Kevin Butler, former Georgia legendary kicker and a member of the Georgia radio broadcast team, will each week during the 2018 football season select his offensive, defensive and special teams players of the week for Bulldawg Illustrated. And this season Butler has added a new category to his superlative awards, the Bulldogs’ Unsung Contributor to the Game. Here are Butler’s selections and reasons why for the Bulldogs’ 41-17 win over South Carolina Saturday.
OFFENSE: Senior center Lamont Gaillard, whose blocking and leadership paced a big performance by Georgia’s offensive line, which enabled the Bulldogs to run for 271 yards and pass for 202 more in the romp over the Gamecocks.
“The senior from Fayetteville, N.C. is a Georgia favorite and games like the South Carolina victory make it simple to love this man,” said Butler. “His leadership is so valuable to the young offensive line this year but his effort, physical play and determination teaches the other linemen how to play like a champion. Lamont, at 6-2, 308 pounds, is the ‘little’ lineman on the field but might be the strongest per pound on the field. Lamont showed his strength on Brian Herrien’s 15-yard TD in the third quarter by PANCAKING the defender to clear the way to the end zone. Impressive to say the least in this victory but Lamont needs to continue the keep the offensive line focused on the next challenge that lies ahead.”
DEFENSE: Sophomore safety Richard LeCounte, who led the Bulldogs with 10 total tackles as the Georgia defense shut down the South Carolina running game, limiting the Gamecocks to a net of 54 yards on the ground.
“When the defensive line does its job, which we needed them to do against USC, everybody else should make tackles and that’s what Richard did the best,” said Butler. “The sophomore almost equaled his amount of tackles for 2017 with 10 tackles Saturday in Columbia. RL III had 7 solo tackles and 3 assists and almost had a spectacular interception. Richard’s speed and athletic ability make him a force on the field and he will continue to develop into a great player and leader on defense.”
SPECIAL TEAMS: Junior place-kicker Rodrigo Blankenship, along with senior snapper Nick Moore and freshman holder Jake Camarda. The trio helped Blankenship continue his perfect kicking streak this season as he booted field goals of 45 and 44 yards, again was seven-of-seven on touchbacks and was true on his five extra point tries.
“Rodrigo is the man!” said Butler. “It would be easy to give Hot Rod the player of the week again but I am going to go in a different direction. Rod’s success depends on a tight threesome that perform their trade in 1.2 seconds. Nick Moore and Jake Camarda along with Rod are my Special Team Players of the Game. Rod picked up where he left off last year being perfect, but he has done that this year with a new team. Nick Moore is the new snapper and Jake Camarda is the new holder. The three amigos are doing a fantastic job. The 44 and 45-yard field goals were huge and it took these three men to make it happen. Keep it going through the uprights!”
UNSUNG CONTRIBUTOR TO THE GAME: Georgia head trainer Ron Courson (Senior Associate AD/Sports Medicine) whose staff did an outstanding job preparing the team both physically and mentally to cope with 90-plus degree temperatures for a second consecutive Saturday.
“On a day where the weather played an important role, the hidden jewel for Georgia was Ron Courson, head trainer, and his staff for not only prepping the team during the week for the heat but also maintaining their energy during the game,” said Butler. “This is not a duty that is taken lightly by anyone on the staff! Being the strongest in the fourth quarter helped the Bulldogs to overpower the Gamecocks and control the game. Great job Ron and staff! They are DGDs.”