ATHENS — At minimum, Georgia accomplished one thing through spring practice: Kirby Smart isn’t “scared to death” about his team’s field goal kicking situation anymore.
That was the term Smart used before spring practice began. But when it ended on Saturday, Smart was going out of his way to say he actually felt pretty good about it.
The punting, on the other hand …
Well, first the place-kicking. Rodrigo Blankenship, a redshirt freshman walk-on, went 3-for-4, making two 46-yarders and a 19-yarder, while missing a 44-yarder. William Ham, a sophomore and also a walk-on, was 0-for-2, missing from 35 and 39 yards, but one of those came with a poor snap and hold.
After the game, Smart made a point of saying that Ham shouldn’t be judged on not making those two G-Day kicks.
“Actually, Ham has kicked really well all spring,” Smart said. “I know that’s shocking to you after today. But some of that was a byproduct of either a low snap or a poor spin on the hold.”
Smart also termed himself “pretty pleased” that Blankenship hit long field goals.
This will be the first time in more than a decade that Georgia hasn’t had a scholarship kicker. (Assuming neither Blankenship nor Ham is put on scholarship later.) But Smart has now taken several opportunities late in spring practice to back off the “scared to death” comment.
“You know, Rodrigo and Ham both kicked surprisingly well when it comes to field goals,” Smart said on Saturday. “Ham has actually hit them good. He’s hit a couple of that distance during spring ball, but he didn’t real good luck today. He had some bad luck when it came to kicking it.”
Then there’s the punting. Brice Ramsey boomed a 50-yarder on the first possession, but it went downhill from there. Walk-on Thomas Pritchard’s first punt attempted was chunked, and needed a lucky roll to go 42 yards. But Pritchard also appeared to lose his footing, and when he came to the sideline special teams coach Shane Beamer made sure to talk to him and give him a pat on the helmet.
Still, the punting wasn’t altogether good. That’s why someone else in the stadium on Saturday – incoming freshman Marshall Long, who will be on scholarship – may be the favorite to punt this season.
“I think Brice hit the one bomb, but outside of that we didn’t punt real well,” Smart said. “Punting has been the larger issue than the field goals.”
More on G-Day from DawgNation:
- Photos: 93K fill Sanford Stadium for G-Day game
- G-Day marked the first victory for Kirby Smart
- One NFL star says Smart is taking the program to a ‘new level’
- Jacob Eason impressively surpassed his hype
- The biggest highlight of the G-Day game wasn’t on the field
- Watch: Kirby Smart’s press conference after G-Day
- Black beats Red, but there were other winners on Saturday
- Eason was rousing in his debut
- A look back at G-Day’s biggest plays