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’ 41-13 win over Vanderbilt Saturday.
OFFENSE Sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm, who completed 17-of-23 passes for a season-high 276 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Georgia offense to 560 total yards against the Vandy defense.
“When all you hear about is ‘how the Dawgs won ugly,’ don’t forget that our QB is looking pretty damn good,” said Butler. “Being undefeated after six games does not happen by chance. A team has to have a leader and Jake Fromm continues to lead by his performance on the field each week. Throwing for 276 yards on 17/23 attempts and collecting three TD passes, one for 75 yards, Jake provided the Dawgs with the firepower they needed to down the Commodores. Jake has been efficient this year with a very young offense and an O-line that seems to change faces weekly due to injuries. Jake recognizes his role but as he keeps developing as a quarterback, the Georgia offense might be one of the most explosive groups ever between the hedges. Jake is the Man!”
DEFENSE Sophomore safety Richard LeCounte, who led the Georgia defense with six solo tackles, a pass breakup and a forced fumble as the Bulldogs ‘ starters limited Vanderbilt to two field goals and just 321 yards of total offense.
“The sophomore safety is starting to become a force on defense,” said Butler. “Richard has been publicly challenged by Coach Smart to be a better player on and off the field. The reason Coach Smart challenges him is because he knows how good Richard can be and wants him to be that player. Saturday was a great example of how good he can be for the Bulldog Nation. The physical safety had 6 solo tackles, a breakup and a forced fumble that turned into points for the Dawgs. The Dawgs are playing a young secondary this year and Richard is playing well and him being a leader will help the Dawgs improve each week as we go deeper into the SEC.”
SPECIAL TEAMS Junior placekicker Rodrigo Blankenship, who set a new school record for consecutive extra points and also drilled field goals of 53 and 28 yards while booting seven more touchbacks to give the Commodores poor starting position.
“His ‘NEW’ nickname might have to be the ‘ROCK”’ because Rodrigo is rock solid!” said Butler. “RB seems to be getting stronger as the year moves along. His kickoffs have become a weapon and he set a new consecutive extra point streak, breaking Blair Walsh’s record of 119. His field goal performance speaks for itself. Currently 9 of 11 this year, Rod made kicks of 28 and 53 yards, giving him 3-out-of-4 toys from over 50 yards in his career. Heading down to the bayou, the Dawgs will need Rod at his best and right now that is what he is … the best!”
UNSUNG CONTRIBUTOR TO THE GAME
The Redcoat Alumni Band, which always enhances UGA Homecoming with its presence and outstanding performance.
“Homecoming is a special time at the University of Georgia and when all the alumni come back it creates an unbelievable atmosphere in and around campus,” said Butler. “That special feeling certainly helps the Dawgs play at a higher level. At halftime, the Alumni Band performed a great piece and had great Bulldogs from the class of 1950 through the class of 2017. That is a great mix of Dawg emotion that is felt by the players and when they hit the field in the 3rd quarter the Dawgs used that energy to sink the Vandy ship. We are a great Dawg Nation and our Redcoat Alumni Band makes it fun to be a DAWG!”