the study of the kicking components within sports

Thursday, November 29, 2012

It All Begins Here - Advice to Aspiring Long Snappers

It all begins here. Every under-appreciated extra point. Every action-packed punt. Every awe-inspiring field goal. They all begin with the snap of the ball. Our Q&A series with college specialists continues with senior long snappers, who answered the following question:
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring high school long snappers, what would it be?
Dax Dellenbach, Florida State
"The biggest thing in snapping is being consistent. The hard part is to stay consistent in adverse conditions as well as when your coach asks you to do something different than what your used to. Just be willing to always adapt to what they are asking of you while maintaining your consistency. Not to be boring but the only thing that will make you consistent is practice. Be your own worst critique and settle for nothing short of perfection every time. Do not get frustrated if your times are not as fast as you want them. Become accurate and with practice and time speed will come."

Jeremy Singler, Memphis
"I think the most important thing when looking to go to college as a deep snapper is the hitch. I've seen many guys coming in as freshman that have problem fixing the hitch. It becomes more noticeable when you play against good athletes trying to block a field goal or punt."

Mark Voosen, SMU
"Go to as many camps as possible to get your name and skills out there to find a fitting college. Once they get to their college: embrace competition and use it to get better. There have been many great snappers that have come through SMU and their abilities are what drove me to be my best. My skills have increased through competing and I am a much better snapper now than I was as a freshman."

Evan Jacobsen, New Mexico
"Work hard everyday. Be academically sound. and make the best decision when choosing a school for yourself and not just for a school name."

Chris Roberson, Boise State
"Keep working at it and perfect your craft. Keep your name out of the announcers mouths and you'll be fine."

Sean Flaherty, Boston College
"No matter the situation, when ever you are going to snap you should clear your mind and let it rip. Never hesitate."

Patrick Greene, Utah
"Practice makes perfect. There are no days off if you want to be the best you can be."

Colton Reid, Air Force
"Although it is not a very well known nor well credited position, it is a highly important position to each and every team. It is a position that could earn you a college scholarship and is a skill in which only those who take interest in at a early age can perfect. Start to develop these skills in your early years of high school and help advance yourself to the next level."

Adam Steiner, Akron
"First identify your strengths and weaknesses. From there build your weaknesses up in the off season with various drills that enhance footwork, accuracy and speed. At the high school level the biggest component of snapping is accuracy. So striving for perfect snaps is the key and then your speed of the ball will fall into place from there as you get stronger."

Ty Frix, Georgia
"It is hard to limit advice to just one thing. The biggest thing I think is to remember this saying, "consistency, thou art a jewel." Snapping is an art of the least mistakes, not necessarily the best shots. College coaches want snappers that they can rely on in the most pressure filled environments. Consistency is the key. The other thing is to never take no for an answer. If you want something, you have to become numb to the word 'no'. The last thing, and maybe the thing that helped me the most in high school, is to throw everyday. Get to be friends with your quarterbacks and warm up with them. Snapping is inherently just throwing from a different position."

Zak Pedersen, Illinois
"Though it is difficult, if not foolish to offer only one piece of advice, I would say the best thing to do is find a buddy and practice. After I received my opportunity to walk-on at Illinois, I tried to snap 50-100 balls five times a week the summer leading up to my first Camp Rantoul. I'd mix up when I snapped too much, whether it was before workouts, in the middle of workouts or after workouts; during the grind of a college season you want to be freshest on Saturday, which means you're going to have to deal with soreness and muscle fatigue throughout the week when you snap in practice. Having that in mind, it's beneficial to be able to repeat the same fluid motion successfully when your muscles are not at their peak. Weight training long term is essential to maintain strength and weight throughout the season.
In short, my advice is to snap, and snap the same way, never making mechanical adjustments despite soreness. Build muscle memory so when it comes time to do it for real, you can trust yourself enough not to over think the mechanics."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

D3 Special - Sometimes Less is More, part 2

The second part of our Q&A with D3 specialists continues with more responses from senior kickers and punters to the following question:
Looking back over your college career, how was the experience of playing specialist for a small school?
Joshua Kay, Linfield College
"The small school culture is an invaluable experience I have cherished and made the best of. Though our resources are few compared to bigger schools such as Oregon just down the road a couple hours, we pride ourselves in doing more with less. Linfield has coined the term , "The power of a small college." The brotherhood, the closeness of our team with our institution, the personal nature of it all is wonderful. I had a few opportunities to go big out of high school, one being Oregon State, but I wouldn't change my decision for anything."

