Kevin Butler, former University of Georgia legendary kicker and a member of the Georgia radio broadcast team, will each week during the 2017 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’ 20-19 win over Notre Dame Saturday night in South Bend, Indiana.
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Senior tailbacks Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, who rushed for 73 and 63 yards respectively to enable the Georgia ground attack to total 185 yards against the Irish defense. Michel also tallied the Bulldogs’ second touchdown on a 6-yard run.
“Sony Chubb”—That’s right!” said Butler. “This week’s player of the game is a first in NCAA history. A Georgia hybrid that produced a combined 136 yards on 26 carries created a fearless ground attack that brought down Notre Dame in the end. This combination that the Dawg Nation considers the best running attack in the nation established a ground game that was critical to starting the season 2-0 and winning at historical Notre Dame. This new hybrid back fueled a huge Georgia crowd that dominated the stadium and helped the Bulldogs accomplish their goal. Our new hybrid running back, “Sony Chubb,” will prove why the Bulldogs are a force to be reckoned with”
Sophomore cornerback J.R. Reed, who paced the Bulldogs’ sterling defensive effort with a team-leading nine tackles including one tackle-for-loss. Behind the play of Reed, Lorenzo Carter, Davin Bellamy and Roquan Smith, the Georgia defense limited Notre Dame to one lone touchdown and just 55 yards net rushing.
“First let me say the entire defense played fabulous,” said Butler. “But the one player that stood out to me was J.R. Reed, the sophomore defensive back. Nine total tackles and domination both in the air and on the ground. With so much focus on the Georgia front line and linebackers, the defensive backfield for Georgia is very strong and J.R. exemplifies the combo threat that the defensive backs offer. His key stop in the fourth quarter on a third down conversion pushed the Bulldogs into a position to win the game. Coach Smart has focused on getting a bigger, more physical secondary and J.R. is the prototype that can both cover and come up and be physical on the tackle. That type of play will give Georgia a chance to accomplish their goals once they get into conference play”
Sophomore place-kicker Rodrigo Blankenship, who booted field goals of 27 and 30 yards with his final 3-pointer coming with just 3:13 left in the fourth quarter and proving to be the game-winning points for the Bulldogs. Blankenship also booted both extra points and continued to give the Irish poor field position with his pinpoint kickoffs.
“Rodrigo Blankenship deserves a lot of credit for his hard work and determination,” said Butler. “His work ethic gave Georgia a lead with minutes left after converting a 30-yard field goal to put Georgia ahead 20-19 and it would not relinquish that lead. Not only did Rodrigo’s play help Georgia win but Coach Smart rewarded Rodrigo with a scholarship before the game on Friday, and it was well deserved! His 8-point performance was a key in Georgia’s win but his attitude and desire is really respected by his teammates. His hard work will continue as we will need his leg many more times this season to accomplish the goal of being SEC champions”
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