‘(J)ust be the guy we know you are in practice.’

Georgia’s punt game, on both sides of the ball, left something to be desired Saturday night, to say the least, so this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise:

Coach Kirby Smart defended his punter after the game. He said Camarda “just had a couple bad punts” and assured all that the Bulldogs “had his back.”

But Smart confirmed this week that a competition for punting duties is being waged. Georgia is off until its trip to Tennessee on Oct. 5.

“We’ve got two or three guys out there (competing),” Smart said. “… They haven’t out-punted (Camarda) in practice and they haven’t out-punted him in games or scrimmages. Up until Saturday, he was really hitting a lot of bombs. He didn’t hit two good punts (against Notre Dame). He knows it.”

Problem for Kirby is that there aren’t a lot of options behind Camarda on the roster, although I do wonder if they look for someone with more touch on the ball for shorter kicks they look to down inside the opponent’s 20.

As for punt returns, Smart made an in game change after the muffed punt.

Smart has been critical of other areas of special teams, as well. Senior Tyler Simmons was benched as punt returner this past Saturday after muffing a punt inside the 10-yard line. Notre Dame recovered at the 8 and scored its first touchdown of the game four plays later.

Simmons was replaced by freshman Dominick Blaylock, who caught one for a fair catch and let another go, which rolled for another 15 yards.

“So, he was 50-50, and you can’t be 50-50 in this league,” Smart said.

Unlike at punter, it would seem that Kirby has plenty of options on players to return punts, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see some experimentation here until somebody steps up to seize the job.

Towers doesn’t have anything to say about return blocking, but I would hope the coaches are looking carefully at that, as well.  Matt Landers did a poor job in that regard on both of the Simmons’ catches.

Lots of things to tweak/fix, in other words…

23 Comments

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23 responses to “‘(J)ust be the guy we know you are in practice.’

  1. MDDawg

    It’s crazy how fast these things can change. I suppose the special teams unit wasn’t really being tested in the first few games, but just a couple of weeks ago the press was asking Kirby how he’s able to get such good play out of that group. Outside of Hot Rod, they’ve gone from hero to zero real quick.

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  2. Silver Creek Dawg

    With regards to Landers’ blocking, I read somewhere that ND said they changed how their gunners get down the field to steer our blocker into the punt returner. It caused a near muff and a muff, so I’d say it worked.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Macallanlover

      It certainly did. I thought the first punt (near muff) was the more difficult and wasn’t sure if Landers or the ND player was the one who was closest, and perhaps interfered with Simmons. He did a good job on that one; the second punt was close but I felt he should have caught that one. Needs to be fixed for sure.

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  3. I’d be ok if Kirby wanted to look in a different direction as far as special teams next year.

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  4. Ginny

    Could it be possible that they just had a bad day? Can’t understand why everyone’s ready to throw in the towel with Camarda especially when he has shown he can handle it. Everyone has a bad day once and a while…

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    • 3rdandGrantham

      No, he’s had many bad days and quite a number of bad punts. And the bigger the game, the greater the chance he’ll give you a really bad performance. The mental issues he had throughout last year clearly have carried over to this year.

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  5. 3rdandGrantham

    The problem with Camarda – especially in big games or in pressure situations – is that if you need 40 yards, he’ll give you 50. But if you need 50 yards, he’ll give you 20.

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    • Russ

      Unfortunately, that’s what I’ve noticed too. He’s still young so hopefully he comes around, but last Saturday night was not one of his better performances. Luckily, the defense bailed him out.

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    • What Fresh Hell is This?

      Seems to me he’s always had pressure situation problems. I was front and center at LSU last year and was hoping Kirby would pull someone out of the stands to punt.

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  6. Greg

    Wish we would go back to making them (punters/kickers) earn a scholarship.

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    • Kirby did that with Hot Rod, and it almost cost him the best kicker in the country.

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      • CB

        Aka it worked out perfectly.

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        • Are you saying Rod hadn’t earned the scholarship in after the 2016 season? I thought he did.

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          • CB

            Not my determination to make. Given Kirby’s hard headedness (won’t wear black jerseys, will run the dive plays against punt block formations) I wouldn’t be surprised if Rod’s father’s ranting and raving delayed the offer, but the end result is he’s still a dawg and everything worked out. Everything else is speculation.

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      • Greg

        “Almost” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Blankenship is only one example, but it still worked out. There have been many more throughout the years that had to earn it and it also worked out.

        You never know how a kid is going to react (between the ears) to 90K plus until he is put in that situation. Hence, the reason we did it in the past & others still do it.

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        • Would you have liked to enter the 2017 season without Blankenship? He proved in 2016 that he could handle the job especially later in the year and a scholarship was available. If he had decided to leave after the spat his father had with Kirby, we would have been up the creek without a paddle.

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          • Greg

            Blankenship earned it, you made my point for me. Georgia recognized it, gave him a scholly….it all worked out. There have been countless others who have gone the same route & it has worked out. Just saying giving a scholarship up front is a bit of a risk at that position, unless you already know how he is going to perform before a crowd.

            I never seen him (Rod) quoted as saying he would leave or else. From what I remember, it was his Dad making all of the noise…not him. No idea what Rod was thinking, only he could answer that.

            No biggy, you think we should give a scholarship before they have proven they can perform with the lights on. I don’t (unless we just have them to burn)….as several other major HC also do not give them up front.

            The process worked with him and it has with others. Glad we have him. Could go down as the best we have ever had.

            But he worked hard to earn it (mentally & physically). Totally a different position (punter/kicker).

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            • Tony Barnfart

              I see your point, but the only problem is that teams are competing for a small pool of ostensibly elite kickers with other programs that are willing to make that gamble. It worked out with Rod, but what if it knocks you down to a pool of “really good” but not elite kickers (again, all working on the best possible objective system that is admittedly not full-proof) ?

              You’ve “saved the scholarship” but I’m not sold that making them earn it in year 1 leaves you any more likely to end up with somebody who can get you the 3 points (the biggest picture) than taking a risk on what the public metrics say are the pool of the absolute best kickers. If rivals has me the #1 kicker in America, I’m gonna think long and hard about turning down a bird in the hand (scholarship) to go after the one in the Georgia bush.

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              • It worked out… then.

                With the transfer portal working the way it does now, I think given that exact situation another school(s) sends him a backchannel message to transfer and he’s gone.

                We got lucky. That was handled poorly.

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  7. CB

    Simmons and Landers need to grab some bench. Make way for the young talent.

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    • The Tick

      agreed.

      No. 5 has been given plenty enough of a chance and has consistently failed. He’s a liability that will cost us dearly in a close game against a good opponent.

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      • Dylan Dreyer's Booty

        I hear ya, but we just played in a close game against a good opponent and won. I guess the muff made it a closer game than it had to be, but still…

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        • CB

          I would say Simmons’ muff with the assist from Lander as well as Simmons’ dropped TD pass are textbook examples of costing us in a close game against a good opponent. Fortunately we won, but I’d rather allow the freshmen opportunities to make those mistakes and grow from them rather than watch upperclassmen underachieve.

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