the study of the kicking components within sports

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Big Kickers on Campus, 2010 week 9

A summary of notable kicking during the ninth week of the 2010 college football season:

Senior punter Chas Henry hit a 37 yard FG in overtime to give Florida a 34-31 win over Georgia.

Freshman kicker Preston McCarthy made a 44 yard FG in overtime to give St. Paul's a 16-13 win over Lincoln.

Senior kicker RP Lopez hit FGs of 23 and 25 yards in the 4th quarter as Wingate won 27-24 over Lenoir-Rhyne.

Sophomore kicker Matt Batton made a 22 yard FG in overtime to give Monmouth a 16-13 win over Carroll.

Senior kicker Noe Cuevas hit a 30 yard FG in the second overtime to give Southern Arkansas a 30-27 win over West Alabama.

Junior kicker Dave Teggart's 27 yard FG in overtime gave Connecticut a 16-13 win over West Virginia.

Senior kicker Marc Domonkos hit a 17 yard FG in overtime to give California PA an 18-15 win over Indiana PA.

Freshman kicker Chris DeStefano made a 30 yard FG with seven seconds remaining to give Franklin Marshall a 31-28 win over McDaniel.

If we missed someone that should be on the above list, please let us know!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Lou Groza Award 2010 Semi-Finalists

Yesterday the Palm Beach County Sports Commission announced the 20 semi–finalists for the 2010 Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award:
  • Dan Bailey, Oklahoma State, senior
  • Devin Barclay, Ohio State, senior
  • Kyle Brotzman, Boise State, senior
  • Dan Conroy, Michigan State, sophomore
  • Derek Dimke, Illinois, junior
  • Kai Forbath, UCLA, senior
  • Kevin Goessling, Fresno State, junior
  • Chris Hazley, Virginia Tech, senior
  • Alex Henery, Nebraska, senior
  • Dustin Hopkins, Florida State, sophomore
  • Danny Hrapmann, Southern Miss, junior
  • Josh Jasper, LSU, senior
  • Aaron Jones, Baylor, freshman
  • Joe Phillips, Utah, senior
  • Grant Ressel, Missouri, junior
  • David Ruffer, Notre Dame, senior
  • Will Snyderwine, Duke, junior
  • Collin Wagner, Penn State, senior
  • Blair Walsh, Georgia, junior
  • Nate Whitaker, Stanford, senior
From these semi-finalists, three finalists will be selected as voted on by:
  • all Division 1 Head Coaches
  • all Division 1 Sports Information Directors
  • national, regional and local football writers and others
The finalists will be honored at the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Awards Banquet on December 7th in West Palm Beach. The winner will be announced live on the nationally televised Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show on the evening of December 9th.
"When a kid asks you for an autograph, you better give it to him. If not, I'll make you do it."
- Lou "The Toe" Groza

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Super Camping

We'll start with a quick multiple choice quiz... What is Super Camp?
A. The ultimate camp ground with all the amenities of the 21st century, 
     so one can go camping yet feel like they never left home.
B. The quintessential camping retreat, completely removed from the
     modern world... just you and Mother Nature.
C. A concise description of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
D. An annual event that brings together a team of highly respected
     kicking coaches and where kickers, punters and long snappers have a
     unique opportunity to showcase their talents in four separate divisions.

Since this is the Kickology website, and not a campology blog or a Rocky Horror fan site, option D is of course the correct response. Back in January of this year, Super Camp IV was held in Tampa Florida. Coming up in January of 2011, Super Camp V will be held in San Antonio Texas. NCS founder and former NFL kicker Michael Husted discussed the event:
"This Super Camp is unique in that we will have the best kicking coaches in the country assembled in one location to effectively teach and evaluate talent. Having current and former NFL players as well as UFL and NCAA players being part of this camp will provide a professional, comprehensive and competitive experience. Our partnership with the US Army All American Bowl, which gives us the authority to choose the kickers and punters for this game, proves that we have a very objective and efficient platform that provides instruction, evaluation and exposure for specialists."
Super Camp features & highlights:
  • Current and former NFL players in attendance
  • Current and former NCAA players in attendance
  • Valuable network that will contact and follow up with college coaches
  • Camp held at the historic Alamo Stadium
  • Official NCS Charting
  • Use of our new objective NCS Player Rating system
  • Results will be distributed to, and
  • Chance to get placed on the "Watch List" for the 2012 US Army All Star Game
  • Head to Head tournament style event to determine Super Camp Champions
  • Winners receive prize packages from Wizard Kicking
  • College division Kickers will be required to kick off the ground and use a 1" tee for kickoffs
  • Comprehensive first class learning experience
  • Optional filming available for charting session
The NCS Network consists of expert instructors with NFL and College level experience, including:
  • Billy Cundiff - current Baltimore Ravens kicker
  • Michael Husted - former NFL kicker
  • Mike Hollis - former NFL kicker
  • Louie Aguiar - former NFL punter
  • Mitch Palmer - former NFL long snapper
  • Tom Feely - Father of current Arizona Cardinals' kicker Jay Feely
  • Lee McDonald - former Rutgers' kicker
  • Dan Orner - former University of North Carolina kicker
  • Chris Shaw - former University of Louisiana at Lafayette punter
This camp offers kickers, punters and long snappers a unique opportunity to showcase their talents in four separate divisions based on grade level for the 2010/2011 school year.
  • College (Seniors, College Transfers, Junior College and College Eligible)
  • Varsity (Juniors)
  • Jr. Varsity (10th grade)
  • Freshman (9th grade and below)
We'll conclude with a video from the previous Super Camp... featuring no RV's, no waterfalls, and no Time Warp musical numbers... just kicking, kicking, and more kicking:

This post sponsored by the National Camp Series.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

