Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/8/11

              Georgia fans, we’re finally here: with just three games left, it’s the week of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, as the Bulldogs take on the #24 Auburn Tigers at Sanford Stadium. This game is arguably the biggest game of the season for Georgia, as they can pretty much clinch the SEC East with a win on Saturday (the Dawgs still have to play Kentucky, but it looks like that game shouldn’t be much of an issue). Because of the importance of beating Auburn for the fifth time in six years, it’s clear that the team needs to play near-perfect against War Eagle this weekend. In order to guarantee that the team doesn’t walk away with a “what if” mindset following sxity minutes of play on Saturday, head coach Mark Richt needs to figure out the kicking problem right here, right now.

            Let’s set the scene for those not familiar with the situation: senior Blair Walsh, coming off a season in which he made 20 field goals on 23 attempts and was seen by most as the best kicker in all of the FBS, came into the season with the starting job fully in his grasp. However, Walsh has had a terrible season, currently holding a dismal 56.5 field goal percentage thanks to ten misses through nine games, more than his season totals from 2010 and 2009 and part of his numbers from 2008. With his confidence obviously shaken, things took a bit of a turn on Saturday, when Richt split up the time for extra points and kickoffs between Walsh and fellow senior Brandon Bogotay, who has had just one field goal attempt (no good) in his time with the Bulldogs. Richt’s decision to give Bogotay some playing time begs the big question going into the most important game in the 2011 season for Georgia: if the team is in field goal-range with just a few seconds left on the clock and the game on the line, who will hit the field to try and give the Bulldogs the win?

           Honestly, you would think that Blair Walsh would be easily hold onto the starting job thanks to his career, but I think his struggles in the kicking game make it clear that Bogotay should be sent out for at least  the first field goal attempt for Georgia on Saturday. Walsh’s issues look to be 100% mental due to his ability to boot beautiful kicks during pre-game, and in a situation in which your conference finish is on the line, you have to play the guy that isn’t thinking too much about the big play that he’s about to try and make. My suggestion to the staff is to have both kickers work on their kicks while they watch closely, and if the two look to both be on the same level, allow Bogotay to hit the field. It sounds insane to have a a two-kicker system, but Blair Walsh’s inconsistency (just look at the Ole Miss game, where he missed three field goals) makes him a liability on this team, and you know that in the SEC any opposing coaching staff will take advantage of clear weaknesses. Walsh has unfortunately became that for the Bulldogs, which once again makes it clear that Brandon Bogotay should be the starting kicker until he drops the ball, figuratively speaking.       

Who would have ever thought Dawg fans would have to be nervous when Blair Walsh hit the field?

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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