Sean Williams, Wittenberg
"Being at a small school helps me remain closer to my team. Throughout the off-season, I run and lift with my teammates and that helps me create bonds within my team. That also helps a lot when it comes to the support you are given on the field. Having worked out with my teammates, they see how hard I work and therefore have confidence in me and support me when I may miss a kick."

Chad Blair, Wisconsin - River Falls
"I thought being a kicker for a small school was really a great time. Everyone on the team treated me with respect even though I wasnt as big and strong or practice as long and hard as they did. My time I spent as a River Falls specialist was just an all around good time because your teammates become your brothers for life."

Allen Cain, Texas Lutheran
"My experience over the past four years has been nothing short of amazing! I have been blessed to have the opportunity to grow as a student, a player, but more importantly, as a man. Thanks to the coaching staff and faculty at TLU I have been able to have a collegiate experience so personal and intimate that is rarely experienced at larger universities. I originally chose TLU for the opportunity to play football, but what I gained through that decision was much more than I could have ever imagined."

Brandon Matznick, Wisconsin-Stevens Point
"My experience here at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point was amazing and is something I will cherish forever. I felt a deeper connection with my teammates and coaches on and off the field. Thinking about it, I'm not so sure that I would have had the same connection if I would have attended a larger university. The only thing I disliked was not having a specialist coach. It would have been awesome to get feedback from a coach who understands the kicking game more in depth than always trying to get feedback from one of the position coaches. Other than that, it's be a great privilege and honor and I could have not made a more better decision than to play at a small university."

Mike Malisheski, John Carroll
"I thought it was a good experience at least for myself. I had the opportunity to go to big schools (for academics) with a shot to walk-on the team. The problem there is that the coaches and scouts have no idea who you are or your potential. I would have most likely rode the bench for a while before coaches would know what to expect out of me. At John Carroll, they recruited me and I knew they had a JV squad that played full 10 game seasons. Knowing I wasn't likely to start as a freshman, I was fine with that knowing I could still punt JV. I split time my freshmen year and punted in 5 JV games and was the only JV punter my sophomore year and kicked all 10 games. I finally started junior year for varsity and kept my spot for senior year as well. I think kicking here is a lot like big schools. We don't have a kicking coach, just special teams coaches who try to improve on our own style of kick. They don't try to change your mechanics, they simply improve from what you're doing. A lot of work ia done behind the coaches eyes during practice as well as the off season (by going to camps and so forth). My coaches were a little hard on me and sometimes made no sense whatsoever, but I realized it was because they saw my true potential as the top kicker in our conference.
One thing that was hard to deal with was the fan base. I think I would be able to feed off of more energy and the D3 level lacks that for the most part. My best games were against teams (home or away) with a high attendance. Though it is a small school, we are in the toughest conference in all of Division 3 and are reminded of that every day we go out there."

Josh Storm, Randolph-Macon College
"Coming out of high school, I was not highly recruited. I was looking forward to getting recruiting but was soon disappointed in the process. Randolph-Macon was one of the few schools that showed a high interest in me. After I met the coaching staff, toured the campus, and saw the chemistry of the football team, I knew RMC was for me. The main reason I was interested in RMC was my immediate chance to enter and compete for a starting job. From day one, I competed and was fortunate to win a starting job. It is hard to gain respect as a kicker, let alone a kicker on a small division three team, but our program is different. Everyone is respected and everyone has a relationship with everyone. These past four years have been absolutely amazing. 
I could go on and on about the memories I've made, but there are a select few memories and lessons I learned that will last with me forever. My teammates will be my friends for life; they are essentially my brothers. I have learned the true meaning of hard work, dedication, integrity, and discipline while I have been a part of the RMC football team. I learned that I can be my own worst enemy, while also being my own best friend. I have learned how to be more of a leader on and off the field. I've learned how to live with disappointment and to humbly enjoy success. I've been blessed with great teammates, great coaches, and a great family. I couldn't have asked for a better four years. I've been blessed to do the thing I love the most. Being able to kick at RMC has been great. It's been fun to be such an integral part of the team. And while attendance to our games were similar to the high school games I played in on Friday nights, I still got butterflies and goosebumps every Saturday. The intensity and magnitude of each game remained high, and while I never played in front of tens of thousands of people, the atmosphere still felt as if we did. Also, I was a part of "The Game", the oldest rivalry in the south; for 118 years we have competed against Hampden-Sydney. To be a part of that historic rivalry is such a great experience. Ten thousand people packed into a small stadium to watch a rivalry of such magnitude was an amazing experience. I could go on and on, but those memories are the ones that will last."

