In Georgia's two prior offseasons, there was a competition at placekicker.
Heading into the 2018 season, the Bulldogs are at ease with that position.
Rising junior Rodrigo Blankenship proved to be one of the more efficient placekickers in the SEC by hitting 20 of his 23 field goal attempts in 2017. As the season went along, and with the Bulldogs facing two crunch-time situations in the postseason, Blankenship showed off his range, too. Against Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl, Blankenship nailed a 55-yarder at the end of the first half. In the national championship against Alabama, Blankenship drilled a 51-yarder to put the Bulldogs up by three in overtime.
In essence, Blankenship, who scored 123 points last season, went from being a redshirt freshman who barely cleared a then career-long of 49 yards to a third-year sophomore with elite-level range.
Former Georgia placekicker Billy Bennett holds the program record for most points in a season with 131 in 2003. In that season, Bennett went 31-of-38 kicking, which still remains a program best to this day in both makes and attempts. With Georgia converting 39 of its 55 red-zone opportunities for touchdowns, to go with the offense's big-play potential, Blankenship wasn't needed to be a high-volume kicker.
But by making 87 percent of his field goal tries, Blankenship ended the season ranked seventh nationally among his peers. His percentile was also good enough to go down as sixth-best in one year in Georgia history.
For his career, Blankenship has now made 82.9 percent of his kicks and still has two years of remaining eligibility. The best field-goal percentage to conclude a career at Georgia came from Brandon Coutu, who made 80.3 percent of his attempts.
Blankenship's field goal prowess was combined with his ability to boom touchbacks into the end zone.
Blankenship accounted for 67 touchbacks in 2017, which set a new record at Georgia. He surpassed legendary Georgia placekicker Kevin Butler, who hit 51 touchbacks in 1981.
There are some other numbers to consider following Blankenship's season:
- Blankenship has yet to miss an extra point in two years. By making 63 last season, he tied Marshall Morgan's performance in 2012 for second best in program history. Morgan holds the record with 67 extra points in 2014. Only Coutu finished his Georgia career perfect on extra points.
- Beside it being a Rose Bowl record, Blankenship's 55-yard field goal against Oklahoma became a Georgia bowl game best. It surpassed Coutu's 52-yarder from the 2008 Sugar bowl.
- Blankenship saw an increase of 47 touchbacks from the 2016 and 2017 seasons. A year before setting the Georgia record with 67, he hit only 20 as a redshirt freshman.