Kevin Butler, former Georgia legendary kicker and a member of the Georgia radio broadcast team, will each week during the 2019 football season select his offensive, defensive and special teams players of the week for Bulldawg Illustrated as well as the Bulldogs’ “Kicker” (unsung hero) to the game. Here are Butler’s selections and reasons why for the Bulldogs’ 30-6 win over Vanderbilt Saturday.
Sophomore offensive guard Cade Mays, who teamed with his fellow linemen to pave the way for the Georgia running backs to rush for 325 yards against the Commodore defense.
“Cade could be the smartest lineman in the SEC after Tennessee’s butt whipping by Georgia State Saturday,” said Butler. “By Cade choosing UGA over Tennessee two years ago it’s paying off for the Dawgs. The advantage for lineman to commit to UGA is the overall development they will achieve under the guidance of Sam Pittman. Cade showed his ability to play different positions in the game against Vandy. He earned a starting role at guard and then played a few plays at tackle after an injury call for a change. As UGA gets deeper into the season the versatility of our linemen, such as Cade, will make a huge difference in the fourth quarter of games to come. Keep developing Cade. Great Start!”
Junior inside linebacker Monty Rice, who had seven tackles including four individual stops to lead a Bulldog defense that held the Commodores without a touchdown while limiting the Vanderbilt offense to just 116 yards rushing and 109 passing.
“The junior from Madison, Alabama is our new leader on defense in ‘My Georgia Mind,’” said Butler. “Monty played a very solid game at inside linebacker, leading the team in tackles with 7 total and 4 individual tackles. Vandy brought the best they had to offer in the second quarter, gaining 116 of their 225 yards, but Monty and the defense bent but did not break. After halftime, Monty and the Monsters took control of the game and limited Vandy to just 80 yards the rest of the game. Monty’s speed was in full vision as he tracked down any Vandy player that tried to get to the outside and, they did not because of Monty and his speed. UGA is a young defense and Monty will play a huge role in getting the Dawgs in the right position to make the right play.”
Senior place-kicker Rodrigo Blankenship, who booted field goals of 50, 37 and 31 yards in the second half to provide the Bulldogs’ only additional scoring after Georgia had tallied 21 points in the first half. Blankenship was also true on all three extra point attempts in the first half.
“I wouldn’t be me if I did not go with Rodrigo Blankenship,” said Butler. “A preseason All-American pick, Rodrigo proved his worth to the team with an impressive start to the season. Hot Rod went 3 for 3 on field goals starting with a 50-yard FG that showed his strength and distance capability and followed that kick up with two more FG’s of 37 and 31 yards. Consistency is the success that defines the life of a kicker. Short FGs make all the difference in games and it proved to be back-breaking for Vandy Saturday in ‘NashVegas.’ Rod is a weapon and he will win three games for the Dawgs this year sooooooo … stay focused Rod!”
The Georgia fan base which took over nearly 80 percent of Vanderbilt Stadium Saturday night, turning the stadium into a sea of red … even more so, percentage-wise, than Bulldog Nation did in the 2017 victory at Notre Dame.
“What made the difference in the game in NashVegas was the unbelievable fan base of UGA and how they love to travel,” said Butler. “Because of the great love the Dawgs’ fans have for their team, NashVegas turned into Athens north! The Dawg fans occupied 80 percent of the Commodores stadium, which provided the team with a much-needed home field advantage. The barking, the calls for Rodrigo and the newest call “Zeus, Zeus, Zeus” just makes you proud to be a DAWG! UGA has the best fans and the team will need them every game! Thank you Dawg Fans!”