NFL Week 12: Assorted Kicking Tidbits & Milestones

Bengals kicker Mike Nugent made a 55 yard field goal against the Raiders. That ties Chris Bahr for the longest in team history, and sets the new record for longest kick in Paul Brown Stadium, surpassing 54 yarders by Dan Carpenter and Phil Dawson.

Browns kicker Phil Dawson made two field goals against the Pittsburgh Steelers, giving him 27 in a row dating back to last season and tying his own franchise record.

Titans punter Brett Kerns averaged of 49.0 yards net against the Jaguars. It is his career-high and is third best in franchise history.

Eagles kicker Alex Henery made three field goals against the Panthers, extending has streak to 19 made in a row, and setting the Eagles record surpassing David Akers

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Oh Foul Weather - Adventures in Kicking & Punting

Seeing the first snowfall of the year brings the topic of weather back to the forefront. Of course bad weather comes in many shapes and sizes, and is not limited just to winter months. We asked an array of specialists the following:
What are the worst weather conditions you ever played in and how did it impact the kicking game?
Lee McDonald, Special Teams Solutions
"First day of spring practice at Rutgers one year, kicking as blizzard like conditions set in toward the end of practice.  Hit an extra point that went through the uprights and then blew back onto the field. Coaches looked at each other and said 'everybody inside'."
Adam Tanalski, Hammer Kicking Academy
'I played in Buffalo, so bad weather was a normal occurrence. I remember two times that were just unrealistic. First, my junior year during spring ball, we came out onto the field and their was a layer of ice over the entire surface. We kicked field goals for like five minutes and then coach called practice because it was so bad out. Second was a game my senior year - we played Miami Ohio and had 28 inches of snow and an ice storm in October. The game was canceled and actually pushed back to Sunday. I remember putting the ball 6-7 feet outside the upright just to make extra points in warm ups the wind was so bad."

"As a punter, I hated wind that changed directions throughout the game!  I think in one game I had wind in my face no matter what end zone I was facing."

Rob Maver, Calgary Stampeders punter
"Late August we played a game in Regina, Saskatchewan. Winds were constant and were up to 85kmph. In the 4th I had to punt three times in the last six minutes when it was gusting. 33, 36 & 37 yarders. While I left the game with only a 35 yard average (since 5 of the 6 were into it), I was happy since I felt it was the best game I've played and we won."

Brian Jackson, Team Jackson Kicking
"The worst weather conditions as a Ball State Card was when I played at Bowling Green in October of 2004.  I was playing against current Pittsburgh Steeler Kicker Shaun Suisham and we both were shaking our heads in pregame. Cleveland Browns punter Reggie Hodges, who was my holder and the Ball State punter at the time, was surprised by the wind conditions as it was swirling and changing directions continuously. Shaun and I were both barely tapping the ball going one way and making 60 yarders, but struggling to hit 30 yarders on the other end. This game was held before BGSU had field turf inserted, so the natural grass was pretty sloppy due to heavy rain the day before, as well as during the game. There were also 30 mph gusts of wind. We all managed to still have good games, but it was by far the worst footing and wind conditions I ever had to deal with in a football game. My recommendation for players is to be a little more cognicant of the plant foot, and be sure to still bring your hips at the point of contact, as a less aggressive plant may cause less transportation of the hips."
"Played against Michigan at the big house in 2008. It rained all through warmups and then was in the 20s and snowing the rest of the game. I couldn't feel my hands or feet for most of the game. Our get off time got slower as it got colder until our personal protector got blocked Backwards and they scored on the blocked punt. We left with the victory though."

