September 27, 2009

Walsh able to keep cool under pressure

Kade Weston might be the last person one would think could offer Blair Walsh advice on kicking.

But according to Walsh, it was gentle reminder by the 320-pound defensive tackle that helped set the stage for the game-winning kick that enabled Georgia to beat Arizona State Saturday night 20-17.

"Kade just came over and told me 'it's just another kick,'" said Walsh. "That's really how I was trying to approach it. I kept telling myself it's no big deal, it's just another kick. There was no reason to press; it was the same kick I'd done hundreds of times."

But this one meant so much more as it enabled the Bulldogs (3-1) to pull out another victory heading into this Saturday's huge SEC clash against LSU.

It was also the first career game winner by Walsh and the first by a Bulldog since Brandon Coutu at Vanderbilt in 2007. Ironically, Coutu's kick was also a 37-yarder that gave Georgia an identical 20-17 win.

The kick was the 14th game-winner in school history dating back to 1942 with two minutes or less in the final period.

Walsh is now 8-for-8 in field goals this season, including 2-for-2 in Saturday's game. For his career, Walsh is now 23-for-31 in field goals and 63-for-63 on extra points.

"This was my first (game-winner) in my life, high school much less college," Walsh said. "It's crazy."

Walsh's kick came nearly four minutes after A.J. Green set up the game-winning drive by blocking a 37-yard field goal attempt by ASU's Bobby Wenzig.

The offense followed up Green's big play by driving 60 yards in nearly four minutes, 36 coming on a pass from Joe Cox to Green down to the ASU 22.

With time running down, the Bulldogs were satisfied just to position the ball right in the middle of the field for Walsh, who after a timeout calmly drilled the kick before being mobbed by teammates.

Ironically, head coach Mark Richt barely watched the ball sail through.

"I didn't watch it, I don't think, until the very end. I just had a lot of confidence that Blair would make it," Richt said. "That's why we just set it up in the middle of the field because we were well within his range. I just believed he was going to make it. He drilled it. He's been kicking great all year. Blair's just been fantastic."

Although he had never been in position to make a game-winning kick before Saturday night, Walsh said he had an inkling that was going to get his opportunity.

"I sort of had a weird feeling with about five minutes left," he said. "I knew something was going to happen where I was going to get my chance. I'm glad I did and I'm glad I came through."

Walsh said nerves never entered into his thinking.

"I just treated it like every other kick. There was no need to build it up in my mind," he said. "It was just a kick I knew I needed to make. I couldn't be happier right now."

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