After giving up a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown last week, Georgia probably will add more front-line players to its kick-coverage units for Saturday’s game against LSU, coach Mark Richt said Tuesday.
“We want to get the best guys that can cover, no doubt,” Richt said.”We want to be careful about it, but you’ll probably see a little more of that.”
The reinforcements could be needed against LSU kickoff/punt returner Odell Beckham Jr., who leads the SEC and ranks fourth nationally in all-purpose yards.
Last season, Beckham returned two punts for touchdowns. This season, he had a 75-yard kickoff return against TCU and a 60-yard punt return against UAB. More notably, he had a 100-yard return of a missed UAB field goal, which according to LSU research was the first return of a missed-short field goal for a touchdown in major-college football since Clemson had one against Georgia in 1968.
Beckham, also a threat at wide receiver, will bring his talents to Sanford Stadium one week after North Texas’ Brelan Chancellor burned the Bulldogs with the 99-yard kick return. That was one of four breakdowns on special teams by Georgia in the season’s first three games, although the first involving kick coverage.
A high snap aborted a short-range field-goal attempt in the season opener at Clemson. A dropped snap derailed a punt against South Carolina, giving the Gamecocks the ball at the UGA 18-yard line. And another high snap last week caused a blocked punt, recovered in the end zone by North Texas for a touchdown.
Georgia benched long-snapper Nathan Theus after the blocked punt, finishing the game with freshman walk-on Trent Frix in the role. Richt suggested after the game that Frix probably would continue as the snapper on punts against LSU.
“They’re both working right now,” Richt said Tuesday of Theus and Frix. “We’ll figure that out at the end.”
“The good news on all of it is that everything is very correctable,” Richt said of the special-teams breakdowns. “If we can make decent corrections through us communicating better as coaches and also by making sure we have the right guys in the right spots, I think we can clean it up.”
Players’ protest: Georgia tight end Arthur Lynch didn’t think much was accomplished by some college football players, including five UGA offensive linemen, writing the letters APU — All Players United — on their gear Saturday as part of a campaign for NCAA reform.
“I guess that’s something, but it takes a lot more than writing on your wristband,” Lynch said Tuesday. “If you want action, you going to have to collect together as a group. If you want something done, present yourself as a common cause and bring some legitimacy to the issue. Don’t, in my opinion, write it on your wristband. That just doesn’t get much done, in my opinion.”
Georgia’s offensive linemen haven’t done interviews in the past two weeks — their decision, offensive line coach Will Friend said. “They came to me about it,” Friend said. “I think they just kind of wanted to be a quiet group right now.”
Lynch said he didn’t know if the linemen’s APU stance stemmed from the NCAA keeping tackle Kolton Houston out of action for three years because of the presence of a performance-enhancing substance.
“That’s just the NCAA clearly fumbling,” Lynch said. “He was definitely wronged.”
The National College Players Association organized the APU movement to demonstrate unity in pursuit of NCAA change and in support of lawsuits against the NCAA regarding concussions and use of players’ likenesses.
“For us, we just kind of need to be grateful for what we’ve got,” Lynch said. “Hopefully, over time, things will change in our favor.”
Richt didn’t seem bothered by the campaign.
“We have freedom of speech in our country, but the question is what’s the most appropriate way of doing it,” Richt said. “Based on what I read about what their concerns were, (they) seemed like pretty legitimate concerns.”
Etc.: Tight end Jay Rome, who aggravated a sprained ankle in Saturday’s game, didn’t practice Tuesday. … Tailback Keith Marshall (shoulder bruise) and wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley (shoulder sprain) practiced on a non-contact basis. … A win over LSU would give Georgia two wins over top-10 teams in Sanford Stadium in the same season for the first time in school history. The Bulldogs beat South Carolina, then No. 6, on Sept. 7. … Georgia has won 14 consecutive home games, the third-longest home winning streak in school history. The longest: 24 in 1980-83. … LSU has dominated the first quarter this season, outscoring its opponents 62-3.