October 20, 2010

Sailors making a name on special teams

Blake Sailors laughed that assistant coach Warren Belin has four simple messages to anyone who lines up as part of his kickoff coverage team.

"Use your speed, get down there, don't get blocked and make the tackle," Sailors said. "GATA."

So far, that's pretty much what Sailors has done.

The preferred walk-on from nearby Oconee County High is making quite the name for himself as a demon on special teams, particularly on kickoff coverage where the Bulldogs rank first in the SEC with net average of 47.4 yards per game.

"I don't look at that right now," said Belin, who is in charge of the kickoff coverage unit. "But I challenge our guys on the kickoff coverage team; we'll take a look after the season is over to see where we are at that time."

So far, Sailors has played a key role in the squad's success.

The next time the Bulldogs kick off, keep an eye on No. 5; if he's not making the tackle on the opposing return man there's a good chance he'll be somewhere close by.

In seven games, Sailors has made four tackles while on kickoff and punt coverage, including a fumble recovery two weeks ago against Tennessee.

"Blake is kind of funny. The first time they put him on kickoff nobody really saw him, but when you watched on film he was like five yards ahead of everybody," teammate Jordan Love said. "When he's running, all you see is this little white thing running by, and you be like "what's that?' That's Blake. He draws a lot of blocks, a lot of people, so even when he's not making a play he's drawing enough people to give somebody else an opportunity."

Opposing teams are starting to pay attention.

With Sailors gaining the reputation as one of the league's top gunners, he's been receiving his share of double-teams in an attempt to slow him down.

"Yeah, the last game it was driving me nuts, ticking me off because I was getting cheap shots here and there," Sailors said. "Then the last game (Tennessee) I got a personal foul where I didn't keep my composure. I've just got to learn how to get around that stuff."

Belin agrees that Sailors still has much to learn.

"The good Lord has gifted him with a lot of speed, he can get down the field and make plays but we the coaching staff are trying to get him positioned where he can make even more positive plays," Belin said. "We're working as hard as we can with Blake, but we're doing the same thing with the entire team. I won't give just one guy credit."

But Belin isn't taking anything from him, either.

It takes a certain person to want to play on the kickoff squad. Belin said Sailors appears to have just what it takes.

"Blake has done a tremendous job and I'm excited about where he is right now helping our kickoff coverage team as well as our other special teams that he's helping on," Belin said. "I think he's grown up a lot to adopt the role that he has on special teams. He has performed very well, but like I said there's a lot of room for improvement because he's not there yet."

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