the study of the kicking components within sports

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Opening Game Kicks, part 2

We asked kickers, punters, and coaches the following question:
What is your favorite opening game kicking story?
The first batch of responses was posted last week. Today we take a look at the second batch.

Filip Filipovic, The Kicking Coach
"My first college punt was blocked TWICE. I punted the ball. I heard a thud right after I kicked it. It was a textbook punt block. Two hands extended - he took the ball right off my foot. But then I saw the ball go over my head. I quickly turned around and caught the ball after it took one bounce. It was one of those lucky bounces - or so I thought. It happened so quickly that I thought that I had enough time to punt it again. Since I was facing my own goal post, I attempted something that looked like a soccer bicycle kick. The opposing player did not even go for the ball. He leveled me as I was in mid kick. I saw sky and I saw grass. I had no idea which one was up and which one was down. Meanwhile, the ball rolled toward my end zone, it was scooped up and returned for a touchdown."

Damon Duval,
Montreal Alouettes
"It was last year, 2009 - an opening game Grey Cup rematch: Montreal vs Calgary. I went 6 of 6 with four field goals over 40 yards, and had a 46 yard punting average. We ended up killing Calgary after they beat us in the final the year before, so it was a great feeling."

John Matich, The Kicking System
Going back a few years… during my redshirt freshman year at Boston College (1996), I was competing for the staring position with another senior kicker. All thru the spring we were pretty close in competition but he was the senior and our special teams coach was favoring him as the starter. A week before the game, this senior kicker tore a muscle in his quad, and by default I was the kicker. That year Boston College was going to open the season in Hawaii against the University of Hawaii. The game was not going as planned as we were down early. I connected on my first field attempt from 27 yards and connected on my second field goal later in the third quarter. After some controversy at the quarterback position, Matt Hasselbeck (Seahawks), brought us back and we had an opportunity to win the game on a 46 yard field goal attempt. With six seconds left I kicked the ball and got tackled by all the guys flying in to block the kick. All I saw was Hasselbeck jumping up and down celebrating. I was flat on my back with two or three guys on me, I never saw the kick go thru. Best feeling I ever had besides getting married of course.

"Billy Cundiff had been working with me what seemed like all summer in preparation to his senior season at Drake. He was really putting in the work. They were playing the University of San Diego the first game. He called me after the game to let me know that his first field goal was a 62 yard game winner and record kick. Pretty Cool!"

"The first kick of my college career at Wittenberg University was not without on-the-field drama. As a 17-year-old freshman, I had beaten out the incumbent kicker, a junior who doubled as the starting center on the 1964 undefeated small college national championship team. After we scored our first touchdown of the 1965 season-opener, I trotted onto the field to kick the extra point. When I reached the huddle, the center wanted to stay in the game to kick the PAT. As we argued and our coach, the legendary Bill Edwards, signaled from the sideline for me to stay in the game to attempt the kick, we were flagged for delay of game. Alas, my first extra point was made from 25 yards out. I handled all of the extra points and field goals for the next four years, setting the NCAA College Division record for career points scored by kicking in the final game of my senior year at Wagner College."

Mike McCabe, One on One Kicking
Clemson junior Dawson Zimmerman has been named the National Punter of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards. Zimmerman had a career day in Clemson's 35-10 win over North Texas last Saturday. Zimmerman set a Clemson record for net punting in the contest with a 51.0 net figure, over five yards further than the previous mark of 46.7 net punting yards by Dale Hatcher against Kentucky in 1981. He had 309 yards on six punts and North Texas had just three punt return yards against him. His 51.5 average was fourth best in Clemson history. Zimmerman's day included a 79-yard punt in the second period, the second longest punt in Clemson history. The only punt that is longer is an 81 yard punt by Mitch Tyner against Texas A&M in 1973. Through the first weekend of college football Zimmerman leads the nation in punting average.
Brent Grablachoff, Kicking World
"My favorite opening game memory is the first football game of my college football career. As a freshman I earned the starting kicker job in the summer workouts with the team and had the opportunity to start my season off with the opening kickoff. I had a great start to my career with 5/5 PAT’s, two 40+ field goals, a tackle and a fumble recovery on the kickoff! The best part about the day was not the stats. It was seeing the look of happiness in my parents eyes after the game. They walked down from the stadium to meet me on the field after the game and were so proud of their son on his first college football game. Football stats come and go but it was the feeling of accomplishment and pride I was able to share with my family after the game that will live vividly through my life."

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