the study of the kicking components within sports

Monday, December 31, 2012

NFL Week 17: Assorted Misses - Kai Forbath, Olindo Mare & Phil Dawson

Washington kicker Kai Forbath's inaugural streak of successful field goals ended at 17 last night when his 18th attempt, a 37 yarder in the first quarter, hit the upright and was no good. It ultimately did not impact the outcome of the game as the Redskins won 28-18 over the Cowboys, winning the NFC East. They'll host the Seahawks in a Wildcard match-up next week.
“I haven’t seen the film yet. I think I just picked my head up a little too soon. I wanted to see it go in, which is just a stupid mental error. I’m just a little frustrated that the miss came on such an, I don’t want to say easy one because obviously it’s not. That proves it....

I look at it now, we got the miss out of the way, I’d rather have it now than next week. I’m coming back just as confident as I was coming into this game.”
Chicago briefly kept their playoff hopes alive with a 26-24 win over Detroit. Recently signed kicker Olindo Mare contributed with four field goals (33, 40, 28 and 20 yards). His lone miss was wide right from 43 yards in the second quarter.
“It was just a bad kick. It was disappointing, and you can’t blame not kicking all year on it because I made those kicks in pregame and all week. It was just a bad swing.”
Cleveland kicker Phil Dawson potentially concluded his career as a Brown in a 24-10 loss at Pittsburgh. Aside from one blocked kick earlier in the year, he missed his only other field goal attempt of the year in the second quarter yesterday - wide right from 39 yards. Later in the same quarter he made a 51 yarder.
“I actually think I hit the miss better than the next one. [Heinz Field] isn’t an easy place to kick. I should know better after all these years not to aim outside the uprights, but I thought that was the best course and the ball just stayed out there. Everything was going to their bench all day and that one just stayed straight.”

Friday, December 28, 2012

College Senior Kickers, Punters & Snappers Mega-Q&A 2012

Over the past few months we spoke to many dozens of kickers, punters and long snappers from this year's senior college class. At each division level we discussed a different aspect of the kicking game. If you've been following closely you'll have already seen these, but for those that missed some or all of the segments, following is convenient index for your year-end reading enjoyment.

Kickers from FBS schools: responses
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring high school kickers, what would it be?
Punters from FBS schools: responses part 1, responses part 2
What's the most important thing you've learned during your college career regarding dealing with pressure and the mental aspects of punting?
Long snappers from Division I schools: responses
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring high school long snappers, what would it be?
Kickers from FCS schools: responses part 1, responses part 2
What's the most important thing you've learned during your college career regarding dealing with pressure and the mental aspects of kicking?
Punters from FCS schools: responses part 1, responses part 2
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring high school punters, what would it be?
Kickers and punters from Division II schools: responses part 1, responses part 2
What's the most important thing you've learned during your college career regarding training & conditioning for specialists?
Kickers and punters from Division III schools: responses part 1, responses part 2
Looking back over your college career, how was the experience of playing specialist for a small school?
Kickers and punters from NAIA schools: responses
What's the worst weather conditions you ever played in and how did it impact the kicking game?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Pro Bowl Kickers & Punters 2012 - Phil Dawson, Dustin Colquitt, Blair Walsh & Thomas Morstead

This year's NFL Pro Bowl kickers and punters...

Phil Dawson, Cleveland
"I deliberately tried not to know. We wanted to watch the show with my kids. I had a fairly good idea what was going on, but it was a pretty priceless moment when we saw the name flash up on the screen. My kids went nuts. My wife went nuts. That makes these 15 years of waiting worth it....

I was sitting there watching the show, I couldn’t help but remember my — I guess you would call it a draft party — in 1998. I was literally waiting to be drafted and had everyone around. I was throwing a party and the phone never rang. It seems like that dark cloud has hung over my head as an undrafted guy ever since. In a lot of ways I’m grateful for it because it’s driven me to keep my head down and keep plugging away and try to get better every year. To have my name finally called, 15 years later, is kind of hard to wrap my mind around."
Dustin Colquitt, Kansas City
"It’s cool setting the Kansas City Chiefs record and tying an NFL record. It’ll mean a lot to me, obviously, once you go back and look at film and all that stuff. My dad always told me, ‘If there’s anything you do in football, be the defensive coordinator’s best friend,’ so that’s kind of how I’ve looked at it."
Blair Walsh, Minnesota
"I got the news this afternoon from [special teams] Coach Priefer, which was appropriate because he put a lot on the line when the Vikings drafted me and I owe him so much for the season that we've had. It's been an unbelievable year, and I hope that it's not done for a long while yet."
Thomas Morstead, New Orleans
"This our fourth year together, and I credit a lot of my growth to [special teams coordinator Greg McMahon's] coaching and his being hard on me and pushing me and trying to get me to do things that maybe I didn’t think I’d be able to do that we do now.

It’s pretty cool … it’s something neat to share. My fiancée is here, and I get to share it with all my family. Hopefully, I’ll get to take my parents to Hawaii."

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

NFL Week 16: Assorted Kicking Tidbits & Milestones

Cardinals punter Dave Zastudil now has 44 punts downed inside the 20 yard line this year, surpassing the prior NFL season record of 42 shared by the Cardinals’ Ben Graham in 2009, the 49ers' Andy Lee in 2007, and the Jets' Steve Weatherford in 2010.

Vikings kicker Blair Walsh hit a 56 yard field goal against the Texans, giving him nine 50+ yard field goals for the year, surpassing the prior record of eight in one year shared by Jason Hanson and Morten Andersen. The 56 yarder also tied the Minnesota team record for longest field goal, shared with Paul Edinger (2005).

Redskins kicker Kai Forbath made two more field goals, 45 and 42 yards, during the game against the Eagles. That extends his perfect start to 17 straight field goals and surpasses Garrett Hartley for the best start to an NFL kicking career.

Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski scored 11 points against the Jaguars, raising his season total to 149 and surpassing his prior high of 148. He needs six more more points to tie and seven to surpass Gino Cappelletti for the New England team record. The latter scored 155 points in 1964.

Most Points Scored in 2012 (thru 16 games)
1.Stephen Gostkowski · NWE149
2.Lawrence Tynes · NYG139
3.Matt Bryant · ATL138
4.Blair Walsh · MIN128
Jason Hanson · DET128
Shayne Graham · HOU128
7.Justin Tucker · BAL127
8.Matt Prater · DEN125
9.David Akers · SFO122
10.Dan Bailey · DAL120

Monday, December 24, 2012

NFL Week 16: Back in the Groove - Stephen Gostkowski & Mason Crosby

New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski made field goal of 25, 49, and 38 yards during the Patriots 23-16 win over the Jaguars. His total scoring for the year now stands at 149 points, the highest total of his career.
"I avoid stats until the end of the year, because the times I’ve been caught up in stats, it hasn’t turned out well. The most important stat we talk about here is wins, and we’ve got 11 wins, and that’s awesome....
I broke that record that one year with all the extra points in a season [74 in 2007, an NFL record]. We have a good team, we have a good offense, so it’s a byproduct. You don’t make your own opportunities, you just take advantage of them....
Anything that I accomplish is because we have such a good, high-powered offense. You have opportunities, and I just need to take advantage of them. Points are points. I’ll look at it at the end of the year and say I could have done this, could have done that. It’s hard to compare yourself to other people on other teams, because every team is different. I just worry about what I do, how hard I’m working, and how well I’m executing."
Green Bay kicker Mason Crosby made field goals of 26 and 48 yards in the Packers 55-7 blowout of the Titans. Perhaps more importantly, he did not have any misses this week.
"It means everything. This is a team. I’ve been through a lot with them, and I couldn’t ask for a better place to be. I’m going to keep battling. I put a lot into it. A lot of heart, a lot of work, a lot of detail into my preparation and I think my teammates see that. I want to go out there and be accountable and hold myself to a high standard so I execute for my team. Today that’s what ended up happening and I couldn’t ask for a better finish for today, and get that big win. We definitely were clicking on all phases....

I evaluate each kick the same. I definitely carry those kicks with confidence but we’ll evaluate them the same way. I’ll look at it analytically and make sure that everything’s how it should be. I kicked a lot of balls today. It was a good day. For me, it’s something to carry forward and continue to be accountable and make sure that I can help this team win....
I felt good with the preparation and how his day went, how the week went, building up to today. I’m just sticking to my stuff. Just working through it, hitting the ball, making kicks. I’m trying to make kicks in practice, so then I carry them and build them into a game. I think this week went as well as it could have and I felt like it built momentum coming into this game, and executed."
His fellow specialist, punter and holder Tim Masthay, commented afterward:
"I’ve been thinking that for a long time – that all we need is to go out and have one game where we making everything and it’ll be a real big confidence boost and will settle us down, make us feel normal again. So I thought that was really good."

NFL Week 16: Early Miss, Late Make - Garrett Hartley & Graham Gano

With a little under two minutes remaining in the first half, Carolina kicker Graham Gano missed a a 48 yard field goal attempt. Although it was not necessarily a critical kick in the Panthers 17-6 win over the Raiders, Gano did get another opportunity with a little under three minutes remaining in the second half - this time connecting from 51 yards.
"I wanted that kick. I was hoping that I would have that opportunity since I had missed that earlier one."
For New Orleans kicker Garrett Hartley, the second (and third) opportunities did prove to be critical. The miss came early in the second quarter and was wide left from 36 yards.
"Obviously, the hit on the ball wasn’t where I wanted it, and it tailed off to the left. I knew we had a lot of football left to play, and I had to stay positive."
The second opportunity came on the final play of the first half and was good from 37 yards. The third opportunity, although only from 20 yards, came in overtime. It was good and the saints won 34-31 over the Cowboys.
"When the end came I looked at them and said, `Well, I guess it’s going to come down to us,’ It’s like a horse with blinders, you’re just focused on what you need to do, and we went out there and executed.... Just the basics, you know, the fundamentals. Strike through the ball, follow through and elevate it."
The winning kick also had significance for the trio of specialists, as Hartley, holder Chase Daniel and snapper Justin Drescher had all gone to the same high school in Texas:

"It felt great, especially with all of us being from Southlake and doing it here at Texas Stadium. With Drescher on the snap and Chase on the hold, I was just the final piece to the puzzle. To put the final points on the board, it really meant a lot."

NFL Week 16: More Fun at Heinz - Josh Brown & Shaun Suisham

The kicking game was in the spotlight at Heinz Field yesterday, in a division game with playoff implications. Things didn't work out as planned for Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham on his first field goal attempt which came midway through the second quarter.  A low snap led to a bobbled hold which led to a wide left 24 yard kick.
"It stabilized, but it wasn't going to go in anyway."
Each kicker subsequently made a mid-range attempt - Bengals kicker Josh Brown hit a 41 yarder late in the second quarter and Suisham connected from 40 yard in the third. Then with the game tied 10-10, several big attempts arose late in the fourth quarter. With 3:22 remaining, Josh Brown slipped and came up short on a 56 yard attempt.
"My drive step came out from underneath me, so I wasn’t really able to get under the ball. There wasn’t a lot of height and obviously it landed in the end zone. From 56 yards, I feel very confident."
On the next possession, Shaun Suisham came up short on a 53 yarder with 1:51 remaining:
"I knew it was going to be close. Everything I do is to prepare to be perfect. And when it doesn’t happen, it’s a tough one to take, especially this late in the year when it could have been the difference in the game and our season."
Then after a flurry of activity involving some punting, some intercepting, and some throwing, Cincinnati set up Josh Brown with a 43 yard attempt with four seconds remaining. The kick was good and the Bengals won 13-10, securing a playoff spot and eliminating Pittsburgh from playoff contention.
"I aimed it right inside the right upright and the wind took it right down the middle — just like we planned. After that it was pure joy....

