Kevin Butler, former University of Georgia legendary kicker and a member of the Georgia radio broadcast team, will each week during the 2016 football season select his offensive, defensive and special teams players of the week for Bulldawg Illustrated. Here are Butler’s selections and reasons why for the Bulldogs’ 13-7 upset win of No. 8-ranked Auburn on Saturday.
Compiled By Murray Poole
Freshman wide receiver Riley Ridley, who caught three passes for 89 yards, including a big 57-yard reception from quarterback Jacob Eason, and also had a 14-yard run from scrimmage on a reverse.
“Riley had a breakout game against Auburn with 3 catches for 89 yards,” said Butler. “He had his 57- yard reception in the first quarter down to the Auburn 15-yard line; unfortunately, UGA did not capitalize on Riley’s catch but the freshman kept making his presence felt with his receptions and threat that he is. This is a position that has been in question since the beginning of the season and with Riley’s performance against Auburn, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. Keep it up, RR!”
Graduate transfer Maurice Smith, whose 34-yard interception return for a touchdown on Auburn’s opening possession of the third quarter gave Georgia a 7-7 tie and completely flipped the game’s momentum to the Bulldogs and enabled them to dominate the entire second half.
“When you talk about great transfers, transferring money into your bank account is good, transferring from one plane to another to get to Hawaii is great, but the best transfer I can think of is Maurice Smith coming to Georgia,” said Butler. “The senior DB made the biggest play of the day with a 34-yard interception for a TD, the only one of the day for the Bulldogs. MS also had 3 tackles to go along with the INT as the defense dominated the high-powered Auburn offense. The senior DB is the leader of the defense and brings great experience to the Bulldogs from his days at Alabama. He has been to the mountain and is doing a great job of showing the Bulldogs the way to the top of that championship mountain.”
Freshman place-kicker Rodrigo Blankenship, who booted field goals of 45 and 21 yards in the final quarter to provide the Bulldogs the margin of victory in the 13-7 win; Junior cornerback Malkom Parrish, who rendered excellent punt coverage including catching a Brice Ramsey punt to down the ball at Auburn’s 2-yard line, and freshman defensive back Tyrique McGhee, who also provided excellent kick coverage and tackled Auburn kick returner Kerryon Johnson back at his own 14-yard line on the Bulldogs’ ensuing kickoff following Blankenship’s final field goal.
“The special this week is the triple threat,” said Butler. “For the first time this season the special teams HELPED the Dawgs win in all areas. Rodrigo Blankenship came through with 2 of 3 FG’s which was the difference in the game. Wild Thing keeps making the fat lady sing. Malkom Parrish not only is playing at a high level on defense but his play on punt coverage was instrumental in keeping the field position on UGA’s side with the catch inside the 5-yard line of a Brice Ramsey punt. Tyrique McGhee rounds out my triple threat for the special teams with a key tackle on the last kickoff at the 14-yard line. His effort on special teams play is what is needed to help UGA win games. Keep it up SPT.”