 50 yards or more — and nearly half landed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. At 46.1 he is currently UGA’s career leader in punting average. Chip Andrews holds the career record at 43.2. Two-time All-America and All-SEC, Butler is the son of former Georgia All-American place-kicker Kevin Butler.
  • A Lou Groza Award finalist each of the past two seasons, Georgia kicker Blair Walsh hopes three times a charm. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)
    A Lou Groza Award finalist each of the past two seasons, Georgia kicker Blair Walsh hopes three times a charm. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

    Place-kickers: Walsh was a Lou Groza Award semifinalist in 2009 and 2010. “The Booter from Boca [Raton]” has scored 303 points in his career (fourth in school history) and needs 107 this season to break Billy Bennett’s school record of 409. He had a career-best 106 last year. Walsh has tremendous range and is 8-of-12 on field goal attempts of 50 or more yards. He also holds the school record for consecutive PATs without a miss with 119 before missing one in the Kentucky game last season.

  • Kick returners: Boykin took over as UGA’s career record holder in kickoff return yardage last season when he compiled 866 yards. He now has 1,813 yards on 72 returns with four touchdowns (ties the SEC record). Boykin is the only player in SEC history to have three single plays of 100 or more yards. Smith averaged a respectable 14.3 yards on 10 punt returns last season and also returns kickoffs. Despite their obvious big-play ability, the Bulldogs need to improve in overall consistency. They were 10th in the SEC in kickoff-return average (20.7 ypr) this past season and 5th on punt returns (10.6).
  • Key fact: Georgia may have more specialists on scholarship than any other school. The Bulldogs will count five against the NCAA limit of 85 (Bogotay, Butler, Frix, Walsh and incoming freshman snapper Nathan Theus). They already have a kicker (Marshall Morgan of Miami) and a punter (Collin Barber of Cartersville) committed for the Class of 2012.
  • Key question: How will Georgia’s kickoff coverage fare a year following Warren Belin’s departure. Belin came in last year and took the Bulldogs from eighth in the SEC in kickoff coverage (40.1 yards) in 2009 to first  last season (46.4). Belin, who came to Georgia from Vanderbilt to coach linebackers, left after one season to take an NFL job with the Carolina Panthers.
  • Outlook: Excellent. The only area of It’s doubtful that there is any team in the country with a better group of specialists from top to bottom.
  • Your turn: What say you about Georgia’s special teams?

PREVIOUS POSITION BREAKDOWNS:

July 12 — Secondary

July 11 — Linebackers

July 8 — Defensive line

July 7 — Quarterbacks

July 6 — Running backs

July 5 — Tight ends

July 2 — Wide receivers

July 1 — Offensive line

101 comments Add your comment

Caleb

July 13th, 2011
4:18 pm

Still@theBAR

July 13th, 2011
4:19 pm

Punting? Field Goals. Those kickers really helped in the UCF game didn’t they?

Still@theBAR

July 13th, 2011
4:24 pm

UGA should always have great special teams. UGA has a team full of Special Needs Players riding the short bus through life. LOL

Did Butler kick field goals too in high school?

Lowcountry Bulldawg

July 13th, 2011
4:30 pm

This is without a question the strength of the team, and probably the best in the country. My one wonder is why do we never figure Net yards when giving Punting yardage in College? The NFL as a stat gives you Net average where College always goes total. That is one of those little things that makes you go hmmm..

Remarkable

July 13th, 2011
4:31 pm

UGA’s special teams are obviously special. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

dmr

July 13th, 2011
4:33 pm

Two Words: COFFIN CORNER. Butler is obviously a great punter. Georgia needs to work on angling punts and pinning their opponents deep in their own territory and forcing long drives. Georgia appears to be in the mold of what ALABAMA has been in the past. On paper, Georgia with a dominant defense, questions on offense, and great special teams. Some of the best Alabama teams in history were those that played great defense and just asked the offense not to lose the game.

