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’ 27-24 win over Kentucky Saturday night.
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Junior tailback Sony Michel, who ran for 127 yards on 19 carries, including a sterling 26-yard touchdown run in the final quarter to lift the Bulldogs into a 22-21 lead at the time.
“What an effort from Sony against Kentucky,” said Butler. “The junior tailback seemed to take the team on his back on the final drive with runs of 13, 2 and 7 yards to set up the winning field goal. Sony’s performance led the team with 147 total yards in a tough SEC East battle. The last month has been frustrating for the Georgia football team but with the running game in gear, Sony showed his speed and determination with a hard fought TD run and then the final run to set up the “Wild Thing” to nail the field goal. We need Sony this week in a big way.”
Freshman tackle Julian Rochester (6-5, 327) had a career high eight tackles including a quarterback sack to share team-high honors with linebacker Reggie Carter as the Georgia defense limited Kentucky’s potent running game to 186 yards.
“The freshman defensive tackle from McEachern High School had his best game of the year, at the best possible time,” said Butler. “Georgia’s defense has been the most consistent part of the team but an SEC season can wear any defense down. JR’s performance brings added talent to an already talented, but young, defense. Eight tackles and a sack led the team against the run-oriented Cats. As he gets stronger the nation will try and figure out ‘Who can stop JR?’ There won’t be many that will be able to.”
Freshman place-kicker Rodrigo Blankenship, who was perfect on field goal kicks of 25, 42, 49 (career long) and 25 yards, with the final one coming on the last play of the game and giving the Bulldogs their thrilling win over the Wildcats in Lexington. Blankenship has now drilled eight consecutive field goal attempts and nine-of-10 kicks on the season.
“WILD THING, you made the FAT LADY sing!” said Butler. “What a great game for Rod. Making his last eight field goals in a row has been a great addition to the offense. One of the biggest problem areas for UGA the first half of the season now is the strongest part of the offense. The Wild Thing had a tremendous game with four FG’s of 25, 42, 49 and the 25-yarder to win the game. Rod has been pushed by William Hamm in practice every day and that develops confidence. Rod has it right now and that is important heading into Auburn. Go Rod!”