Friday, December 11, 2009

In a Bad Season, Kickers Always Seem to Shine

Last night, Georgia punter Drew Butler won the Ray Guy Award given annually to the nation's best punter. His teammate, Blair Walsh, was also a finalist for the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation's best placekicker. Drew Butler certainly deserved this award, leading the nation with a 48.8 yards per punt average. Walsh made 19 of 21 field goals, including 10 of 11 from 40+ yards. While both had amazing seasons, this is the first time in recent memory that Georgia kickers have been recognized for their work. My question is, why does it seem to take a bad season to recognize the importance of these players to their team?

Georgia has a great tradition of kickers under coach Mark Richt. Our punters have traditionally ranked near the top of the SEC in yards per kick. Jonathan Kilgo, Gordon Ely-Kelso, and Brian Mimbs all enjoyed stellar careers for the Dawgs during times when the Dawgs were consistently ranked in the top ten in the country. The same goes for the kickers. Brandon Coutu consistently made long field goals look easy and was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks. Before Coutu, Billy Bennett was setting SEC records on his way to becoming the second leading scorer in NCAA history.

But up until Butler's win last night, a Georgia kicker had never been recognized nationally with an award. The winner of the Groza last night, Kai Forbath of UCLA, also played for a team that struggled this year. It seems the media is quick to recognize offensive players for their individual efforts, but when it comes to kickers, they need their team to be bad to give them an extra push.

Congratulations Drew Butler on a fantastic season! You certainly have done the Butler family name proud.

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