I’ve got to say, it’s unbelievable to be the last guy standing on the field, to be the one who puts the final couple of points on the board and the nail in the other team’s coffin. It’s every kid’s dream to do something like that, whether it’s throwing a pass, making a big tackle or kicking a field goal. And to be able to do it for this team is really special. There is a lot of chemistry here. There are a lot of good guys. That’s something you don’t know about until you’re in it. Before the end of my first day with them, they were cheering me in practice. That doesn’t happen everywhere you go, but these guys got into it. They called me by my first name, not ‘New Guy’ or ‘Hey, you.’...
[At the end of yesterday's game] guys were saying ‘Thank you, thank you’. “They said ‘Merry Christmas.’… and ‘You’re solid’… and ‘Way to go vet, way to go'.... 
To get them into the playoffs — whether I’m part of it or not — is a good feeling. I know if Mike [Nugent] feels good this week and comes back I might have to sit down. What can I do? I took the opportunity I was given and made the most of it. That was the point. If other people see value in me, it was a successful run."
Winning against Pittsburgh also tied into some personal history for Brown:
"Quite honestly, it’s very satisfying. I’ve had a bad run versus Pittsburgh. I had a bad game here last year with the Rams. We lost big (27-0) and I missed from 52 and 33 yards. It was just one of the nightmare kind of games, so I really needed to exorcise some demons today... 

[Super Bowl XL in which Seattle lost to Pittsburgh] was possibly my only chance to win a Super Bowl. So I guess I’ve carried a small chip on my shoulder for what, five or six years? I mean that’s why we play the game — to win the Super Bowl. So today — helping knock them out of the playoffs and kind of make them grit their teeth — well that was OK with me."

NFL Week 16: Rookies Roll - Kai Forbath, Justin Tucker & Blair Walsh

Washington kicker Kai Forbath made two more field goals, 45 and 42 yards, during the Redskins 27-20 win over the Eagles. That extends his perfect start to 17 straight field goals and surpasses Garrett Hartley for the best start to an NFL kicking career.
“It’s awesome. I couldn’t have asked for a better start and being with guys like [long-snapper] Nick Sundberg and [punter/holder] Sav Rocca, and having all the trust in them that they’ll get the ball down just makes my job a lot easier. I’ve been happy we’ve converted on all our attempts so far, and [I’m] going to take it one week at a time like we’ve been doing....

Well, today, me and Sav both kind of watched them for a little bit longer because of the wind that was holding it up a little bit. I got nervous on the first one. I thought it might come up short. We did it like normal today. Wed didn’t react differently. Kind of in the back of our minds, we knew what was going on, but we didn’t make that an issue, and didn’t try to do anything different.”
Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker made four field goals (23, 21, 30 & 29 yards) during the Ravens 33-14 win over the Giants. He is now 25 of 27 (92.6%) on field goals for the year.

A week after tying the NFL record for most 50+ yard field goals in a season, Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh took sole possession of the record. His 56 yarder during the Vikings 23-6 win over the Texans was his ninth of the year.
"I honestly haven't thought much about it. Once the game (got) going, I lapsed on what my season long or career long was. I knew it was in the 50s, but I was just trying to make them. We got a touchdown lead with that last field goal. These kicks today weren't meaningless field goals.... We're not out here to break individual records or have individual stats. We want to win games, and if the records happen, that's awesome." 
He even mentioned the Z-word, that special place all athletes want to be:
"This is the most locked into a zone I've ever been. You always have to stay focused as a kicker. But right now, I think we're firing on all cylinders on our snaps and holds."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mayan Kicking, part 1

Although the sun and the moon are both round and both travel across the sky approximately once a day, the similarities appear to end there as they seem like two uniquely different orbs. It turns out however that they are more alike than they are different. In fact, they are twins. 

Why, you may ask, is this of any concern to kickologists? Because earlier in their careers, the sun and the moon were the two greatest kickers of all time.

The story of the twin kicking legends Hunahpú and Xbalanqué was long told, but only one written account survived. The Popol Vuh, a collection of sorts of Mayan mythology, includes their story along with the creation myth and subsequent genealogies. Following is a brief synopsis of Hunahpú and Xbalanqué's epic story.

The heroic twins' story begins a generation earlier with their father Hun and their uncle Vucub - who were also twins and who were pretty decent kickers in their own right. One day during a boisterous ball game, the youthful Hun and Vucub managed to disturb the lords of Xibalba, the Mayan underworld. The Xibalbans invited the two down for a "friendly" ball game, but things were not as they appeared. Upon arrival the pair greeted the underlords only to discover that they were actually carved wooden replicas. The real underlords were still in their locker room, snickering. Oops! Upon sitting down on the visitors bench the pair discovered it was actually a fully-heated baking stone. Ouch! Having failed those "tests", Hun and Vucub met their fatal demise in the game itself when they failed to detect that the diabolically clever Xiblabans had hidden blades in the traditional meso-american rubber ball. Double ouch! The underlords buried both bodies under the ballcourt and placed Hun's severed head in a tree.

The gruesome conclusion was not however the end of the story. One day while the daughter of one of the underlords was walking passed the tree, Hun's head spit in her hand. This of course impregnated her, and she soon gave birth to Hunahpú and Xbalanqué. The twins ended up under the unloving care of their paternal grandmother who made their childhood difficult - as did continual confrontations with their older half brothers. Despite whatever obstacles their family and others presented, the pair always managed to succeed.

