Last season Georgia used Brett Kirouac for all kickoff duties. Kirouac's leg consistently pinned opposing teams in the endzone, forcing 20 touchbacks last season. Even when he wasn't forcing touchbacks, Kirouac made teams start on average from their own 23 yard line.
But without Kirouac around, Georgia will be forced to decide between true freshman Andy Bailey and veteran place kicker Billy Bennett. Neither has near the experience that Georgia wants going into this week's Clemson game and both will be preparing for their other kicking duties as well. Bennett is the team's unquestioned place kicker and Bailey is battling for the punting spot.
"Right now I don't think that either one of those guys is capable of kicking off consistently," said Georgia's Mark Richt.
Bailey, from Athens, Tennessee, is tall and looks a lot like Kirouac; he also has Kirouac's powerful leg. The free spirited Bennett is from Athens, Georgia and is short but skilled.
But leg strength will not be the only deciding factor according to Richt. "I think that a lot of it depends on what your philosophy is," Richt said. Some coaches like to kick it deep while others prefer to have their kicker boot a high lazy kick.
So what's Richt's philosophy?
"My philosophy is Coach Jon Fabris' philosophy. We discuss things, but he is a kickoff expert. I would not consider myself an expert at kickoff coverage so I'll go with him," Richt added.
Leaving the kickoff decisions up to Fabris would be easier according to Richt if you have one player with outstanding power in his leg.
"If you have Sebastian Janikowski then you know 80% of the time that he can drive it out of the endzone. If you don't have that then you have to decide," he said.
"If you can drive the ball and knock it out of the endzone of deep into the endzone then most people won't return," he added. "Other coaches would rather see a ball high and in a certain spot with accuracy to know that you can send your team to tackle inside of the 20 yard line."
Georgia has been working on both this fall camp. Which of the two kickers will be the one that does what Fabris wants done the best is yet to be determined. Appropriately, that will be determined just before kickoff in Clemson.