This and that: Lynch says punt team issue 'squared away'

semerson@macon.comOctober 8, 2013 

Linebacker Josh Dawson (91), Punter Collin Barber (32). Tight end Arthur Lynch (88). Not pictured: Quayvon Hicks.


ATHENS - When it comes to explaining what happened on Georgia's second blocked punt of the season, Arthur Lynch is either being a good teammate, or accurately detailing an obscure error.

Either way, Lynch says the issue has been "squared away."

Lynch is one of three blockers in the backfield for Georgia's punt team. Lynch, Quayvon Hicks and James DeLoach form the shield in front of punter Collin Barber. But in Saturday's win over Tennessee, one of Barber's punts was blocked and returned for a touchdown, tying the game in the third quarter. It was the second blocked punt for a touchdown this year.

So what's the problem? Lynch took the blame a few weeks ago for the blocked punt against North Texas, saying he switched into the wrong protection coverage. This time, it appeared that Hicks just whiffed on his block, but Lynch again said it was miscommunication between the three of them.

"It's understanding the scheme of what we do," Lynch said. "It's all about where the protection is, and who's protecting who. Communication was kind of a barrier on it, and a block was missed. But the fault wasn't on one person. It definitely goes as a group effort. It was one play that really changed the momentum of the game, luckily we survived from it."

Lynch also said the crowd noise had an effect. The punt happened near an end zone, and Lynch said one of his teammates, Lucas Redd, told him he had to read Lynch's lips when he made the call. Finally, senior Connor Norman missing the game didn't help, as Norman was one of the key communicators on the punt team, lining up on the front line.

"People really don't understand how well he does for us in that," Lynch said. "He's like a security blanket, almost, for the special teams. We get him back, and it'll be a big deal for the punt team."

Lynch also defended the punt team's performance in general. Yes there have been two big mistakes, accounting for 14 points, but the punt team has also recovered two fumbles. He also said that if the two blocked punts were taken out Georgia would rank second in the country in net punting. (With those blocks, Georgia is tied for 44th, with Tennessee.

"That's just the nature of football," he said. "People on the outside want to look at things and the negative things and highlight them and build them up. But there's so many positive things that we've done on all special teams that I don't think we're in a frantic state.

"I think we're in a good spot. We fixed that one kind of hiccup, per se, if people wanna call it that. People don't wanna hear that, but that's just how it is, and we'll be able to be fine Saturday."

UPDATE: Assistant coach John Lilly addressed the punt block after Tuesday's practice, putting the onus on himself.

Lilly said the issue isn't Barber not getting the punt off quick enough.

"The issue really come back to a little bit of fundamental things, quite honestly. And that's my job to clean that up," Lilly said.

He also disagreed a bit with Lynch's assessment that it was a communication issue. In other words, Lynch was just being a good teammate and not throwing Hicks under the bus.

"There were a couple of things that happened, and I'm not gonna get into it, and specific guys. But at the same time it was more an execution thing, and a fundamental thing. And as a coach you've gotta have that locked in in practice. You've gotta get it done in practice. It's too late once it's happened, and once you've seen it happen it's too late to coach it on the field. You coach it right in practice, and get it right in practice."

Lilly also said they would shuffle some players around on the punt unit, something that's happened every week, normally because of injuries.

Finally, Lilly confirmed that if Barber can't kick because of his concussion - and he did miss Tuesday's practice - that walk-on Adam Erickson would be the starter. Erickson is already the team's short-yardage punter.

"He'll do a good job if he's out there. He'll be great for us," Lilly said.

Blunt words on Swann

Junior cornerback Damian Swann was supposed to be the foundation of the secondary, a proven veteran to take the pressure off all the youngsters. Instead, Swann has been beat on some big plays, and Richt was candid in appraising Swann's play.

“Damian, I’d say, is struggling right now," Richt said. "He’s missed some tackles in the open field, and he’s gotten beat on some coverages that have been tough on him. There have been some things that he has struggled with, but he’s also made plays for us, as well. I think if you asked him, he’d tell you that he wants to perform better and he’s working towards that.”

Scott-Wesley surgery set for Tuesday

Receivers Justin Scott-Wesley and Michael Bennett were undergoing knee surgeries on Tuesday. They are two different types of surgery: Bennett's is for a torn meniscus, and will determine when he can return this season. Scott-Wesley's is for a torn ACL, and he's out for the season.

Tight end Jay Rome said he would be heading to the hospital to visit Scott-Wesley, his fellow redshirt sophomore.

"He's doing good. I really feel like mentally he's in the right spot," Rome said. "I just want to go talk to him after the surgery, after practice, and make sure he's good. I'll stay with him at the hospital as long as he needs me to. If he needs me to stay overnight, I'll sleep in the chair right next to him."

Murray's Heisman pose

Murray's 57-yard run is still getting some attention. It was not a designed scramble, according to Lynch, who said there is a designed run that resembles that play, but when Murray scrambled on Saturday it was definitely a pass play.

"I thought I was getting the ball, and I turn around and he's jetting out of there," Lynch said.

It was also a missed opportunity, Lynch joked.

"When he stiff-armed him, I thought if we win the game it'll be a Heisman moment," Lynch said. "But he didn't score so he's gonna have to do it again."

Follow Seth Emerson at @sethemerson.

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