Luke Gaddis, One on One Kicking
"I was kicking at Stony Brook University as a senior and we were playing Elon. The worst weather conditions I have ever played in was during Hurricane Hanna in 2008. It was a tropical storm by the time it got to Long Island. But the conditions were horrible. The rain was brutal and there were 1-2 inches of rain on the turf. Wind was also very bad 30-40mph winds. The weather impacted the game and our game plan greatly. There was a failed PAT as the holder could not get the snap down because it was bobbled. Instead of kicking deep and going for the toucback we mixed in squib kicks depending on the wind. When kicking the footballs it felt as they were sitting in a pool all day. That is how heavy they were and how soaked they were. It got so bad that on one of our last punts I took the snap and bobbled it. Ended up running it for 40 yards because I could not get the punt off. A game I will always remember."

"I would have to say it's a tie between two different games. One game was up in Wisconsin and it was 15 degrees outside with a 32 mph wind. Talk about a cold and horrible day. The worst part of the game was
that I only kicked off twice and had 1 PAT through 95% of the game. I tried to stay warm, but that was near impossible. They had me attempt a 45 yard field goal with just over a minute left. I would say I got more lucky than anything but the ball was hard as a rock and with the cold wind coming across. I would say that was the most difficult.
The second was more obnoxious than anything. It had rained for three days straight and the ground was just a mud pit. From kick-offs to long field goals, it was hard to get a good plant foot. It was almost as if you had to expect a 3" to 6" slide of your plant foot and just try to hope for the best."

D3 Special - Sometimes Less is More, part 1

Our Q&A college tour continues at the Division III level. We asked senior kickers and punters the following question:
Looking back over your college career, how was the experience of playing specialist for a small school?
Once again we received plenty of responses, so we've split them into two parts.

Jeff Sauer, University of Chicago
"I think the best part of my experience as a specialist for a small school was the opportunity I had to both punt and place-kick. A lot of bigger division I and even a lot of division III schools have their own kick-off guy, punter, and place-kicker, but at the University of Chicago I was recruited to handle all of the kicking duties. While my responsibilities had increased, I was able to improve my ability to both punt and kick instead of just getting to focus on one or the other. On a similar note, there is often very steep positional competition at larger schools in which specialists will only get to see any significant playing time for one to two years. At a smaller school, it is very common to see a specialist start all four years of college, which not only makes for a better college football experience but also allows you to really improve your kicking-game."

Zack Rogers, Waynesburg
"I absolutely loved playing at Waynesburg. The coaching staff and comradery between the team had a big school feel with the small school atmosphere. Whether I was playing in front of 5,000 people or 100,000 people I still had to block the noise and distractions that came about on Saturdays and do what I was supposed to do, which was punt the ball. Special teams and punting specifically is absolutely critical. Our special teams had a phenomenal year this year. Having the confidence in them to block the rush and to cover the punt allowed me to focus on my job and not worry about what was going on around me. With being at a smaller school, we didn't get as much exposure as larger ones, but when we broke the top 25 the exposure began to come. This ride over the four years has been great. I wouldn't have traded it for anything." 

Jamal Mitchell, Anna Maria College
"While I did play at a small school, I felt as there was more pressure for me personally to do my job efficiently due to the small school community and everyone knowing who I was. And being that our program had just started the first season ever my freshman year, it was nice to know that everything I did over my four years was going to be the foundation of records that over the years many people will try to break or tie. The overall experience though was awesome because I got four more years to play the game I love and was able to be a big impact to my team and the school community."

Scott Puschell, Ferrum College
"I loved playing football for a small school. The good thing about playing at a small school was I was able to look up into the stands and see my family and fiance, which gave me the courage to go onto the field and make every point count. People might overlook a small school to go and play at a bigger school, but for the players that just care about playing and having fun they will get the same experience at a small school, because football is football no matter how many people are watching. If I could go back and have the opportunity to play at a bigger school over a small school, I wouldn't take it because of how amazing the experience was and how close the teams and fans get to one another. It makes it more like a family with everyone instead of just a team."

