Rodrigo Blankenship improving on kickoffs, per Georgia coach Kirby Smart

Georgia - Rodrigo Blankenship
Rodrigo Blankenship's weak point last year was kickoffs, and he's improved on that.

ATHENS — When David Marvin was brought in to compete for Georgia’s place-kicking jobs, it was easy to project a time-sharing solution: Rodrigo Blankenship would hold onto the place-kicking duties, but since kickoffs were his weakness last year, Marvin would handle that.

Well, it could turn out the other way.

While the competition between Marvin and Blankenship remains very tight, head coach Kirby Smart did volunteer something about Blankenship’s preseason performance.

“I will say this: Rod kicked off really good today,” Smart said. “The field goal kicking (competition) is really tight. And it’ll probably be decided within this week. But Rod’s kicking off real well.”

Blankenship made the freshman All-SEC team last year after going 14-for-18 on field goals, and making all 26 of his extra points. But his kickoffs weren’t as strong, by his own admission, averaging 62.2 yards, with a 37 percent touchback rate.

Marvin, a graduate transfer from Wofford, came in with a reputation for booting it well in all facets. When he accepted a scholarship offer from Georgia, he said his understanding was Georgia needed somebody to kick off, and that Marvin would also get a chance to compete for the place-kicking job.

Georgia’s two scrimmages have been closed, and no tangible kicking takes place during media viewing periods. But apparently Blankenship and Marvin have made the decision tough on Smart and special teams coach Shane Beamer.

“The field goal kicking, it’s tight,” Smart said.

Not so at punter, where graduate transfer Cameron Nizialek is the clear favorite. Smart said so last week, even before the first scrimmage, and reiterated that on Saturday. Nizialek came from Columbia, also an FCS school. Sophomore Marshall Long was Georgia’s starting punter last year until breaking his kneecap late in the season.

“Punter competition is leaning more and more towards Cam. He’s done a really good job,” Smart said. “Marshall’s done well too but I don’t think Marshall’s past the injury completely. He’s still coming back from that.”
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