Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Can Morgan match Walsh's sophomore season?

In the third installment of Emerson's most important players series he takes a look at placekicker Marshall Morgan. The reasoning is simple: as he puts it, Morgan was on last year's list because he was a freshman and no one knew what to expect from him; and he's on this year's list because as a freshman he didn't allay any of those fears.

Inevitably the comparison to Blair Walsh will come up. So let's have a look. (via

Blair Walsh, freshman 2008

Marshall Morgan, freshman 2012

The first thing to notice is the contrast in number of field goal attempts. Clearly Richt had more faith in the offense on fourth down than the place kicking. And why not, given how well the offense was performing last season. (note: the number of 4th down attempts went down last year, but rose as the season progressed. That's a post for another day.) But Morgan clearly settled down as the season progressed. He didn't miss an extra point after the trip to Lexington. And that's the next thing that jumps out at me - the offense got in the end zone a lot last season. And although there were times the kick was more exciting than it should've been, Morgan made most of those conversion attempts.

So Morgan's freshman season was watched with a more anxious eye, but all in all it was pretty comparable to Walsh' first one in Athens.

Blair Walsh, sophomore 2009

Obviously Walsh had a big jump in confidence and consistency from year one to year two. And as unfair as it might be, this becomes the standard for Morgan entering the 2013 campaign. I would expect to see a similar jump for Morgan this season. And going back to something Emerson says to wrap up:
BEST CASE: Morgan makes his first field goal of the season, and it goes from there. For the first time since Blair Walsh’s junior season, the Bulldogs have a reliable kicker who makes at least 80 percent of his fields. Oh, and his kickoffs are almost always touchbacks too.
If Morgan makes his first field goal of the Clemson's Death Valley...under the lights...on national television...well, that may tell us all we need to know.