the study of the kicking components within sports

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

NFL 2010 Preseason Week Three K Quotes

Some kicking and punting news and quotes from the third week of the NFL preseason...

Against the Cardinals, the Bears' kicker Robbie Gould hit a 22 yard field goal, but had a 38 yard attempt blocked and his 48 yard attempt hit the left upright. He noted:
"Both of them were my fault. The first one took too long to get off. That's on me. Obviously, if it takes me longer it puts a lot of stress on the guys up front. I've got to take the blame for it. It was my fault and the miss was my fault, too… It has nothing to do with [long snapper Patrick Mannelly’s injury]. It just happens. You make some, you miss some."
Jason Hanson warmed-up prior to the Browns' game and is expected to play this week. Lions' head coach Jim Schwartz commented:
"It was first time he had kicked from over on some hashes where he sort of had to torque his body a little bit and he was able to get through it pretty good, I think. I mean, time will tell. We'll really see tomorrow sort of how he is. As long as he didn't get sore from the work, I think we'll be OK. But this was a big test for him because, like I said, when you start lining up on some of those hashes you got to really torque your body and that's his plant foot that he had his injury on, so if he made it through this and stays the way he's been, then that's a really good sign for him."
Following the Colts game, the Packers' special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum commented on the punting competition between Tim Masthay and Chris Bryan:
“Tim had a very good punt. It was in perfect position and that was positive. Obviously, Tim had a good game and he also kicked off well and held well…. We’ve got a large body of work to go off of. It’s not about one performance and one game. As important as these games are, we’re also going to consider the entire body of work.”
Texans' head coach Gary Kubiak discussed the ongoing kicker competition between Neil Rackers and Kris Brown:
"It's been an impressive battle. Two great guys and they both have handled it very professionally. But obviously, we can only have one, so it will be a very difficult decision."
Last week, Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski signed a four year contract extension worth approximately $14 million. He commented:
"I just did my part by showing up and trying to get ready for the season. That’s all I could do. Luckily, it worked out, and I’m very grateful I have the opportunity to play here for a couple more years…. You just never know what’s going to happen. The patience paid off. Last year, I thought maybe I’d get [an extension]. You wait around, you never know."

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lou Groza Award 2010 Watch List, part 2

In part one we looked at the first half of the kickers on the Lou Groza Award 2010 Preseason Watch List. Not surprisingly, we now take a look at the second half of the list. But before we do so, we begin with an overview of the upcoming process.

Accomplishments are tabulated throughout the season and the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award announces its 20 semi-finalists on Friday, October 29, 2010. From this list, a panel of over 300 experts selects the top three (3) finalists for the award by Monday, November 22, 2010. That same group then selects the national winner which will be announced Thursday, December 9, 2010, during the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Award Show, broadcast live from Orlando Florida. The 19th Annual Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, presented by the Orange Bowl Committee, recognizes the three (3) finalists during an early week celebration in Palm Beach County, culminating with a gala awards banquet on December 7, prior to joining ESPN in Orlando.

Kahut comes into the 2010 season with 39 career field goals and 201 points (7th all-time at OSU). Kahut has a strong leg and is consistent as shown in '09 when he kicked 4 field goals against UCLA and again at Oregon earning him PAC-10 Special Teams Player of the Week. He had 22 field goals for the season, leaving him one short of the school record.

A 2009 semi-finalist for the Lou Groza Award, Spencer Lanning led his team in scoring during the 2009 season with 79 points, the seventh highest in school history. Lanning tied a 19 year old school record by completing 5 of 5 field goals at Georgia. He hit 17 of 20 field goals in 2009 with a long of 47 yards.

Daniel Murray, University of Iowa
Daniel Murray's honors in the 2009 season include honorable mention All-Big Ten by league media, academic All Big Ten for the third year, and's Big Ten Special Teams Player of the week for his efforts against Michigan. Murray was 19 of 26 on field goals and 32 of 33 on extra points in '09 with a long field goal of 48 yards.

Joe Phillips, University of Utah
Joe Phillips has proven to be a reliable kicker with poise in pressure situations. In '09, Phillips was a semi-finalist for the Lou Groza Award, while being the most accurate place kicker in the MWC. He made 90.9% of his field goal attempts with 20 FG's, which was the second best single season mark in school history. Phillips was named College Football Performance Awards National Kicker of the Week and the MWC Special Teams Player of the Week for his play against BYU.

Robert Randolph, University of Virginia
As a semi-finalist for the 2009 Lou Groza Award, Randolph connected on 17 of 19 FG attempts while being successful on his first 11 attempts of the '09 season. He ranked second in the ACC in field goal accuracy (89.5%). Randolph connected on a career long 49 yard field goal against Georgia Tech in a rain storm, and set a career high with 3 field goals at North Carolina.

Grant Ressel, University of Missouri
A 2009 Lou Groza Award semi-finalist, Ressel won the starting job the week of the Tigers' season opener and went on to break the NCAA single season accuracy record. He was a First Team All-American in 2009 going 26 of 27 on field goals and 39 of 39 on PATs. He connected on all four FG attempts, including the game winner with no time left against rival Kansas.

Will Snyderwine, Duke University
Snyderwine, is a 2009 Lou Groza Award semifinalist and a second team All ACC choice. He set records for the Blue Devils in both field goals made and field goal percentage. Snyderwine scored 16 points against Virginia with 5 field goals and an extra point. His 51 yard field goal against Wake Forest equaled the 11th longest field goal in school history.

Erik Soderberg, Air Force Academy
Soderberg ended the '09 season making the 2nd most single-season field goals in Air Force history with 22, including a long of 50 yards against Colorado State. He earned second team All-Mountain West honors.

Jimmy Stevens, University of Oklahoma
Jimmy Stevens earned All-Big 12 Academic second team honors in 2009. He displayed good accuracy going 11 for 13 (84.6%) in field goal attempts. Stevens converted a career-high four field goals against Baylor, finishing with 15 points, the third highest single game total in OU history.

Caleb Sturgis, University of Florida
A semi-finalist for the Lou Groza Award in 2009, Sturgis made two or more field goals in seven of eight SEC regular season games. He kicked a career long 56 yard field goal against Georgia, the longest in the SEC for the season. Sturgis has shown strength and accuracy, going six for nine beyond 40 yards. He was named to the SEC academic honor roll in the fall of 2009.

