Andy Bailey and Walden decided that a change was needed, so Bailey altered
his technique by shortening the horizontal steps on his setup to the
"It's meant the world to me," he said, "everything just
Bailey has missed only two of dozens of kicks since, and that accuracy
has earned him the role of first-string kicker for the No. 3 Bulldogs as
they prepare for their Sept. 4 season-opener against Georgia Southern.
Bailey made that call just in time, although he didn't know it.
Days later, the Bulldogs held a kicking scrimmage at Sanford Stadium.
At that point, walk-on Brandon Coutu led the kicking battle and appeared
to be one Bailey slip from taking the job. Bailey responded with a
5-for-6 performance to tie the race.
"I really didn't know Monday was that big a factor until I read it in
the newspaper (the next day)," said Bailey, a redshirt freshman from
Athens, Tenn. "I was happy I did well, but I didn't realize the
significance of it."
On Friday, Georgia had another kicking scrimmage, and, this time,
Bailey nailed every single one, prompting Georgia to move him to No. 1
on the depth chart. Assistant coach David Johnson and Coach Mark Richt
have refrained from calling Bailey the starter because they say Coutu
still has a chance to win the job.
Still, it's clear the coaches are impressed by the way Bailey is
striking the ball since his change. They're almost as impressed by the
mental toughness he displayed in coming back from the brink of a huge
disappointment to the top of the depth chart.
"He's reacted in a very positive way to the different situations we
him under," said Johnson, who coordinates the field goal team. "That's
credit to him and his demeanor, and how he's attacked this whole season
The pressure on Bailey was even greater since he's on scholarship and
Coutu is a walk-on. Johnson said that wasn't a factor in the coaches'
minds, but it was for Bailey.
"That's what they brought me here to do," said Bailey, the only
placekicker on scholarship and the first kicker Georgia has given a
scholarship to straight out of high school in recent memory. "They were
thinking I'd win the job or they'd be wasting a scholarship."
What convinced Georgia to offer aid to Bailey was a booming leg that
convinced his high school coach to let him attempt at least nine field
goals from 50 or more yards during his senior year.
Bailey's leg is so powerful that Georgia's coaches expected him to
immediately win the kickoff job and play as a true freshman. However, he
struggled with accuracy and consistency and never got on the field. He
is still struggling with his kickoffs, but he predicts that might change
"I was just all about field goals," he said. "Now that my
level is so high, I can work on kickoff a little more."
Bailey said he'd feel confident hitting a field goal from 55 yards
during a game.
"On a good day, maybe back it up a little bit," he said.
Said Johnson: "He's always had a strong leg, that's never been a
question. It's just a matter of him hitting it like he can."
While Bailey is comfortable he can hit from 50-plus yards, he doesn't
want to trot on the Sanford Stadium field for his first kick and be
staring at a long field goal try.
"I'd love to a have a little chip-shot extra point first just to
my nerves," he said. "I know I'm going to be nervous, that's