Kevin Butler’s Players of the Game: UGA vs. Tennessee

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Kevin Butler’s Players of the Game: UGA vs. Tennessee

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’ 43-14 win over Tennessee Saturday.

Compiled by Murray Poole 

Kevin Butler
Kevin Butler

OFFENSE

Junior tailback D’Andre Swift, who rushed for 72 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown and also caught four passes for 72 more yards including a 44-yard reception from Jake Fromm.

“Let’s get this straight, I could give the award to Jake Fromm every week but without someone else stepping up each week, things might not go as we hope for in Dawg Nation,” said Butler. “This week D’Andre Swift produced twice as much, using both the air and the ground. Rushing for 72 yards on a tough Vols defense was not enough for Swift as he matched the 72 yards on the ground with 72 yards receiving for a total of 144 all-purpose yards. That kind of performance makes Georgia a very tough offense for any opponent to defend. As the game got deeper into the second half, D’Andre took control as only he can with powerful running and crafty moves after receiving the ball from Captain Fromm. One thing that might not be noticed by the Bulldog Nation is the leadership role that D’Andre has embraced. After Swift’s 1-yard TD run in the first quarter, his focus turned to the sideline where he encouraged the team to keep plugging away and stay the course and that they did! D’Andre is a special player with special talents and he’s a damn good Dawg!”

Azeez Ojulari (13), 
Georgia vs. Tennessee - Third Quarter, 
Saturday, October 05, 2019
Azeez Ojulari (13),
Georgia vs. Tennessee – Third Quarter,
Saturday, October 05, 2019

DEFENSE

Redshirt freshman outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari, who recorded three tackles including two sacks of Tennessee quarterback Brian Maurer, to pace a Bulldog defensive performance that shut out the Volunteers in the second half.

“The redshirt freshman from Marietta High School continues to develop into a force for this young Georgia defense,” said Butler. “Azeez’s presence on the field looks like that of a seasoned veteran and he moves like a Velociraptor. He seems excited to be playing and sometimes that is the key to success … having FUN! Having fun comes from confidence in yourself and Azeez is performing at a higher level each week. That is what is expected from the younger players on defense in Coach Smart’s view —progress! Azeez is making tremendous progress and it showed Saturday with two sacks for a loss of 12 yards and three tackles. Sacks are great and when they come at the right time they can change the flow of the game. Look for more impact plays from Azeez as the season moves forward.”

Rodrigo Blankenship (98),
Georgia vs. Tennessee - Fourth Quarter, 
Saturday, October 05, 2019
Rodrigo Blankenship (98),
Georgia vs. Tennessee – Fourth Quarter,
Saturday, October 05, 2019

SPECIAL TEAMS

Senior place-kicker Rodrigo Blankenship, who remained perfect on field goals this season with kicks of 50, 34 and 27 yards and also on extra points for his entire career.

“The most popular Dawg made another great impression on the world of college football with a perfect performance against the ugly orange hillbilly hound,” said Butler. “Staying perfect on field goals for the season is always the goal of a place-kicker but most of the time, that does not happen. Rodrigo and perfection are starting to sound pretty good together. He is 11-for-11 on field goals and perfect on extra points for his UGA career. His 13 points provided a nice cushion for the Bulldogs to control the Volunteers and his kickoffs were again a weapon. Rod’s confidence is at an all-time high and you can see it as he makes his way onto the field. When an offense can count on their kicker every time they cross the 40-yard line … well, let’s just say it will take a toll on the defense. Whether it’s 3 or 7, it’s points for the Dawgs! Rod is a kicking God!”

THE KICKER

The Bulldog players themselves, who have found the motivation and focus to become the first UGA team in the program’s history to win the first five games of the season for three consecutive years!

“The Kicker this week comes from inside the locker room,” said Butler. “As this team competes at a higher level each week it needs to find motivation from within. Being the first Georgia team ever in history to win five games to start the season for three seasons in a row is a huge internal win that keeps this team focused. Individual accomplishments are great but great teams are defined by accomplishments that take the whole team to accomplish, not just one individual. It’s a start to accomplishing great things as a team but the one this team wants, it’s called a National Championship and they’re one step closer!”

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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.