I’m back once again to talk about the one thing on the 52.5yd x 120yd rectangle I’m qualified to talk about: Kickers and Punters.
I disagree with the concept of Above The Line as a whole, and since this is your kicker/punter, unless there’s an unforeseen event, these aren’t very likely to change over the course of a given season.
That being said, we’ll be looking at our options at each position for this upcoming campaign on The Flats.
Projected Starter: Brent Cimaglia, 5th Year Grad Transfer from Tennessee
If we can improve the blocking (seen in the article header in all its glory) and actually prevent people from having a free path to the flight of the ball as it crosses the line of scrimmage, then expect to see this unit improve in 2021.
I’m not working with a ton of information on this front, but the task of replacing the reigning Ray Guy Award winner falls to one of these three gentlemen. It’s big shoes to fill surely, but if they can perform at levels similar to where they charted coming out of High School while adjusting to the speed of the college game, I think we’ll be just fine. We might not have the “piss missiles” coming from Harvin we all got spoiled watching, but we’ll flip the field a time or two.
Given I’m not at practices, I’d expect Kent to start Day 1 given his time in the program. Look for Verdisco to push him though as the season progresses. I’ll have an eye on this position throughout the year because I’m a Special Teams nerd at my core.
Projected Starter: Austin Kent
After handling most of the kickoffs last season and hitting 26% touchbacks, expect Austin as the Kickoff Specialist this season, unless Cimaglia or Verdisco challenge him on the job.
Cimaglia didn’t handle kickoffs at Tennessee outside of his freshman year, where he averaged 63 yards per kickoff, going 40% on touchbacks. In high school, Verdisco charted slightly higher at 69 yards/kickoff, but we haven’t seen him hit the field yet for the Yellow Jackets.
Touchback % is the thing you the fan are looking for here. If the other team isn’t returning the ball, the kicker literally can’t be doing their job better. It makes you less reliant on the other 10 guys on a full sprint trying to beat somebody and make a tackle at the same time, which Georgia Tech has been pretty poor at outside of the Butker era.
All in all, it ought to be a fun year for the Specialists as we see some new faces and hopefully some improved results when it hits 4th Down. Remember, if there’s a 300lb DL in the face of the kicker on Extra Points or regular FG Team, that’s not the kicker’s fault.
GT attempted just 1 FG of 40+ yards last year and missed. For the season, GT was just 3-of-9 on all FGs. Only 2019 UMd had fewer makes in the playoff era among P5 teams & GT is 1 of just 4 P5 teams since 2014 to connect on < 40% of FGs. Also, I miss Pressley Harvin already.— ️♈️ (@ADavidHaleJoint) July 20, 2021
45 Days ‘Til Kickoff