Kevin Butler's Players of the Game

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Kevin Butler's Players of the Game

Kevin Butler - Rose Bowl, 1st quarter, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018 -
Kevin Butler

 
 
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’ 43-29 win over Missouri Saturday.
 
 
OFFENSE Junior wide receiver Riley Ridley, who led the Bulldogs’ receiving corps with five catches for 87 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown reception from Jake Fromm that ignited Georgia’s offensive wakeup in the second half.
 
“The junior from Coconut Creek, Florida is starting to really come into his own as a great wide receiver for the Georgia Bulldogs,” said Butler. “We saw flashes of greatness in the national championship game last year and Riley continues to develop each game as the go-to choice of Jake Fromm. Riley’s athletic ability, which is confirmed by his brother, gives him the opportunity to make catches like he did against Missouri. Saturday’s performance, five catches for 87 yards with a 33-yard touchdown catch, helped Georgia stay out in front of Missouri the whole game. As Georgia gets deeper into the SEC schedule Riley’s ability to make the big play will be showcased,
I guarantee you that!”
 
 
DEFENSE Redshirt freshman cornerback Eric Stokes, who filled in at Tyson Campbell’s position after Campbell left the game following his 64-yard fumble recovery run for a touchdown. Stokes not only blocked a second-quarter punt by Missouri and scored on the block from eight yards out but, also, recorded four tackles and three pass breakups from his corner spot.
 
“The redshirt freshman DB had a terrific game against one of the most potent passing attacks in the SEC,” said Butler. “Eric played at a high level on defense and special teams, combining those two positions with 4 solo tackles, 3 pass deflections, a blocked punt and a touchdown. That all coming from a freshman indicates that Georgia’s secondary will only get stronger as the challenges get greater. Eric’s physical play and his athletic ability make him my first-time two-position winner.”
 
 
SPECIAL TEAMS Redshirt freshman cornerback Eric Stokes, who made the big play for the Bulldogs’ special teams with his blocked punt and scoop-and-score against the Tigers.
 
“Eric Stokes II,” said Butler. “For the first time, I am naming a player the most valuable player on both defense and special teams because of the stellar performance of Eric Stokes. Let’s begin with the freshman’s ability as a ‘hold up’ blocker on punt returns. Consistently winning his battle and providing room for the returner, his speed and tenacity enabled Eric to block a punt, recover that blocked punt and score a touchdown off of that recovery at a key moment in the first half. In a game where the special teams play was less than acceptable, Eric Stokes was the brightest spot vs. Missouri.”
 
 
UNSUNG CONTRIBUTOR TO THE GAME
 
UGA director of football operations Josh Lee. “When Georgia has to travel it’s not an easy job to organize,” said Butler. “And when Georgia has to travel to a different time zone for an earlier game, things can get very hectic … if not for the cool calm organization of Josh Lee and his staff. Meetings come earlier, meals come earlier — everything happens faster on a shorter trip and ‘attention to detail’ is demanded by Coach Smart and his staff. Josh Lee and his staff help Georgia stay on course in order to perform at the highest level on the field. Great job Josh and staff for another road victory!”
 
 
 
 

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Murray Poole is a 1965 graduate of the University of Georgia Journalism School. He served as sports editor of The Brunswick News for 40 years and has written for Bulldawg Illustrated the past 16 years. He has covered the Georgia Bulldogs for 53 years.