NFL Week Seven: Running, Unrunning, Kicking & Rekicking

Legendary Browns' running back Jim Brown averaged 5.2 yards per carry during his career. While that is certainly impressive, it pales in comparison to the 34.0 yard career average of current Browns' ball carrier Reggie Hodges (who also does some punting). During the upset win over the Saints on Sunday, Hodges ripped off a 68 yarder on a fake punt.
"That was the play that was called. That was how it was supposed to be run. The guys take off to the outside, and the middle was supposed to be open. It was just my job to go get a first down."
Hodges also noted afterward:
"It was fun to get out there and play a little football today.... I was shot [following the run]. I’m a punter. Those guys are running 4.2s out there. I’m not running away from many people."
Sunday saw three game winning field goals. Billy Cundiff's 38 yarder in overtime gave the Ravens a 37-34 win over the Bills.
"I felt like I was in a good rhythm. So when I got out there, I just did exactly what I did on the previous two tries."
In the Panthers 23-20 win over the 49ers, John Kasay hist a 47 yard field goal in the first quarter, a 55 yarder in the third quarter, and then the 37 yard game winner with 39 seconds remaining.
"It was fun to watch good things happen to the group of guys.It's a testimony to them, 'keep battling'. They kept fighting, even when things didn't go quite well, it wasn't like 'oh gosh, here we go again'."
Trailing by two points the Steelers scored a TD on quarterback draw. But replay showed that they had fumbled the ball before crossing the goal line, so it was negated. But the officials had never sorted out who recovered the ball, so the Steelers retained possession. Jeff Reed then kicked a field goal to give them a 23-22 win over the Dolphins.
"The play was so bizarre. I was running out to kick an extra point, then it turned out to be a field goal to win the game. It was a short one, but it's the toughest 18-yard field goal that I've kicked."
David Akers made four field goals (25, 46, 46 & 28 yards), however it wasn't enough as the Eagles lost 37-19 to the Titans. Connor Barth made four field goals, and that was enough as the Buccaneers won 18-17 over the Rams.
"Those are weird games, when you get opportunities like that. You go from you might kick one in one game and all of a sudden you get four. I'm just happy as hell to bounce back from last week and keep things rolling."
Dan Carpenter made five field goals (39, 23, 22, 37 & 40 yards), however it wasn't enough as Miami lost as previously noted. Olindo Mare made five field goals (20, 31, 51, 24 & 26 yards), and that was enough as the Seahawks won 22-10 over the Cardinals. Actually, that was only half the story. He actually attempted ten field goals, making nine of them. His first attempt was blocked, but the defender was offside and Mare made the subsequent 20 yarder. His 51 yarder began as a 31 yarder negated by a holding penalty and then a 41 yard re-kick also negated by a holding penalty. The 24 yarder was preceded by a 46 yarder taken off the board following a defensive penalty and subsequent first down. The 26 yarder began as a 21 yarder negated by a delay of game penalty.
"The good thing for us is that we just kept getting reps on that hash, so you can kind of get in a little groove. When you start getting into a rhythm, it helps you out a lot. I guess it’s like a quarterback throwing a lot. It’s no different for us. We get that feeling and that confidence where nothing is going to happen. I just do my own job and not worry about anything else."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Kicker Empathy

While a few kickers are literally (biologically) brothers, all kickers are in some ways figuratively brothers. While it is certainly not uncommon for people to feel a bond with others in situations similar to their own, even when they don't actually know that other person, this seems to be especially true with kickers. Perhaps it comes from playing a position that is often treated as an outsider to varying degrees by team mates, coaches, fans, and the media. Perhaps it simply comes from the basic human desire/need to kick a ball, as evidenced by the billions of people who have done so around the globe and throughout history. Or perhaps this is a question better left to the kicking philosophers to ponder.

The empathy between kickers is probably most evident when things go wrong. Or simply put, when one kicker misses a big kick, other kickers feel the pain. Unfortunately for the San Diego Chargers, their kickers have been there twice this year. The first occurred last January when Nate Kaeding missed three field goals in the playoff loss to the Jets. Many kickers responded in the days afterward, including long time NFL kicker Matt Stover who commented:
"For Nate to miss those, I really felt for him and understood some of his pain. So I prayed for the guy and I understand as a kicker that you're going to say, 'I'm going to do everything I can for this team to get the ball through the uprights and not go out there and ever think about those situations.' You don't go out there ever thinking you're going to miss a field goal."
The second instance occurred just yesterday in the loss to New England. This time the kicker was not Kaeding, who is currently sidelined with a groin injury, but rather was recently signed Kris Brown. Although he had made two field goals earlier in the game, Brown was called upon with 27 seconds remaining in the game and the Chargers trailing by three points. What would have been a potential game tying 45 yard attempt was pushed back to 50 yards due to a false start penalty. The attempt hit the right upright and was no good. Brown commented afterward:
"It’s tough for me, because I think the quickest way you earn guys’ respect is when you go out and perform and come through in situations like that. I take pride in being a guy who goes out and expects a lot, and who comes through in situations like that.... I went out there, hit it, it came off my foot pretty good. It just stayed right down the hash mark and hit the upright."
Empathizing on the other sideline was Patriots' kicker Stephen Gostkowski:
“I never root against another kicker... unless it’s for the game.
It was a really tough situation. He’s only been with them a couple of days. It’s hard to develop any chemistry [with holder and snapper] in that time. To have to make a kick of that magnitude, from that distance – I felt kind of bad for the guy. He was an inch away from making it. It just hit the right post.... I feel for him. He was put in a tough spot, and he was pretty close to coming through.”

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Big Kickers on Campus, 2010 week 8

A summary of notable kicking during the eighth week of the 2010 college football season:

Senior kicker Matt Williams hit a 36 yard FG with 2:08 remaining in the game to give Texas Tech a 27-24 win over Colorado.

Junior kicker Jesse Sundby made a 26 yard FG with 21 seconds remaining to give Bemidji State a 23-22 win over University of Mary.

Senior kicker Joe Izzo hit a 32 yard FG in overtime to give Central Connecticut State a 30-27 win over Albany.

Senior kicker Cam Miller made a 31 yard FG with 2:24 left in the game to give Presbyterian a 26-24 win over Gardner-Webb.

Junior kicker Blake Erickson hit a 48 yard FG with 7:23 remaining in the 4th quarter to give South Carolina State a 10-7 win over Hampton.

Sophomore kicker Sam Marcotte made two 4th quarter FGs, a 21 yarder with 6:40 remaining and a 22 yarder as time expired, to give Lake Erie a 48-45 win over Findlay.

