LSU change foils kicker’s run try

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - SPORTS - BY DAVID PASCHALL STAFF WRITER

BA­TON ROUGE, La. — Ge­or­gia red­shirt ju­nior kicker Ro­drigo Blanken­ship is very ac­cu­rate on field-goal at­tempts, au­to­matic on ex­tra-point tries and leads the na­tion in touch­backs.

His rush­ing ca­reer never took off in Satur­day’s 36-16 loss at LSU.

Af­ter Ge­or­gia took its sec­ond pos­ses­sion 59 yards on 12 plays, headed by the ground gains of D’An­dre Swift and Eli­jah Holy­field, the Bull­dogs stalled at LSU’s 14-yard line and opted for a Blanken­ship field goal. Blanken­ship took a pitch from holder Jake Ca­marda but did not have an open­ing and was quickly stuffed by Tigers safety Grant Del­pit.

“We thought that the look was go­ing to be there,” Blanken­ship said. “We had repped it all week, and we wanted to be ag­gres­sive early in the game and try and give some mo­men­tum to our team and take the crowd out of it a lit­tle bit. We said the look was there, so we ran it, but they played it a lit­tle dif­fer­ently af­ter the snap, so it didn’t come to fruition there.”

Del­pit caused a fum­ble that was re­cov­ered by linebacker Devin White at the 16.

“It was the look that we wanted,” Ge­or­gia coach Kirby Smart said. “We thought it was per­fect. They had one guy out there, and we were go­ing to block him, but one of their guys ended up not rush­ing. He had rushed every other time, but he fell into the play and made it.

“When it doesn’t work, it’s a bad call, and I’m the first to ad­mit it. We cer­tainly felt good about it and thought it was there.”

Mov­ing quickly

One of the key stats in LSU’s vic­tory was fourth-down con­ver­sions, with the Tigers go­ing 4-for-4 with quar­ter­back sneaks by Joe Bur­row ac­count­ing for three of them. The first of Bur­row’s sneaks gave LSU a 10-0 lead early in the sec­ond quar­ter, and his sec­ond one oc­curred later in the sec­ond quar­ter from LSU’s 38-yard line.

When the Tigers faced a fourth down, they of­ten op­er­ated quickly to try to catch the Bull­dogs be­fore they could get set.

“They can go as fast as they want to go as long as they don’t sub­sti­tute,” Smart said. “We have mul­ti­ple calls on fourt­hand-1 that we use to try and go quick, and they did a good job and took some good risks in get­ting those con­ver­sions with sneaks.

“The key is that you don’t want to be in fourth-and-1. It’s hard to stop those plays. Give them credit, be­cause they kept the ball on third-and-1 and fourth-and-1. They kept our de­fense on the field.”

Red rep­re­sented

Sev­eral long­time mem­bers of LSU’s ath­letic de­part­ment said Ge­or­gia had more sup­port in­side Tiger Sta­dium on Satur­day than any op­po­nent in the last 40 years.

“Our fans fol­low us ev­ery­where we go,” Smart said. “I thought they did an un­be­liev­able job of stay­ing in the game with us and try­ing to bring us back. We’ve got a great group of fans, and I can’t thank them enough.”

Said quar­ter­back Jake Fromm: “It was loud, but it was re­ally no big deal. We com­mu­ni­cated just fine. We just have to make more plays.”

Odds and ends

Ge­or­gia trails the se­ries with LSU 17-13-1. … The Bull­dogs were plus-six in turnover mar­gin be­fore be­ing mi­nus-four Satur­day. … Ge­or­gia was shut out in the first half Satur­day for the first time since the 2016 Auburn game, which ended up a 13-7 Bull­dogs vic­tory. … Se­nior cen­ter La­mont Gail­lard started his team-high 35th con­sec­u­tive game.

Con­tact David Paschall at dpaschall@times­freep­ress.com or 423-757-6524.

AP PHOTO/BOB AN­DRES

Ge­or­gia quar­ter­back Jake Fromm is sacked by LSU linebacker Michael Divin­ity Jr. dur­ing the third quar­ter Satur­day in Ba­ton Rouge, La.

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