Murray can lead the offense, but obviously the defense and special teams giving them shorter fields to work with will go a long way in the overall success of the team.

RamboDog

July 13th, 2011
4:33 pm

Still@theBAR

You are an idiot, and they will need you to clean the mens room at the Bar tonight. Gay Tech fan, obviously.

Dawg_Mike

July 13th, 2011
4:37 pm

I dont mind the field goal to win the game from time to time but I do not want to trade them for TD’s.
Get the ball in the end zone first, then a PAT aint so bad….

Newman

July 13th, 2011
4:42 pm

If your PK is an all-star your offense isn’t getting the job done!

JackDennis

July 13th, 2011
4:42 pm

Won’t matter. Will be the same old under-performing dogs.

Frank Lane

July 13th, 2011
4:49 pm

Should be worth at least two games won.

Dbalcer

July 13th, 2011
4:54 pm

Still @the bar your comments are offensive.

Big Ten Champs Nebraska

July 13th, 2011
4:56 pm

Palm City Dawg

July 13th, 2011
4:58 pm

Just keep em off the scooters and we will be fine.

WDE

July 13th, 2011
5:03 pm

Enter your comments here

truedawg

July 13th, 2011
5:05 pm

Butler and Walsh last year..and also Boykin. Biggest strength this year though, hope we have some players that can step up next year.
GO DAWGS!!!

WDE

July 13th, 2011
5:06 pm

Still@theBAR son the only thing you good for is bringing me my drink..hurry up boy Bombay and tonic and your tip is dependent on service!

SSIgator

July 13th, 2011
5:08 pm

“Georgia may have more specialists on scholarship than any other school”

Well, when you play on da Preacha Man’s teams you better be able to score some points from somewhere. Even if it is just field goals.

BirdDog

July 13th, 2011
5:12 pm

Pretty darn good!

Paddy

July 13th, 2011
5:16 pm

Don’t overlook the power of this unit. They are the difference between a good year and a great year. We are blessed!!

AuburnLit

July 13th, 2011
5:38 pm

UGA will need more than just field goals against Auburn this year.

WAR CAM EAGLE!

SSIgator

July 13th, 2011
5:42 pm

@auburnLit
I wouldnt be talking if I were you, Scam newton is no longer there, and georgia has beat you guys like 5 of last 6, kind of like Florida has beat UGA recently.

Stinger2

July 13th, 2011
5:45 pm

There should not be a single negative comment from some of the usual whiney UGA fans who try to find something to complain about. Chip`s analysis of special teams leaves
nothing negative to say. Uga fans should be thankful they are not in GT`s situation with special teams.

AuburnLit

July 13th, 2011
5:47 pm

UGA has not beaten us 5 of last 6. Your just peeod cause we’ve beaten your teams brains in the last couple of times we played. Heck, even win Florida won the nat. championship in 2006, they still couldn’t beat us.

Real Dawg Fan

July 13th, 2011
5:47 pm

@AuburnLit

War Cam Eagle?! Wtf are you drinking, Carolina CAM Panthers now buddy. So we’ll see you in Athens.

mgdawg

July 13th, 2011
5:48 pm

This is probably the best special teams unit in the nation, all I want to see more of is kickoffs in the endzone. Didn’t they recruit a guy a couple of years ago as a kickoff specialist who was supposed to kick the ball out the back of the endzone every time? What happened to him.

Real Dawg Fan

July 13th, 2011
5:49 pm

@auburnlit

your right we havent beaten u 5 of the last 6…it was 4 of the last 5

Real Dawg Fan

July 13th, 2011
5:50 pm

@mgdawg,

Dont know about the kicker your referring to but the kid from Miami that we got for 2012 does that (maybe who your talking about)

SSIgator

July 13th, 2011
5:51 pm

@auburnLit
get a life

SSIgator

July 13th, 2011
5:54 pm

auburn won last year with a UF reject

UGA '05

July 13th, 2011
6:02 pm

Special teams is still a third of the game.