In his freshman year, Tausch converted on 14 consecutive field goals, breaking a school record set in 1982, and was named a 2009 semi-finalist for the Lou Groza Award. He also set a record for field goals made in a game without a miss when he converted all five attempts against Washington. Tausch also converted 3 of 4 field goals between 40-49 yards.

Blair Walsh, University of Georgia
In 2009, Walsh was named All SEC Second Team by the Associated Press, and was one of three Finalists for the Lou Groza Award. He was 4 for 5 in field goals attempts 50 yards and beyond showing leg strength and accuracy. He was named the Placekicker of the Year.

As the 2007 Lou Groza winner, Thomas Weber has continued his success over the past 3 years making 51 of 63 field goal attempts and 94 of 98 PATs. Weber is an accurate and strong legged kicker. 2009 was a shortened season due to injury for Weber who looks to return this year and add to his impressive numbers.

Nate Whitaker, Stanford University
Whitaker enters the 2010 season having made his last 5 field goal attempts, including two kicks of 40 yards or more. As an Honorable Mention All Pac 10 Selection, Whitaker's 16 field goals tied for the third most in Stanford single season history. His career long 54 yard field goal against Wake Forest tied for 5th longest in school history.

Alex Zendejas, University of Arizona
Zendejas earned PAC 10 Player of the Week after kicking the game winning 32 yard field goal as time expired against Arizona State. His 89 points in the 2009 season were 6th most in school history, and made him the team's leading scorer for the year.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

NFL 2010 Preseason Week Two K Quotes

Some kicking and punting quotes from the second week of the NFL preseason...

Late in the second quarter, with a 4th and long on the 37 yard line, the Atlanta Falcons opted to go for it with a pass play rather than try a 54 yard field goal attempt. Head coach Mike Smith noted that punter Michael Koenen, who has placekicked in the past, almost got the call:
"Well, Michael Koenen has kicked long field goals. It was a decision that at first we thought we'd go out there and try out. Then I thought better of it and felt like it was the more prudent thing to work on our fourth down and thirteen play, you just never know if it's going to come up during the season."
Baltimore Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff discussed his strong kickoff numbers for the preseason:
"You have to remember that I came [to the Ravens] when it was cold. The ball flies a little easier in the warm weather. Last year, I had a bunch of cold games, and then we went to that playoff game in Indianapolis [which was indoors], I think I had two kickoffs - one was seven-yards deep, and one was three deep. So, again, nice climate-controlled areas.... It's something I pride myself on. I definitely think I've gotten better at it, but also the weather helps."
With his recovery from knee surgery not progressing as hoped, punter Dave Zustadil was placed on IR last week. His replacement, Reggie Hodges commented:
“It’s a tough situation for Dave and his family, but it’s time to step up. I just put my head down and work…. Consistency is the most important thing a punter can bring. That’s been my goal throughout my career, this year especially. I get better every day. I do the detail work on my steps and drop and ball placement. I feel if the groundwork is laid, punting the football the actual punting will be better.”
Dallas Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips commented on the status of David Buehler's quest to serve as the placekicker:
"We got two more games. I think our team has confidence in him. That is a big key.But we have two more games. He has more work to do.... He is in a blame situation like the quarterback or the coach. You will blame him for the loss. That is more pressure. It's easy for players to point fingers at the kicker after a miss. If it happens enough and they can see, it causes problems. They don't see the mistakes the right or left guard makes or even the nose tackle. You don't see it like you do a kicker."
After a slow start in camp on field goals, Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby has been hitting them all of late, as punting candidates Chris Bryan and Tim Masthay have improved as holders. Crosby made field goals of 34 and 51 yards against the Seahawks. He discussed the improvement:
“I feel like we’ve put in the work, and it’s really paying off. The operation’s feeling as smooth as it has in awhile, and we’re just putting in the time to make sure it’s perfect. That’s the key. It’s training camp, it’s preseason. We just keep building. It’s looking good, though.”
Houston Texans kicker Neil Rackers assessed the of both himself and his competitor Kris Brown:
“Things went really well from the kicking standpoint. I think we’ve both been so focused on the field goals in practice that our kickoffs have suffered. We’ll work on those this week.”
Last week, San Diego Chargers kicker Nick Novak discussed his career goals for the preseason:
"For me it’s about training every single day with an NFL team and that I am not at home training by myself. That gives me a huge advantage personally when other teams see that I am in camp.... For me it is going out there and getting new film. With me not playing last year, teams have really not seen much tape of me of how I am kicking currently. My goal is not just to get here but to establish myself. Basically, do what Nate [Kaeding] has done for the past 6 or 7 years."
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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lou Groza Award 2010 Watch List, part 1

The annual Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award recently released their 2010 Preseason Watch List. The following comes from the official press release:

Kickers on the Lou Groza Award Watch List were chosen based on statistics from the 2009 season and 2010 pre-season expectations. Fifteen semi-finalists are returning from 2009. The Pacific Ten leads the conferences with 6 players on the list. The ACC and SEC have landed 5 kickers each. The Groza Committee will be watching all FBS kickers during the season, and releasing a weekly “Stars of the Week” feature.

The award, is named for National Football League (NFL) Hall of Fame kicker Lou “The Toe” Groza, who played 21 seasons with the Cleveland Browns. Groza won four NFL championships with Cleveland and was named NFL Player of the Year in 1954. Although an “All Pro” offensive lineman, Groza ushered in the notion that there should be a place on an NFL roster for a kicker.

In alphabetical order, following is the first half of the watch list.

Earned Second-team All-ACC honors after making 21 of 25 field goals. Led the ACC with 21 field goals and ranked 12th in the country with 1.62 field goals made per game. Tied the UNC single season record for field goals made with 21. Made 34 of 35 extra points on the season, including 33 consecutive after missing in the season opener.

Tyler Bitancurt, West Virginia University
Selected First-team All-BIG EAST Conference by the league coaches,, The Sporting News, and Second team by Phil Steele. Earned the starting kicker position during the 2009 preseason and has proven to be a valuable scoring asset for the Mountaineer offense. Clutch kicker, having kicked four field goals twice (Liberty, Pitt) last year and hit the game-winner as time expired against Pitt.

