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?