Sophomore kicker Josh Lewis' 52 yard FG as time expired gave McNeese State a 13-10 win over Southeastern Louisiana.

Sophomore kicker Josh Gallington made a 35 yard FG in overtime to give Bakersfield College a 27-24 win over Ventura College.

Sophomore kicker Ranier Duzan hit a 23 yard FG with 11 seconds remaining to give Morehead State a 21-20 win over Butler.

Sophomore kicker Chet Corcos made a 32 yard FG with 4:05 left in the game to give Claremont-Mudd-Scripps a 30-27 win over Whittier College.

Senior kicker Christian Brom hit a 41 yard FG with 21 seconds remaining to give Texas A&M-Kingsville a 13-10 win over Tarleton State.

If we missed someone that should be on the above list, please let us know!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Brothers in Feet

Brothers that kick have a long storied history. 

Most recently (just this past weekend) the Brothers Prater were in the spotlight.
Older brother Matt, the kicker for the Denver Broncos, hit a 59 yard field goal against the Jets. It was the longest of his career and the second longest in club history (some guy named Elam once hit a 63 yarder).
Younger brother Mason, the kicker for Webber International, also connected from long range - hitting a 54 yarder against Edward Waters College.

Two other brother pairs, each with one in the pros and one in college, have also been in the news this season. The Brothers Folk are having a successful 2010. Older brother Nick Folk, the kicker for the New York Jets, has bounced back this year after a disappointing 2009 that followed hip surgery. In the above mentioned game against the Broncos he hit a team record 56 yard field goal. Younger brother Erik Folk, the kicker for the Washington Huskies, was the hero earlier this month with his second annual game winner against USC. The Brothers Barth are also having successful seasons. Older brother Connor Barth, the kicker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is inches away from being perfect this year. His only two missed field goals - both this past weekend - hit the uprights. Younger brother Casey Barth, the kicker for the North Carolina Tar Heels, was named special teams player of the game following his instrumental role in a win over Rutgers last month. The Brothers Feely could soon join the group. Older brother Jay Feely is the kicker for the Arizona Cardinals and younger brother Tyler Feely is a freshman at Columbia University. It's not surprising that both ended up as kickers as their father Tom Feely runs a kicking school.

For kicking pairs where both brothers reached the pros, the Brothers Gould presently fit that bill. Older brother Robbie Gould, the kicker for the Chicago Bears, is currently the third most accurate kicker in NFL history. Younger brother Chris Gould, the kicker for the Chicago Rush, was named AFL kicker of the year back in August.
"Competitive would be an understatement. We hated to lose. If I had to go in and break my arm to win against Rob, I'd do it. Neither of us would let the other have an edge." - Chris
The NFL has seen several pairs of brothers over the years. For the Brothers Mike-Mayer, older brother Steve Mike-Mayer spent six years with four teams and younger brother Nick spent 11 years with three teams. For the Brothers Gramatica, older brother Martin Gramatica spent 11 years in the NFL with four teams (primarily Tampa Bay) and younger brother Bill Gramatica spent four years with two teams (primarily Arizona).
"Martin's the most serious of us, Santiago's the smartest, and I'm the loudest, but beyond that we're pretty much alike. We grew up close and expect to stay that way." - Bill
If we expand the family parameters, the Brothers-Cousins Zendejas had the most players in the NFL - with four. Joaquin Zendejas played for part of a year with New England. Tony Zendejas played for 12 years with four teams. Max Zendejas played for three years with two teams. Luis Zendejas also played for three years with two teams.
"Practicing by yourself is lonely. It's easy to make excuses not to do it. But having all of them around makes everyone try a lot harder." - Tony
In terms of sustained success in the NFL, the Brothers Bahr are atop the list. Older brother Chris Bahr played for 14 years with three teams (primarily the Raiders). Younger brother Matt Bahr played for 17 years with six teams (primarily the Browns). 
"Chris and I are three years apart and we've never really had to compete directly against each other for anything. So there really is not the sibling rivalry there. And we've always said we hope it doesn't come down to a last-second field goal on either part, simply because we wouldn't want to be put in a position of rooting against family." - Matt
In terms of historic impact, the Brothers Gogolak were front-runners in two significant changes. Pete Gogolak and Charlie Gogolak were among the first of the soccer style kickers that would eventually supplant the straight-ahead kicking style. Pete was also the first player to make the switch from the AFL to the NFL, when the Giants signed him away from the Bills, opening the floodgates which led to the eventual merger of the leagues.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

NFL Week Six: Overtimers, Uprights & Frustrating Winds

Two kickers got the opportunity to win their respective games in overtime on Sunday. Both made their kick. Both resulted in 23-20 victories for their team. Stephen Gostkowski's 35 yard field goal gave the Patriots a win over Baltimore.
"All I am thinking about is making good, clean contact. The hardest thing about kicking a kick at the end of the game or end of the half is not letting your excitement get the best of you. I am not going to get out there and celebrate before the kick is made. A lot of times guys have the tendency to try to kick it too hard or over-kick it. Just like a golf swing, the harder you try to hit it the less chance you have at it going straight. I just try to calm myself down, take a deep breath and, you know, I kick hundreds and hundreds of kicks each week and there is no reason that is any [different]. The consequences are greater but I am not thinking of that at the time....

It’s nice to get a win. The couple times that I’ve had a chance to be in overtime it seems like I kick off every time and haven’t had an opportunity, and I was just glad to get an opportunity. As a field goal kicker you can’t make your own opportunities. You just got to go with what is given to you on the offense and defense and when you get an opportunity to come through for your team it’s very rewarding to be the last person to touch the ball and come off winners."
Dan Carpenter's 44 yarder gave the Dolphins a win at Green Bay.
"It feels good when you hit it where you want to hit it. When I hit the ball, it went up and it was going the direction I wanted it. From then, I pretty much knew.''
Several other kickers had less successful outings, although in each case it did not impact the final outcome of the games. Connor Barth's successful field goal streak came to an end when both his attempts hit the right upright (from 40 & 47 yards), during the Buccaneers 31-6 loss to the Saints.
“I wouldn’t say that I mishit them. They were fine. You’re talking inches from maybe hitting the upright and bouncing in or just getting in. I wouldn’t say hitting the upright is a bad hit. The end result is not good because you aren’t making three points, but that stuff happens. I didn’t do anything different than what I normally do. They did a good job – the snaps and holds were good. I didn’t come through and put them through. For me, I’m going to keep my same stroke. That is what has gotten me where I am now. Consistency wise, I’ve been good. I’m 6-for-8 now, having a good year, and I just need to start a new streak.”

