Marshall Morgan gets buttah.

I think we can all agree that Marshall Morgan is the big special teams success story of the season.

Morgan had his share of struggles as a freshman, making 8 of 14 field goals, and then was forced to miss the first two games of this season after a boating under the influence arrest. But Morgan has been about as rock solid as anybody on the team during this turbulent season filled with injuries and close games.

Morgan made 18 of 20 field goals, good for 90 percent, tops in the SEC and sixth nationally among those with 20 or more attempts.

He was named first-team All-SEC by both The Associated Press media vote and the coaches.

Morgan will head to the New Year’s Day Gator Bowl against Nebraska having made his last 13 field goal tries since missing off the left upright on a 39-yard attempt against at Tennessee on Oct. 5. He followed that up by booting the game-winning 42-yard field goal in overtime in the 34-31 Bulldogs win.

It’s not the first time Georgia’s had a kicker whose game dramatically improved from one season to the next, but it’s interesting to me what Morgan’s worked on to improve himself.

Morgan said on the field he worked more on angled kicks, which “made the area to make it a lot smaller and then when you go to kick a regular field goal, it’s like nothing.”

This is even more interesting.

The one area of his game that Richt wants him to improve on in the offseason is kickoffs as 17 of Morgan’s 67 kickoffs (25.3 percent) went for touchbacks. As a team, Georgia ranked 12th out of 14 teams in touchbacks and 13th in kickoff coverage.

Richt didn’t want to mess with Morgan’s kickoffs while his field goals and extra points were going so well.

“I’ve been working on driving it more,” Morgan said. “You see a lot of kickers just driving it really low just to get the touchback every time. That would be nice, but we’re also getting them down before the 25 with the hang time and stuff so that’s good, too.”

I’m not really sure why working on kickoffs would affect Morgan’s placekicking (or, for that matter, why it would during the season, but not in the offseason), but I’m glad to hear that it’s on his and Richt’s radar.  Georgia’s opponents are averaging 21.71 yards per return, which means that if the ball is being fielded inside the five, it’s likely that the results aren’t worse than a touchback, but, as we saw in the North Texas game, likely isn’t the same as never.  Who needs the added drama?

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “Marshall Morgan gets buttah.

  1. Bob Sackamano

    Sounds like smart coaching to me.

  2. Newt

    For all the special teams bashing Richt gets, I think some praise is due for how his treatment of Morgan last year paid off this year. He could have ruined the kid’s confidence and Marshall would likely not have had the turnaround we’ve enjoyed this year.

    On kickoffs, I think they were concerned about making in season adjustments to driving the ball more and possibly messing with a form that had become very consistent on field goals. Think of the golfer who’s a great iron player but wrecks his swing in the effort to gain more distance off the tee.

    Now, I have no idea what would prevent them from telling a guy like Patrick Beless to do nothing but concentrate on kicking the ball 75-80 yards in the air every time.

    • Scorpio Jones, III

      You are right, Newt, the stroke for field goals is different than for kick offs.

      The stats quoted indicate kick offs into or out of the end zone are important, but not as important as field goals when you can’t get the six.

      Paging Bill Hartman.

  3. HVL Dawg

    “Who needs the extra drama?”

    Sounds like you are coming around on CMR’s fair catch strategy. :)

    • “Coming around”? Search the archives for Logan Gray and get back to me. ;)

    • Dog in Fla

      Logan helped with the discovery that CMR either reads or gets debriefed on GTP or soaks it up by osmosis through the mullet wrapper. Previously, CMR had disclaimed any knowledge of what was happening on the internetz:

      1. Hogbody Spradlin
      March 19, 2010 at 9:01 AM
      Hey Blutarsky, you got Coach to respond to you. Next thing you know you’ll get a press pass.
      o Senator Blutarsky
      March 19, 2010 at 9:04 AM
      Weiszer thinks Richt was responding to Bill King’s blog in the AJ-C, but King gave me a nod in his post, so I’ll settle for partial credit.
       Puffdawg
      March 19, 2010 at 11:27 AM
      Next thing you know CMR will be bringing in a fair catch specialist from the NFL to prepare our players for the draft in an apparent PR move… all because of SB.

      http://blutarsky.wordpress.com/2010/03/19/coach-richt-logan-gray-and-gasp-bloggers/

  4. He was a freshman last year and played poorly and adjusted. He should be an example to the DBs what a year of experience and a full offseason can do for young players.

    • Newt

      From your lips (or keyboard) to God’s ears. If our DBs improve as much from this year to next as Morgan did from last year to this, look out.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        Our DBs are extremely gifted athletes. That’s what makes their play this past season so frustrating.

  5. fuelk2

    Use of average returns is so overrated when talkin about kickoffs. We’re talking about risk/reward. When you don’t get a touchback, you can improve your situation by up to 25 yards or deplete it by up to 75 yards and six points. Not a good trade-off.

  6. Spike

    That kick he made to win the UGA-UT game was a thing of beauty! Wow!

  7. Thank you Dog! I just love seeing that over and over…. Gives me chills!

  8. Joe Schmoe

    Not to mention his distance. He was:
    7 of 8 over 40 yards, and
    2 of 3 over 50.

    I recall those in the fifties didn’t skim the crossbar either. He is going to be highly valuable over the next couple of years.

    • Read about Bauta this morning ….getting excited about what he will bring to Georgia in the future and feeling good about him backing up Mason. Faton, means fate, destiny or something like that in Albanian. This might be the guy that helps us win it all in 2015!

  9. 69Dawg

    Attention dear readers and fellow Kool-Aid drinkers, Blair Walsh was a great kicker until his senior year and then he suddenly got bad. Why did he get bad? Well if you paid attention to the Special Teams coach of the Minnesota Vikings UGA had no coach to tell him to slow down his kick. Never under estimate our lack of special teams coaching. Love him or laugh at him our special teams left with the Fab, directional kicking not withstanding. Until I see all of our special teams improve I’m swearing off of Kool-Aid.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      The Dawgs desperately need a ST Coordinator. CMR needs to do it himself with assistance from various Asst Coaches at particular ST aspects. Urban Meyer and Frank Beamer are 2 good examples of how that can be done and how well it works. STs are 1/3 of the game and right now UGA STs are a rudderless ship. How many games lost by the Dawgs in the last 4 years because of ST breakdowns would have been won if this problem had been corrected?