“You’ve got every single coach watching you.”

Marshall Morgan had a terrific season last year.  And I like his attitude about fixing the one part of his game that could stand improvement.

But he is worried about kickoffs. Last year that was the only blight on his resume. His yards-per-kickoff was down three percentage points from his freshman year, and only 17 of his 72 attempts (23.6 percent) were touchbacks.

For comparison’s sake, Aguayo had touchbacks on 37.5 percent of his kickoffs, although his average kickoff length was about the same as Morgan’s (60.8 to 60.3).

Morgan said he changed his footwork in an effort to get longer kickoffs. Prior to kickoffs, he used to take 10 steps back and then three to the left, before running straight to the tee. Now he’s doing nine steps back, then six to the left.

Kickoffs and field goals have a different trajectory, which is why it’s not automatic that someone who can make 55-yard field goals should be able to boot it through on kickoffs. Kickoffs have a tee an inch off the ground.

On field goals, he takes three steps back and two to the left. So Morgan figured why not make it the same fraction on kickoffs.

“I can consistently get them in the back now, unless there’s a crazy wind in my face or something,” Morgan said.

But it’s something to realize he’s done that all by his lonesome.  The only comment from a coach in the article is Richt’s praise for how Morgan is striking the ball in practice.

You’re on your own, kid.

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20 Comments

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20 responses to ““You’ve got every single coach watching you.”

  1. Macallanlover

    I admit that half way through the 2012 season I was both concerned, and mystified, by Marshall Morgan’s inconsistency. How could a scholarship kicker hit the uprights on XPTs, and drill 50+ yard FG at a successful percentage that approached his XPT percentage early? Kickers, like southpaws, are often regarded as strange/weird by others but Morgan had this great attitude that he could get the ship righted. Reminded me of the way some of the professional golfers react to a bad shot/round/tournament when things are going badly: they continue to remain positive focusing on what they are doing well and confident they can hit the perfect shot the very next swing after a shank, or snap hook. Made me convinced he was, or had been, working with a sports psychologist to face his demons that way. And that made me confident he would work his way out of the funk he was in.

    Fast forward to 2014 and we have a highly regarded kicker coming off an excellent 2013 season who is continually looking for ways to improve his stroke. I like that he is attacking his weakness area and open to try new techniques in his quest to be as good as can be. Kickers have to work mostly on their own on the practice field but Morgan seems to be analytical in approaching his craft and remains confident, and committed, to do better. I feel we are in good hands in this phase of the game and wish him success in Athens for two more years then many paydays at the next level for all his effort.

  2. Jack Klompus

    So much for blaming Richt for kickoff shortcomings.

    • Bulldawg165

      Not trying to bash Richt here but if a player is left all alone to figure out how to improve himself that is, in fact, the fault of the head coach

      • Jack Klompus

        My comment was more so directed to the frequent comments I heard about Coach not wanting him to kick it though the end zone or that he was holding him back.

  3. Scorpio Jones, III

    The assumption Morgan is working all by his lonely little self makes a good story, but as Mac mentions above, Morgan is obviously getting some counseling from somewhere about the Voodoo parts of kicking and knowing the history of counseling kickers in Athens, I would say it is as safe to assume this is ongoing as assuming it is not.

    • Maybe it’s not beyond the realm of probability that Marshall learned a little self-help voodoo by watching the Blair Walsh Project unfold in Minneapolis

  4. AusDawg85

    Too bad Georgia doesn’t have a history of great kickers we could call on to lend a hand.

    • TNlogdawg

      I’ve seen in the past month or so that the 3-4 previous kickers have all been helping him in the off season.

  5. Russ

    Just amazes me why we can’t get Kevin But let to volunteer, a la Coach Hartman.

    • Russ

      “But let”? WTF autocorrect?

      Obviously “Butler”

      • Anon

        Because volunteer coaches aren’t allowed.

        • Scorpio Jones, III

          Yeah, Bill Hartman’s last few years were as a student assistant, I believe…he took some grad school courses, bet that was interesting for the instructor. :)

          • And that was just to work around the NCAA rule. But still, we should be able to add a grad assistant for special teams, or another staff member that can focus purely on kickers and how they do their thing.

            And please note, this is NOT a special teams coach. Special teams, how to return and cover etc is not the same thing as the specific drills for a kicker.

  6. W Cobb Dawg

    More touchbacks on our KOs would be huge leap forward for our STs.

    If Morgan really is doing this on his own, who’s the coach responsible for this aspect of the game? Wouldn’t surprise me to find its Lilly. It would surprise me to learn its one of the new assistants.

    • Bulldawg165

      It was this way with Walsh too. The good ole senator posted a link way back then where the Minnesota special teams coach basically said (I’m paraphrasing but unfortunately not too much) “I spent ten seconds watching Walsh’s film and figured out what’s wrong. The fix is easy as pie.”

      I really wish I was exaggerating but I’m not. It was something silly like Walsh was taking his eye off the football too soon or something.

      • He was rushing his approach.

        • Mayor

          Exactly. And nobody on the Georgia staff had a clue about how to fix Walsh. The Vikes kicking coach fixed Walsh in one lesson. ST coaching at UGA has been basically non-existent for years. The punters and kickers are sent to the other end of the field and told “See ya after practice.”

          • Slaw Dawg

            That’s what kills me about the “but you can’t have a single special teams coach because it’s really a lot of different teams or functions” argument. Never mind that every NFL team has a dedicated “special teams coordinator” or “Special Teams” coach, and often an assistant ST coach–you can sure as Hell recognize that kicking and punting are unique skills that are coachable. Vince Dooley had a kicking coach for some years, as I recall. I get that colleges can only have x # of paid and y # of unpaid positions. But is it really that hard to find a coach who is trained in all fundamentals of STs, or at least kicking/punting and who can also, say, be an S&C guy?

            At least this year, we have 2 guys publicly listed as ST coaches (with their other duties). Maybe that will make a difference. If not, maybe at some point you have to ask if the better advantage is having one full ST coach and one less O or D coach. Which gap leaves more points on the field?

  7. I think Kevin Butler is in Athens very frequently visiting with young Morgan. I know he was last year because he talked about it constantly on the post-game radio show.