ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia football coach Mark Richt is hoping for a lot of touchdowns this season.
A lot of touchbacks, too.
The Bulldogs are adjusting to new NCAA kickoff rules with two scholarship freshmen, Marshall Morgan and Collin Barber, who Richt believes will not be a hindrance to the change. The NCAA has moved the kickoff up to the 35-yard line this season with the hope of producing more touchbacks and fewer collisions, and the receiving team has incentive to take the touchback, as the ball now comes out to the 25-yard line instead of the 20.
"I don't think it's an advantage for the other teams or a disadvantage to us if our kickers can knock it out of the end zone," Richt said. "I'm all for them knocking it out of the end zone. There will be days when it's windy, and sometimes it's going to be at your back and sometimes it's going to be in your face. When it's in your face, you probably won't be able to knock it out of the end zone, so you better have a plan to place the ball where it needs to be placed and allow your cover team to get there.
"Personally, if I knew we could knock it out of the end zone on any given attempt, that's what I would love to see happen. We are going to allow them to have that freedom."
Georgia held its second preseason practice Friday, working out for two and a half hours.
Morgan is the first scholarship place-kicker Georgia has signed out of high school since Blair Walsh in 2008, and he is expected to challenge senior walk-on Jamie Lindley for the opportunity to kick off as well as handle field-goal and extra-point tries. A 6-foot-3, 195-pounder from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Morgan made a combined 25 of 28 field-goal attempts his final two seasons.
Barber, a 6-2, 191-pounder from Cartersville, Ga., is the first scholarship punter the Bulldogs have signed since Drew Butler in 2007. He is challenging redshirt sophomore Adam Erickson for the position Butler occupied the past three seasons.
Butler had a career average of 45.4 yards per punt, which is tops in program history.
"The thing about punting is that height, for me, is exciting," Richt said. "The higher you kick it, the less chance a guy is going to be able to get started. The two freshmen have big legs, but how consistent will they be?
"Butler early in his career was about a 5- or 6-out-of-10 guy. When he got consistent was when he became a great punter."
Odds and ends
Sophomore Watts Dantzler and freshman John Theus split reps Friday as the starting right tackle, and Richt said after practice that if both are among the top five linemen, one could be moved to guard. ... Richt on freshman Josh Harvey-Clemons, who worked a second straight day at safety: "His body right now is more ready to do that. He's not really thick enough and strong enough right now to play the outside linebacker position." ... Georgia now has 24 commitments for their 2013 signing class after an announcement Friday by Trenton Brown, a 6-7, 345-pound offensive tackle from Georgia Military College. Brown is originally from Albany, Ga., and he plans to enroll in January with three years to play two seasons.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...