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’ 27-10 win over Auburn Saturday.
OFFENSE Sophomore tailback D’Andre Swift, who bested his career highs of the previous two weeks by rushing for 186 yards on 17 carries, including a 77-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that salted the game away for the Bulldogs. Swift also led the Georgia receivers with four catches for 43 yards.
“It seems to be a weekly appearance as the Offensive Player of the Game but the performance of D’Andre Swift cannot go without notice because the sophomore totaled 229 yards of offense in a dominating show of talent against Auburn,” said Butler. “The Auburn game, in my mind, is always the most physical match that UGA faces each year. The winner of the running game dictates the winner in this game, as it has for the last 10 games and UGA clearly won the battle Saturday. ‘Freedom,’ a.k.a. ‘Philadelphia Freedom’ is a pure pleasure to watch because of his explosive ability to break away from the defense, and his powerful slashing moves are just fun to watch.”
DEFENSE Sophomore cornerback Mark Webb, who rendered his finest game yet with the Bulldogs, recording six tackles for a Georgia defense that limited the Tigers to just 102 yards rushing and 172 passing.
“This is going to carry on the ‘Philadelphia Freedom’ theme to the defensive side of the ball with the emergence of Mark Webb,” said Butler. “The sophomore from Archbishop Wood in Pennsylvania chose the University of Georgia along with Swift and we are reaping the benefits from these two men. Mark came to UGA as a receiver and switched to DB mid-2017 and has come into his own in 2018. His performance Saturday included 6 tackles with 4 solos and tremendous coverage throughout the game. As the games get bigger his coverage and tackling ability will certainly be tested and I believe he will pass!”
SPECIAL TEAMS Redshirt freshman outside linebacker Robert Beal who led a Bulldog kickoff coverage team that nailed the Tiger return man inside the Auburn 20-yard line, on the only Rodrigo Blankenship kickoff that didn’t sail through the end zone.
“After UGA went up 13-10, the kickoff team finally made a statement with a fierce and controlled coverage led by Beal and a bone-crushing hit on the Auburn returner,” said Butler. “The ball came out and unfortunately UGA did not recover it but they sent a message to everyone that ‘we are covering every kick.’ The redshirt freshman is beginning to play at a higher level and is demonstrating that ability on the special teams and leading other players to his level. Limiting Auburn to the 17-yard line gave the defense the added pressure on the Auburn offense that only the special teams can provide. A big play after UGA’s touchdown could have given Auburn the spark they were looking for and the kickoff coverage team threw water on Auburn’s spark!”
UNSUNG CONTRIBUTOR TO THE GAME
The sellout Bulldog crowd, who were loud and proud, rocking Sanford Stadium from game start to finish to spur the Bulldogs on to the 17-point victory over ancient rival Auburn.
“The atmosphere and crowd!!” said Butler. “After being away for what seemed like two months, the Dawgs were back between the hedges and it could not have been a more electric atmosphere Saturday night in Athens. The Bulldog Nation was out in force with a few lost war-bird fans sprinkled around the best stadium in the country, Sanford Stadium. When the home crowd can cause a QB to call a timeout because they cannot hear, think or play, that is the unsung hero that makes a difference. I cannot express how damn important the fan’s excitement is to the players and in helping them reach down deep inside to try to make one more big play. Bulldog fans are the best and it makes a difference, the louder and prouder they get. DGD everyone of y’all!!”