the study of the kicking components within sports

Friday, March 4, 2011

Cain. Podlesh. Scobee…. Snap. Hold. Kick. (part 2)

We continue our triple interviews with the Jacksonville Jaguars’ specialists: kicker Josh Scobee, holder/punter Adam Podlesh, and long snapper Jeremy Cain. In part one, we primarily discussed how some common elements impacted each of their respective tasks during placekicking. Today we take a closer look at the integration of their efforts. While each of them has detailed individual requirements on a play, those all have to occur at specific times and locations relative to each other on the time-space continuum. In simple terms: it requires precise timing and coordination.

How long does it typically take a trio of long snapper, holder, and kicker to develop the necessary rhythm for kicking success? Jeremy and Josh have both worked with several different trio combinations during their pro careers:
  • Cain: “I think it’s different with everybody. It’s the chemistry that you have with somebody and the time that you have. Adam and I, we kind of hit it off from the beginning. It could be from a day to a whole season.”
  • Scobee: “It takes some time. Anytime you bring one of those new guys into the equation, it takes some time to develop the rhythm for each person, and to get used to their tendencies. Also, more importantly, to develop the trust between all three of us. That’s sometimes something that can never be perfected. It can be improved every year, and that’s what you try to do. However long you have with someone, you try to improve on it every day, every week, and every year.”
Plenty of practice is obviously key to developing the timing and coordination. We know that occurs during training camp and the regular season. But what about the rest of the year?
  • Podlesh: “What we’ll do, starting in March and April, we’ll get back together and we’ll usually have a couple days a week that we’ll work and make sure that we keep the rust from accruing on us. The good thing about us is that Josh and I both predominantly live in Jacksonville all year round, and Jeremy is either in Jacksonville or in southern Florida which is not far away. So it’s pretty easy for us to get together if we need to.”
  • Scobee: “What we try to during the offseason, once we get back together and start working out with the team, once we’re all back in town, we get together once or maybe twice a week before OTAs begin. Just to develop some kind of rhythm and work out a few kinks before we actually start practicing.”
  • Cain: “In April when we start our offseason programs up in Jacksonville; we’re all there. We get together, Adam and I (we don’t need Josh the whole time when we’re just snapping and holding). The three of us work together throughout the offseason, all the way through training camp, and the whole season.”
More than once it has been mentioned that the three of them spend a fair amount of time together. Aside from snapping, holding, and kicking, what else do they talk about? In addition to kicking, Adam played linebacker in high school. Jeremy began his NFL career as a linebacker. We asked Adam if he and Jeremy ever talk linebacking.
  • “Not really. I think the difference between him and what he did… I mean he was an NFL linebacker for a little while. He didn’t get into snapping until probably a couple years after he graduated college. I did play linebacker and running back in high school, but the amount of football IQ that I have in those positions (although I feel I’m a pretty good tackler for my position)… I just don’t have that type of IQ to run around stuff with him.”
In the ideal world, once they’ve got the routine down and the synchronization in place, every play would be automatic points. While that is the case the large majority of the time, on a few occasions things don’t always go as planned. If a missed kick occurs during a game, to what degree do the three of them assess that during the game?
  • Scobee: “We typically walk over to the sideline. Normally Adam or Jeremy will come up to me and ask what I thought went wrong. If I think there’s anything we can improve on I’ll let them know. Normally it’s just matter of trying to shake it off, and forget about it and move on to the next one. Learn from the previous one and move on.”
  • Podlesh: “Pretty much right afterwards. If there was anything that went awry – let’s say with a snap, or a hold, or a placement was off (which we really didn’t run into too much this year, our operation was pretty good, and Jeremy did a great job snapping) - but right afterwards we will assess the situation and see what happened. We have photos to see what is going on, how the ball was held. A lot of times, since we’ve done this so many times, we already know what went on. Say if I miss a spot by a little bit, I’ll know it right off the bat. Or if [Josh] pulls it, I’ll even know it because I can tell just feeling the ball come off his foot from my finger. So a lot of times we already know. But we’ll assess it right afterwards and pretty much get it away and get on to the next kick.”
  • Cain: “Immediately! We talk right away whether it was something to do with the snap, or the hold, or the kick. We want to communicate it so it doesn’t happen again if there was an issue with a missed field goal or something going on with the punt.”
Although they quickly assess things during the game, is there any further assessment during meetings and practices in the days following?
  • Podlesh: “Sometimes it’s inevitable that will happen, but I think for the trio between me, Josh and Jeremy, we already know what’s going on. These are professionals in the league; we know exactly what’s going on. We’re usually our biggest critic. And I really believe that with pretty much every specialist in the league. We’ve already understood and rectified the problem in our own mind, from the second after this all happened.”
  • Scobee: “We’ll look at it normally a day or two after either a win or a loss, no matter what happened. We go back and review. You can always learn from your mistakes and learn from the things you’ve done well, and try not to repeat the mistakes.”
Suppose a snapper, a holder, and a kicker have spent years developing their individual skills. As a group, they’ve spent considerable time in the off-season, in practices, and even during the game developing timing and rhythm, and making necessary adjustments. That doesn’t necessarily mean that any combination of three individuals will succeed. In the forthcoming third and final part of our interview, we’ll look at why Jeremy, Adam, and Josh have succeeded.

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