At one point during their childhood, the twins wanted to be gardeners when they grew up. However, their early horticulture efforts were continually thwarted by the area wildlife. They tried trapping the pesky critters, but managed only to capture a rat. Seemingly a minor victory, the encounter with the rodent proved to be the turning point in their lives. To save its own life, the rat offered up some very important information. It revealed that the twins destiny lie not in planting, but in kicking. It then went on to expose where the twin's grandmother had hidden their father and uncle's old game equipment. It was a very smart rat.

With knowledge of their true calling and their ancestors' gear in hand, the twins practiced. They kicked and they kicked. They excelled! Then one day during a boisterous ball game, the youthful Hunahpú and Xbalanqué managed to disturb the underlords of Xibalba. The Xibalbans invited the two down for a "friendly" ball game...

To be continued... stay tuned for part 2, which will be posted sometime during the next long-count calendar cycle.

Name That Foot, episode 12

To which three individuals do the feet pictured below belong? 
The first person to correctly name all three in the comments section below earns an honorary degree in kickology, with a minor in trivial photography. Answers will be added to the post next week.

Hint: he considers this to be the biggest kick of his career.
Extra hints: College game. East of the Mississippi. Game winning field goal as time expired.
Hint: he considers this to be the biggest kick of his career.
Hint: he considers this to be the biggest kick of his career

Bonus hint: 
They all occurred in 2011. 

Congratulations to Adam S., the first to correctly name all three. Honorable mention to Keegan Treloar who quickly identified B & C.

The correct answers are:

A. Clemson kicker Chandler Catanzaro and his game winning field goal over Wake Forest.

B. Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney and his notable bicycle kick / winning goal over Manchester City.

C. Saracens fly-half Owen Farrell and his match winning penalty kick over Gloucester.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

NFL Week 15: Assorted Kicking Tidbits & Milestones

Indianapolis kicker Adam Vinatieri has 103 points so far this season, and has scored at least 100 in 15 of his 17 years in the NFL. That is the second most ever, behind only Jason Elam who scored at least 100 points in 16 seasons.

Dallas kicker Dan Bailey's overtime game winner against Pittsburgh tied him with Rafael Septien for the most winning kicks in Cowboys history with seven.

Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh's productive and long-distance day against St. Louis set or tied quite a few records:
  • his 116 points scored so far this year is a Vikings' record for a rookie, surpassing Randy Moss's 106 rookie points in 1998
  • he increased his team record for kickoff touchbacks by six to 47
  • the three 50+ yard field goals in one game is a Vikings' record, surpassing Fuad Reveiz (1991) and Jan Stenerud (1984)
  • his eight 50+ yard field goals so far this year is a Vikings' team record, surpassing Ryan Longwell's six in 2008
  • the eight 50+ yarders in one year ties the NFL record, shared by Morten Andersen (1995) and Jason Hanson (2008)

Monday, December 17, 2012

NFL Week 15: One More Time - Dan Bailey, Phil Dawson & Mason Crosby

Once again, Dallas kicker Dan Bailey hit a game winning field goal. This week a 21 yarder in overtime gave Dallas a 27-24 win over Pittsburgh.
"You always enjoy those moments. Every game it’s very rare that you get a lot of opportunities. The more chances you can have to get out there and help the team out the better. And it’s always fun to put the final points on the board."
Earlier, facing a fourth down with the game still tied and 32 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Dallas coaches changed their mind and opted not to attempt a 61 yard field goal.
"I don’t want to speak for anybody else but as far as I was concerned, I was going to kick it. I was ready to go out there. I was confident. Obviously, we re-evaluated it and chose a different path. I thought I was going to kick it. Either way, it worked out."
Once again, Cleveland kicker Phil Dawson played in a potential final home game as a Brown. The prior two years of course were not the end of his Browns career as he eventually received the franchise tag both times. Yesterday, he had no field goal attempts and made three extra points in the 38-21 loss to Washington.
"The fans have been unbelievable. Just overwhelmingly supportive. I wanted to take a few moments to let them know that I love them. I care about Cleveland and I want Cleveland to know how I feel, so it takes you down the road to say your proper goodbyes. We don't know what's going to happen....

They're all a little different. Walking off with the majority of fans in the stands from the other team is a tough way to leave the field, and I know everyone in this locker room feels bad about how we played today. We have two more chances to go do our jobs, and hopefully we end the season up on the right note."
Once again, Green Bay kicker Mason Crosby missed kicks. He was wide right on a 43 yard field goal attempt in the second quarter and hit the upright on a 42 yarder in the fourth quarter. Regardless, the Packers won the game 21-13 over the Bears.
"Obviously I want to make them but this team keeps fighting, so the fact that we won is all that matters today. For me I have to go and evaluate – but I want to go and enjoy this with my team. To make sure that I know that we won the division and I have done some great things and this year is not over. Not even close to over....

I erase every kick after it’s done. I have to be excited that we won this. I have to be excited that we won the North division. We’re going to the playoffs and everything that we want to do is in front of us. I can’t sit and sulk and think about missed kicks because I’ve got to make kicks. We’re going to get to the playoffs and there’s going to be some big ones down the line here."

NFL Week 15: Quintessential - Blair Walsh, Sebastian Janikowski & Shayne Graham

Three kickers each made five field goals yesterday, helping to lead their respective teams to victory.

