Sept. 19, 2010
By Matt Winkeljohn
They don’t leave Scott Blair alone any more, like teammates and coaches once did when there was a big kick pending for the Georgia Tech senior. As a matter of fact, they kind of crowd around.
Before each of the four field goals he kicked early last season in a critical win over Clemson, the Yellow Jackets treated him like he had the plague on the sideline – folks scattered.
Soon thereafter Blair let out a secret: he kind of likes a little noise and commotion rather than too much calm before the storm.
So as he was in the process of kicking three field goals and three PATS in Saturday’s 30-24 win at North Carolina, he had buddies. His two fourth-quarter FGs were the difference as Tech won its ACC opener.
“For the Clemson game last year, not many people came and talked to me and after the game I talked to several of them and they said they didn’t want to get in my head,” Blair recalled. “I explained to a lot of them that talking to people helps me not rattle around in my head. This year, more guys are coming around.
“[Tackle] Nick Claytor talked to me right before one of the fourth-quarter kicks, and before the long one [46 yards], quite a few came up. [Chaplain] Derrick Moore, and some of our [sports information staffers] . . . it’s a lot more relaxed this year. When you talk it kind of eases your mind instead of holding it all in.”
Blair’s 12 points Saturday pushed him into ninth place in Tech scoring history, his 179 points nudging him past former wide receiver Calvin Johnson’s 174. He’s nine points behind teammate Joshua Nesbitt (188), and although he’s well off the pace of former kicker Luke Manget (322), he’s fourth in career scoring by kickers, trailing Manget, Travis Bell (321) and Scott Sisson (299).
The Calhoun, Ga., native is third in career field goal accuracy among kickers who have tried at least 20 field goals as his mark of 69.8 percent trails just that of Bell (72.6) and Manget (70.1).
To listen to him tell it, Blair began achieving his inner zen when head coach Paul Johnson at some point last season told him basically to fuhgedaboutit.
“Coach Johnson was talking to me last year and saying it was paralysis by analysis on every kick [because Blair was over-thinking],” he said. “Everything I do now is really simple. I’m just going out and kicking.
Blair’s made all four of his field goal tries this season, including just one in Tech’s first two games, and he’s made all 10 of his PATs (the botched PAT vs. S.C. State was a “team” attempt officially because of a bad snap). He enters Saturday’s game having made 51 consecutive PATs.
Johnson is typically blunt when he’s not happy with the kicking games. He commented after the win at North Carolina that, “Scott’s kicking the ball well.”
There’s a catch-22 here because Blair would prefer seeing his team scoring touchdowns because they count for more points, but at the same time he’s of a mind to relish scoring opportunities now more than ever.
“I’m not putting too much pressure on myself; I pretty much know I can make the kick. If it’s a 57, I know I can make that because I have [in practice]. If it’s a 22, I can make it. Before the UNC game, Coach Johnson was watching me in warm-ups and I made one from 60 yards going one way, and the other way I hit the cross bar from 54. I told him I was good from 53 ½.
“This year, I don’t know what it is exactly but I have a lot more confidence.”
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