Rodrigo the Hero gives Smart the win he ‘needed’ 

Posted: 1:12 am Sunday, November 6th, 2016

By Jay Black

LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the first time in history, a football player with glasses so big it might as well be goggles or a ski mask, is the Big Man on Campus.

It’s good to be Rodrigo Blankenship. The unlikely savior of Georgia’s football season is in the photo above.

It’s safe to say, about six weeks ago, that this redshirt freshman would be the last guy you’d expect to keep the Dawgs season from careening off the tracks farther than it already has.

You also wouldn’t expect the Kentucky game to come down to a kick. A kick that would matter so much.

“I needed this,” said head coach Kirby Smart on the UGA radio network.

You bet he did.

It’s a 27-24 victory over Kentucky. On a last-second 25-yard field goal by the guy who wasn’t good enough to start when the season began.

It’s a victory that doesn’t do anything except, well, Georgia didn’t lose to Kentucky and Vanderbilt  in the same season. The bandage worked. There’s no more blood on the floor.

“They needed this, this university needed this, we needed this. And we got it,” said Smart.

Isaiah McKenzie had a TD catch, but killed the Dawgs with a muffed punt.

This win won’t make anyone change what they think about this team and Georgia didn’t do anything to alter the reputation it’s already built. The defense was solid, but not shut down. The offense didn’t totally click and there was the inevitable special teams gaffe. Throw in some killer penalties and it was a typical day at the office.

But UGA did get a few things accomplished tonight. It found a kicker and showed they were still playing for something, even though parts of Bulldog Nation have already checked out. A win like this will won’t shut everybody up, but at least the groaning can’t get any louder.

Because it sure was about to.

It’s really the unforgivable sin in Athens, losing to the Commodores and Wildcats in one season. Mark Richt did it once and got away with it. He had just won an SEC title the year before and the Sugar Bowl the year after.

The only trophy Kirby has is that Ole’ Leather Helmet from the Chick-fil-a Kickoff Game. Not exactly a centerpiece item.

Kirby Smart should get to a bowl game now.

Georgia avoided utter disaster tonight. It all but guarantees a bowl game, which is very significant. Yeah I know  you can’t count on anything with this group, but for arguments sake, the UL-Lafayette game is one they’ve got a pretty good shot in.

Yeah it might be the Birmingham Bowl or bust, but a bad bowl is always better than none at all. You get to practice for a month and with this team, they need it.

This offensive line still has a long way to go. Yes there were 215 rushing yards, but seven tackles behind the line. This coach still has a long way to go. This quarterback still has a long way to go.

Jacob Eason is reminding everyone that, no matter how talented you are, learning to play college football is really, really hard.

His stats were very mediocre. 17-for-31 for 245 yards against a Kentucky defense that’s not going to win any awards. You hope for better, but it’s truly hard to expect better.

Jacob Eason wasn’t his best, until he needed to be.

However, this teenager has now been asked to lead his team on three drives to win the game and he’s done it every time. Tonight and Missouri finished with Ws. Tennessee should have.

Eason was nothing special before the final two minutes, but a perfect 4-for-4 for 40 yards to finish the thing off.

That’s hard to teach.

This season was on the verge of going from bad to worse, but a skinny QB and an even skinnier four-eyed kicker put a stop to that.

Now Georgia has picked up a bit of momentum with a top-10 team waiting on it. Maybe this group has something special in them.

Because, to borrow a phrase, this coach, this team and this University certainly need it.