After my first miss, for the rest of the game I approached it like I made that kick so that keeps your confidence up. These two kicks, for my sake, yeah I missed them, but deep down I feel I made them. I won’t even watch the film. I don’t want to watch misses. If you look at Tiger Woods, people always ask him about shots he had, but he always brings out a positive thing. So, he never looks at the negatives just like I don’t watch myself miss. What’s the point? Why watch yourself miss when you can watch yourself make them?”
For New Orleans, Garrett Hartley was back in the starting role after having been replaced for two weeks by John Carney. Hartley was good on a 27 yarder, but missed from 33 yards:
"It just went left. I know it was kind of difficult judging the wind. It felt like a decent hit off my foot. Then looking up, it ended up going left. We've been hitting the ball very clean in practice. Unfortunately, there was one hiccup today. Everything else we felt great about, the other kicks, the extra points and the kickoffs. It's just little things that need to be ironed out. I'm one part of a three-part trio. We need to get the collaboration and keep working and grinding. Things will turn around. We've already seen the results in practice; we have to execute it on game day."
Although the Eagles won 31-17 over Atlanta, kicker David Akers missed three kicks on one game for the first time in his career. In windy conditions, he was wide left on attempts from 37, 47 & 37 yards. He eventually connected on a 30 yarder.
"It was a bad day. That's all I can say. It was frustrating. I get down on myself for not performing at a high level. I demand better out of myself and my teammates should demand better out of me. I'm just thrilled that Kevin [Kolb] did such a good job out there as quarterback, and a lot of other guys played extremely well, and my misses didn't end up costing the game.... I've never had a day like today, so it's frustrating."

Monday, October 18, 2010

CFL Week 16: Unexpected Feet

Weekly kicker news usually focuses on big kicks made and kicks missed. But in the sixteenth week of the CFL season the news was who was kicking and where they were kicking. The big story prior to the games was the trading of Noel Prefontaine from Edmonton back to the Toronto Argonauts.
“I’ve always had a good relationship with Barker and O’Shea and Nicholson the new president. They were here early in my career. The people who are now in power here didn’t feel the same way as the other management felt.... I think when I left here a lot of the stuff that I said and was upset about was taken out of context. This is the organization that gave me my start. I played here 10 years. This is an organization I won a Grey Cup with, so it’ll always be special in my heart.

If I could rewrite history I would’ve been here 20-plus years, then hung my cleats up and helped the organization in the community or whatever they asked me to do. That’s what I originally envisioned. It didn’t happen, so now I’m playing it year by year until another football opportunity arises in this league in management or coaching ... when that arises I’ll contemplate not playing anymore. Basically, I’m trying to figure how much longer I can play and if they want me here.”
Prefontaine's departure from Edmonton meant that understudy Derek Schiavone stepped into the lead role for the Eskimos.
"I live with Prefontaine, so I found out when he found out [Monday] night and it's a shock to both of us. We figured something was going to happen with both of us because they can only keep one of us. It happened to be now but we thought it would be the end of the year. It's a business and you never know when these things are going to happen.

He just taught me a different outlook on the game. He tried to change the [perception] of what a kicker is. A lot of people think kicker and they think you're not very athletic, but he really taught me that it's more important to be an athlete and a kicker. He has a great arm. If he wants to get involved, he'll go down and make plays on returners ... he won't just sit back. He looks at the game from a different view, I guess."
In the middle of their game this week, the Saskatchewan Roughriders had to switch to punter Eddie Johnson on placekicks when starter Luca Congi was injured during a blocked field goal attempt. Congi noted afterward:
“It’s pretty serious. I’m just hoping the MRI will bring good news and we’ll go from there. I’ve never been hurt in any sport. That in itself is tougher because I don’t know how to handle it right now. I’ve never dealt with anything like this before. I’m going to take some of the advice from the guys who have been hurt before and come back. The biggest thing is to get healthy, take the rehab and be the biggest cheerleader for my teammates.... [Johnson's] as cool as a cucumber and he’ll get the job done. I’ll try to help him out as much as I can.”
How does the cucumberesque Eddie Johnson feel about kicking:
"I don't like doing it because it messes up my punting. I can do it. So I'm not really stressing on it.... Kickers usually don't get injured. Luca took an unnecessary hit, but I was ready to go....
It's two different swings. One is across the body and [punting] is more straight up the body. Kicking off is bad enough, but it's not a big deal. I will make it happen....
Personally, I can hit field goals and I can hit them from far away. If they want that, I can do it. If not, whatever.''
While trades and injuries are certainly not unheard of in professional sports, the B.C. Lions found a rather unique way of ending up with an unexpected kicker in this week's game. Starting kicker Paul McCallum had missed the previous game due to injury but was ready to play this week. The Lions however forgot to update their official roster submission accordingly, so backup kicker Sean Whyte had to scramble at the last moment to be ready for the game:
"I was just standing on the sidelines where I usually do, over by the [kicking] net, and I saw Wally get pretty upset about something, and I asked around what it was, and they said: 'Go get ready.' I think it was during [the opening kickoff by Edmonton]. So I had to run up there [to the temporary locker-room], and I didn't have any of my pads here, so they just kind of grabbed stuff out of the closet and gave it to me. I only had my helmet and my cleats, and they gave me Paul's pads, but those are, like, from the '70s, I think. They're like hockey pads. I couldn't get my arms together. I ended up coming in at halftime and having to trim up the pants, because they went down past my knees. My jersey wasn't hemmed. We had some sewing to do at halftime."
Paul McCallum tweeted, presumably regarding that situation, the following morning:
"Waking up and the nightmare is still there!... Wow is all I can say....."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Big Kickers on Campus, 2010 week 7

A summary of notable kicking during the seventh week of the 2010 college football season:

Senior kicker Peter Nilson made a 37 yard FG goal with six seconds remaining to give Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute a 27-24 win over Alfred University.

