It’s rare for a kicker to be one of the more popular players on a football team, but such is the case with Georgia placekicker Rodrigo Blankenship who is known as “Hot Rod.” The fifth-year senior has won the hearts and minds of Dawg fans everywhere. And that makes it especially tough when a player like Blankenship doesn’t have his best day on the football field, which is what happened in Georgia’s 20-17 loss to South Carolina on Saturday.
In an uncomfortable post-game interview, Blankenship said that he felt like he didn’t do his job on Saturday after missing a game-tying 37-yard field goal in overtime. He also had a 53-yard field goal blocked right before half-time. Both failed attempts were his first of 2019 as Blankenship had been a perfect 11-for-11 heading into the game with South Carolina on Saturday.
A few hours later, UGA Special Teams posted a statement from Hot Rod on Twitter:
Rodrigo Blankenship postgame. pic.twitter.com/jQRZYlKzlB— UGA Special Teams (@UGASpecialTeams) October 13, 2019
But to be fair, the loss had more to do with the four turnovers that the Bulldogs committed on Saturday more than the missed field goal attempt in overtime. It was the first thing that Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart alluded to in his opening statement in his post-game press conference.
“Four turnovers. You can’t beat anybody when you lose the turnover margin four to zero…,” said Kirby
And again just a short time later when discussing Jake Fromm.
“…You can’t go 4-and-0 in turnover margin and expect to win a game. It just doesn’t happen…,” said Kirby
If you couldn’t tell, Kirby’s biggest disappointment was in the turnovers, which is how he answered the question as to what his biggest disappointment of the Georgia-South Carolina game was.
“It was turnovers, without a doubt. We turned the ball over four times and got none. When you get the ball from the other team four teams, one of them scores, when a team scores on defense it’s like a 90 percent chance they’re going to win, and we still almost overcame that. But you can’t turn the ball over four times and win,” said Kirby. “There’s a lot of things we can clean up. There’s a lot of things we can get better at as coaches, and we’re going to do that … but to turn the ball over and not get any back. We get two back, it cancels some of that out.”
But Kirby did address Rodrigo Blankenship and this was his message to his kicker.
“Oh man, the guy has made so many big field goals … he’s got to go back to work. We’ll continue to show confidence in Hot Rod, he’s a worker, we believe in him, he’s meant so much to us, he’s given us so much,” said Kirby. “But it’s tough. Their kicker missed one, too. It’s tough. But in that environment, you’ve got to be able to make those field goals. Rod knows that. We support him, we love him; there’s other games we wouldn’t have won without him.”
South Carolina Head Coach even complimented Rodrigo Blankenship in his opening statement of the post-game press conference.
“That was a great college football game, and you hate for anyone to lose in that situation, especially the way it happened. Rodrigo Blankenship has been and is an unbelievable representative of the University of Georgia, and kicker, and my heart goes out to him in losing in that fashion,” said Muschamp. “He’s an outstanding young man, and he’s about all the right things in college athletics.”
You can listen to Rodrigo Blankenship’s post-game interview by clicking on the YouTube video below.
On the atmosphere at Sanford Stadium…
“I mean, Dawg Nation is amazing. They’ve been with us every step of the way. They’re so incredibly supportive of us, and they really came alive for us and helped us out there in crunch time there at the end.”
On what was going through his mind before the final kick…
“There wasn’t anything different going through my mind from when I’ve stepped onto the field before. I was just trying to go out, do my job and execute for the team.”