Originally created 12/29/04

Coutu gets first kick at starting



TAMPA, Fla. - It only took one kick from Georgia's Brandon Coutu for coach Mark Richt to proclaim the redshirt freshman had overtaken Andy Bailey as the team's No. 1 kicker.

Coutu's first collegiate field goal try was a clutch 44-yard fourth-quarter kick that tacked on an important final three points in Georgia's 19-13 victory over Georgia Tech in the regular-season finale.

The walk-on from Alpharetta, Ga., can solidify his hold on a job he battled for but did not win in the preseason Saturday when Georgia plays Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl (11 a.m., ESPN).

"I think I have an opportunity to do well," Coutu said. "If I don't miss a kick, I'm sure I'll still be in there."

But Coutu is not putting extra pressure on himself.

"I feel like if I look over my shoulder the whole time that can interfere or get in the way," he said. "It just depends on the situation, how things are going and if I'm hitting the ball well. We'll be competing in the spring. Nothing will be locked up in one game."

Richt was noncommittal when asked if he expected the kicking job to be wide-open in the spring.

Bailey, a unanimous selection for the All-Southeastern Conference freshman team, converted 14 of 20 field goals but the honor came after he lost his job.

Coutu lost a tight, closely watched preseason competition with Bailey for the field goal and extra point job but still saw action as the Bulldogs' kickoff man and registered 19 touchbacks, 10 more than Billy Bennett had in 2003.

"At least I was doing something," Coutu said. "That helped a lot. The Tech game wasn't the first game I was on the field. It gave me time to get better, keep practicing and keep my head up."

OUTBACK BOWL

Georgia vs. WisconsinDate: SaturdayKickoff: 11 a.m.TV: ESPNRecords: Georgia 9-2, Wisconsin 9-2



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