COLUMBIA, S.C. — At least Georgia freshman kicker Marshall Morgan didn't miss any extra points.
Morgan entered Saturday night's game against South Carolina having connected on both field-goal attempts from 50 yards or longer but having missed three extra-point attempts. He did not attempt any field goals against the Gamecocks and made his lone extra point with 1:55 remaining in the 35-7 loss.
The 6-foot-3, 201-pound freshman from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., had four extra points hit the uprights in the first five games, with two going through and two bouncing away.
"All my friends have been giving me grief, but I'm happy with my field goals and the extra points are fixable," Morgan said. "We still have a lot of season to go, and I feel like I'm going to have a successful year."
One of Morgan's coaches from American Heritage High came up for last week's game against Tennessee and determined that Morgan was coming in too close and narrow on his extra-point attempts.
The Bulldogs struggled on special teams Saturday, allowing a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown to Ace Sanders in the first quarter. Georgia failed to create similar excitement, with junior walk-on receiver Rhett McGowan fair catching four punts after taking over those chores from sophomore Malcolm Mitchell.
Mitchell fielded a punt inside his 5-yard line against Vanderbilt and let a punt roll to the 1 against Tennessee, and his struggles along with Morgan's inconsistencies have many believing the Bulldogs have been poor on special teams. Georgia coach Mark Richt said this past week that was not fair.
"We've blocked two punts, we had a fake tried on us and we stopped it [at Missouri], and we have had excellent kickoff coverage." Richt said. "We've had a 100-yard kickoff return, and we're punting the ball high and getting guys under it and getting a lot of fair catches, which is outstanding. We've made all but one field goal and two over 50.
"I know our extra points have been an adventure. No doubt we have to get better at that."
Morgan had a 52-yard field goal at Missouri to tie the game at 3 in the second quarter, and his 50-yard kick against the Volunteers provided a 30-30 deadlock at the halftime horn. He admits he is more relaxed on long field goals compared to extra points because he doesn't feel there is as much to lose.
Time will tell if that thought process ever changes.
"So much is mental, and I'm pretty level-headed whether I have a great kick or a bad kick," Morgan said. "I've really liked my long kicks. The one at Tennessee we needed more, because we needed to tie it up and get the momentum back. I hit the one at Missouri as well as I can hit a ball, and I think it would have been good for another 10 yards."
Said Richt: "He's shown the power he's got in his leg. We just have to get him comfortable and consistent."
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 ...