Matt Bosher, University of Miami
Bosher, a double threat with both the ability to kick and punt, was selected First team All-ACC as a kicker and Second team All-ACC as a punter in 2009. He hopes to start the 2010 season the way he finished 2009, with 12 consecutive field goals (second most in school history).

Kyle Brotzman, Boise State University
Kyle has connected on 179 of 180 extra point attempts over his 3 seasons as a starting place kicker. For the second straight year he led his team in scoring as well as leading the nation's kickers with 117 total points in 2009.

A 2009 Lou Groza Award semi-finalist, Wes was second in the NCAA between kickers with 10 or more field goals, with a 93.8% field goal success rate. Byrum connected on a 21 yard field goal in overtime of the Outback Bowl against Northwestern that proved to be the game winner.

Second team All Big Ten selection and a Lou Groza Award semi-finalist in 2009, Demos handled all of NU's punting, place kicking and kickoff duties. Named First team All Big Ten selection by Sporting News and Phil Steele.

First-team All-Mountain West Conference. Evans topped the MWC in scoring with 106 points while tying for 29th nationally at 8.2 points per game. He set a TCU single-season record with 61 extra point attempts made.

Folk turned in an excellent season in his first year as the Huskies' No. 1 kicker, connecting on 18 of 21 field goal attempts and 35 of 35 PAT tries. He was named the 950 KJR Special Teams MVP at the team's post season awards banquet and earned honorable mention Academic All-Pac-10. His field goal percentage of .857 (18-for-21) was third-best in UW history.

Kai Forbath, UCLA
Winner of the Lou Groza Award in 2009. Consensus All-America kicker. He was a second team selection by AP and first-team All-Pac-10 by the league's coaches. Tri-winner of UCLA's Outstanding Special Teams Player. Kai made 28 of 31 field goals and 24 of 25 PATs for 108 points. Made all 25 attempts from inside 50 yards and was three of six from 50 yards or more.

A 2009 Lou Groza Award semi-finalist, Gendreau hit 18 of 22 of his field goals in 2009 as well as all but one of his 51 PATS. Named 1st Team, All Sunbelt by the league coaches and media, Gendreau set school records for field goals made (18), total points (104), and consecutive made field goals (12).

Kevin Goessling, Fresno State
A 2009 Lou Groza Award semi-finalist. In his sophomore year, Kevin Goessling made 15 straight field goals after missing his first attempt. He's made 22 of 24 going back to the '08 season and was a perfect 51 for 51 on PATS. Goessling was selected to the All-WAC First Team by WAC head coaches in 2009.

Alex Henery returns for his senior season after putting together three of the finest seasons for a place-kicker in Nebraska school history and earning the distinction as a 2009 Lou Groza Award semi-finalist. Henery was one of only three players to rank in the top 50 nationally in both field goals and punting average in '09. His 24 field goals this past season broke the Huskers' single season record.

Dustin Hopkins, Florida State University
As a true freshman, Hopkins won the starting job for the Seminoles in pre-season competition and went on to lead the team in scoring with 97 points. He made his first field goal of his college career from 52 yards against Miami. With improved leg strength and consistency, the Seminoles expect to get a big boost from Hopkins in the 2010 season.

Daniel Hutchins, University of Pittsburgh
Dan Hutchins played a prominent role in the Panthers '09 season, earning All-Big East as a kicker and leading the conference in scoring, field goals, and field goal percentage. Hutchins' 115 points broke the 33 year old school record previously held by Carson Long. He set the Meineke Car Care Bowl record with 4 field goals including the game winner with 52 seconds left on the clock.

Josh Jasper heads into the 2010 season as LSU's all-time leader in field goal percentage (.864) having made 19 of 22. He's one of only 4 players in LSU history that has made multiple field goals from 50 yards and beyond. Jasper has a strong leg and great accuracy. He was 17 of 20 in 2009 with 6 field goals beyond 40 yards.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fred Mitchell Award 2010 Watch List, part 4

Today we look at the final installment of the Watch List for the Fred Mitchell Outstanding Place-Kicker Award.

The only reason these ten particular kickers happen to be last on the list is because their names begin with letters at the end of the alphabet.

Nick Schneider
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (Indiana) – Division III
Junior from Naperville, IL….led team in 2009 scoring with 73 points from 43 of 48 PAT’s and 10 of 13 FG’s including a season long of 42 yards….2009 Special Teams Player of the Year for the team….set single-season school record with 43 PAT’s….set Rose-Hulman record for the most points by a place-kicker with 13 points in a win over Andersen University in 2009, and tied school record with 3 FG’s in this game….ranks 2nd in school history with 79 PAT’s after just two years as a starter….72.2% career FG accuracy is the highest mark in school history and 13 career FG’s is the 6th highest all-time….American Cancer Society Relay for Life volunteer….participates in Bikes for Tykes project which makes bikes as holiday presents for those in need in the Terre Haute community

Wesley Skiffington
Stony Brook University (New York) - FCS
Sophomore from Brandon, FL….2010 preseason Third Team All-American according to Phil Steele’s College Football Review….led the team in 2009 scoring with 71 points from 15 of 17 FG’s and 26 of 30 PAT’s….Big South Special Teams Player of the Week after games against Colgate and Presbyterian….made a career-high 43-yard FG at UMass….named one of the College Sporting News National All-Stars scoring school-record 16 points against Presbyterian from 4 FG’s and 4 of 4 PAT’s….Friends of Jaclyn Program volunteer….Sunrise Fund volunteer at Stony Brook University Medical Center

Andy Smith
Junior from Pierre, SD….ranked 2nd in scoring in 2009 with 65 points on 11 of 15 FG’s and 32 of 32 PAT’s….2009 All-Dakota Athletic Conference First Team….NAIA Place Kicker of the Week Award….2009 AFCA All-American (first in school’s history)…2009 Dakota Athletic Conference Scholar-Athlete…holds school records for the longest FG (52 yards), most FG’s in a season (11), most points scored by a place-kicker in a game (16), most points scored by a place-kicker in a season (65), highest FG success rate (73%) and most PAT’s in a season (32)….entering 2010 season just 4 FG’s shy of school’s career record in just his second year playing football at any level….ranked 13th in 2009 in the NAIA and 1st in the Conference with 11 FG’s….three-time recipient of the Conference Player of the Week….volunteer at Football Combine hosted by school…after school program volunteer for elementary students to help with reading and homework assignments….volunteers for YMCA youth activities

