It‚Äôs been boom or bust for Georgia on its punt team this year.
Collin Barber ranks second in the SEC at 46.8 yards per punt, but it‚Äôs the two punt blocks that opponents have turned into touchdowns that are cause for concern.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs disappointing because as we‚Äôve talked in that unit, we‚Äôre letting the rest of the team down,‚Äù said assistant coach John Lilly, who oversees the Georgia punting game. ‚ÄúAll those guys are fighting too hard in everything they do for us to have a hiccup there and lose a game or get in an overtime game because of it.‚Äù
Georgia‚Äôs had two punts blocked in five games.
The rest of the other 13 teams in the SEC have had one punt blocked. That was Tennessee against Western Kentucky.
Tennessee blocked Barber‚Äôs punt Saturday when Quayvon Hicks missed a block on Jalen Reeves-Maybin in Georgia‚Äôs three man ‚Äúshield‚Äù protection.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs a lot more to it then that,‚Äù said Lilly, who mentioned injuries have taken away some players on the unit. ‚ÄúThere‚Äôs a lot of things that woulda, coulda, shoulda happened, but at the end of the day, it‚Äôs my job to make sure they do happen.‚Äù
Lilly said miscommunication wasn‚Äôt an issue on that play, but tight end Arthur Lynch chalked it up to that in a hostile environment.
‚ÄúWe just didn‚Äôt communicate in the shield,‚Äù Lynch said. ‚ÄúLucas Redd looked at me and he was like, ‚ÄòI had to read your lips.‚Äô You just can‚Äôt have those type of setbacks.‚Äù
Coach Mark Richt said the good that the punt team has done will keep him from blowing up what they‚Äôre doing. Richt said the first punt block of the season against North Texas was a scheme issue about who to block that‚Äôs ‚Äúsquared away‚Äù and the latest one was simply an execution issue.
The scout team tested the punt unit this week ‚Äúblasting into that shield,‚Äù Richt said.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôve made more impact plays this year on the punt team than we have in the six years I‚Äôve been here,‚Äù said Lilly, whose unit was tops in the nation in net punting in 2009 at 41.95. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôve forced two turnovers, we got a successful fake and then you give up the big plays and it is disappointing. If you can throw out the two catastrophes, we‚Äôre up in the top five in America in net punting.‚Äù