Vance

July 13th, 2011
6:09 pm

Would you look at the outstanding form of Butler in the picture! He is just awesome and deserving of the awards that come his way. Hopefully Walsh will get his this year as well. This is definitely an area of strength as we head in a questionable year.

Zoli

July 13th, 2011
6:12 pm

Forgot his name too….transferred out of JUCO in Cali

Brucerugby79

July 13th, 2011
6:21 pm

The kicker you are talking about is Bogotay he is still on roster was unable to beat out Walsh Go Dogs time will start flying now-we are getting close my brothers-as to the earlier references to ALA I believe it was Gen Neyland that was famous for a Kicking game and Defense–I know TN fans will love this—Sad part is I have gotten so old I have become a Historian

Magic Jack

July 13th, 2011
7:00 pm

Had the same folks last year and finished 6-7. Apparently, it doesn’t matter how good your special teams are. Or, if it does, UGA’s special teams are #1 in being over-rated.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

July 13th, 2011
7:22 pm

Hmmmmm

The part where this coaching staff makes no play calling decesions or have to read a defense or offense

Yet its our best part of our team

Hmmmm

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

July 13th, 2011
7:29 pm

Troll Power Ratings

July 13th, 2011
8:41 pm

@theBar: Bet you just can’t wait for the next Georgia blog! You are the man!!!! Wow, what a life you must have. It’s sad to see someone spend so much time and effort on something you dislike. It must be some sort of sociopathic condition. Keep up the good work. Thanks for caring.

BigGAdawg

July 13th, 2011
8:47 pm

Still@theBAR
You are a fraking idiot. Shut up and crawl back under your rock.

AuburnLit
What have you been smoking? Your hired hand has abandoned you — Cam the Scam went for even more money than your alumni could scrape together. You’ll have 5-7 wins this year. War Squeakle!

macrotech

July 13th, 2011
8:55 pm

No doubt, these guys will be responsible for putting opponents deep into their own territory…more valuable than most folk realize!

Still@theBAR

July 13th, 2011
9:15 pm

I guess nobody knows. I will ask again. Did Butler kick field goals in high school or has he always been a punter?

Stinger

July 13th, 2011
9:19 pm

I have to admit it (as painful as it is) – UGA has far better ST’s than us (GT). UGA has at least three guys that can can take it to the house on every kick – we have none. UGA’s kicker made more from 40+ than our guy from the 30 in.

Still@theBar

July 13th, 2011
9:20 pm

No one will answer you because you are a simple minded tool.

RamboDog

July 13th, 2011
9:40 pm

Still@the BAR

Butler was a kicker and punter in high school… Rivals.Com clip shows him kicking and punting.

Still@BoneShakers

July 13th, 2011
9:47 pm

yea the kickers are good but will we have walk-ons covering kicks again this year? thank GOD we got rid of the directional kicking (for the most part).

Dawglasville

July 13th, 2011
10:14 pm

To quote Carl from Caddyshack, “So, we got that going for us.”

DamntheButcher

July 13th, 2011
10:23 pm

I remember Mark Richt making a statement at the Bulldog club meeting at the Cobb Gallaria last year that last years team was the best looking bunch of guys he had ever coached. Not sure if he was talking about their football ability or if he was wanting to make out with them.

East Repeat

July 13th, 2011
10:25 pm

Sure, the Dali Lama, with the flowing robes… Oh, he got all of that one…it’s in the hole, it’s in the hole…out of nowhere, a caddy is now Masters champion…pool, pond, pond would be good for you… you’ll get nothing and like it… How ’bout a Fresca…

jay

July 13th, 2011
10:34 pm

One of the three phases of the game. Got to be solid in all three to win.

Marv

July 14th, 2011
12:07 am

I hope this is not the fine waste of talent as has been in the past. Ga/Fl will be the real test, if the gators win again………..