One thing to keep an eye on this Saturday night is the kicking game – for both Georgia and South Carolina. You’ll never quite know what to expect.
Get ready for another round of adventure on kickoffs, Dawg fans. It’s just how Jon Fabris rolls.
… If you’re wondering what happened, former Georgia players A.J. Bryant and Kelin Johnson, now regulars on the “Fifth Quarter Show,” put it all into perspective. Both of them played on special teams for Fabris, and they said that it wouldn’t matter whether the Dogs had a kicker who could put it in the end zone or not; Fabris likes “the challenge” of directional kicks. That’s just Coach Fab, they said, get used to it.
Evidently, Georgia isn’t man enough to cover kickoffs consistently.
Oh, and about that return game and letting a freshman run out kicks eight yards deep? Evidently that was a collaborative decision:
Freshman kick returner Branden Smith took some heat from fans for twice deciding to return kicks from deep in his own end zone, but Tony Ball said it wasn’t Smith’s decision.
“It’s on (Shaun) Chapas,” Ball said. “The returner can sometimes get disoriented trying to field that type of kick, especially a young player like Branden. And I told (Chapas) if you have to, you go in the end zone and grab him and don’t let him come out. Those are the trials and tribulations, but they’re not issues that can’t be fixed.”
Chapas, who works as the upback, was told to make the decision on whether to return the kick or take a knee in the end zone for a touchback, but the angle of the kick made the choice difficult.
“My initial thought was Chapas should have kept him in the end zone,” Ball said. “After asking Chapas about it, he felt like it being a line-drive kick, that threw things off. There was some dynamics there where he had to make some decisions, but Chapas has done it for a couple of years, so I trust him.
Note to South Carolina special teams: don’t even think about kicking line drives this week.
On the other hand, at least Blair Walsh nailed his opening field goal attempt, which is more than you can say for his Gamecock counterpart.