ATHENS, Ga. — After a rocky start to the season from Georgia’s special teams, the Bulldogs shuffled personnel and gave long snapper duties to Trent Frix.
However, Nathan Theus, who carried the bulk of the workload in the first three games, was listed as the official starter against LSU.
Frix, the freshman transfer from the Air Force Academy supplanted Theus after a few minor mistakes that resulted in major mishaps over the first month of the season.
“We’ve been feast or famine a little bit at times,” punt team coordinator John Lilly said. “We’ve made some big plays this year, but the problem is that when we have a bad play it’s been a really bad play.”
Frix is the son of Mitch Frix, Georgia’s snapper from 1981-1982 and brother of Ty Frix, who held the same role for the Bulldogs the last four years.
Lilly said he will continue to oversee competition at the position and make personnel decisions on a week-to-week basis.
For the most part, though, the special teams unit played better than it had the first three games.
There were no botched field goals, muffed snaps or a returned kick for a touchdown.
Marshall Morgan also notched a career-long 55-yard field goal to extend Georgia’s lead to 27-20 with 6:35 left in the third.
Perhaps the most pivotal special teams play occurred with three minutes to go in the third quarter, when Connor Norman recovered a fumble after a Georgia punt. Aaron Murray connected with Michael Bennett for a 21-yard touchdown just three plays later.
“We’re getting better,” Morgan said.
Freshmen everywhere on defense
Georgia continued to put faith in its defensive freshman on Saturday.
Safety Quincy Mauger and defensive tackle Chris Mayes both earned their first career starts against No. 6 LSU. Add linebacker Leonard Floyd, safety Tray Matthews and cornerback Brendan Langley and that makes five total freshmen who have started for coordinator Todd Grantham’s unit.
And those are just the starters. Linebacker Reggie Carter and cornerback Shaq Wiggins have also seen significant playing time this year.
“To play the amount of freshmen we’ve played against the schedule we’ve played I think says a lot about the resiliency and where we are,” Grantham said.
The defensive freshmen have had success, too.
Floyd leads the team with three sacks, including one on the final drive Saturday that helped secure the win. Matthews had a late interception against North Texas that swung the momentum in the Bulldogs’ favor in that game. And Wiggins was pivotal in coverage late against LSU as well, teammates said.
“These young guys make it easy for me,” junior cornerback Damian Swann said. “These young guys have a motor.”
Michael Bennett shines
Receiver Michael Bennett’s haul wasn’t huge – three passes for 38 yards – but two went for touchdowns, his third and fourth of the season.
Quarterback Aaron Murray said that Bennett has a “clutch ability” about him that makes him one of his more reliable targets. The Georgia quarterback said that he’s rarely wary about throwing it Bennett’s direction.
“That’s a very big compliment,” Bennett said. “I really didn’t have a lot catches, I just tried to make the most of the opportunities I had.”
Paul Oliver helmet sticker
Georgia players honored the late Paul Oliver on Saturday by wearing a helmet sticker with Oliver’s initials and No. 8.
Richt said that he made the decision to implement the honor earlier in the week and that the Bulldogs may do it again throughout the season.
Oliver died Tuesday in what was ruled a suicide. His body was discovered in his Marietta home just outside of Atlanta.
Oliver played at Georgia from 2003 to 2006, though he redshirted his freshman year and was ruled academically ineligible when he was a senior.
His standout season came during Georgia’s 2005 SEC championship campaign, when he was second on the team in interceptions with three and was named the team’s Most Improved Defensive Player.
Mark Fox joins Spike Squad
Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox suited up with the iconic UGA Spike Squad on Saturday and cheered on the Bulldogs from the student section.
He wasn’t seen there during the final minutes of the game and celebration after, though.
The Spike Squad is a crew of roughly a dozen students who paint themselves and wear spiked pads each week.