Georgia sophomore place-kicker Marshall Morgan has improved dramatically from his freshman season, but that hasn't been the case with sophomore punter Collin Barber.
Barber's first two punts in Saturday's 43-38 loss at Auburn traveled 43 and 51 yards, but his third attempt went just 23. Shanked punts are actually preferable to what Georgia was experiencing earlier this season, as the Bulldogs battled bad snaps and had punts blocked for touchdowns against North Texas and Tennessee.
"I guess I've had a decent year," Barber said. "I haven't given up many return yards, but I wish I had not dropped that snap against South Carolina. I've had some blocked punts and some high snaps. There are a lot of things I wish I could take back, but it is what it is and we have to keep going."
Georgia's last disaster on a punt occurred in the fourth quarter of the 31-27 loss at Vanderbilt on Oct. 19, when a high snap resulted in Barber falling on the ball at his team's 13-yard line. The Commodores scored on the next play to take their 31-27 lead with 2:53 remaining.
Snapping has not been an issue since, but Barber had his most erratic showing at Auburn, following up his 23-yard punt in the second quarter with a 36-yarder in the third.
"Consistency is what's been lacking compared to a year ago," coach Mark Richt said. "He was not consistent early on last year, but as the season went on he became a much more consistent performer. This year it's kind of been the other way around. He started out real strong, I thought, but he's become inconsistent.
"We've just got to get him back playing consistent ball."
Barber averaged 41.5 yards a punt last season and caught fire in November after failing to average 38 yards against Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder from Cartersville averaged 48.2 yards on five punts against Ole Miss and 47.2 on four against Auburn and boomed a 51-yarder on his lone attempt against Georgia Southern.
A stronger start this season has resulted in a healthier 44.1-yard average through 10 games, but there is no November momentum as the Bulldogs (6-4, 4-3 SEC) prepare to host Kentucky (2-8, 0-6) this Saturday night.
Have the snapping concerns had a lingering effect?
"It's always in the back of your mind," Barber said, "because everyone is bound to mess up sometime. You are not always guaranteed perfect snaps, so you have to be ready for whatever. Lately, the snappers have been doing a really good job of putting it where I want it.
"This game was all on me, though. I didn't play as well as I wanted, and it showed."
Odds and ends
Junior inside linebacker Ramik Wilson missed Monday's one-hour workout with a sprained ankle but is expected to play Saturday. ... Georgia's game next Saturday at Georgia Tech will kick off at 3:30 p.m., and it will be televised by ABC, ESPN or ESPN2. ... Kentucky coach Mark Stoops on Georgia dealing with the finish to the Auburn game: "It's something you have to get over, but it's something you'll never forget." ... Georgia's captains this week will be all the seniors.
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 ...
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