GETTING KICKY ABOUT THE KICKING GAME
With the Georgia and LSU offenses and defenses looking quite evenly matched, will the key to victory lie with the kicking game? If so, the news is good for the Dawgs. While I generally defer to the masochistical statistical overload provided by Kyle King for going inside the numbers of upcoming Georgia games, I thought I would kick around these numbers and thoughts for your perusal.
The Georgia Dome has always been a kicker friendly venue (just ask Todd Peterson of the Falcons who has made all 9 of his field goal attempts and all 15 of his PAT attempts inside the dome this year.) The Georgia Bulldogs have recently been a kicking friendly program. When itty bitty Billy Bennett becomes the all-time leading scorer of the world, you are kicking a lot of field goals. Indeed, Billy scored 409 points on 87 field goals and 148 pats between 2000-2003. His field goal percentage was 79%. This year, Brandon Coutu has handled the kicking chores for the Dawgs with much aplomb. He has been outstanding in open-air stadia, so we will assume that he can kick indoors and will hold high expectations for him tomorrow night. On the contrary, the LSU kicking duo of Chris Jackson and Colt David (with a name like Colt, you would expect to have a strong kicking leg) have been less than spectacular.
Now, for the side-by-side kicker comparisons. . .
Coutu is 21-27 overall for 77.8% accuracy. Jackson/David are 10-19 overall for 53% accuracy. On field goals under 40 yards, Coutu is 12-14 (86%) while Jackson/David are 6-9 (67%). On field goals greater than 40 yards, Coutu is 9-13 (69%) while Jackson/David are 4-10 (40%). Coutu has made 2 kicks greater than 50 yards with a long of 58 yards. Meanwhile, the Tigers have not even attempted a kick greater than 50 yards and have a long of 48 yards.
If Coutu is feeling it Saturday night, the Dawgs could almost reach for 3 every time they enter Tiger territory. Presumptively, the Dawgs have a better than 50% shot at a field goal once they reach the LSU 40 yard line. On the contrary, the Tigers will have to penetrate to the Dawgs 23 to have a better than 50% chance of a successful field goal. While playing for field goals is a good way to get beat, in this contest against the nation’s 5th best defense, Georgia will need any points it can muster and conceivably one long field goal could be the difference.
I remember when Kevin Butler was kicking bombs for Georgia in the 80’s and every time the Dawgs crossed mid-field, you were almost assured of a field goal attempt at the very least and most of those were good for points. Saturday night, I think I will have that same feeling, knowing that Coutu has the leg of Gus the Mule and will be booting within the light air of the Georgia Dome.