Though he lags behind quarterback Aaron Murray and linebacker Jarvis Jones in the attention department, freshman punter Collin Barber has been just as hot as the rest of the rampaging Georgia Bulldogs.
Barber punted four times for a 47.2-yard average during Saturday night's 38-0 blowout of Auburn, placing one kick at the 3-yard line and another at the 1. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder from Cartersville had a 48.2-yard average the week before in the 37-10 trouncing of Ole Miss, which included a career-long of 60.
"Earlier in the year, I was adjusting from kicking in high school to kicking before more than 90,000 people," Barber said. "I was just wanting to get the ball off. I'm more comfortable now, and I'm not nearly as nervous as I was."
In the past three games, Barber has placed seven punts inside the opposing 20-yard line.
"As you can tell, Collin is really starting to punt the ball extremely well," Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said. "I know one of his punts against Auburn had a 4.8 or 4.9 hang time and went about 45 yards, and if you can do that, that's like gold. He's had some good punts, knocking them inside the 10 and the 5."
Georgia bid farewell to Drew Butler and Blair Walsh, a specialist tandem now in the NFL, and began this season with a starting punter and kicker without previous college experience. That was a first for the Bulldogs since 1985, when punter Chris Carpenter and kicker Steve Crumley were redshirt freshmen.
Marshall Morgan, Georgia's freshman place-kicker, has been for more adventurous than Barber, having missed four extra points this year and badly hooking a 47-yard field-goal attempt against Ole Miss. He enters this week's game against Georgia Southern having made 13 consecutive extra points.
"I think Marshall is just getting more comfortable and doing what's coming natural to him, or at least what he's been doing in high school," Richt said. "I think both of those guys are just beginning to feel a little more comfortable, and it's good, because it's not easy to be a true freshman and get thrown into those roles."
Barber had a 57-yard punt in the opener but struggled to a 36.6-yard average in the second game at Missouri. He did not punt particularly well in additional league games against Tennessee and Kentucky but has erupted the past three weeks.
Much like the rest of the nation's No. 5 team.
"I would like to break records, but I'm not going to try and boot one 60 yards just for my sake if they can return it for 40," Barber said. "I want them all fair caught. That's my goal, because that would benefit the team more than it would benefit me."
And the attention, or the lack thereof?
"The better I do, the more people hear about me and know me," he said smiling. "I get a 'good game' every now and then, and it's something that is gradually getting better."
Odds and ends
Georgia's home game next week against Georgia Tech will be televised by ESPN with a noon kickoff. ... Sophomore center David Andrews was named SEC offensive lineman of the week after grading out at 88 percent and tallying six "dominator" and three knockdown blocks Saturday at Auburn.
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.
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 ...