At least that’s how Nick Marshall says it works.
One thing that never crossed Marshall’s mind?
The off-field incident that brought his career at Georgia to a close in February 2012.
The details of that never became public, with the Bulldogs only citing it as a “violation of team rules.” Reportedly, it involved Marshall and two others (defensive back Chris Sanders and receiver Sanford Seay) stealing money from a teammate’s dorm room. Following his dismissal, he spent one season at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas before transferring to Auburn last year.
Marshall said he never thought the Georgia incident would factor into Malzahn’s decision on his punishment.
“What happened at Georgia, that’s in the past,” he said. ” … I’m not worried about that right now.”
Based on the punishment Malzahn did hand out, I don’t think Marshall has anything to be worried about right now, no matter where it occurred.
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.
Some random thoughts from last night’s scrimmage…
- Since I’m not a troll, I tend not to take too much out of scrimmage stats, especially when it sounds like Richt had something of an agenda in mind (“We wanted to see the matchups today, going best on best. We think it’s a pretty good matchup. We’re not sure what we’ll do in the next scrimmage, but we wanted to go ahead and put the best on the best tonight.”), but there were a couple of encouraging things to take away from last night’s numbers. The biggest seems to be that Keith Marshall is back. He was second in rushing yardage and led the team in receiving yards. The other stat worth noting was zero, as in no interceptions. If that’s an indication that Bobo is putting emphasis on his quarterbacks being careful with the ball, that’s good.
- Best observation of the night: “Mason said Pruitt’s defense is similar to the one Todd Grantham ran previously except on passing downs.” Richt sounds pleased about that, too. “That was one of the better things that happened today, was the lack of big plays given up…”
- No injuries in the scrimmage, but several key players were absent. The offense was missing Malcolm Mitchell, Justin Scott-Wesley, Chris Conley and Jonathon Rumph. And the defense had Leonard Floyd, Ramik Wilson and Shattle Fenteng out.
- The offensive line situation doesn’t sound like it was settled last night. “Mason said the offensive line used “a lot” of different combinations, rotating in about seven players on the first team.”
- Seven completions last night to tight ends/H-backs.
You guys have any other insights?
Okay, spoilsports, so McKenzie’s TD punt return wasn’t part of the live scrimmage, but was during a drill. Nevertheless, there are grounds to take heart from it.
The star of the night may have been on special teams: Freshman Isaiah McKenzie returned a kickoff for a touchdown during a drill. That only feeds the notion that McKenzie will have a big role on punt and kick returns.
Richt cautioned that McKenzie’s kick return didn’t come in live action, but rather thud. That didn’t lesson the impression it gave Bulldog players.
“He caught it, waited for the kickoff return to get into position, and he just hit the gap and took it all the way,” Bailey said. [Emphasis added.]
If that’s the case, he demonstrated better instincts and technique than I saw from any Georgia punt returner last season. That’s a start.