Vikings kicker Blair Walsh made fields goals of 50, 38, 42, 53 & 51 yards, giving Minnesota a 36-22 win over St. Louis. The multiple 50 yarders put Walsh in the record books in numerous categories (see our forthcoming weekly tidbits & milestones article for all the specifics).
"I'm sure it will (resonate) at the end of the season when I look back, but right now it's more important that we won and that we're still in the (playoff) mix. You get caught up in your accomplishments, you're bound to fail at some point.... 
Trust me, you can miss from 50-plus. Right now they're just going in. I worked hard, and I'm comfortable 50-plus. These guys are making it real easy for me to do it."
Co-specialist long snapper Cullen Loeffler said of Walsh after the game:
"We never go out there thinking anything other than to make it. He focuses on every kick, whether it's just a warm-up or one of the 30 practice kicks he's hitting. He goes in with the same mind-set that we're going to do everything we can to make each kick and then keep going. I think that's why he's been so successful."  
Texans kicker Shayne Graham made fields goals of 29, 35, 27, 46 & 33 yards. His one miss was wide left from 50 yards at the end of the first half. Houston won 29-17 over Indianapolis.

Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski made fields goals of 20, 50, 57, 30 & 41 yards. His one miss was wide left from 51 yards near the end of the first half. Oakland won 15-0 over Kansas City.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Mind Over Foot, part 9.2: Collegiate Kickers

In part one, we returned to the topic of the mental side of kicking with specialists from FCS schools. The discussion continues with more kickers from this year's senior class responding to the following question:
What's the most important thing you've learned during your college career regarding dealing with pressure and the mental aspects of kicking?
Cameron Starke, 
James Madison
"The most effective technique I have learned throughout my college kicking career is the use of imagery. By creating or recreating pressure filled situations in my head by using nothing other than my senses, I have been able to gain confidence which then correlates to a more calm feeling when it actually came down to an important kick. The more I used imagery and actually made myself feel pressure even while I was practicing alone in the off-season greatly helped my mental game and overall approach to every kick I have taken the past two seasons."

Rainer Duzan, Morehead State
"I have learned that as a kicker you must be relaxed. If you go out worried about the kick you have already missed the kick. I have always just told myself it is like every other during practice."

Josh Thiel, St. Francis (PA)
"I always tell myself not to over think the next kick, you have made this kick before its not any different. Just do what I came here to do. I would always not try to take the kick so serious and think of it as just another kick. I was 100% when getting frozen because I never let it get to me, and have made ever overtime kick I've ever had, by just keeping calm and doing what I do best." 

Taurean Durham, Hampton
"Remembering and rehearsing your progressions. It's often easy to mess up a simple kick that you would consider easy to make and that's just forgetting the fundamentals, most kickers miss because they 'pick their head up'. Taking your eye off of the ball for that split second will make a world of difference which actually could just be inches left or right of your mark. Psycho cybernetics helps a lot, before I kick I like to close my eyes and imagine myself going through my progressions and sticking to my fundamentals then when I open my eyes back up all I have to do is mimic what I just pictured myself doing."

Jake Peery, Lehigh
"What I have learned about being a kicker in college has been a process throughout my career. While kicking is both mental and physical, I have learned that the majority of kicking is mental. I believe that my mentality is composed of both focus and confidence, which demands a delicate balance that I have learned throughout my career. During my early years kicking, most of my mentality was trained entirely on focusing. It came to the point where I was almost over-focusing, which made it hard for me to rebound from a miss because I was very hard on myself. Therefore, I realized that I needed not only focus, but also confidence in order to be successful. However, just as I went to the extreme with focusing during my first few years, I then turned all my mental attention to confidence. However, I would soon learn that this would not be a sustainable solution. Therefore, by my senior year at Lehigh University I was finally able to find the right balance between focus and confidence that fit me. I had the focus that allowed me to get the job done, and the confidence that allowed me to have fun and believe in myself. This balance between the two most likely varies from person to person but I believe that the two are essential to becoming a successful kicker."

John Shaughnessy, Northwestern State
"In order to handle pressure you have to find something to focus on when kicking the actual field goal. Therefore, in practice find something that you can say to yourself (always positive) that will make you focus on the kick and not the crowd, score, defense, etc. For example, whenever I go to kick any field goal I think about keeping my eyes on the spot I kick and nothing else. You can choose anything that allows you to channel all your mental energy into the one kick you're trying to make. It could be eyes back, see the ball, chest up, anything however you have to be consistent and do it literally every kick (practice or game) that way when the high pressure kicks come up they don't even phase you. In regards to handling any pressure situation always stay positive and take deep breaths (oxygen is great for the body contrary to popular belief). In my career I have had several game deciding kicks, I've always started visualizing the kick before the game starts and even in game time. Whenever the kick is getting close, start taking deep breaths so that you can focus and be relaxed. And always stay positive no matter what. Say things to yourself like 'I'm going to kick it solid', 'I'm going to see a great snap/hold', etc. And no matter what happens only worry about the next kick and not the one before or the one after the next. Just the next kick."

Friday, December 14, 2012

Big Kickers on Campus, 2012 week 16

A summary of notable kicking during the sixteenth week of the 2012 college football season:

Senior kicker Michael Josifovski made a 35 yard field goal as time expired to tie the NAIA Championship Game and send it into overtime.
“At that point, honestly, something came over us where we didn’t think we were going to lose.”
In the extra period he then hit a 26 yarder to give Marian University a 30-27 win over Morningside College for the title.
“It’s an incredible feeling. You can’t write this stuff. I couldn’t have ever imagined it would end like this. Growing up you hope that you have a chance to play in a game like this.”
If we missed someone that should be on the above list, please let us know!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Today's Forecast: Cold with Wind Rain Mud & Snow