David Van Voris
Adams State College (Colorado) – Division II
Sophomore from Elizabeth, CO….2009 Fred Mitchell Award Finalist….led the Grizzlies in 2009 scoring with 71 points from 20 of 20 PAT’s and 17 of 21 FG’s….Second Team All-Conference last season….chosen by the National Football Foundation Colorado Chapter as the 2009 Special Teams Player of the Year and First Team All-Colorado….received the Conference’s Special Teams Player of the Week honor following the Grizzlies games on October 10 and 31 games….led Division II place-kickers with 1.89 FG’s per game in 2009….set school records for points (71) and FG’s (17) in a season….scored 53 points in October including 15 points in October 3 Homecoming win over Western New Mexico followed by 13 points (with career-high 4 FG’s and 1 PAT) in October 10 win over Fort Lewis….averaged 66 yards on 41 kickoffs in 2009 and tied for 3rd in the NCAA with 17 touchbacks….Student-Athlete Work Day volunteer….Work-A-Thon participant....rakes leaves for senior citizens

John Whelan
Albright College (Pennsylvania) – Division III
Senior from Bridgeton, NJ….ranked 3rd on the team in 2009 scoring with 64 points on 9 of 12 FG’s and 37 of 40 PAT’s….45 yard FG in 2009 home opener against Western Connecticut State was his career-best and 2nd longest in school history….2009 First Team All-MAC honoree and Second Team honoree in 2008 and 2007….2009 ECAC South All-Star….played a key role in Albright’s first-ever 11 win season and its first appearance in the postseason tournament since 1996….made the team’s only FG in the NCAA Quarterfinal loss to Mount Union and went 8 of 9 in PAT’s in the playoffs….ranks 4th in school history among place-kickers in points (162), FG’s made (24) and PAT’s made (90)….went 5 of 5 in PAT’s in back-to-back games….works with the Berks County Enduring Freedom to provide goods to US troops overseas….helps clean and improve the Brandywine Camp Summit Meeting Camp Ground….coaches at the Albright College place-kicker camp

Braden Wieking
University of Sioux Falls (South Dakota) – NAIA
Sophomore from Sioux Falls, SD….set several NAIA records in 2009 as a Freshman including most points in a season (139), consecutive PAT’s made (100) and PAT’s attempted (101)….13 of 17 FG’s in 2009 including a long of 42 yards to win the NAIA Championship Game by 3 points when Wieking scored 11 points….named Offensive MVP in the National Championship game….14 points scored in win over Concordia (Nebraska) included 11 of 11 PAT’s….two-time Great Plains Athletic Conference Special Teams Player of the Week in 2009….All-Conference Honorable Mention….2009 College Fanz Sport Network Second Team All-American….Sioux Falls Fellowship of Christian Athletes volunteer….Habitat for Humanity volunteer….Vacation Bible Study volunteer

Adam Willets
Campbell University (North Carolina) - FCS
Junior from Gibsonville, NC…2010 Phil Steele Preseason All-Pioneer Football League First Team selection...Campbell’s all-time career leader in points with 71…set school record with a 44-yard FG against Morehead State…2009 All-Pioneer Football League Second Team Place-Kicker …2nd in the league with 9 FG’s in 2009 and was 9 of 12 FG’s and 18 of 22 PAT’s…7 FG’s from 30-49 yards led the league in 2009…12th in the league in scoring with 4.09 points/game…two-time Pioneer Football League Special Teams Player of the Week….scored 11 points against Morehead State and 10 points against Butler…averaged 56 yards on 32 kickoffs in 2009… Relay for Life Volunteer in 2008, 2009 and 2010…organized youth kickball tournament for local middle school students…Stop Hunger Now volunteer …Operation Christmas Child volunteer… promoted Campbell’s 2010 Bring a Kid to a Baseball Game community service project by visiting three elementary schools

Dan Winsey
Concordia University (Wisconsin) – Division III
Senior from Tampa, FL….2209 Second Team All-American and 2010 Preseason First Team All-American ….set school record with 13 FG’s in 2009 and led the Northern Athletics Conference in PAT percentage at 23 of 23….scored 122 points in past two seasons from 25 of 31 FG’s and 47 of 49 PAT’s….First Team All-Conference as a Freshman, Sophomore and Junior....Special Olympics volunteer….Cedarburg American Legion Post….school readiness reading program volunteer

Ryan Zipf
Allegheny College (Pennsylvania) – Division III
Junior from Cranberry Township, PA....2009 Fred Mitchell Award Finalist….led the Gators in 2009 scoring with 60 points from 24 of 26 PATs and 12 of 14 FGs including a 40-yard FG against Wabash on October 3....made six straight FG’s before going 3 of 4 in the last game of the 2009 season….game-winning 39-yard FG on October 31 in 24-21 win over Wooster....four game winning streak for the Gators included 5 of 5 PAT's in wins over Carnegie Mellon and Denison and 3 of 3 PATs in wins over Kenyon and Wooster....2009 All-North Coast Athletic Conference Team Honorable Mention….volunteers at the Active Aging senior center in Meadville

Greg Zuerlein
University of Nebraska at Omaha (Nebraska) – Division II
Senior from Lincoln, NE….scored 91 points in 2009 from 17 of 23 FG’s and 40 of 44 PAT’s….set school record for most FG’s in a season (17) and most career PAT’s (131)….tied school record by making 4 FG’s against West Texas A&M in the Kanza Bowl including a career-long 52-yarder….All-MIAA First Team place-kicker and Special Teams Player of the Week….named to Don Hansen’s Football Gazette NCAA Division II All-Super Region Four Team as Third Team offense member….led Division II in 2009 touchbacks (30) which was also 3rd in college football at all levels….enters 2010 season just 9 FG’s short of school’s all-time FG’s record of 45 set by Troy Severson from 1999-2002….made at least one FG in each of UNO’s final eight games and made at least one PAT in each game in 2009….monthly volunteer at Matt Talbott Kitchen & Outreach serving the homeless in Lincoln….volunteered to spend time with residents at Quality Living in Omaha

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Is the Hall of Fame Special Enough? (part 2)

Yesterday we looked at the first batch of responses to the following question:
Kicker Jan Stenerud is the only pure specialist in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In your opinion, who should join him?
Following are more specialist responses:

"Special teamers that are Hall worthy: Ray Guy, Steve Tasker, Morten Andersen, and Adam Vinatieri when he retires."

