Georgia kicker Marshall Morgan is encountering pressure again this season, but for an entirely different reason.
Marshall entered last August hoping to rebound from an erratic freshman year that contained six missed field goals and four botched extra points. He is now competing in his third preseason camp with an objective of setting a new Southeastern Conference standard.
After making 17 consecutive field goals to close last season, Marshall needs to make the first two this year to surpass the 18 straight made by Tennessee's Fuad Reveiz in 1984.
"I'm just going to focus on each kick, and I'm going to plan on making that first one and go from there," Morgan said Wednesday by phone. "I'm not thinking about the record at all, and I'm going to try not to think about it when I'm out there kicking."
Morgan was 22-of-24 overall on field-goal tries last season, and he made all 47 extra points.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound junior from Fort Lauderdale admitted that he hasn't changed a thing when it comes to field goals. He still enjoys exchanging ideas with other kickers, which can't be avoided at Mark Richt camps when the likes of Rex Robinson, Kevin Butler and Billy Bennett are also in attendance.
Morgan said the operation with snapper Nathan Theus and holder Adam Erickson is working better than ever through seven preseason practices, and he believes he will be much more of a driving force on kickoffs.
Georgia's average of 60.1 yards per kickoff last season ranked 13th in the SEC, with its net coverage of 38.8 yards ranking 13th as well. Morgan had just 17 touchbacks in 72 kicks.
"I've widened out my steps on kickoffs, so I'm driving the ball a lot further and out of the end zone more," Morgan said. "The way I'm hitting it now, I feel like I can make a big difference and take some weight off the kickoff team's back by not having them run down the field and get banged up. Hopefully I can give them some relief to where they don't have to make a tackle every time."
As for his chasing Reveiz for the league's field-goal mark, Morgan insists he will not be rooting for the Bulldogs to stall at an opposing 15-yard line instead of the 35.
"If I'm going to break it, I want to break it with a long one," he said.
Change in policy
Inside linebacker Ramik Wilson and cornerback Shattle Fenteng continue to miss practices with undisclosed injuries, and they may remain undisclosed. After providing daily injury reports in recent seasons, Georgia coach Mark Richt told reporters Wednesday that would no longer be the case.
"We're done doing that," he said. "We don't want to tell the whole world what's going on."
Richt said that Wilson, the SEC's leading tackler last season, will be "OK pretty soon" and would be fine by the Aug. 30 opener against Clemson. Receiver Chris Conley and outside linebacker Leonard Floyd were among the Bulldogs limited Wednesday.
Odds and ends
Starting quarterback Hutson Mason rested his arm earlier this week but was throwing again in Wednesday's two-a-day session. ... The starting first-team line in the periods open to reporters had John Theus at left tackle, Brandon Kublanow at left guard, David Andrews at center, Greg Pyke at right guard and Kolton Houston at right tackle. ... Richt said that freshman Isaiah McKenzie is getting a crack at returning punts, as are Conley and cornerback Damian Swann. ... Rivals.com's top defensive tackle nationally, Trenton Thompson of Albany, Ga., has scheduled his commitment announcement for Tuesday.
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com 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 ...