In the final segment of our 2012 college Q&A tour we visit NAIA schools. We asked senior kickers and punters the following question:
What's the worst weather conditions you ever played in and how did it impact the kicking game?
Tom Yaremko, Carroll College
"The worst game I played in was against Azusa Pacific from California my sophomore year. This was a first round playoff game in November. During this time of the year all the grass is dead and the field is frozen rock hard. The week of the game it started snowing on Thursday. Saturday / game day had a high of ten with a wind chill of negative 10. It snowed so hard during this game they had to plow the sidelines during time outs and between quarters. It definitively snowed a foot during this game. The extreme cold freezes the ball and makes it rock hard. You lose 15 yards on all your kicks. You have to wear a turf cleat on your plant foot to maybe get a little traction. The cold also makes it impossible to stay warm and your kicking with super tight muscles. For this game I wore liner socks, wool socks and and thin white ones on top plus foot warmers in my cleats. I wore leggings, two layers of Nike cold gear, a cotton long sleeve and a hat/ face mask under my helmet . There are heaters on the side line I used to try and keep feeling in my kicking foot, but this really doesn't work and it physically hurt to kick a ball. In these conditions you get horrible traction and are on the verge of pulling a Charlie Brown every kick. This game was so cold, probably the coldest I have ever been in my life. The weather this game made kicking ten times harder."

Alex Kreimer, Georgetown College
"My freshman year we played at Campbellsville University after it had rained for it felt like weeks. At the time they had grass, but there really wasn't grass because it consisted of 6 inches of mud. The conditions were so bad I couldn't even run up to the ball on kickoffs or walk up to them on PAT's and field goals. Everytime I tried to plant, I was slipping and falling. I didn't miss a PAT, but I did miss a field goal because of it and all of my kickoffs were pretty poor. It was by far the worst condition I have ever played in. I played in Montana in the freezing cold with snow and it wasn't anything compared to the mud."

Doug Dunn, Sterling College
"The worst conditions I have ever played in consisted of a heavy wind and a cold day at that. The cold made it hard to keep my muscles warm and foot stung every time I struck the ball. The wind was crazy and made accuracy a hard thing to come by, and it was a lateral wind so it affected the ball no matter which way you were kicking. I would have to aim outside of the uprights in order for the wind to carry the ball back in for a made field goal."

Tim Gilday, Avila
"Against Peru State we had 40 mph cross winds. It wasn't too hard to kick field goals... I went 4 for 5, missed a 48 yard field goal because I didn't factor the wind conditions enough but it had the distance with ease. The worst was trying to punt with the cross wind because we had to do rugby style punt where you roll out to your kicking leg side and punt on the run. The ball moved so much right after I dropped it to kick that I shanked one punt but then had another punt where I punted the ball well over 60 yards."

Steven Stewart, Baker
"Since I've only been kicking for one year of my life I haven't had to deal with too many horrible weather conditions. Especially with how beautiful the weather was this fall. The worst I experienced though was a very cold but mainly extremely windy day. Gusts of up to 35 mph. Awesome and horrible at the same time. KOs from one side I got to just kick them out of the end zone while from the other side I would just pooch kick it and the wind would actually bring the ball back towards us making it extremely difficult for the other team to catch it. Luckily for me I didn't have any FG attempts."

Nick Knell, Rocky Mountain College
"The worst weather conditions that I have ever kicked in was my last game of my senior season of college football. It was in Billings Montana and it had snowed probably 6 inches and it had froze. They tried to scrape the turf field but it had a sheet of ice that was stuck to the turf. It.was also about negative 4 degrees which I had to have hand warmers in my cleats. When I went to kick field goals me and my holder had to scrape off a spot for the ball and for my plant foot. This process took a long time and we got a delay of game on one kick. On my kickoffs I didn't have as good of footing when I was running on the ice so my kickoffs were not as far nor as high as they usually would be. The elements are always a factor when kicking the football, it's just about who can overcome them and who can find excuses to why they can't."

Craig Anderson, Jamestown College
"There were two instances that were just awful. Once my sophomore year in college we were in Black Hills South Dakota and it was sunny and around 70 while warming up, but a front moved in the minute we started playing. The weather dropped down to 50 and I had no sleeves because it was nice earlier and a heavy downpour with an east to west wind around 15 mph. Snaps were all over and just trying to field and get them off was a challenge itself, but one time I did manage to drop the ball off the side of my foot, the wind caught it and I had a brutally short punt that went over the fence behind our sidelines and into the road! Another instance was this year when we traveled to Dakota State University, my senior year. The outside conditions were a little cold, but decent. However, there must have been a high school game played on the field a day before and a layer of frost set in that was melting which combined made the worst mud surface one could possibly play on. Every kick needed extreme concentration, especially on the plant foot, and was by far the worst field I had ever tried to kick on."

Kenny Zoeller, Concordia (NE)
"Without a doubt the worst conditions I have ever played in was my sophomore year at Concordia University Nebraska, when we were playing at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. It was a nightmare because it had what I like to call, the big three: Cold, Wet, and Wind. The temperature was around the upper 30's with rain and sustained winds of 20 miles and hour with gusts around 35 coming out of the North. Now besides the obvious discomfort, these three conditions effect the ball in a detrimental way for a specialist. Now, I am no a physics major, but with my basic understanding of the subject, molecules move slower when it is cold so the ball does not "pop" off your foot as well as say a 75 degree day. Essentially the ball becomes a rock. When the ball is wet, it is simple: it becomes water logged and it is just heavier to kick. Now with wind it gets a little more complicated. You have to take into account these factors. Which way the wind is blowing on the field of play: left to right, right to left, or north south and vise versa. The wind that day was blowing north south so one team should essentially have an advantage when kicking with the wind, but if it is a constant heavy wind that is not the case. With heavy winds at your back (such as 35 mph) you must be careful that you hit the ball exactly on the sweet spot. You need to get a trajectory on the ball that is perfect because the wind is actually shortening your kick, unless hit perfectly. Because while your ball is going up to its highest point of the kick, it is actually fighting the wind because of how strong it is. So the wind actually causes your ball to peak at a shorter height and that causes it to not go as far."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Big List of 2012 College Kicker & Punter Accolades

It's that time of year once again... lots of awards, lots of lists, and lots of accolades for college athletes. Following are the various conference, regional and national honors. If you know of anything we've missed, please feel free to post a message below!