Brandon Kornblue, 
Kornblue Kicking
"Gary Anderson, Morten Andersen, Adam Vinatieri and Ray Guy are the most obvious. With over 250 members of the Hall of Fame and only a few kickers and zero punters elected, it shows an unjust lack of respect for the specialist positions. Anderson and Andersen are the league's career leaders in multiple categories, Vinatieri is the most clutch performer, and Guy is the consensus best all-time punter."

"Morten Andersen as a Saint, Nick Lowery as a Chief, Adam Vinatieri as a Patriot.
Ray Guy as a Raider, Sean Landetta as a Giant, and Jeff Feagles as an Eagle."

John Matich, The Kicking System
"I would admit Gary Anderson, Ray Guy and Adam Vinatieri. I had the opportunity to kick with Gary when I was with the Vikings back in 2001. With kickers nowadays everything seems to rely on pure power, how far and how high can you kick. I remember one day when Gary was perfect in practice, and when I say perfect, his ball was right down the middle every time,  inside 50 yards.  He hit one from 49 yards and it hit the bar and went over. The man was a kicking machine! He didn’t need power. Granted everyone will remember him missing in the 1998 playoffs and costing the Vikings a chance at the Super Bowl -- he almost had a perfect season (35 field goals). To be able to even come close to that is ridiculous. He has my vote."

Mike Hollis, ProForm Kicking
"John Carney!"

"Ray Guy. if they have room for owners and coaches, they should have room for some specialists."

James Wilhoit, James Wilhoit Kicking
"I think that at this point Gary Anderson, Morten Anderson, and Ray Guy would have to be the front runners for the Hall of Fame. In the next few years Jason Elam, Matt Stover, and Jason Hanson will all be viable candidates."

"I believe a strong case could be made for Pete Gogolak to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Gogolak was a pioneer as the first professional soccer-style kicker. He starred for two years with the Buffalo Bills, coming out of Cornell University. He also was instrumental in the eventual merger of the AFL and NFL. After scoring 102 points for the Bills in 1964 and 115 points in '65, Gogolak was signed following an acrimonious negotiation by the NFL's New York Giants, where he would go on to become the team's all-time leading scorer with 646 points. He also boomed a 54-yarder for the Giants in 1970. While his 11-year career stats (126 of 219 FGs) do not rank among those of many modern-day kickers, it should be considered that rules changes, field conditions, game strategies and other factors were much different when he performed.

The hash marks, for instance, were wider in the '60s, making even short attempts more adventuresome because of the angles. The width of the hash marks in the NFL now is 18 feet, 6 inches, the same width as the goal posts. Back in the '60s, the width between the hash marks was 40 feet. There were no artificial surfaces to kick off the ground, and many NFL teams shared stadiums with baseball teams, leaving dirt infields and pitching mound areas to navigate around. There were no players devoted strictly to long-snapping, and special teams coaches were non-existent.

Many conventional, straight-on kickers in the '60s (including yours truly) questioned whether the soccer-style technique would last because of the relative low trajectory of the kicks. Now, of course, virtually all kickers from high school through the pros use the soccer-style approach. And many more American-born youngsters grow up playing the game of soccer.

Pete Gogolak, and his younger brother Charlie Gogolak, who kicked for six years in the NFL out of Princeton, proved a lot of people wrong and started a trend that has changed the game of football."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

ArenaBowl: Garrett Rivas vs. Taylor Rowan

The Arena Football League's (AFL) championship game (ArenaBowl XXXIII) is this Friday August 20th at 8:00pm EST. As always, the focal point of the game will be the kicking match-up.

Garrett Rivas, Tampa Bay Storm
Prior to joining the Storm this year, stops on Rivas' kicking career included Jesuit High School in Tampa, the University of Michigan from 2003-2006, in camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during May of 2007, and the Florida Firecats of the AF2 in 2009. His kicking career began not unlike many kickers':
"My freshman year in high school I was trying out for the team. In the last of tryouts, the coach asked if anybody wanted to try to kick. I wanted to make the team anyway I could so I did that. I played wide receiver and kicker in high school and kind of fell in love with kicking."
Earlier this season, he discussed some of the nuances of kicking in an arena:
“Normally, I would train at a faster pace. This year, coming into the AFL with the Storm, I trained slowing everything down. That has really helped me out with kickoffs. With my PAT’s and field goals, I can slow everything down. We have more time than the outdoor game because they can only rush four guys on six by rule. You just naturally have more time.

[Onside kicks] are just pure luck. You have to get the right bounce and the right people in position to make the play. It’s a smaller field and the surface is a lot harder, you have to be able to control the ball. I practice it everyday.

Kicking, especially in this league, is all mental. I think that I had a really strong mental game in college and in my first year I kind of got out of touch with it. This year, I feel like I am back in touch with it. This year, I’m not nervous anymore. I feel very comfortable on the field. Now I am back into that place where I am confident enough and I want the game to come down to me."
Taylor Rowan, Spokane Shock
Prior to joining the Shock this year, stops on Rowan's kicking career included Melbourne High (Florida), Western Illinois University from 2005 to 2008, and the Arkansas Twisters of the AF2 and the New York Sentinels of the UFL in 2009. Last month, he commented on his career path:
"I really enjoyed [kicking] in high school... I thought, 'Maybe I could do this in college. It ended up paying for my college. I thought I'm going to try to take this one step further. It's been a blessing but my goals aren't completed. I still have a lot more aspirations and desires. There are some more years in me for sure to try to fill in my dreams. I thank God every day for sure. It's definitely an awesome opportunity that not many people get to do."
He also discussed his approach to kicking:
"Aim small, miss small, aim big, miss big. Always picking a spot behind the upright and aiming at that. I'm going to aim at a target. If I aim for a small target, I'm going to miss small. If I aim the big target, which is the uprights, I'm going to miss big. Aim small, miss small, aim big, miss big."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

NFL 2010 Preseason Week One K Quotes

Some kicking quotes from the first week of the NFL preseason...

