Georgia Bulldogs: Derrick Brodus

Special teams a mixed bag for UGA

September, 29, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia’s special-teams units continued to both giveth and taketh away against Tennessee on Saturday.

[+] EnlargeMarshall Morgan
Radi Nabulsi/ESPN.comMarshall Morgan missed two extra points against Tennessee, but his 50-yard field goal at the end of the first half was a momentum boost for UGA.
A pair of botched kick returns directly contributed to the Bulldogs’ second-quarter meltdown -- when they let a 27-10 lead evaporate into a 30-27 deficit – as returners Todd Gurley and Malcolm Mitchell both made mistakes that forced Georgia to start drives at its own 1-yard line.

Plus, Georgia kicker Marshall Morgan missed two extra points, banking one off the left upright and getting another one blocked.

“It’s a little bit of a comedy of errors,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said of the Bulldogs’ struggles in the kicking game.

Mitchell failed to field a punt well away from the goal line and it rolled dead at Georgia’s 1, forcing an eventual Bulldogs punt that gave Tennessee great field position for its first touchdown drive.

That, plus a couple of similar poor decisions in previous games, has cost Mitchell the punt-return job for the time being.

“Malcolm certainly in my opinion could have come up on the one punt and just caught it, fair-catched it, but he let it hit and then he let it roll and before you know it, it’s on the 1-yard line,” Richt said.

“That’s tough. That’s a bad field-position situation, so we put Rhett McGowan in there. And as far as I’m concerned, Rhett’s the guy and I need him to make good decisions and come up and make the fair catch.”

After the Volunteers cut Georgia’s lead to 27-23, Gurley dribbled the kickoff near the corner of the end zone, stumbled out of bounds, then came back inbounds and touched the ball at the 1 to make it a dead ball. Four plays later, Keith Marshall fumbled at the Georgia 18, setting up another short touchdown drive that put the Vols up 30-27.

“Obviously we mishandled the one kickoff, but it was kind of a weird kick,” Richt said. “It was like a knuckleballer out there.”

It was not a completely disastrous day for Georgia’s special teams, however.

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