OXFORD, Miss. – Rodrigo Blankenship didn’t find out until after pregame warm-ups that he would be Georgia’s place-kicker at Ole Miss. After a long wait, and some initial disappointment, he would finally get his chance.
It didn’t go as well as he’d liked. And when the game was mercifully over, Blankenship was among the Georgia players discussing what went wrong in a 45-14 loss.
And why whoever Georgia trots out for field-goal attempts can’t seem to make them.
“I think maybe it’s just some growing pains,” said Blankenship, who missed a 36-yarder Saturday, after William Ham went 3-for-7 over the first three games. “Neither of us before this season had kicked in college before. Ham had his first year, but he redshirted and then wasn’t with the team. So I think it’s just been a matter of us acclimating to new environments.”
Blankenship did at least get his first points as a college kicker, making both extra-point tries. That’s been the only positive for the kickers; Ham has also made all of his.
Otherwise, the competition between the walk-on kickers continues, head coach Kirby Smart confirmed afterward.
“We had a little kicking competition during the week, and thought that (Blankenship) did a better job,” Smart said. “Then we kicked them in warm-ups, and we always measure them in warm-ups, see how they do in warm-ups, and it was consistent there, so we just decided to go with Rodrigo.”
Blankenship did have a better day kicking off: Two of his three kickoffs were for touchbacks, and the other saw Ole Miss tackled at the 20. That may allow him to keep that job – which has also been a tussle between him and Ham – for another week.
But making the field goal, which came when Georgia trailed 17-0, would have been bigger. Instead of getting Georgia some points and a bit closer, it went wide right, and served as another morale hit to a Bulldogs team that was reeling in all areas Saturday.
“Really, I let a little bit off of it,” Blankenship said of the miss. “I could have put more leg into it. I didn’t follow through like I should have. And coaches have been, we’ve been working really hard on trying to get me to make my sure that I follow through on every single kick, and I just left a little bit off of it on that one.”
Blankenship was asked what he can do to improve going forward. He chuckled.
“Kick it straight,” he said.