Tag Archives: SEC Championship game

Special teams big for the ‘Dawgs

The Mark Richt tenure as the head coach at Georgia has been mired with many negative perceptions, including the head man on the hot seat, discipline issues galore and inconsistencies in big games.

One thing, however, has remained constant: blocked kicks.

UGA blocked kick Under Richt, the Bulldogs have blocked more than two kicks in a season five times, including setting the program record for a single season with nine (five punts, four field goals).

“They’ve got big guys and they really push you inside on field goals,” head coach Nick Saban said. “They’ve got some good guys to come off the edge. I think they always have good scheme against how they want to try to rush you.

“And they’ve got really good team speed. That’s always helpful when you have skill guys that you can put in position to try to get free to do those kinds of things.”

So far this season, the Bulldogs have blocked four kicks: two punts, one extra point and one field goal, and have converted on those blocks for nine points.

It’s the points after those blocked kicks that are a concern for Saban and the Tide.

“Those are the kinds of things in games like this that are very, very critical that you execute well,” Saban said. “Those are huge field position type things, getting kicks blocked and everything.”

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COLUMN: Black may be able to, but should not play

Is it February? No? Fine. But it definitely is August, right?

No?

Sorry, again. Normally, hype around unproven true freshmen like Chris Black only centers around signing day and the beginning of preseason camp.

Now, here we go again.

The leg injury to Kenny Bell that has likely ended his season has sent the Alabama coaching staff on yet another search for production at the wide receiver position, also losing DeAndrew White to a knee injury early in the season.

The crisis of sorts has forced the coaching staff to turn to Black, the Jacksonville native, as a possible player in the SEC Championship game, therefore ruining his redshirt season for one or two games.

Saban has said the following on Black and the status of the wide receivers group.

Fortunately or unfortunately, one of those guys that we lost is now ready to come back. He’s been practicing for three weeks now. Now he’s been cleared. So we’re going to try to get him some reps because we’re getting down to where we only have maybe five guys that have much experience at the position.

Now, excuse me if I am mistaken, but I’ve never seen a formation with more than five wide receivers on the field. Have you?

A look at the roster tells me that Alabama is fine at the wide receiver position, without Black.

Alabama still has two of its top three receivers in terms of yards: fellow Floridian freshman Amari Cooper with 767 yards and a team-high 45 catches, plus Kevin Norwood, who is second only to Cooper in receptions with 26 and has 395 yards out of it.

Behind Norwood in receiving yards is Christion Jones with 306. Beyond that is Cyrus Jones, who you have seen returning punts at times and catching four passes on the season.

Even more, we have yet to mention Danny Woodson, Jr., Marvin Shinn, or unheralded senior Nathan McAlister.

By my count, that’s seven wide receivers and for the most part, a maximum of four wide receiver spots on the field to fill. However, more often than not Alabama will trot out three wideouts (as the depth chart specifies), and conveniently, three of those seven names above (Chr. Jones, Cooper and Norwood) have more than 20 receptions and stand at Nos. 1, 2 and 4 on the team in catches.

With that type of talent and production at-the-ready, I see no reason to burn the redshirt on a player who, according to some, was one of the best players in a talent-rich recruiting class.

Although they are the two most important games of the season, being the only two in postseason play, are those two games worthy of throwing away an entire year of eligibility for a potential stand-out wide receiver for only two games, especially when the current recruiting class only has one true wide receiver (Raheem Falkins) and the 2015 and possibly ‘16 teams could really use another playmaker at the position?