ATHENS, Ga. – Slightly cooler temperatures marshaled in the 12th University of Georgia preseason football practice, a two-hour event in full pads and helmets on the Woodruff Practice Fields.
The final minutes of work took place in the William Porter Payne & Porter Otis Payne Indoor Athletic Facility, a precursor to Georgia’s final practice of the week on Friday before a Saturday scrimmage at Sanford Stadium.
A key component of the Bulldogs’ top-scoring offense in 2017, senior kicker Rodrigo Blankenship boomed 94 kickoffs, 63 PATs and 20 field goals last season. The digital and broadcast journalism major broke both Rose Bowl and school records, headlining a special teams unit that staged a noticeable turnaround from the year before.
“I was really proud that I was able to be of more help to the team,” Blankenship said on his 2017 performance. “That was something that the team needed of me – they needed more production in that area, and so I was just happy to be able to improve in that area…We’re just trying to be the most complete players we can be as specialists.”
One of Blankenship’s most notable moments as a Bulldog came in overtime of the 2018 National Championship – a 51-yard field goal that spoke to Blankenship’s consistent role on the Georgia squad, according to sophomore inside linebacker Monty Rice.
“You saw him in the National Championship game,” Rice said. “He’s the one who made the field goal…He works just like we’re working at linebacker and at defense. He’s working on his kicking all the time at practice – like today, he went 4-for-4. So he works hard. It doesn’t surprise me when he makes them.”
Junior defensive end David Marshall joined Rice in his praise of the Bulldog point production. The Thomaston, Georgia native acknowledged the highly touted Georgia offense, a force he lines up against daily at practice.
“I think we’ve got the best [offensive] line in the country,” Marshall said. “They’re pretty good. They come out competing every day. [They] make us better, make each other better.”
The Bulldogs will finalize their preseason tune-up by the time they welcome Austin Peay to Sanford Stadium on September 1 for the season opener. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. on ESPN.