Senior kicker Iain Vance hit a 33 yard FG in overtime to give Georgia State a 20-17 win over North Carolina Central.

Junior kicker Brody McKnight's 25 yard FG as time expired gave Montana a 23-21 victory over Portland State.

Junior kicker Ryan Zipf hit a 29 yard FG with 8:14 left in the game to give Allegheny a 17-16 win over Denison.

Freshman kicker Cory Little made a 32 yard FG in overtime to give Indiana State a 38-35 win over Missouri State.

Sophomore kicker Edgar Osols hit a 24 yard FG with 1:22 remaining to give UMass-Dartmouth a 9-7 win over Nichols.

Senior kicker Joe Drahos made a 20 yard FG in overtime giving Missouri University of Science & Technology a 38-35 win over Kentucky Wesleyan.

If we missed someone that should be on the above list, please let us know!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

NFL Week Five: 1.3 Seconds & Many Years

Long before a game kick is made, the snapper, holder and kicker will have spent countless repetitions perfecting the process which takes roughly a mere 1.3 seconds. In an effort to gain an important fraction of a second, the Giants changed holders this week - from rookie punter Matt Dodge to backup QB Sage Rosenfels. Kicker Lawrence Tynes discussed the switch:
"He’s very fast putting the ball down, so I was very pleased with Sage. I was never worried about the catch with Matt; it was more the placing. He didn’t place it as fast. Sage is very, very fast and I get to look at the ball forever."
In Washington's 16-13 win over Green Bay, Packers kicker Mason Crosby had a chance to win it at the end of regulation, however his 53 yard field goal attempt hit the upright.
"I’m just sick to my stomach about missing that kick. I lined it up, thought I hit it the way I wanted to, but obviously I didn’t. It just turned left on me and hit the upright. Everything felt good, it was tracking all the way, and it just turned. It was right down the middle, and it just turned and clipped the outside. From that distance, it has to be as precise as possible. I played the wind how I read it and obviously it turned a little more on me than I thought.... I should’ve made the kick. We definitely should’ve had a win."
Redskins kicker Graham Gano was an integral factor in the win, hitting a 45 yarder to tie the game with a minute remaining in the fourth and then hitting a 33 yard game winner in overtime.
"I was glad to had the chance to redeem myself on that... I think as a kicker, if I want to be successful, I have to forget about the kick," Gano said. "On that last one, it helps if I make that kick, everybody forgets the big miss. I think right after I miss a field goal, sure, I'm mad. I think everybody's mad. I think it's good I can just forget about that kick and focus on that next one.
I didn't really see it go through at all. Coach [Danny Smith, special teams] has been telling me to keep my head down. That's a key factor in whether I make or miss a kick. My whole thought process going out there was just keep my head down, follow through and just stay square."
During Cleveland's 20-10 loss to Atlanta, Phil Dawson hit his 234th career field goal as Brown. That ties him for the club record with Mr. Lou Groza. Dawson commented afterward:
"I'd be doing this record a disservice if I didn't take a moment and enjoy it. He's everything that's right about the Cleveland Browns. It doesn't take long to be around these parts to know who Mr. Groza was. To share the record with him means a great deal to me, especially given the fact I've been here so long and I've gained an understanding of not only what a Cleveland Brown he was but what a man he was."
Last week, Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee had one big kick (the 59 yard game winner). This week he went for quantity, with  field goals of 40, 49, 34, 40 and 46 yards. The one 40 yarder was a close call:
"It was the weirdest thing. I kind of hit the ground behind the ball a little bit. It was going down the middle, then it tails right real good, then tails back left at the last second to go two feet inside the right upright. I was thankful that one went in. That would be a members bounce right there [on the golf course]."
In the Monday Night game, kicker Nick Folk provided much of the scoring in the Jets 29-20 win over the Vikings. He hit field goals of 25, 53, 22, 34 & 31 yards and added two PATs.
"I've got to give a lot of credit to Steve and Tanner for their operation. They did a great job tonight, especially considering the elements. It really, really got rainy on my third one right before the half, and they did a great job putting the ball down."
Although the Colts added a late touchdown, the 19-9 Indianapolis win over Kansas City was primarily a field goal duel. Adam Vinatieri edged Ryan Succop four field goals to three.
"You never know what the course of the game is going to like, and every game is different. Sometimes you’re scoring touchdowns all the time, and today we had a tougher time getting into the end zone until the right at the end, but when you can keep putting up points and keep them behind us, and having them chase us, it’s a good thing."

Monday, October 11, 2010

717 Field Goals

In yesterday's NFL games, all the kickers combined went 56-of-66 on field goals. Of course the totals could have been higher if the offensive coaches and players weren't for some strange reason so focused on scoring touchdowns and if the defenses weren't as focused on preventing any scoring, but those are topics for another post. And those numbers do not take into account any practice kicks that occurred. Nonetheless, during that same time Craig Pinto hit 717-of-981 field goals in his Kicking 4 Celiac event. In between kicks, he managed to give us hourly Facebook updates on the proceedings:
7:00am: Off to break a world record...

9:00am: 1st hour down, 80 field goals in the books. 420 more!

10:00am: 2 hours done. 148. Tired mofos.

11:00am: 3 hours in. 225.

12:00pm: 4th set done...302

1:00pm: Round 5 done. 380.

2:00pm: Round 6 done. Five and a half hours in the book. 448.

3:00pm: Newwww world record folks. 521. Lunch break time.

5:00pm: 605...

7:00pm: 655. On the verge of vomiting.

8:00pm: Kicking4Celiac event officially over. Record set. Point made. 717 field goals.

8:30pm: My leg is killing me.
This morning: Can't. Move. Anything.
Congratulations to Craig on setting a new Guinness World Record. More importantly,  kudos to Craig for raising funds for and awareness of Celiac Disease.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Big Kickers on Campus, 2010 week 6

A summary of notable kicking during the sixth week of the 2010 college football season:

Junior kicker John Potter had a 25 yard FG, six PATs, an 8 yard TD run on a fake, a fumble recovery, and a tackle in Western Michigan's 45-16 win over Ball State.

Senior kicker San San Te hit a 34 yard FG with 13 seconds remaining to give Rutgers a 27-24 win over Connecticut.

Senior kicker Dan Bailey made four FGs (52, 25, 52 & 47 yards) in Oklahoma State's 54-28 win over Louisiana-Lafayette.

Junior kicker Derek Dimke made four FGs (50, 31, 41 & 37 yards) in Illinois' 33-13 win over Penn State.

Sophomore kicker Philippe Panico hit a 19 yard FG as time expired to give Yale a 23-20 win over Dartmouth.

Senior kicker Steve Ivanisevic made four FGs (48, 49, 39 & 33 yards) in Washburn's 40-28 win over Nebraska-Omaha.

Senior kicker David Ruffer made three FGs ( yards) in Notre Dame's 23-17 win over Pittsburgh. He currently has an Irish record sixteen consecutive made field goals.

Freshman kicker Aaron Jamieson hit a 28 yard FG with 29 seconds remaining to give Central Missouri State a 30-27 win over Fort Hays State.

Senior kicker Josh Jasper made two FGs (45 & 39 yards) and run for a 1st down off a fake FG on the final game-winning drive in LSU's 33-29 win over Florida.

Junior kicker Zak King made a 38 yard FG with 1:07 remaining to give Emporia State a 17-14 win over Pittsburg State.

Senior kicker Nate Whitaker made a 30 yard FG as time expired to give Stanford a 37-35 win over USC.

Sophomore kicker Tyler Stampler hit a 22 yard FG with 1:56 remaining to give New Mexico State a 16-14 win over New Mexico.

Senior kicker Wes Byrum made a 24 yard FG as time expired to give Auburn a 37-34 win over Kentucky.

Senior kicker R.P. Lopez hit a 41 yard FG in overtime to give Wingate a 38-35 win over Carson-Newman.

Freshman kicker Cory Mundt hit a 20 yard FG with with 13 seconds left to give William Paterson a 31-28 win over Morrisville State.

If we missed someone that should be on the above list, please let us know!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Long Road from Australia to the NFL, part 2

Seeking a coveted punting job in the NFL, one Australian spent spring of 2009 with the Miami Dolphins and spring of 2010 with the New York Giants. He did not land either job. But that is not the end of his story. In 2004 and 2010, two different Australians spent their summer in Green Bay competing for the Packers punting job. Neither one of them won the job. But that was not the end of either of their stories, which also happened to merge into a single story in the intervening years.

In part one of this topic, we looked at two different possible roads from Australia to the NFL. Jy Bond has traveled a third road by eventually training with two Australians who had reached the final destination - former NFL punter Darren Bennett and current NFL punter Sav Rocca. Although he did not win the Dolphins or the Giants jobs, he has since landed the Hartford Colonials of the UFL. We recently connected with Jy who answered a few questions for us:

What has been the biggest challenge in adapting from Australian Rules to American football punting?
"The ball it's less forgiving than the AFL ball. The sweet spot is much smaller and room for error is far greater. The challenge is to hit good balls every time and my expectation level is very high so I put a lot of pressure on myself. I was a running player at home so kicking from a standing start is different as well."
What has turned out to be the most important advice you received from Darren Bennett and Sav Rocca?
"Darren and Sav have been great and the best advice is to trust my ability - I have been blessed with a natural ability and worked dam hard at being the best I can be. I have kicked 10000s of balls in my life and I know what to do. It's just a matter of doing it - there is a level of nothing is a problem attitude - go out there and punt the ball."
How has your UFL experience differed from your NFL experiences?
"UFL has been actually very intense - I'm the only punter so I punt everyday - there is no JUGS so I punt all drills. It's been a learning curve here as well. My coach Kevin O'Dea is great and has been a great support and help to me. He is a hard task master but I appreciate it as it has made me a better punter. Coach Palmer is a great leader of men and has also given me chance to game time and develop my trade. I am extremely grateful to be here and getting the chance to play the game everyday and be around a great bunch of blokes working hard every day to get better and be a successful team."
The most recent Australian to secure a starting job in the NFL is Chris Bryan, whom Tampa Bay signed just prior to the start of the regular season this year. The Buccaneers claimed him off waivers from Green Bay - where Bryan had spent the spring and summer, but lost out in a very close competition with Tim Masthay. Similar to Bond, Bryan had also reached that point by training under another Australian - but in this case one that had come up just short of making the NFL. He worked with Nathan Chapman, who after missing the final cut for the Packers roster in 2004 decided to do something about it - not for himself, but for those who would follow in his footsteps. Among others who trained under Chapman was none other then Jy Bond. We recently spoke to Nathan regarding the past, present, and future of Australian kicking:

Can you tell us a little bit about your road from the AFL to a summer with Green Bay?
"That road took three years of training on my own and lots of late night emails trying to get a contact to look at my film in the USA. I always wanted to try the NFL once my professional career in AFL was finished. I impressed in my workout to be signed on the spot and had to eventually compete against a 3rd round drafted punter. Little did I know that it was going to be hard to win the job over such a high draft pick even though he averaged 35 yards in the preseason. I loved every minute though."
How did ProKick Australia come about?
"After I came back I wanted to help other guys have a better chance of making the roster and to college. I had forged a number of contacts that thought they would like to see some more Australians. If I trained them properly then they should be better off than I was. I was trying to inform the Australian guys that its a bit harder than just kicking a ball and they should prepare for it because of the contractual nature of the NFL is not that secure."
What did your work with Chris Bryan involve?
"We did a lot of mechanical changes to enhance his kick and to become more consistent. So it was ball drop, stepping pattern and straight follow thru for hours every day. Once we had him to a competitive level we produced a film of him and contacted a number of teams that needed a punter. We had four clubs wanting to take a look as soon as he got to the states, but he was signed at his first trial at Green Bay. Also, throughout his 12 months with us we had to mentor him on the game, the scenarios that he would go thru, so that there would be no surprises once he got there."
Now that your punters are seeing increased success, will we ever see an Australian placekicker in the NFL?
"Yes, there will be... in fact we may have one ready in the next 12 months. This would be a great feat as the kicking level is very good in the US as it is with some amazing kids coming thru the college system....
One thing about our program is that we do not have guys go to the USA unless they are ready to compete. We have a guy who looks like he will be ready, however if he is borderline come March, he will not go or be invited for trials in the USA. For the kicking position and our first kicker representing ProKick, we must have the real deal to make sure our reputation is upheld. Quality not quantity. We are very specific in the things that we teach in our program and it covers more than just kicking the ball. We have to make the transition of players into the NFL or college as smooth as it could be to help with their success, and we also have to continue coaching them so their development as players can continue. We will have a big presence in the NFL next year."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

NFL Week Four: So Exciting You Might Blackout

After a Saturday filled with an unusually large number of game winning field goals at the college level, the theme carried over into the pro games on Sunday.

Jacksonville kicker Josh Scobee hit a big one as time expired. The 59 yarder gave the Jaguars a 31-28 win over the division rival Colts. Garnering as much media attention as the kick itself was Scobee's spirited victory lap afterward.
"I've never been that excited after a kick in my life. That's the third time I've hit one over 50 to beat the Colts and each one gets more and more fun.... I don't know what I was thinking. I think I blacked out for about 10 seconds. It was incredible."
Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant hit one for the second week in a row. Last week it was against the Saints in overtime, and this week it against the  49ers with two seconds remaining for a 16-14 win.
"I went out there like the week before and told myself to keep my head down and go through the ball. It wasn't as pretty as last week, but on paper it's still good.... I've beaten the odds. You cannot anticipate a timeout. You have to anticipate making the kick."
"In the kicker spot, in one minute you’re in the penthouse and in the next minute, you are in the outhouse. You’re as good as your last kick. I get to go back to the penthouse for another week. I’m liking it pretty good. The bed is more comfortable and the drinks are colder."
The big news out of New Orleans last week was the re-signing of kicker John Carney.
"It's a great situation. I feel blessed and fortunate to have the opportunity to come back here and help the Saints, whether in a playing capacity or coaching capacity."
Carney was the active kicker for this week's game, and went 3 for 3 on field goals. His 25 yarder with 3:55 remaining proved to be the game winner as the Saints won 16-14 over the Panthers.
“I have no timetable. I’m just looking for my opportunities to help the team. I feel very fortunate. It would have been tougher if it wasn’t with this team. I know the personnel very well. I worked with everybody that I worked with today last year, coaches and players....
You try to be prepared. [Long snapper] Jason Kyle is one of the best in the league. We put Chase Daniel in there, and he did a very good job in his first time holding in the NFL.... I had a good opportunity to kick with Garrett this week. He’s hitting the ball well, and we’re happy to come away with a win.”
That meant that Garrett Hartley was inactive for the game. He tweeted afterward:
"Just wanted to thank all the support from the who dat nation!! Difficult times only thickens ones skin! BTW great team win yesterday and mad props for John Carney going 3 of 3 !!!"
On Monday, Hartley elaborated on the Carney signing and the current situation:
"I'm definitely not feeling threatened by it. If anything, they're trying to help me out. Taking a positive is I'm still a kicker for the New Orleans Saints in the National Football League. It really doesn't get a whole lot better than that.... I feel comfortable because he was here helping me all of last year. So it really doesn't feel like we missed a beat the way that we talk, we get along, we joke and our work ethic that we have during the practice field and even pre-game warm-ups."
While Scobee, Bryant and Carney were hearing cheers from their respective fans, Giants rookie punter Matt Dodge was subjected to boos from the New York fans during the win over Chicago on Sunday night. He has struggled so far at times this year on both punts and holding on placekicks. Nonetheless, he isn't giving up:
"It’s humbling, I haven’t punted nearly as well as I’ve wanted to yet and [Tom Coughlin] still believes in me. That helps me out a lot because I’m easily my biggest critic night in and night out. For him to give me words of encouragement it’s awesome because it's definitely a coach I looked up to growing up.... I don't want to just be good. I want to be a great punter one day."
Washington punter Josh Bidwell was back this week, after having missed the previous game when he was injured in pregame warm-ups.
“I was excited to get back out on the field. I’m a little disappointed in not handling the conditions [wind] the way I was hoping to. They were tough, I don’t really have any excuse for it. I just kind of wish I could have gauged how well I’m operating under some normal circumstances and I don’t think I got that today."
Denver kicker Matt Prater didn't hit a game winner, but his four field goals played a significant role in the Broncos 26-20 road win over the Titans. He is now 8 of 8 on field goals this year.
"I just think I'm more confident than I used to be," he said. "I just know if I do my technique and come through the ball like I should, then the ball is going to go straight and there's no distance I shouldn't make."

Monday, October 4, 2010

Folk & Scobee: Lightning Strikes Twice and Thrice

Last year, Washington kicker Erik Folk hit a game winning field goal to give the Huskies an upset win over the USC Trojans. Of course that couldn't possibly happen again this year, could it?
"I was just thinking about making it — I wasn’t thinking about the situation at all or what happened last year."

Twice before (2004 and 2008), Jacksonville kicker Josh Scobee has hit 50+ yard game winning field goals to give the Jaguars upset wins over the Indianapolis Colts. Of course that couldn't possibly happen again this year, could it?
"Each one gets more and more fun. That one in particular because last year we had numerous attempts over 55 and I wasn't happy with the way I hit any of them. So this one I just told myself, 'Stay calm, make a good clean strike and the ball should go true. Yeah, I knew [it was good]. I knew it was going to be right down the middle. And normally when I hit one I can look up and know if it's going to be good or not with the distance. I was told [the kick was good] by 3 yards but I don't care if it was one inch, I'm happy with that."

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Louie Aguiar: Busy Punting

Since adding punting to his resume during high school, Louie Aguiar has been busy punting ever since. His college career started at Chabot Jr. College and ended at Utah State. He punted abroad, for NFL Europe's Barcelona Dragons. His decade long NFL career featured three years with the NY Jets, five with Kansas City, and then one apiece with Green Bay and Chicago. These days he is even busier, teaching and coaching high school, as well as instructing the next generation of punters and kickers through his Aguiar Kicking Academy.

