Georgia Tech special-teams coordinator Ray Rychleski assessed his unit’s play in Saturday’s 38-19 victory against Wofford as “the good, the bad and the ugly,” but took particular pride in how it responded at the end of the first half.
Immediately after giving up a 92-yard touchdown run to Wofford’s Ray Smith that gave the Terriers the lead, the same defensive players stayed on the field and blocked the extra-point try. Both cornerback Chris Milton and nose tackle Shawn Green got their hands on the ball to limit Wofford’s lead to 9-7. On the following kickoff, Jamal Golden returned the kick 40 yards to midfield, helping set up a go-ahead 30-yard field goal by Harrison Butker to end the half. With one more block on the return, Rychleski said, Golden could have scored a touchdown.
“That’s a great change of events,” Rychleski said.
He wasn’t as pleased with the rest of it, particularly Golden’s fumble of a second-quarter punt deep inside Tech territory. Rychleski said Golden took his eye off the ball to set up his return. Tech safety Corey Griffin made a critical save by knocking the ball out of bounds to allow the Jackets to retain possession. Rychleski said Golden also should have caught two punts that he let fall, one of which he picked up off the bounce and returned 28 yards.
“He must be living right and I must be living right, because we survived that,” Rychleski said of Golden.
While Butker missed a field goal, he also recorded touchbacks on five of six kickoffs, one of which went into the stands.
“That was impressive to everybody,” Rychleski said. “Any time you can do that, it just makes it easy.”
Golden’s four other returns were to the 23-, 28, 29- and 20-yard lines. Rychleski said the goal is to reach the 30.
“You’re not going to have every one (be a long return),” he said. “Now, can we do better? Heck, yeah, we can do better.”
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