- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
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Editor’s note: Each day between now and Georgia’s Capital One Bowl date with Nebraska, we will review the season for a key Bulldogs player and attempt to project what’s next. Today we’ll look at kicker Marshall Morgan.
No. 13 Marshall Morgan
8-for-13 FGs, 58-for-62 PATs
Role in 2012: Morgan took over field-goal and PAT duties and held on to both jobs throughout an up-and-down true freshman season.
The good: The freshman hit a couple of clutch field goals leading into halftime -- a 50-yarder against Tennessee that tied the score at 30 and a bank shot off the upright to give the Bulldogs a 16-14 halftime lead against Kentucky -- and showed off more than enough kicking power to become a weapon for Georgia. Morgan also overcame early hiccups converting PATs (he missed four of his first 33) by hitting his last 29 in a row.
The bad: While the tools are obviously there, Morgan has not developed the consistency required of a great college kicker. He made only two of his last six field-goal tries -- the misses were from 50, 51, 47 and 37 yards -- and ranked among the SEC’s most inaccurate kickers. Even some of his successful kicks were adventures, as he developed a habit of banking kicks off the left upright and still clearing the crossbar.
Crystal ball: By no means is it unusual for a freshman kicker to experience growing pains when he takes the field before 92,000 people for the first time. Morgan certainly had his high and low moments, but Georgia’s coaches never took him off field goals and PATs. His predecessor, Blair Walsh, experienced similar struggles as a freshman before bouncing back to rank among the nation’s top kickers as a sophomore and junior. It would not be shocking to see Morgan follow Walsh’s lead.
2dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough