Kevin Butler’s Players of the Game: Georgia-Florida

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Kevin Butler’s Players of the Game: Georgia-Florida

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. And this season Butler has added a new category to his superlative awards, “The Kicker” (Unsung Contributor to the Game). Here are Butler’s selections and reasons why for the Bulldogs’ 24-17 win over Florida Saturday.

Compiled by Murray Poole

Lawrence Cager (15),
Fourth-quarter Georgia-Florida game,
Saturday, November 2, 2019
Lawrence Cager (15),
Fourth-quarter Georgia-Florida game,
Saturday, November 2, 2019

OFFENSE

The combination of Georgia junior quarterback Jake Fromm and senior grad wide receiver Lawrence Cager, who led the Bulldogs to the stirring win over the 6th-ranked Florida Gators. Fromm riddled the Gator secondary for 279 yards and two touchdowns while completing 20 of his 30 pass attempts. Cager, returning from a shoulder injury, turned in career highs of seven catches for 132 yards including a 52-yard touchdown pass from Fromm. He also pulled in a two-point PAT pass.

“The combination of Jake Fromm and Lawrence Cager was simply just too much for the Mullen-led Gators,” said Butler. “For two weeks Dan Mullen and the Gators trolled UGA and once again ‘Gomer’ and his team could not deliver what they promised. The main reason was Fromm and Cager were in sync with each other at every key moment in the game. Cager kept the Dawgs alive with key third-down receptions in each quarter, which enabled Fromm to pick apart the Gators’ defense. Fromm even used his tight ends Saturday but no one was more electric than Cager. Fromm went 12-18 on third-down conversions against the Gators to bring the offense’s conversion rate to 47 percent on the year, which is strong. When UGA has a duo like Fromm-Cager that will put a lot of defenses in danger! Go, you great Dawg Duo!”

Jordan Davis (99), Tyler Clark (52), Azeez Ojulari (13),
First-Quarter, Georgia-Florida game,
Saturday, November 2, 2019
Jordan Davis (99), Tyler Clark (52), Azeez Ojulari (13),
First-Quarter, Georgia-Florida game,
Saturday, November 2, 2019

DEFENSE

The Bulldogs’ defensive front of Devonte Wyatt, Malik Herring, Azeez Ojulari, Travon Walker, Tyler Clark and Jordan Davis, who shut down the Florida running game to the tune of 21 net yards and held the Gators without a touchdown for three quarters while, at the same time, continuing to not allow an opposing running back to cross the goal line.

“The GREAT WALL OF DAWG is becoming a real factor in college football,” said Butler. “The WALL has not allowed a rushing TD in 8 games this year and that’s a Dawg record! When the defensive line is as dominating as the 2019 DL, opponents become one-dimensional and that plays into the UGA defensive philosophy. Big Jordan Davis showed the determination of this defensive line when he carried an offensive lineman, who by the way was holding Davis, into the QB for a sack in the first quarter. These Dawgs are bringing it every play and they are making the Dawg Nation excited to be backing this team in every stadium that we build the DAWG WALL! One down, 7 more to go!”

Rodrigo Blankenship (98) drives through a 31-yard FG to give the Dawgs a 3-0 lead during the first quarter of the Georgia-Florida game, Saturday, November 2, 2019
Rodrigo Blankenship (98) drives through a 31-yard FG to give the Dawgs a 3-0 lead during the first quarter of the Georgia-Florida game, Saturday, November 2, 2019

SPECIAL TEAMS

Senior place-kicker Rodrigo Blankenship, who was perfect on field goals of 31, 37 and 27 yards and also booted five kickoffs out of the end zone for touchbacks.

“The Rodrigo Machine-O!” said Butler. “Not only is he great on the field, he is also a Campbell Award recipient, which is the student-athlete Heisman Trophy award. It’s a well-deserved honor as is the Special Teams Player of the week this week. Rod’s performance included 3-for-3 on important field goals, helping the Dawgs to an early lead that they would never relinquish. Each time the Dawgs crossed midfield Rod came into play and he was successful each time the Dawgs needed a score. As any kicker experiences, there are ups and downs in any season but a kicker is defined by how they handle the next kick, and we are grateful to have Rodrigo coming through for the Dawgs … when it counts, and everything counts moving forward!”

THE KICKER 

The Georgia fan base, which again stepped up Saturday at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville by being vocal throughout the game and spurring the Bulldogs to their third consecutive win over the Gators.

“Playoff mentality is a strong mindset to have when things are in a state of MUST,” said Butler. “And MUST WIN is what we are IN! Not only do the players know that, but the fans believe that if they come, so will a WIN! Our fans once again showed up and showed out. The Georgia fans lasted until the end of the game and for the third year in a row, the Gators were first to go … out of the stadium! Our Bulldogs respond to our fans being in the house with them and as long as the fans believe, the Dawgs will achieve … a Win!!!”

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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.