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July 7, 2008

The Importance of Blair Walsh

Many sites have already commented on Blair Walsh being named #1 kicker on the depth chart per-Richt. Given that the coaches haven't officially seen the kid practice yet, it's a very unusual move by the staff.

How critical is it that this kid have a tremendous first year? The following games under Richt were decided by three points or less or required several key field goals to win:
  • 2001 - UT and GT (Billy hit 6 in the game)
  • 2002 - Clemson, Bama and Auburn
  • 2003 - LSU (away...Billy missed 3) and UAB
  • 2004 - SC, UT (Bailey missed a FG early. If he makes it, UGA can kick a FG to win on the last play instead of the ill fated pass to Pope with 1 second left), and Wisconsin
  • 2005 - SC, ARK, UF (we missed 2 FGs and lost by 4 points)
  • 2006 - Vandy (miss a FG and lose by 2), MSU and UK (miss 2 FGs and lose by 4) and GT (a missed FG almost killed us)
  • 2007 - Alabama, Vandy
It's unavoidable. Two or three games next year are coming down to the leg of a Freshman kicker. Kinda scary.



Mackie said...

I've seen a few videos of Blair, the most impressive thing I've seen about him is his ability to kick the ball UP instead of OUT and still have great distance. I know little to nothing about the kicking trade but others I've seen have been more prone to blocks due to kicking INTO oncoming traffic. Will he be in contention with Kevin Bulter's kid or will they be punter and FG kicker respectively?

Anonymous said...

Butlers kid will not be a FG kicker here, he doesnt have the leg. And Butler has a long way to go for being our punter. He didnt look to good in the spring game with no pressure.

Anonymous said...

When people ask me what position/area I'm most worried about this year, and I reply "kicker;" usually they laugh, assuming that I'm so arrogantly high on the Dawgs that I'm only worried about our kicking game. But, little do they know that I'm dead serious. We've played in a ton of games where our kicker made the difference, and thankfully we've had some good ones during CMR's tenue (Bennett, Coutu.)

Regardless of how good Walsh is supposed to be, I'm very, very nervous about a freshman kicker coming in and kicking in some potential big-time games right away. If you'll remember, Andy Bailey was a heralded kicker as well coming out of high school, but mentally he never was able to put it together while at UGA. Hopefully Walsh doesn't suffer the same fate.

Anonymous said...

Bailey could barely make an extra point. I'm pretty sure he missed one in the GT game last year when Coutu went out. In fact I think he was the one who missed it in the Vandy game we lost too.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Bailey was a project who got a scholly based on a very strong leg.

Fabris sold Richt and Garner on him and got the scholly.

Not a highly rated high school kicker.

dean said...

I agree there's going to be at least two to three games this year that are going to come down to a field goal. Not necessarily with seconds left but late in the game for the lead or to put us up by 4 or so points. Can you imagine the pressure of hitting a field goal with your teams NC hopes hanging on the outcome of your kick? That's a ton of pressure for an 18 year old.

Anonymous said...

Well, whether we like or not, this is kind of the way things are in the SEC and CFB these days. You ride a kicker for 4 years, then ride another one for 4 more. You can't use schollies up on multiple kickers on the 85-man roster.

The good news is that the 2 most most clutch kickers in the conference last year were the kids from UT and Auburn...both freshmen. That Auburn kid fared okay down in the swamp as I recall. Plus, Florida had one of the worst kickers in the nation in '06 and won the title and same for LSU in '03.

It's not a necessity for winning a title, but we all know that we're going to need some clutch, maybe game winning, FGs along the way. Blair seems like a level headed kid, and hopefully our Offense will be good enough that we'll only need 32-yard FGs and NOT 46-yard FGs.

Go Dawgs & God Bless Blair Walsh.

Anonymous said...

Pressure, pressure, pressure. If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen, etc.

All I know is that we'll have a decent kicker. I would bet on Walsh if I were a betting man. Lots of things about this kid impress me. He plays with a lot of heart and intelligence and those assets tend to be underrated by fans and recruiting gurus, but very much appreciated by coaches.

But if Walsh can't get the job done, we'll find someone who can, and we'll do so by the end of August. Fear not. Book it. Etc., etc.

Anonymous said...

Bailey was not a project at all. He was a rivals rated 3 star (same as Walsh) coming out of high school in Tennessee. Besides, UGA simply does NOT offer kicking schollys to "project" kickers. I don't think anyone does. Bailey was definitely heralded and many thought he'd come in and start right away.

Anonymous said...

We'll agree to disagree on Bailey....but he was one of those whose stars came about AFTER he committed to Georgia.

Anonymous said...

Rivals has Walsh rated 3 stars, Scout has him rated 5 stars. Let's hope Scout is more correct in their opinion! He seems to be quite reliable inside of 50 yards, and has the leg to do 55+ it seems.

His kickoffs will be fun to watch this year...kicks the ball high enough that even if they don't go through the uprights, the coverage team will be able to get down there and stop them before too much of a gain. Check out the kickoffs at the 2:45 mark of this video:

Anonymous said...

Florida '06 did pretty good with a sub-standard (to say the least) kicker.

Just gotta put it in the endzone.

Unknown said...

Bailey gave me nightmares.

Hobnail_Boot said...

Walsh could be the difference b/t 9-3 and a MNC shot.

No pressure, kid.

Holla said...

Bailey missed an extra point against Tech in 04, which is what basically lost him the starting job. Coutu came in on that last possession (after Greene had come back in with the hurt thumb and taken us down the fields a little ways) and made like a 48-yarder or so. Then when Coutu was hurt in 06, we had the misses against Vandy and Kentucky, and we missed ANOTHER extra point against Tech, didn't we? (Was that last year or 06? If it was last year, why was Bailey kicking?)

I don't want to trash a kid. Bailey just didn't have the head game, I guess. But mostly I'm just sad to see Coutu go. He made one against Hawaii from 50 that could have gone 15 more, I think. Just an awesome, consistent kicker for us.

Anonymous said...

yah, y'all are gonna need him that first game.

Anonymous said...

you left out the UF 2002 game in which billy missed 2 or 3

Anonymous said...

Walsh will be playing on Sundays in 4 years.

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