Bulldogs Blog

Blankenship's big day helps Georgia claim victory over Kentucky

By Jason Butt

jbutt@macon.com

Rodrigo Blakenship compares solid kicking to Clayton Kershaw's pitching

Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship made four field goals, including the game-winner, against Kentucky.
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Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship made four field goals, including the game-winner, against Kentucky.

Rodrigo Blankenship took a step back and tilted his head upward in a thinking position.

Asked when the last time he had made a game-winning field goal was, he paused before speaking the first thing that came to his mind.

"Is it bad if I don't remember?" Blankenship said.

Blankenship briefly laughed and eventually recalled a game in the eighth grade in which he hit a game-winner with about 20 seconds left. That means that it's possible that nearly six years passed by before Blankenship was in the pressure-packed position of kicking a game-winner.

This time, against Kentucky on Saturday night, it would be the  final play of regulation and from 25 yards out.

"I told him to relax," head coach Kirby Smart.

Few players went up to Blankenship before the kick, although a handful of his teammates did.

Fellow place-kicker William Ham gave him a high five. Punter Marshall Long approached Blankenship and told him not to worry since he had been kicking his whole life. Blankenship said he was left alone by everyone else, which is something he prefers in that moment since only the other specialists know what he's going through.

Poised and composed, Blankenship took the field and nailed the game-winner, which helped give Georgia a 27-24 win.

"You try to block (pressure) out the best you can," Blankenship said. "You try to treat every kick the same, whether the score is 24-24 or who knows. It could've been 45-28 and the game's out of hand. You just try to kick the same way, no matter what the score is."

Blankenship did a lot more than kick the game-winner. Prior to that final attempt, he also made field goals from 25, 42 and 49 yards. Blankenship has now hit his past nine field goals after missing his first-ever collegiate attempt against Mississippi.

Blankenship was originally beat out by Ham and thus didn't open the season as Georgia's kicker. But Ham, a former Stratford star, struggled to a 3-of-7 start, which re-opened the competition for Blankenship. Blankenship has since seized the new opportunity presented to him.

"Maybe it's just a bad coaching decision," Smart said. "Maybe he should've been kicking the whole time. But he's a high-character kid. I appreciate all he does. He never stops. They had a lot of challenges in camp where we try to see who could kick better and he didn't win all of those. He was resilient about it and kept coming back."

Now that he has made nine in a row, Smart couldn't be more thrilled.

"The kid has ice water in his veins," Smart said.

Blankenship maintains that while he has kicked well of late that it's a weekly competition, which means if he doesn't do well in practice that he can replaced before the next game. Blankenship even admitted to having a poor practice this past Thursday, which gave him some concern before Saturday's game.

But after a strong warm-up period Saturday, Blankenship was once again tabbed as the starting place-kicker and came up big for the Bulldogs.

"It was nice to bounce back from that practice and make everything," Blankenship said.

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