The Bulldogs learned in their game against Nicholls State that the team as a whole has a lot of room for improvement, but special teams are one group that must get better fast.
The Bulldogs special teams struggled in week one, and those struggles continued well into week two.
Although the Bulldogs special teams had a few positives this week, the negatives far outweighed the positives.
Starting with the positives, the Bulldogs got consistent play out of their kickoff specialist Rodrigo Blankenship, who forced a touchback on four of the Bulldogs six kickoffs. Kirby Smart stated earlier in the week that, that’s what he was looking for out of whichever player would handle kickoffs and Blankenship delivered.
Marshall Long also had a great day punting the football for the Bulldogs. He punted the ball three times and was able to pin the Nicholl’s State Colonels within their own 20 on two of those punts.
Isaiah McKenzie had some success as well, as he had a fantastic 55-yard punt return which led to three vital points that could have been the difference between a win and a loss. However, McKenzie also struggled on a punt return, which was just a small part of the Bulldogs special teams issues.
McKenzie did highlight one of the Bulldogs special teams negatives when he fumbled a punt, and the Colonels were able to turn that fumble recovery into seven points.
The negatives also occurred on the Bulldogs punt coverage unit where for the second week in a row they tackled a return man, who called for a fair catch and this resulted in a 15-yard penalty.
William Ham had a solid day kicking but missed his longest kick of the day, which was a 52-yard field goal that he sailed wide left. He went on to make his next two field goals, but they were about as long as an extra point and did not help resolve the issue the Bulldogs have at place kicker.
The special teams unit cost the Bulldogs 10 points in a game that was much closer than it should have been. If the Bulldogs do not address these issues soon, then these points will be lost in other games and eventually come back to haunt them and cost them a win.