UGA Football

Blankenship is chasing program history with touchbacks

Georgia's Rodrigo Blankenship (98) attempts a field goal against Notre Dame.
Georgia's Rodrigo Blankenship (98) attempts a field goal against Notre Dame. AP

Georgia place-kicker Rodrigo Blankenship wasn't aware he is kicking the football out of the end zone at an historic rate.

But through seven games, Blankenship has recorded 37 touchbacks on 49 kickoff attempts. The single-season record for touchbacks at Georgia is 51, according to the program's sports information staff. This record was set in 1981 by former place-kicker Kevin Butler, who is finishing his degree and serving as a student assistant with the specialists.

If he continues at this rate, Blankenship is on pace to record an estimated 69 touchbacks through a 12-game regular season and a bowl. Of course, an SEC Championship appearance or College Football Playoff opportunity could add additional touchback opportunities too.

Needless to say, Blankenship could shatter this particular program record.

"It would be nice to get it but I'm just trying to hit as many touchbacks as I can to be the best asset I can be for this team," Blankenship said. "Any records that come along with it are icing on the cake."

Georgia has been kicking off a lot this year with the added scoring output. Against Missouri, the Bulldogs kicked off 10 times in a 53-28 victory.

With all of the kicking off, Blankenship said he has lessened his rep count during the week to stay fresh for games in the event he has to work as much as he did against Missouri. This approach has helped as Blankneship's last two kickoffs against the Tigers were still an estimated nine yards deep in the end zone.

"It's always fun when our team is scoring like we are but I think really limiting the reps during the week has been good for us," Blankenship said.

Blankenship said he prefers to boom the ball deep into the end zone as opposed to directional kicking and hoping the coverage unit can stop a team before the 25-yard line.

He has clearly done a good job of getting this done through seven games.

"For me personally, I like the idea of them not having a chance at all to return it," Blankenship said. "When I do happen to hit a touchback that's a real sign of relief for me that I'm just allowing our defense to have a guaranteed certain number of yards to work with every time they step on the field."