July 6, 2010

Position Breakdown: Special Teams

You have look long and you have to look hard before you find a kicking tandem better than Georgia's Blair Walsh and Drew Butler.

Talk about a 1-2 punch.

Butler won the Ray Guy Award as the country's top punter after averaging 48.1 yards per kick, while Walsh was a finalist for the Lou Groza Award as the nation's top placekicker.

Walsh's numbers were amazing.

Besides connecting on all 42 of his extra points, Walsh was 20-of-22 on field goal attempts, although it's one he missed against Georgia Tech that still stands out in his mind.

"You're gonna think I'm crazy but it's still not good enough. Missing that last kick probably prevented me from winning it (the Groza Award). You've got step up when it comes to that," Walsh said recently. "Don't get me wrong, 20-for-22 is a fantastic season for me, but it could have been 21-for-22. When I look back at it, I really should not have missed last year. I know I sound like a perfectionist but that's just how I feel. I just have to keep working, honing what I'm doing so hopefully I won't have a repeat of that next year."

No doubt Bulldog coaches and fans wouldn't complain if Walsh could equal his 2009 effort, one which saw him hit on 4-of-5 attempts from 50-plus yards, including a season-long of 53 yards against Oklahoma State.

Walsh, who has also made every extra-point attempt he has ever tried (92-for-92), is about enter some rarified air when it comes to kickers in the Bulldog record book.

If the Fort Lauderdale native can equal the 103 points he scored last year, it would vault him into third place on Georgia's all-time scoring list for kickers ahead of Rex Robinson (269), Brandon Coutu (273) and Kanon Parkman (282), while right behind Kevin Butler (353) and Billy Bennett (409).

That's not all.

By the time Walsh's career is done, he should smash Bennett's career record for extra points (142). With six career field goals over 50 yards, he's also on pace to eclipse Butler's record of 11.

It is goals like this which help drive Walsh to be the best he can be. So does coming so close to winning the Groza Award.

"It makes you want to get back there. You want it that much worse. You want it that bad. Going there and meeting all the people who are involved with the Groza committee - being in the contingency - it's awesome," Walsh said. "This time, I'd like to hold the trophy at the end but it's not about that, it's what you can control. You can't control whether they vote you in or not, but it's what you do and how you feel about what you did."

57 Blair Walsh 5-10 185 Junior
13 Drew Butler 6-2 203 Junior

Will A.J. Green return punts as Mark Richt suggested he might?

Coach Richt sure created a buzz back in the spring when he suggested that his best player might actually return a punt or two this fall. Although there's no question the star wide receiver could certainly do the job, the guess here is you won't see him get the opportunity.

How many kickoffs will Brandon Boykin return for touchdowns this year?

Boykin has a goal of three which would equal the total he posted last year to set a new UGA record. Can he do it again? That might be a stretch. We'll say he gets two. That's not bad, is it?

Will kickoff coverage coach Warren Belin have Walsh attempt directional kicks?

Belin has played it coy when asked that question before, but in an earlier interview, Walsh suggested that he'll have the green light to kick the ball just as far as he possibly can.

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