National Individual Awards
All-Conference Teams
  • see separate post listing all-conference kickers and punters from over 50 different conferences 
AP (Associated Press) All-Americans
  • First team kicker: Cairo Santos, Tulane
  • First team punter: Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech
  • Second team kicker: Dustin Hopkins, Florida State
  • Second team punter: Riley Stephenson, BYU
  • Third team kicker: Caleb Sturgis, Florida
  • Third team punter: Kyle Christy, Florida
AP (Associated Press) Little All-Americans
  • First team kicker: Sergio Castillo, Jr. West Texas A&M
  • First team punter: Taylor Accardi, Colorado Mines
  • Second team kicker: Allen Cain, Texas Lutheran
  • Second team punter: Randy Weich, Wayne State (Neb.)
  • Third team kicker: Sam Brockshus, Minnesota State-Mankato
  • Third team punter: Christian Hallingstad, Wisconsin-La Crosse
Walter Camp Foundation All-Americans
  • First team kicker: Dustin Hopkins, Florida State
  • First team punter: Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech
  • Second team kicker: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
  • Second team punter: Kyle Christy, Florida
Capital One Academic All-America
  • D1 kicker 1st team: Dustin Hopkins, Florida State
  • D1 punter 1st team: Dylan Breeding, Arkansas
  • D1 kicker 2nd team: John Bonano, Arizona
  • D1 punter 2nd team: Mike Sadler, Michigan State
  • D2 kicker 1st team: Sam Brockshus, Minnesota State-Mankato
  • D2 punter 1st team: Brandon Kliesen, Colorado State-Pueblo
  • D2 kicker 2nd team: Curt Duncan, Carson-Newman
  • D2 punter 2nd team: Cody Crosby, Gannon
  • D3 kicker 1st team: Allen Cain, Texas Lutheran
  • D3 punter 1st team: Brett Harmelink, Concordia-Moorhead
  • D3 kicker 2nd team: Brandon Rodrigues, Massachusetts-Maritime
  • D3 punter 2nd team: Andrew Banuskevich, Norwich
  • College Division kicker 1st team: Aaron Lorraine, Nebraska Wesleyan
  • College Division punter 1st team: Zach Antle, Grand View
  • College Division punter 1st team: Kelby Vandenberg, Nebraska Wesleyan
  • College Division kicker 2nd team: Jared White, Cumberland
AFCA (American Football Coaches Association) All-Americans
  • FBS kicker: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
  • FBS punter: Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech
  • FCS kicker: Patrick Murray, Fordham
  • FCS punter: Bobby Wenzig, Alabama State
  • D2 kicker: Sam Brockshus, Minnesota State-Mankato
  • D2 punter: Randy Weich, Wayne State
  • D3 kicker: Kevin Grady, Redlands
  • D3 punter: Christian Hallingstad, Wisconsin-La Crosse
  • NAIA kicker: Andrew Nielsen, Doane
  • NAIA punter: Cordarious Mann, Bethel (TN)
Sporting News All-Americans
  • Kicker: Caleb Sturgis, Florida
  • Punter: Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech
  • Freshman kicker: Ross Martin, Duke
  • Freshman punter: Ethan Perry, TCU
Sports Illustrated All-Americans
  • First team kicker: Cairo Santos, Tulane
  • First team punter: Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech
  • Second team kicker: Dustin Hopkins, Florida State
  • Second team punter: Riley Stephenson, BYU
BSN (Beyond Sports Network) 1st Team All-Americans
  • FCS kicker & punter: Patrick Murray, Fordham
  • FCS kicker: Jimmy Pavel, Eastern Washington
  • FCS punter: Bobby Wenzig, Alabama State
  • FCS long snapper: Richard Wright, Liberty
  • D2 kicker: Curt Duncan, Carson Newman
  • D2 kicker: Sergio Castillo, West Texas A&M
  • D2 punter: Taylor Accardi, Colorado Mines
  • D2 long snapper: Skylar West, Tusculum
  • D3 kicker: Mike Theismann, St. Scholastica
  • D3 kicker: Allen Cain, Texas Lutheran
  • D3 punter: Christian Hallingstad, Wisconsin-La Crosse
  • NAIA kicker: Fabian Miramontes,  Missouri Valley
  • NAIA punter: Kollin Carman, Saint Francis (IN)
NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) All-Americans
  • First team kicker: Lance Irvin, Iowa Western
  • First team punter: Johnathan Harrison, Northeast Mississippi
  • Second team kicker: Michael Mesh, Hutchinson
  • Second team punter: Chris Van Orden, Snow College
Daktronics All-Americans
  • First team kicker: Sergio Castillo, Jr. West Texas A&M
  • First team punter: Taylor Accardi, Colorado Mines
  • Second team kicker: Ryne Smith, West Alabama
  • Second team punter: Randy Weich, Wayne State (Neb.) 
FWAA (Football Writers Association of America) All-Americans
  • Kicker: Cairo Santos, Tulane
  • Punter: Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech
Lindy's Sports All-Americans
  • First team kicker: Cairo Santos, Tulane
  • First team punter: Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech
  • Second team kicker: Dustin Hopkins, Florida State
  • Second team punter: Kyle Christy, Florida
  • Third team kicker: Caleb Sturgis, Florida
  • Third team punter: Josh Hubner, Arizona State

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

And the Winner Is... Fordham Kicker Patrick Murray

Fordham University senior place-kicker Patrick Murray (Mahwah, NJ) is the recipient of the 2012 Fred Mitchell Award. The Award is provided to the nation’s top place-kicker in FCS, Division II, Division III, NAIA and NJCAA for excellence on the football field and in the community. Over 750 place-kickers are eligible.