Cleveland kicker Phil Dawson was the big story, all within the final 90 seconds of the Browns 27-24 win over Green Bay. With 1:27 remaining in the fourth quarter, he hit a 58 yard field goal to tie the game. As time expired he hit another field goal, a 46 yarder to win it.
"I’ve kicked them before to tie and win, but those are usually a tie at the end of the game and a win in overtime. I don’t know if it’s ever happened back-to-back in the fourth quarter…. It was a kick we needed and those are the ones I look forward to. I’ve always prided myself on being a guy that tries to make the kick to help this team. In this case, we needed to make a 59-yarder. Everybody else did their job on the team, so it was only fitting that I did mine."
As is often the case, the media's questions to kickers usually focus only on misses. Atlanta Falcons kicker Matt Bryant discussed his 50 yard attempt that went wide:
"I thought I hit it pretty well. It was one of those deals where it made a, for some reason, a goofy right turn on me and it straightened out again. I hit maybe one of those every 100 balls. It was not a normal ball flight."
On a very similar note, Baltimore Ravens kicker Shayne Graham also had a 50 yard attempt that went wide:
"Through pre-game, we learned how the wind patterns were and you saw the ball travel. Feeling the wind pattern on the 50-yarder, it felt like it was going to start right and blow back to the left a little bit with the wind in the face. It just didn’t move as much as I thought it did. I thought I hit the ball well."
Dallas Cowboys kicker David Buehler recently commented on his progress and goals:
"I feel like I've transitioned night and day from where I was last year. I wasn't that confident in my field goals and was kind of all over the place. Now, I'm consistent and getting in a nice little groove and my confidence is more than it's ever been right now.... My goal is to lead the NFL again and beat my mark of 29 [touchbacks]. The way I'm hitting the ball these days, I should blow that out of the water."
Two weeks ago, kicker Jason Hanson had minor arthroscopic surgery to clean out his knee. He recently discussed his recovery:
"I think the thought was that, with the proper rehab, I'd be ready for the opener. The goal is to get, maybe, a preseason game in. My personal goal is to get two preseason games in -- we'll see if the doctors agree…. It'll feel better before it's really ready for kicking. Healing takes time, no matter what you do to it."

Regarding a much longer recovery period, Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri discussed his health:
"I feel good that I'm healthy and I'm out there now. I can't wait for the games to start.... It's been a little while, so you knock the rust off a little bit and get back out there. It's about timing and I guess that's why we do preseason."

We'll conclude with some dirt. Field conditions were less than ideal during Miami's 10-7 win over Tampa Bay. Kicker Dan Carpenter described the mess:
"The dirt alone is not a lot of fun, but when you add the rain and the mud to it, it gets a little interesting. I've played on some nasty surfaces in college, but that mud is definitely ranked up in the top three for sure…. It's good practice for us. We get to see the field in the worst condition it will probably ever be, so overall it's a good experience, not only for me, but for everyone."

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fred Mitchell Award 2010 Watch List, part 3

A blue-ribbon Selection Committee evaluates place-kickers that are nominated by their schools for the Fred Mitchell Award. There are nine members of the Pro and/or College Football Hall of Fame on the Selection Committee including Tom Beck, George Blanda, Kevin Butler, Lou Holtz, Paul Hornung, Marv Levy, Steve McMichael, Don Pierson and Gale Sayers.
Fred Mitchell & Jeff Schebler, 2009
Several former football players that are active in their communities are also on the Selection Committee including Carl Allegretti, Sean Gothier, Dan Jiggetts, Jeff Michalczyk, Mark Murphy, Rob Perry, Jeff Schebler, Bob Thomas, Todd Wilkins, Gary Zauner and Rob Zvonar. There are nine former college or NFL place-kickers on the Selection Committee, including Schebler, the 2009 Fred Mitchell Award recipient and the highest-scoring place-kicker in NCAA history at any level.

Peter Nilson
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (New York) – Division III
Senior from Appleton, WI….led team in 2009 scoring with 37 points from 6 of 10 FG’s and 19 of 20 PAT’s….ranked 9th in Liberty League in scoring and 3rd among place-kickers….2009 Fred Mitchell Award Watch List….All-Liberty League Second Team in 2009…3rd in school history with 88 career PAT’s and 5th in career FG’s with 14…. raised funds and awareness for Leukemia Society….Alive Ministries community projects including yard maintenance….volunteered for three years in the TOPSoccer program including playing soccer with children that have physical and mental limitations

Tyler Padgett
Central Methodist University (Missouri) – NAIA
Senior from Jefferson City, MO….led team in 2009 scoring with 50 points in 2009 from 7 of 10 FG’s and 29 of 30 PAT’s…school’s all-time leader with 63 career PAT’s…2009 All-Heart of America Athletic Conference Honorable Mention…2009-10 Dr. James Luetjen Scholar-Athlete Award…2009 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete…Walking School Bus volunteer “driver”…Special Olympics Flag Football Clinic…visited Children’s Rehabilitation Hospital in Mexico City…helped with various cleanup projects at Ronald McDonald House…volunteers for various campus and community service projects

John Paglia
Charleston Southern University (South Carolina) - FCS
Senior from Ocala, FL … led the team in scoring in 2009 with 76 points on 16 of 22 FG’s and 28 of 30 PAT’s … set school records for FG’s made in a season (16), career FG percentage (72.2%) and broke his own record for the longest FG in school history (51 yards) against Stony Brook … ranks 2nd in Bucs history in career points (124) and career FG’s (26)….Big South Second Team All-Conference in 2009 and 2008….twice named Big South Special Teams Player of the Week…made three FG’s against Stony Brook (including from 43 and 51 yards) and made three FG’s the following week against Coastal Carolina… hit four PATs in three different games, going a perfect 4-for-4 against North Greenville and VMI … hit seven field goals in a row, spanning four games in the middle of the season … hit his only attempt over 50 yards and was 5-8 from 40-49 yards, going a perfect 7-7 under 40 yards …averaged 62 yards per kickoff with seven touchbacks on 55 kicks … had two touchbacks and a 67.2 yard average on six kickoffs against Stony Brook … works with underprivileged kids at the Closing the Gap in Healthcare fitness seminar … helps place-kickers in the Ocala area with kicking, weight training and flexibility … worked with place-kickers at the University of Florida camp … meets and mentors underprivileged kids in the Charleston area….Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Charleston Southern … helps coach a little league softball team sponsored by his father

