Welcome to your one-stop shop for UGA football news and takes every Monday through Friday. Today, we look at whether Georgia is perennially overhyped or underhyped every preseason and, oh yeah, we’re talking about special teams, baby.
Florida has best kicker-punter combo in college football
Everyone wants a little excitement on a Friday, so we’re going to talk about the most exciting facet of football: SPECIAL TEAMS!
Go ahead, scoff if you want. But just know that I don’t consider you a diehard college football fan unless you’re willing to get down and dirty with the specialists. This isn’t the NFL, where every kicker is pretty much automatic inside of 45 yards. With the margins so thin and insanity abound in the college game, these players often end up being the most important factors in games, for good and ill. (#collegekickers) And that’s before even mentioning returners. If you can’t get hyped for college football special teams, check your pulse, dude.
We conclude our position-by-position rankings by taking a look at the best special team players Georgia will face this season — kickers, punters and return men. Although this will wrap up our look at all the positions (check out links to each one of them at the bottom of this section), I’ll be back on Monday to count down the best players, regardless of position, Georgia has to contend with this season.
Right now, though, we’ve got more important business. Let’s talk about punts!
5. Johnny Townsend, P, Florida — Townsend was voted second-team All-SEC by both the AP and coaches last season. Despite not making first team, Townsend led the nation with an average distance of 47.9 yards per punt. With him at punter, Florida will always be poised to win the field position game. I mean, just look at these astounding punts.
4. Deebo Samuel, KR, South Carolina — Not only is Samuel one of the best receivers Georgia will face this season, he also is one of the most explosive kick returners in the SEC. He ranked sixth in the conference with 431 total kick return yards and provided a 25.4 yards-per-return average. His play of the season, including his time at receiver, was this 100-yard return for a touchdown against Western Carolina.
3. Eddy Pineiro, K, Florida — Between Pineiro and Townsend, Florida might have the best kicker-punter combo in college football. Pineiro had good accuracy on field goals last season, hitting 21 of 25, including 13 from from more than 40 yards out. That power is his greatest asset as a player. He led the country with a kickoff average of 64.8 yards. He has the kind of distance you have to see to believe. Check out this 81-yard boot in practice.
— Eddy Piñeiro (@eddypineiro1) May 2, 2017
2. Evan Berry, KR, Tennessee — He was primarily known as Eric Berry’s brother for a long time, but it’s safe to say Evan has carved his own path in Knoxville. He has four career kick return touchdowns, tied for most in Tennessee history, and led the conference in per kick return average the last two seasons. Injury forced Berry out of a lot of games last season, limiting him to 14 returns and 1 touchdown after scoring 3 in 2015. When healthy, he’s one of the most dangerous return men in college football.
1. Daniel Carlson, K, Auburn — A lot of rival fans were trashing Auburn for choosing to send its kicker as a representative to SEC Media Days. But Carlson is the kind of kicker coaches would trade a limb to get. He’s made 141 consecutive PATs, the second-longest streak in SEC history, and 28 of his 32 field goal attempts, including 11 from outside 40 yards. The two-time Lou Groza Award finalist and second-leading scorer in Auburn history is as close to automatic as kickers come in college football.
Is UGA football overhyped?
Barrett Sallee of CBS Sports tried to figure out which SEC teams were overhyped or underhyped since expansion in 2012. He looked at where teams finished in SEC Media Days annual divisional predictions relative to their finishes in the actual division standings. By this metric, Georgia is one of the most overhyped teams in conference since 2012. The Bulldogs finished nearly a whole place lower (-0.8) per season than they were predicted to in the preseason rankings.
Georgia (-4): The media has been more right than wrong about Georgia over the last five years. It properly pegged the Bulldogs as champs in 2012, runner-up in 2014 and third-place finishers last year. However, in each of the odd-numbered years since expansion, the Bulldogs have finished two spots behind their expectation. If you’re into trends, that doesn’t bode well for 2017.
Dawgs on Twitter
Notre Dame announces that its Week 2 home game vs. Georgia is sold out.
— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) July 6, 2017
— AJC (@ajc) July 6, 2017
The setting sun casts a glow over Sanford Stadium (📷: marigold_84) pic.twitter.com/MMomBN1MVt
— UGA (@universityofga) July 6, 2017
Experiencing unmitigated terror at the notion that your team could be the preseason favorite to win its division is the most UGA emotion.
— Dawg Sports (@dawgsports) July 6, 2017
- Kirby Smart: Two incoming freshmen have not yet enrolled at Georgia (Matt Schoch, DawgNation)
- UGA recruiting Q&A: The things on everyone’s mind right now about Justin Fields (Jeff Sentell, DawgNation)
- Georgia coach Kirby Smart questions legitimacy of Jacob Eason jet ski pass (Spenser Davis, DawgNation)
- Georgia track and field’s Kendell Williams named SEC Female Athlete of the Year (Talal Elmasry, DawgNation)
- Where Georgia sports ranks nationally in spending, revenue (Kipp Adams, Dawgs247)
- Georgia football: Top 5 individual school records that may never be broken (Kyle Funderburk, Dawn of the Dawg)
- Dawgs on Tour: Bubba’s Backyard Edition (GlimmerTwinDawg, Dawg Sports)
- ‘We have got to get some wins‘ (Senator Blutarsky, Get The Picture)
A look of shock and terror.
Such an innocent doggo 🐕 pic.twitter.com/1MJcQuhh4I
— Abhishek Joshi (@kaalicharan) July 6, 2017