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Blog: Richt: Special teams play `getting a bad rap’

Mark Richt jotted down some facts this week about Georgia‚Äôs special teams that he didn’t bring with him to his weekly lunchtime news conference today to preview the South Carolina game.

Turns out the Georgia coach didn’t need the list.

“I want to say something about special teams,” Richt said when someone posed a question about keeping the team upbeat when the special teams are “struggling.”

Richt mentioned that Georgia has blocked two punts, stopped a fake punt, had “excellent” kickoff coverage and punting that Richt is pleased with despite Georgia ranking 13th in the SEC in net punting. He said opponent’s punt return yardage has been held in check the last four games.

“I think the special teams as a whole are getting a bad rap,” he said. “Overall it’s been pretty solid. There’s a few things that stick out that make you feel like everything in the special teams is going wrong. We’ve got six different units, and the majority of the units have done, I think, pretty well.”

Georgia had trouble fielding punts with Malcolm Mitchell, prompting Richt to replace him with Rhett McGowan.

Richt talked about the positives that include Todd Gurley’s 100-yard kickoff return.

“We’re not allowing big returns,” Richt said. “We’re punting the ball high, we’re getting guys under it. We’re getting a lot of fair catches, which is outstanding. We’ve made all but one field goal, two over 50. I know our extra points have been an adventure, no doubt, we’ve got to get better at that. Kickoff return actually has been pretty solid other than the one kick where the ball ended up on the one-yard line (againstTennessee), but other than that we’ve fielded it pretty well.”

Freshman Marshall Morgan is 27 of 30 on extra points this season and has made three when the ball caromed off the upright. Richt hasn’t turned to Jamie Lindley on point afters, he said, because he hasn’t been “Mr. Automatic” either in practice.

“We have a young kicker, we have young guys on all of our special teams,” said cornerback Sanders Commings, on the punt coverage team. “They’re trying to develop into better players. It’s not a problem. That’s why we practice. I’m sure we’ll fix all that stuff in practice this week.”

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