Thomas Parrott
Northern State University (South Dakota) – Division II
Senior from Tampa, FL….2009 Fred Mitchell Award Finalist….2009 Fred Mitchell Award Watch List….2009 First Team NSIC North Division Punter...2009 Second Team NSIC North Division Place-Kicker...2008 Second Team NSIC North Division Place-Kicker...2nd on the Wolves in 2009 scoring with 41 points from 20 of 21 PAT’s and 7 of 11 FG’s….made 5 of last 7 FG’s in October including 10 points in the October 10 game against the University of Mary….averaged 59 yards in 42 kickoffs….Fellowship of Christian Athletes….volunteer Chemistry tutor to Northern State students….participated in the United Way and Northern State University Day of Champions event to assist with various community service projects in the Aberdeen area

Davis Rodriguez
Lafayette College (Pennsylvania) – FCS
Senior from St. Petersburg, FL….started 2009 campaign as Preseason All-American….scored 57 points in 2009 from 8 of 13 FG’s and 33 of 35 PAT’s…two-time Patriot League Special Teams Player of the Week….has hit game-winning FG’s against Penn in two of the past three seasons….volunteers at Muscular Dystrophy Association camps for one week each summer….Saint Vincent Depaul soup kitchen volunteer each Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day to feed the homeless….volunteers at an orphanage each summer in Costa Rica….participates in Lauren’s First and Goal Football Camp which raises funds for pediatric brain tumor research and for impacted families

Andrew Rogowski
Ithaca College (New York) – Division III
Junior from East Amherst, NY… 2009 Fred Mitchell Award Finalist….Empire 8 First Team All-Star in 2009 as place-kicker (Second Team Empire 8 as punter) ... led Bombers in 2009 scoring with 67 points (3rd highest single-season total by Ithaca kicker) from 31 of 33 PAT’s and 12 of 15 FG’s….set school’s single season record with 12 FG’s and is the most accurate FG kicker in school history (81% career percentage)….Division III Special Teams Player of the Week after September 19 win over Widener when he was 5 of 5 on PAT’s and 2 of 2 on FG’s including a career-long 39 yard FG that was topped by a 43 yard FG on the last play of the first half after two “icing” timeouts by Widener….named Empire 8 Special Teams Player of the Week three times (more than any other player), following wins over Widener, #14 Alfred and Cortland….named team's Outstanding Specialist four times (after Widener, Utica, St. John Fisher and Alfred games)….career totals of 132 points (4th in school history), 17 FG’s (3rd) and 81 PAT’s (4th)….kicked career-high three FG’s in Cortland win….volunteers time to visit residents of the Bath Veterans Hospital….participated in the football team’s Give Back Day where local youth football teams visit the players to learn techniques, strategy and sportsmanship….volunteered for fundraiser for the Greater Ithaca Activity Center

Gareth Rowlands
Tusculum College (Tennessee) – Division II
Senior from Bellech, Wales….2009 Fred Mitchell Award Finalist….2010 Preseason All-South Atlantic Conference First Team and nominated for multiple other preseason All-America teams….led team in 2009 scoring with 66 points from 30 of 31 PAT’s and 12 of 16 FG’s….8 of 9 FG’s from 40+ yards including a 52-yard FG (missed a 55-yard FG attempt)….2009 Daktronics All-Region Second Team….2009 All-South Atlantic Conference First Team….2009 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District IV College Division Football (First Team)….scored 34 points in October from 13 PAT’s and 7 FG’s….made game-winning 44-yard FG against Newberry where Rowlands scored 10 points….named South Atlantic Conference Special Teams Player of the Week after 34-31 win at Newberry….66 points in 2009 led Conference place-kickers….set Pioneers records during October for career PAT’s (82) and points by a place-kicker (154)….averaged 59 yards on 49 kickoffs in 2009….Adopt-a-Highway Program roadside clean-up….meets with local elementary school students weekly to help mentor the students in the Lunch Buddies Program….Bible School volunteer….Upward Bound Leader….Tusculum College Sports Information Office volunteer

Taylor Russolino
Millsaps College (Mississippi) – Division III
Senior from Metarie, LA…. 2009 Fred Mitchell Award Finalist….2009 Fred Mitchell Award Watch List….2009 Second Team All-SCAC selection....led the Majors in 2009 scoring with 76 points (2nd in SCAC) from 43 of 44 PAT’s and 11 FG’s (2nd in SCAC) in 17 attempts….11 FG’s in 2009 ranked 2nd in a single season at Millsaps....made 9 of 10 FG’s up to 40 yards last season….holds school records for career PAT’s made (123), PAT’s attempted (132) and career FG’s made (25)….averaged 59 yards in 63 kickoffs in 2009….volunteers weekly for the Mississippi School for the Blind and Deaf….assists the New Summit Middle School students that have special needs….Stewpot Community Services volunteer helping to serve 120 meals daily to needy in the Community Kitchen and delivering 50 meals daily to shut-ins in the Jackson, MS area

Andrew Samson
Senior from West Bloomfield, MI….led team and Ivy League place-kickers in scoring in 2009 and 2008…scored 58 points in 2009….has never missed a PAT in college career (74 of 74)….led Ivy League in FG percentage in 2008 and ranked 2nd in 2009….2009 ECAC Kicker of the Year….two-time First Team All-Ivy League….holds Ivy League record for the most FG’s in a season in conference play….holds Penn record for the most FG’s in a season (16) and consecutive PAT’s made (74)….entering 2010 season ranked 7th in career scoring at Penn and 2nd in career FG’s….top 10 in Ivy League history in career FG’s attempted, FG’s made and scoring by a kicker….three-time Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week….has scored in every Penn game since 2007….three-year participant in the Bone Marrow “Be the Match” program….Freshman Move-In volunteer

