Bulldogs aim to clean up special teams by using frontliners on coverage units

Georgia is working this week to fix its special teams issues for Saturday’s game against LSU after it gave up a 99-yard kickoff return for touchdown and had a punt blocked for a touchdown against North Texas.

Richard Hamm/Staff
Georgia kicker Marshall Morgan (13), Georgia linebacker Chase Vasser (33) and Georgia defensive back Quincy Mauger (20) miss a tackle on North Texas wide receiver Brelan Chancellor (3) as he runs a kick return in for a touchdown as Georgia takes on North Texas at Sanford Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, in Athens, Ga.

Coach Mark Richt said Georgia was fortunate that the breakdowns didn’t cost the team the game.

“If we can make decent corrections through us communicating better as coaches and also by making sure we have the right guys in the right spots, I think we can clean it up,” Richt said.

One answer appears to be adding more frontline players to coverage units.

“We want to get the best guys that can cover, no doubt,” Richt said. “We want to be careful about it, but you’ll probably see a little bit more of that.”

Trent Frix is competing with Nathan Theus for the long snapper job on punts after Theus had another high snap, coaches said. Frix replaced Theus in the game.

Kicker Marshall Morgan had only two of his seven kickoffs go for touchbacks.

Morgan said his goal now “is to kick it out of the end zone. I’m just going to try to kick it as deep as I can. I’m going to try and kick it deep with some hang time, too. I’m not going to just try a line drive so if he does catch it, he can’t take it. I don’t want him to take it back again.”

LSU is fourth in the SEC on kickoff returns with a 27.1-yard average. Odell Beckham already has a 75-yard return this season.

Asked about the 2011 Southeastern Conference title game loss to LSU, defensive lineman Garrison Smith brought up special teams breakdowns as a big factor.

“We held them down to low yards and just special teams killed us,” Smith said. “We can’t let little things like the kick return that happened against North Texas happen again. We have to clean up the bad snaps. Just small things like that will get you beat. We can’t let that happen again against LSU.”

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