I mentioned earlier in the week my concern about the big day Auburn’s special teams had against Tennessee last Saturday, although, to be fair, Seth Emerson notes that the punt return matchup is pretty competitive.
Georgia may need to win Saturday’s game in an offensive shootout, but there’s another reason to discourage the Bulldogs from punting: Chris Davis.
The senior defensive back leads the nation in punt return yardage, averaging 24.1 yards per return, with one touchdown.
Georgia’s punt defense has actually been pretty good (4.11 yards per opponent return, ranking 18th in the country).
That of course assumes they get the punt off safely. But we’ll save that discussion for another day.
But it’s also worth noting that the Vols fell victim to something that’s going to sound awfully familiar to us Dawg fans – loading up the coverage teams with green, non-starting players.
Safety LaDarrell McNeil was the only defensive starter on the field for Grant’s return. That kickoff team included true freshmen Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Lemond Johnson and Malik Foreman; redshirt freshmen Drae Bowles and Tino Thomas, walk-on safety Max Arnold, third-string tailback Tom Smith and reserve linebackers John Propst and Raiques Crump.
Linebacker Dontavis Sapp and cornerback Justin Coleman were the defensive starters on the field for Davis’s score. Crump and Reeves-Maybin are also on that unit, along with nickelbacks Devaun Swafford and JaRon Toney, a walk-on and former walk-on. Linebacker Greg King, defensive tackle Danny O’Brien and guard Dylan Wiesman make up the punter’s shield.
Georgia’s not as guilty of doing that as it used to be. Remember classics like this?
That’s not a Georgia punt, but it’s the same principle. (That’s freshman Nick Marshall with the spectacular whiff on Ingram, by the way.)
The Dawgs have got to avoid getting burned on special teams this Saturday. Got to.