UGA’s Rodrigo Blankenship takes missed kicks in stride

Rodrigo Blankenship’s Heisman Trophy campaign was short-lived.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart said this past week that he would be all for the Bulldogs promoting the senior place-kicker for college football's top award. He was joking, of course, but Blankenship's perfect season to date was no joke.

That run of perfection ended Saturday against South Carolina, and it landed with a heavy thud. Blankenship had one field-goal try blocked and then missed a 42-yarder that would have extended the game to a third overtime. Instead, it was wide left, and the Gamecocks defeated No. 3 Georgia 20-17 in what's thought to be the biggest upset of a top-5 team in Sanford Stadium history.

Asked what went wrong on the ill-fated attempt, Blankenship could only shrug.

“I really couldn't tell you to tell you the truth,” the senior from Marietta said. “I need to get in the film room and look closely and study it.”

Blankenship entered the game a perfect 11-of-11 on field-goal attempts, and his 50-yarder only 4:45 into Saturday’s game was his third of the season from that range.

But Blankenship's 53-yard attempt as the second quarter ended was blocked. And he never got to attempt the potential game winner which would have been from 55 yards. Georgia elected to run one more play from the 38 with eight seconds remaining. The Bulldogs were flagged in the process, backed up five yards, and Smart chose to go for low-percentage touchdown rather than let Blankenship try from 60 yards at the end of regulation.

Blankenship said he was up for the challenge had he been called on.

“I’m always going to tell coach Smart I can make it, no matter what the distance is, no matter what point in the game,” Blankenship said.

The percentage play would’ve been to try a 55-yarder with eight seconds to go. Blankenship thought that chance was coming.

“We were in my target range on that side, going that direction, 55 yards,” Blankenship said. “But we had a penalty that knocked us back five yards and, at that point, our mindset kind of shifted.”

Despite the misses, Blankenship still had the confidence of not only his coach, but the South Carolina coach as well.

“My heart goes out to him losing in that fashion,” said Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp, a UGA football letterman. “He's an outstanding young man, and he's about all the right things in college football.”

Said Smart: “We’ll continue to show confidence in Hot Rod. He’s a worker, we believe in him, he’s meant so much to us, he’s given us so much. But it’s tough. ... You’ve got to be able to make those field goals. Rod knows that. We support him, we love him. There’s other games we wouldn’t have won without him."