Foley Schmidt
Dartmouth College (New Hampshire) - FCS
Junior from Inner Grove Heights, MN….led the Big Green in scoring each of his first two seasons….scored 37 points in 2009 from 6 of 9 FG’s and 19 of 20 PAT’s….2 of 2 in FG’s over 40 yards including the game-winner in double-overtime against Cornell after sending the game into overtime with a 26-yard FG with 2:17 left in regulation….Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week after the win over Cornell….All-Ivy League Honorable Mention as place-kicker in 2009….scored 39 points in 2008 from 9 of 13 FG’s and 12 of 13 PAT’s as a freshman….converted two FG’s and two PAT’s in first collegiate game to earn Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors….career-long FG was a 42-yarder against Holy Cross….volunteer leader for Project RightChoice which is a student-run organization that has raised $150,000 for the Fisher House Foundation….is a diabetic and has been very active since the age of eight in raising funds and awareness via the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and their annual Walk for the Cure

Friday, August 13, 2010

NFC West Training Camps: Specialists

Ben Graham & Jay Feely, 2008
Arizona Cardinals
All three of the Cardinals specialists are experienced NFL players, although they are relatively new with the club. Punter Ben Graham joined the team late in 2008 and long snapper Mike Leach came on board last year. Kicker Jay Feely is the newest, having been signed this offseason while former kicker Neil Rackers went to Houston via free agency. None of the three are facing competition for their jobs, so the focus in camp and preseason will simply be to get their timing down as a unit. Graham (who also serves as the holder) and Feely do have some brief history, having crossed paths for several games with the Jets in 2008.

San Francisco 49ers
While they may not receive as much publicity or money as their counterparts across the Bay, the 49ers specialists are an experienced and cohesive unit. Kicker Joe Nedney did his part to boost publicity during the offseason by beating a robot in a kicking duel. Punter Andy Lee and long snapper Brian Jennings kept under the radar. Heading into camp there is one other specialist on the roster – kicker Shane Andrus whom the 49ers resigned during the offseason. He had been brought in for the final game of 2009 after an injury to Ricky Schmitt, who had been brought in for the next-to-last game after an injury to Nedney. He is expected to serve as a seasoned camp leg rather than as a challenger.

Olindo Mare
Seattle Seahawks
During the offseason, the Seahawks retained the services of kicker Olindo Mare for another year with their franchise tag. He’s the only kicker on the roster and the only punter is Jon Ryan, who also serves as the holder for Mare on kicks. While those two positions have been and remain stable for the Seahawks, the long snapping position is a different story. Kevin Houser snapped most of last year until suffering a collapsed lung. Jeff Robinson snapped in the final two games, but was not re-signed. Patrick McDonald was added for awhile during the offseason but then released. Former IFL and UFL player Matt Overton was signed, broke his foot and released, but then eventually re-signed. He was almost the only long snapper on the roster heading into camp, however the Seahawks claimed rookie Clint Gresham off of waivers from the Saints and the released Overton again.

St. Louis Rams
The Rams entered training camp with the three starting specialists on the roster. Josh Brown is back again at kicker, but that’s not really news. The team is hoping he’ll see more scoring opportunities in 2010 than he did last year. Donnie Jones is back again at punter, but that’s not really news. The team is hoping he’ll see fewer opportunities in 2010 than he did last year. Chris Massey is back again at long snapper, and that is good news. After missing most of last year with a knee injury, he returned to action during the June OTAs. He’s a vital part of the unit as evidenced by his offseason contract extension of four years and $4 million. Yesterday the team signed kicker Shaun Suisham, as Brown may miss several preseason games due to a minor hip injury.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

AFC West Training Camps: Specialists

Denver Broncos
Heading into 2010, the Broncos had a question at only one of their specialist positions. They already knew that Lonie Paxton was their long snapper and that Matt Prater was their kicker. Heading into training camp, they have already presumably answered the punter question. Although he lost out on the punting job last preseason, Britton Colquitt was resigned late in the year. In this year’s minicamps he competed with A.J. Trapasso (of 2009 first preseason TD and hitting the video screen fame). Trapasso has since been released. Colquitt has since noted, "I feel more confident, but at the same time, it's not about who you're going against. It's still you're going against yourself."

Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs do not have any competition at the specialist spots. The returning starters will spend camp getting in their reps and honing their synchronization under the tutelage of special teams coordinator (and kicking guru) Steve Hoffman. Long snapper Thomas Gafford is back for his third year. The veteran of the trio, punter and holder Dustin Colquitt is entering his sixth year. Kicker Ryan Succop is looking to pick up on the success if his rookie season last year, "I was blessed with a great year and a great opportunity. I'm very thankful for that…. I took advantage of it. Now, I've got to build upon that."

Oakland Raiders
The Raiders enter training camp as one of the few teams to carry a camp leg – beat writer favorite, Swayze Waters. How long into August they retain his services is the only question relating to their specialists. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski heads into 2010 coming off a strong 2009, for which he was rewarded with a new lucrative four-year deal that made him the highest paid kicker in the league. Punter Shane Lechler had already received his comparable payday the year before. While we’re on the topic of Al Davis’ checkbook, long snapper Jon Condo received and signed a restricted free-agent one-year tender during the offseason.

San Diego Chargers
Although kicker Nate Kaeding is coming off a stellar 2009 regular season, his 2010 got off to rough start with the three missed FGs in playoff game and then a groin injury. In camp and preseason he’ll want to show that there are no lingering effects from either. Nick Novak was signed to handle spring kicking chores after Kaeding’s injury and remains on the roster heading into camp. Also still on the roster is punter Cort Johnson, who was out of football last year. He noted, "I graduated in 2008, so I put my life on hold turned down some jobs to pursue my dream. I definitely have the heart and determination to do it. It was a great sacrifice to put my life on hold, to train on my own, to spend money of my own -- money that sometimes I didn't have -- just to get noticed." He’ll serve as a camp leg to ease the load on starting punter Mike Scifres. David Binn is the lone long snapper on the roster.

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