We recently spoke to Louie, who answered all our punting questions (along with a few other questions):

What is your earliest recollection of kicking a ball (any ball, not necessarily a football)?
“Probably when I started walking. I was the youngest of four boys, and all my older brothers played soccer. So I’ve been kicking a ball my whole life. There were soccer balls all around the house.”

What was the hardest part about learning to punt a football after having started with soccer?
“It kind of came naturally. I was playing soccer from as long as I can remember through high school. I picked up football and started punting as a junior in high school. I just picked it up one day and started punting, turned it over, and the coach said ‘you’re our punter. I know you played soccer when your younger, and you’re a goalie, so why don’t you start punting the football?’ So I did. That’s how I got started.”

At what point did you realize that punting would become your career?
“When I was a senior in high school, I punted really well. Then I was getting recruited by some junior colleges in California to punt, so I said, ‘maybe this can be my meal ticket’. I just wanted to get into college and get my education paid for. Having three older brothers in college at the same time, I wanted to help my mom and dad out. That’s how I got into punting. I really enjoyed it. Punting and kicking.”

Do you have a favorite story from your days with the Barcelona Dragons?
“I was down there working out at the NFL Europe allocation tryouts, and the head of NFLE came up to me and said, ‘what do you think about going to Barcelona? They have the first pick in the draft for punters.’ I said ‘They have a lot of great punters down here, I just want to play somewhere, I don’t care where.’ He replied, ‘You know, I think you’ll be going to Barcelona.’ They had the draft the next week. I worked out, punted, and kicked off. The next thing I know I was the first punter drafted.”

How did the introduction of the K-ball in the NFL in ’99 impact the punting game?
“Oh, it was huge! In the punting and the kicking game. Going to a new ball compared to the old ball, and going to ball that’s not rubbed down – the long snappers had a hard time snapping the ball, and us punters had a hard time trying to handle the ball. We were used to a ball that was a little bit fatter, and now we had a ball that was skinnier and slick. It was a lot different. If you look back at those first couple years of the K-ball, the numbers were down because of that. Field goal averages were down. Punting averages were down a little bit. All because of the K-ball. We kept talking to Jerry Siemen [NFL head of officials], ‘we gotta do something about these balls.’ They said ‘no, no, no’, until Tony Romo dropped the ball. That’s when they said they decided to change it, all because of a quarterback. We and the kickers had been saying it for years.”

Are there any adjustments you make when punting in bad weather such as rain, wind, cold?
“If it’s raining and if we’re playing in grass, the first thing I’d do is go to longer cleats on my plant foot and go from a molded to a screw-on on my kicking foot. I always wore soccer shoes, which are bendable. Also in the rain, for my hands I’d always try and have hand warmer on, so I could keep my hands as dry as possible, as long as possible, until the ball was snapped. If there’s wind in your face you have to hang onto the ball longer.”

Like many punters, you also handled kickoffs. Are there reasons that punters might fare better on kickoffs than a placekicker?
"Most of the kickers that I played with were all six foot or shorter. I played with Pat Leahy who was right around six foot. I played with Stoyanovich. All those guys were a little shorter. The taller guys who have longer legs, we have more leverage on the leg swing. Since you have more of a whip, our leg can snap through the ball better and hit the ball farther – just like golfers on long drive contests, they always use those extra long shafts so they can get more whip. That’s a reason why we had an advantage, being taller, back when I was playing. Now they have placekickers that are my height, 6’-3”, and they can bomb the ball.”

They say placekicking is 80 to 90% mental. Does that also apply to punting?
“It definitely does. If you don’t have the mental side of it, it doesn’t matter how great of a punter you are. If you don’t have the mental side of it, you’re done! I was in training camp with many young kids in my career – college kids with cannons for legs – but when they got behind the line of scrimmage, they couldn’t handle the pressure. We’d be out there kicking side by side in practice and I’m thinking ‘these guys are hammering the ball’, but as soon as they got behind the line of scrimmage it was a different story. Even for me when I came out of college, I wasn’t ready. I went to the Buffalo Bills training camp in 1991. Coming from college it was a different game. All the guys are faster. They come at you faster. In college they just let you kick the ball away. In most cases in the pros they want you to kick outside the numbers. I wasn’t ready coming out of college either. Kids coming out of college, they’re not prepared for the NFL.”

Is there anything you’ve learned since becoming an instructor and coach that you wish you had known back during your playing days?
“Computer technology! If I could have had that while playing compared to today… Back then we just had video tape and looked at it later. During practice, I knew I was doing something wrong, and the coaches couldn’t see it. Now I use a program where I can video tape and it’s instant feedback. I can look at right then and there when I’m coaching these kids. I can videotape it and two seconds later show I can show the kids exactly what they’re doing. I wish I would have had that on the practice field when I was playing. There were some days on the practice field where I was not coming through the ball, where is the ball, what’s going on? Just little things, my wrist was turning the ball a little too much. My body is transferring right, why isn’t the ball going over there? With the technology today, video cameras and computer software are so much better.

Pertaining to my punting, I’ve learned that you’ve got to be a lot more consistent. Early in my career, I felt like I had a pretty big leg, but at the end of my career when I got done it’s a lot more technique than anything. You’ve got to trust yourself.”

Name one thing about being a punter that most people probably don’t realize.
“How much time and effort we put into it. They think being punters, ’all you do is kick a ball. You only play four or five plays a game on average’. They don’t realize how much time we put in on the practice field. Yea, when I’m on the practice field everybody else is banging heads, running around, and doing all that. But I was always over there, working on my footwork, working on my ball put away, working on coming through the ball. I teach high school now, and a lot of teachers go ‘oh, all you do is just kick the ball four or five times a game, that must have been easy’. No! If we have a two and a half hour practice, I’m probably over there for an hour to an hour and a half working on techniques to make myself better. That’s one thing that people don’t realize – how much time and effort it takes, so that when I get on that field I don’t make a mistake. I could have three great punts in a game, but that one shank is the one that everybody talks about. They don’t talk about the three I had for fifty yards, or the one for forty-five that I put out of bounds at the two; they just talk about the twenty-five yard shank, because the wind caught it or something.”

This interview sponsored by the National Camp Series.