ATHENS - This week, in our continuing effort to preview the 2013 season, as well as kill time while changing diapers, we are ranking Georgia's 10 most important players. As stated many times before, this isn't necessarily the order of Georgia's best players, but the ones for whom success is most vital to the outcome of Georgia's season.
And now ...
8. Marshall Morgan
WHY HE’S VITAL: Well, he’s the kicker, for one. Morgan came in at No. 3 in this list last year because of the uncertainty on how he’d do at the college level. He’s back on this list because his freshman season didn’t settle anything. Erratic hardly began to describe him in the first half of last season, alternately missing extra points and nailing 50-yard field goals. Morgan calmed down as the season went on, at least on extra points, after tweaking his approach midway through the season. But he still never established himself as dependable on field goals. The time may come where Georgia needs him at a crucial time in 2013 – and perhaps very early in the season.
QUOTABLE: “I wouldn’t say arrogance. But you do have to be confident in yourself. Because kicking is a mental game, obvious. In your head you have to tell yourself you’re gonna make it, because any disbelief in your head you’re gonna miss it. It’s a mind game.” - Morgan
BEST CASE: Morgan makes his first field goal of the season, and it goes from there. For the first time since Blair Walsh’s junior season, the Bulldogs have a reliable kicker who makes at least 80 percent of his fields. Oh, and his kickoffs are almost always touchbacks too.
WORST CASE: Morgan not only struggles on field goals, missing some in the critical first month of the season, but the extra-point woes continue. Mark Richt, having learned his lesson from two years ago, doesn’t hesitate to give the walk-on backups a chance to grab the job. Patrick Beless and Thomas Pritchard are their names, by the way.
FINAL WORD: Walsh’s sophomore season is a good goal for Morgan. The future NFL Pro Bowler actually had an uneven debut season too, only going 15-for-23 on field goals, but only missed two as a sophomore, while making 20. He also didn’t miss any extra points. Morgan doesn’t have to be quite that perfect, especially on an offense that shouldn’t have much trouble putting it in the end zone.