Kickoff coverage vital to Dawgs' success

ATHENS – It only lasts a few seconds. But in the time that passes from the ball soaring upward to the other team's offense trotting out onto the field, countless things could have already gone wrong.

One missed assignment, one missed tackle, and the entire game could be forever changed.

"On offense or defense you get a series of plays," said redshirt junior Benjamin Boyd. "On special teams it's one play and out. You don't get a chance to make it up on second down. Either you're gonna win or he's gonna win. Either you're coming off high fiving your buddies or he's going off high fiving his buddies."

Until this weekend's past game with Alabama, the Bulldogs had not done especially well on kickoff coverage. And that fact did not go unnoticed by head coach Mark Richt.

"We knew that the first couple games we were getting burned on returns and that we weren't holding up our end of the bargain. Coach Richt called us out," Boyd said. "We just took it among ourselves to step it up."

Whatever problems the unit was having, it certainly wasn't for lack of effort. Littered with walk-ons and freshmen, the players on kickoff coverage generally have the most to prove.

"I know that's pretty much the only thing I contribute on and because of that reason that's all I really devote my all time and energy into," fifth-year senior Andrew Williams said.

Williams, who was awarded a scholarship at the beginning of the fall camp, said that the possibility of such a scholarship ensures that guys are giving their best effort.

"(A scholarship is) always an awesome, awesome gift. It can be used as a motivational tool – just for yourself. Just bust my butt, do my thing, and if I contribute, if I'm good at what I do, then maybe they'll reward me with a scholarship. And that's always a motivation for walk-ons."

As for the ferocity of the kickoff itself, freshman Rennie Curran, another guy trying to earn more playing time, put it best.

"Like Coach (Fabris) says, the kickoff team is like the personality of the whole entire team. So to be on that kickoff, that starting line, you've gotta have a killer instinct. You've gotta run to kill when you're going down there."

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