the study of the kicking components within sports

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

NFL Week One: The Punters

Several punters were in the news during the first week of the 2011 NFL season, and in many cases it wasn't just for punting. Raven's punter Sam Koch also servers as the holder on placekicks. On an extra point attempt following a third quarter touchdown during Baltimore's 35-7 win over Pittsburgh he turned into a runner and scored a two-point conversion:
"You’ve got the Steelers and the Ravens, which is such a bitter rivalry year-in and year-out. Rubbing it in their faces is definitely not the answer because you never know what can happen. You never when a game can change or the momentum, especially in a game against the Steelers. It was just a way to add more points and give us a more comfortable lead....
It was just something where the time arose, and we could do it, and we thought that was the time to do it. So we called it, and it went in. It was a great play and a great call.... To be honest with you, to see that hole open up in the game was a lot better than what we were seeing in practice. In practice, I had never seen that hole open up so big. It opened up nice and clean, and like [long snapper] Morgan [Cox] said, I could have stood up and walked in."
Facing one of the leagues top returners in Josh Cribbs, Bengals punter Kevin Huber was focused on directional placement rather than long distance punts during Cincinnati's 27-17 win over Cleveland.
"The focus all week was to get the ball into good position with good hang time. You saw on my poorer punts he had good returns. I think in the first half I had a great ball but it went right down the middle of the field. It might have gone 56 yards but he got a 20-yard return on it. I still have to work on that this week because in the next three or four weeks we have a lot of great returners. It doesn't stop with Cribbs."
On the other side of the field, things went from bad to worse to worst for Brown's punter Richmond McGee. During pregame warm-ups he injured his back. That manifested itself in several short punts during the game. Further examination following the game revealed a herniated disc. He was subsequently placed on IR and the team signed veteran Brad Maynard. McGee's agent David Canter commented:
"Soon as the game was over, I called him after seeing the numbers and hearing that fans were booing. He's devastated by it. He said, 'You don't know what it's like to try to punt without feeling your left.' Everybody in Cleveland wants to hang the guy. He gave it everything he had.... Hopefully, he'll have the opportunity to come back and punt again."
Another season ending injury lead to a dual role for Chargers punter Mike Scifres. When kicker Nate Kaeding was injured on the opening kickoff during San Diego's 24-17 win over Minnesota, Scifres had to handle all the kicking for the remainder of the game. That comprised three extra points and a 40 yard field goal (all successful), and four kickoffs (two of which went for touchbacks). He'll go back to just punting next week, as the team signed Nick Navak and placed Kaeding on IR. Scifres discussed his first and last placekicking experiences from his college days at Western Illinois:
"It was my sophomore year in college, and we were tied with seven seconds left. If we beat Northern Iowa, we'd win the conference, and if we lost, we would have gotten the second seed in our conference. I was able to make [a 56 yarder] with no time left. But that was another situation where I hadn't kicked a field goal with the team or in practice, and if I would have missed, we still would've gone into overtime and still had a chance. So I went out there and took a swing at it....
The extra point was actually the first time I had been behind a line with a snap and a hold since college. And that last field goal I kicked in college wasn't pretty. It was a 61-yard, just desperation (kick) and never got 10 feet off the ground. I don't like to remember that one."

No comments:

Post a Comment