Kirby Smart defends Rodrigo Blankenship’s performance in Georgia’s spring game

Rodrigo Blankenship-G-Day-Georgia
Rodrigo Blankenship was 4 for 6 on field-goal attempts during G-Day.

ATHENS — It wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing G-Day for Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship. A missed extra point. Two missed field goals from makeable distance. A made field goal from short distance that doinked off the upright.

But when Kirby Smart was asked afterwards if he had any concerns about Blankenship, the coach responded as if he didn’t understand the question.

“Concern being that he kicked the long field goal …,” Smart said, implying he needed more information.

Missed a couple field goals and an extra point, the media member replied.

“Well he made a lot of field goals too,” Smart said.

Indeed he did: Blankenship was 4 for 6, including the field goal that won the game for the Red team, a 28-yarder with 1:03 left. Blankenship attempted all of the field goals on Saturday, alternating for both teams.

Blankenship missed the two longest field goals he attempted, from 40 and 49 yards. They both had the distance but not the direction. The field goals he made were from 34, 33, 28 and 19 yards.

“He made the one he had to make,” Smart said. “The good thing is he got a lot of experience in that game, right? He had to kick for this team, he had to kick for that team. I don’t know which one he’s going to eat with. It might be beanie-weenies, it might be steak.”

(The winning team gets steak, the losing team gets beanie-weenies. Perhaps Blankenship gets both.)

Either way, it was notable that Smart rushed to his kicker’s defense, for a couple reasons.

There was the offseason drama with Blankenship’s father Ken publicly lobbying for his son to receive a scholarship. Rodrigo Blankenship made the freshman All-SEC team after going 14 for 18 on field goals … and making all his extra points. There’s no guarantee of a scholarship for Blankenship this year, and there’s no guarantee of even being the kicker this year.

That’s because David Marvin, who kicked successfully at Wofford, is arriving this fall as a graduate transfer. He’ll have one year of eligibility. And then just after G-Day, a top high school kicking prospect, Jake Camarda, announced his commitment to Georgia. Blankenship, meanwhile, has three years of eligibility left, but is facing plenty of competition.

But Smart, rather than apply more public pressure to Blankenship — who was requested by the media to be interviewed but not made available by UGA — opted to account for why the misses happened on Saturday: On the missed extra point, for instance, there was a backup holder. And on the field, Smart was supportive, patting him on the helmet when Blankenship he missed one of his kicks.

“But I think he would tell you he expects to make those,” Smart said, adding: “There will certainly be competition in the fall.”

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