The Award is named for Fred Mitchell, the All-American place-kicker from Wittenberg University and longtime sports columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Mitchell said, “It is a thrill to congratulate Patrick as the first FCS kicker to receive the Fred Mitchell Award. With more than 750 place-kickers to choose from, we are extremely proud to recognize Patrick among a stellar group of nominees. Patrick led the Rams in scoring with 105 points, he was extremely accurate including from 50+ yards, he received seven Patriot League Special Teams Player of the Week honors and his 25 field goals were just one shy of the all-time FCS record set by Nevada’s Tony Zendejas in 1982. Patrick has focused his community service efforts on children and the homeless. Our Selection Committee is quite impressed with Patrick and we are looking forward to honoring him on February 18 in suburban Chicago.”

"When I first got the call, I really didn’t know what to say," said Murray. "I knew I was a finalist for the Award, but when Mr. Mitchell called I was speechless. I’m so grateful just to be considered for the Award and now to win it is just unbelievable. And to win the Award as a Fordham Ram is the best thing I could ask for. This Award is not just for me but for all of the Fordham Rams, for everyone on the team who helped me, especially long snapper Joe Sullivan and holder Brian Wetzel, along with the entire offensive line who blocked for me. I am truly honored and humbled by being named the 2012 Fred Mitchell Award recipient."

Murray volunteers at a local homeless shelter via the Part of the Solution program, he reads to elementary school students in the Bronx with teammates on the football team, he donates time to area food drives and he helps distribute toys to children in need. 

Fordham head coach Joe Moorhead said, "I am very happy for Patrick Murray and his family. The Award is a testament to Patrick’s work ethic, preparation and performance both on and off the field. Patrick Murray was a vital part of the team’s success this year and I believe that his best days as a kicker are ahead of him."

The Award’s Selection Committee Chairman, Chris Kearney, said, "There were dozens of terrific candidates for this Award. In fact, 38 place-kickers were nominated by their schools for consideration. We recognized Patrick during the season for his record-setting performance and we have followed his season closely. The voting results were quite close again this year, and we are looking forward to honoring Patrick on February 18, 2013 during the National Football Foundation Chicago Metro Chapter Awards Ceremony"

NFL Week 14: Assorted Kicking Tidbits & Milestones

After his 40 yarder on Sunday against Cincinnati, second-year Dallas kicker Dan Bailey now already has six game winning field goals. He needs just one more to tie Rafael Septien for the Cowboys' team record.

Washington kicker Kai Forbath's 14 consecutive field goals is the second best start ever of an NFL kicking career. Two more and he'll tie Garrett Hartley's record of 16 straight.

Chargers kicker Nick Novak's 51 yard field goal was the third longest in Heinz Field history, trailing only a pair of 52 yarders - one by Jeff Reed of the Steelers and one by Kevin Harper of the Pitt Panthers.

After hitting his 300th (and 301st & 302nd) career field goals, Browns kicker Phil Dawson joined an impressive list:

Monday, December 10, 2012

NFL Week 14: NFC North - Robbie Gould, Adam Podlesh & Jason Hanson

The dual-role of Chicago's Adam Podlesh, who typically handles punting and holding, expanded to a triple-role after kicker Robbie Gould suffered a calf injured during warmups. While Gould still kicked extra points in the Bear's 21-14 loss to the Vikings, Podlesh took over kickoff responsibilities.
"It’s essentially impossible for me to do the job that Robbie did. ‘He’s a very, very good kickoff specialist.... In comparison to the rest of the guys kicking off in this league, I’m an amateur at best. I did all I could do."
In the other NFC North match-up, the Lions traveled to Green Bay and lost 27-20 to the Packers. They've now lost 22 games in row at that venue dating back to 1992. Kicker Jason Hanson , who made field goals of 46 & 34 yards while missing from 51 yards, has been there for all of them.
"I hate it. I don’t know what to say. I feel like I have to answer for it. Maybe I’m the one common denominator....

I’ve said this before, there were years there where we just weren’t good enough, it’s hard to come in here and win. But there were years when we were, in the ‘90s and last year, and this year, really. We’re just not getting it done. So it’s an ugly streak. Even though most of the guys here aren’t part of (all of) it, it’s a bad one. We’ve got to get rid of it."
On the other sideline, Packers' kicker Mason Crosby had similar field goal results in the game amidst the flurries, connecting from 49 & 41 yards while missing from 51 yards.

NFL Week 14: Over 50 - Nick Novak & Rian Lindell

San Diego kicker Nick Novak opened the scoring in yesterday's game at Pittsburgh with a 51 yard field goal in the first quarter. The Chargers went on to win 34-24. It was only the fourth 50+ yard field goal ever kicked at notorious Heinz Field.
“It’s great to be a part of the guys who have made 50-plus yarders here. It’s difficult conditions here, and we actually got kind of lucky the rain held off until late. The wind wasn’t as bad as it could have been, so thank God for that. But it’s not just me who kicks those field goals. It’s everyone that’s involved, so it’s a team.”
In chilly and rainy Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, kicker Rian Lindell did not get a chance to attempt a 52 yarder. Leading 12-7 in the fourth quarter, head coach Chan Gailey opted to punt instead. The Bills went on to lose the game 15-12 to the Rams. Lindell, who has gone through several similar decisions so far this year, commented following the game:
“Dang it, I guess. I want to kick them all, you know what I mean?...
I always wonder about my future. I’m trying to keep a job every week, every practice."
Miami kicker Dan Carpenter made a 53 yarder in Miami's 27-13 loss to the 49ers.

Indianapolis kicker Adam Vinatieri made a 53 yarder in the Colts 27-23 win over the Titans.