ATHENS -- Blair Walsh tries not to think about the streak, but sometimes it creeps into his mind. He’ll quickly clear his thoughts, preferring to stay in the moment, to focus on the next game and the next kick.
He would rather let someone else talk about the remarkable consistency that has helped him make all of his 102 extra-point attempts since he arrived at Georgia, just 12 away from tying Brandon Coutu’s school mark of 114 in a row, set from 2004-07.
“It’s nice to be reminded that I’ve done it, but it doesn’t matter,” Walsh said. “What matters is what happens on Saturday. You’re remembered for what you do week-to-week, and that’s how you treat it. Make or miss, the moment you walk off the field, the kick is done.”
That mindset, combined with his amazing accuracy and a powerful leg honed from years of playing soccer, has helped Walsh become one of the country’s top kickers.
He was one of three finalists for last year’s Lou Groza Award and has continued his success as a junior this season, making every attempt.
Walsh is 10-for-10 on PATs and 7-for-7 on field-goal attempts, with a 52-yarder in the season-opening victory over Louisiana-Lafayette. Dating to the final game of his freshman season, he’s 28 for his past 30 on field-goal attempts, a success rate of 93.3 percent.
For his career, Walsh is 42-for-52, or 80.8 percent, which is slightly higher than Coutu’s school record of 80.3 percent.
“He has no fear of missing,” said Nick Gancitano, a personal kicking coach who taught Walsh how to kick in his hometown of Boca Raton, Fla. “He generates a lot of power, and he’s not tentative. He goes right to the target, and that’s the key to placekicking.”
Coincidentally, Gancitano kicked two field goals and three extra points to help Penn State defeat Georgia 27-23 in the 1983 Sugar Bowl. Georgia’s kicker that season was Kevin Butler, whose son, Drew, is the Bulldogs’ All-America punter and holds for Walsh on his attempts.
Drew Butler is up close and personal with Walsh’s kicks.
“He’s definitely got a lot of foot,” Butler said. “If he hits it clean, it’ll just jump off [his foot], and it gets on track quick. It shows what kind of power and accuracy he has. It’s a great balance, and that’s why he’s able to make a lot of those long kicks. He has confidence in himself to make every kick, and that’s a big part of it.”
Gancitano said: “Blair has the full package.”
Walsh has a strong appreciation of Georgia’s kicking lineage and has talked to several of his predecessors, including Coutu, Kevin Butler, Rex Robinson and Todd Peterson. That was something he took into account before committing to Georgia in 2007, in the spring of his junior year at Cardinal Gibbons High.
“I feel very ensconced in the history here, and it’s nice that those guys have reached out to me,” Walsh said. “[Robinson] approached me as a freshman, when I was going through some stuff here. He just kept me motivated and said you’ll see your ups and downs. He said, ‘Stick with it.’ I did.”
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