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Extra Helping of ‘Dawg Bites: We Will Follow Rodrigo Blankenship Anywhere

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 21 Notre Dame at Georgia
Rodrigo Blankenship, noted leader of men

As you’ve probably noticed, this is a bye week for our #3 ranked Georgia Bulldogs. Though some of us might be wishing we had a UGA football game to head to this weekend, the Dawgs are happy to have a weekend off. While some of the Bulldogs plan to stick in Athens and tighten up their games, other players are planning to head home this weekend to see family, go hunting or attend their old high-school’s football games. Though my guess is he’ll be dove hunting, I’m still hoping Jake Fromm keeps his appendages a safe distance away from any fishing lures. After the Dawgs win over Notre Dame in a highly physical game last Saturday, the week off feels particularly well-timed and well-deserved.

Speaking of the Notre Dame game, Georgia finally released ‘The Reel’ from last Saturday night’s contest. For those who don’t regularly follow Georgia Football’s social media accounts, the series usually features field level highlights, locker room clips and player reactions from the past week’s game. These short videos are always very well done, but this one provides some particularly interesting insights.

A few things to note... Kirby and his staff seemed calm and confident making adjustments at the half, but Kirby did take note of the “blocking downfield” by Notre Dame. I wonder if he’s referring to Notre Dame lineman illegally blocking downfield. That appeared to be happening a lot on Saturday night, and was either missed or ignored by the ACC refs in attendance. Also, D’andre Swift’s late third-quarter hurdle looks even more impressive from the camera on the field than it did on CBS’s normal broadcast angle. In case it wasn’t blatantly obvious already, that moment was further proof that Swift is all kinds of special. Savor this season. There’s basically no chance it won’t be his last between the hedges.

Lastly, we all love Rodrigo Blankenship for his clutch kicking and incredible rec specs, but taken at face value, this video makes it seem that Hot Rod is a team leader. Not just like a “Hey special teams, let’s go execute and do our jobs well” kind of leader, but a full on, gather around me while I remind you that we sweated as a team for the last nine months to get ready for this game kind of leader. Blankenship has performed in a clutch manner in plenty of big moments in his 3 plus seasons in Athens, but he is still a kicker. For this reason, it was surprising to see the part of the clip where players from both the offense and defense gathered around him as he spoke to the locker room, getting the team increasingly fired up. This brings up an unimportant but extremely fascinating question from a team dynamics standpoint. Is Rodrigo Blankenship the first kicker to ever be a full on team leader? A kicker with that type of influence is certainly a new one on me, but there’s no kicker I’d rather see in that position. His role could be historic not just for Georgia, but college football as a whole. It should be noted that Rodrigo has had that effect on people since at least the 2017 Notre Dame game.

In other news, despite the win over the Golden Domers, the Dawgs are planning to tweak the playbook on offense, with Kirby Smart wanting to see more playmakers getting the ball in space, as well as Jake Fromm throwing the ball downfield more. Personally, I’m all for this. I must admit that I hope we don’t see anymore end-arounds to 6’5” Matt Landers at crucial junctures of the game. Perhaps the screen passes behind the line of scrimmage against zero coverage looks, when Notre Dame didn’t have any safeties deeper than eight to ten yards, were an ill-fated attempt at getting our playmakers open in space. Here’s hoping Coley & Co. can scheme up some more effective ways to achieve that goal. As far as throwing downfield goes, it’s hard to argue with the results that Fromm and the receivers produced in the second half Saturday night. They came through big when Georgia needed them most. Whatever the coaches decide to try, Tennessee looks to be a low risk opponent to experiment with the offense against.

Speaking of Tennessee, some Georgia fans are planning another Bulldog takeover of an opponents home turf, and this time the sights are set on Checkering Neyland Stadium in red and black. If you’re able to get to Knoxville, tickets on StubHub start at the low price of $58. You could buy a tank of gas, a decent dinner for two or a lot of other things for that amount, but none of those things are likely to make you laugh heartily for decades to come. Personally, I endorse the #DawgsCheckerNeyland movement about as strongly as I would world peace or winning the lottery. Right now it’s simply an idea that’s a full 10 days from potentially happening, and it has already provided me great joy in the form of basically everything written in this comment thread on a Vols fan site.

Finally, hats off to all of you who attended the game Saturday, and Dawg Nation as a whole, for reciprocating the hospitality that Notre Dame showed us in 2017. The below ad appeared in Wednesday’s Athens Banner-Herald, and was paid for by Notre Dame Board of Trustees Member Jimmy Dunne. This being from the same game that was a Top-10 matchup and an 8 P.M. start that featured what many have called the loudest Sanford Stadium crowd ever tells me Dawg Nation is doing this whole fan thing the right way.

As always, GO DAWGS!