Boom or Bust

Boom or Bust

ATHENS - It's been boom or bust on Georgia on its punt team this year.

Collin Barber ranks second in the SEC at 46.8 yards per punt, but it's the two punt blocks that opponents have turned into touchdowns that are cause for concern.

"It's disappointing because as we've talked in that unit, we're letting the rest of the team down," said assistant coach John Lilly, who oversees the Georgia punting game. "All those guys are fighting too hard in everything they do for us to have a hiccup there and lose a game or get in an overtime game because of it."

Georgia's had two punts blocked in five games.

The rest of the other 13 teams in the SEC have had one punt blocked. That was Tennessee against Western Kentucky.

Tennessee blocked Barber's punt Saturday when Quayvon Hicks missed a block on Jalen Reeves-Maybin in Georgia's three man "shield" protection.

"There's a lot more to it then that," said Lilly, who mentioned injuries have taken away some players on the unit. "There's a lot of things that woulda, coulda, shoulda happened, but at the end of the day, it's my job to make sure they do happen."

Lilly said miscommunication wasn't an issue on that play, but tight end Arthur Lynch chalked it up to that in a hostile environment.

"We just didn't communicate in the shield," Lynch said. "Lucas Redd looked at me and he was like `I had to read your lips.' You just can't have those type of setbacks."

Coach Mark Richt said the good that the punt team has done will keep him from blowing up what they're doing. Richt said the first punt block of the season against North Texas was a scheme issue about who to block that's "squared away" and the latest one was simply an execution issue.

The scout team tested the punt unit this week "blasting into that shield," Richt said.

"We've made more impact plays this year on the punt team than we have in the six years I've been here," said Lilly, whose unit was tops in the nation in net punting in 2009 at 41.95. "We've forced two turnovers, we got a successful fake and then you give up the big plays and it is disappointing. If you can throw out, the two catastrophes, we're up in the top five in America in net punting."

Bennett return likely for Florida; Gurley still in doubt for Missouri

Georgia could get an offensive boost for its Nov. 2 game against Florida.

Wide receiver Michael Bennett looks on track to return then after undergoing arthroscopic surgery this week.

"My best guess, I'm not a doctor or anything, but just from what I'm hearing, my best guess is he's got a really good shot of the Florida game," Richt said. "The scope they cleaned up the meniscus rather than having to repair it and they trimmed it up."

That would mean Bennett would be out just two games

Meanwhile, top tailback Todd Gurley did some straight-ahead running on Wednesday to test his sprained ankle, Richt said, but he did not take practice reps and still would be considered doubtful.

"He did OK, but he's not ready to practice right now," said Richt, who got an update from director of sports medicine Ron Courson.

Richt isn't ruling Gurley out for the game in case he shows big improvement later this week.

"I'm not going to count him out because he is progressing, he is getting better," Richt said. "He's rehabbing, he's getting better, but not good enough to practice."

It's possible Georgia would play freshman A.J. Turman Saturday for the first time this season, which would take away his redshirting.

"I think he'd be all for it," Richt said. "The other coaches have been talking to him the last few weeks and he seems to be excited about getting reps with the ones and twos or whatever reps he's getting right now."

Tibbs' time

Redshirt freshman receiver Blake Tibbs has yet to play a snap for Georgia, but he's now part of the back end of the rotation after injuries last Saturday to Justin Scott-Wesley and Bennett.

Coaches have waited on Tibbs, 6-foot-2 and 179 pounds from Lithonia, to become more dependable.

"He made a lot of progress in the fall in camp, but we had some numbers, we had some other guys that we felt were in a better position to make that top six or seven," Richt said. "He was moving in the right direction and now with some of the injuries, his opportunity is here."

Also moving up are walk-ons Michael Erdman and Kenneth Towns.

Richt is satisfied all things considered with the receivers in practice this week.

"They're doing fine," Richt said. "I'm pleased with their assignments. They don't look lost. It's not like we're starting from scratch with Erdman and Tibbs. Tibbs has (practiced) a lot of flanker and Erdman has played a good bit at different positions. I think they're going to know what to do, which is where you start."

Richt said it's not like grabbing two true freshmen that expected to be redshirted because they've been prepared by receivers coach Tony Ball all along.

This and that

Fullback Quayvon Hicks returned to practice after missing two days with a knee and ankle injury.

Richt said that punter Collin Barber (concussion) was feeling better and may be able to play Saturday.

Reggie Davis will continue to return kicks, Richt said. Sheldon Dawson and J.J. Green are also getting work there. Davis is averaging 17.2 yards per return. "When he had a chance to return it he stuck it up in there and that's what you've got to be able to do," assistant coach Tony Ball said last week before the Tennessee game. "And he protected the ball. He did everything that is needed for that position."

DawgPost.com Recommended Stories


Up Next


Tweets