Mauricio Alfonso, Chapman
"For the past four years now everyone has always asked what is the difference between kicking in D3 versus kicking in D1? The only difference I can think of besides the amount of apparel you receive that actually matters, is the atmosphere. Other than that, the fields are the same, the holding and snapping are similar, the posts are identical, and the kicking is the same. Exposure might be an issue when it comes to kicking for a smaller school but it could also be detrimental kicking for a bigger program, more pressure, which means less room to mess up on a larger scale. I have found it to be more beneficial kicking at a small school because I get a little bit of everything but don't have to worry as much as other kickers might. I feel the pressure is the same everywhere because in the end there is some sort of crowd relying on your kick and your job is to get it done. I thoroughly enjoyed kicking for a smaller school and hope that I can take my talents on in to the future. I do love the idea of the rah-rah from larger schools but if you have a school who buys into the program and supports your games, then it is quite satisfying."

Christian Hallingstad, Wisconsin - La Crosse
"It was an unbelievable experience. The lessons you learn from football can be applied not only to your on field playing but to your life off the field as well. Those lessons you carry with you your whole life and you can apply to almost anything.
An example that comes to mind is when I applied for a job and I was in the interview and they asked me a question about being a team player. Well, being a football player, that was an easy question for me and I used football as an analogy for her to help her understand.
Everything we do in today's society involves being a team player in some aspect. Football is the ultimate team sport. Everyone needs to do their job together in order for them to reach their common goal. If one person makes a mistake the link in the chain is broken. You might get lucky and still make a play but more times than not it results in a mistake. You can use the football ideology of being a team player with everything you do.
Another thing that you'll take with you the rest of your life is the bond you form with your teammates. At the small school, division 3 level, you don't play football because you plan on going pro or because you have some fancy scholarship. You play because you worked your butt of to get there and you love the game. I think D3 athletes are the definition of a student-athlete because we are in school for academics, not athletics. It's extremely difficult to find a balance between the two. If you want to succeed in one then you take time away from the other. These kids work so hard to achieve their dreams. My football teammates are all playing their hearts out because they love the game so much. When you have that kind of commitment and dedication from a player it makes you respect them. That respect forms a bond between you and makes the whole team very closely knit. These guys would do anything for each other and that's a special thing to have. To be able to trust the guy next to you with everything."

Monday, November 26, 2012

College Special Teams Players of the Week 13, 2012

The following kickers and punters have been named Special Teams Players of the Week by their respective conference for the thirteenth week of the 2012 college football season. 

No slight intended to any returners that received such honors, but our focus (as always) is on the kicking end of things.

ACC - Florida State kicker Dustin Hopkins
Big East - Connecticut kicker Chad Christen
Big Ten - Penn State kicker Sam Ficken 
MAC East - Ohio kicker Matt Weller
MWC - New Mexico punter Ben Skaer 
Pac-12 - Washington State kicker Andrew Furney 
SEC - Florida kicker Caleb Sturgis 
SEC - Vanderbilt kicker Carey Spear 
Sun Belt - South Alabama kicker Michel Chapuseaux

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

NFL Week 12: Adam Podlesh, Connor Barth & Rob Bironas

The Bears got the look from the Vikings following a second quarter touchdown. Chicago punter Adam Podlesh, who also serves as the holder, took off with the sanp on the extra point attempt and ran it in for a two-point conversion. The Bears won 28-10.
"I just wanted to get it. I went back to my glory days playing running back in high school....

The Vikings had a look that let us run this play. They showed it a couple of times (earlier in the game), so we figured that we’d make it an automatic afterward. We wanted to do it on an extra point. We originally saw the Baltimore Ravens do it. I think they did it last year. They had that in their repertoire. We saw that it worked well with certain looks....

I wasn’t really nervous because everything happened so quickly. We said if they show the front, we’re going to run it. We went out there, saw the front and I said, ‘Hey, Robbie [Gould]. We’re running it.’ He said, ‘OK, OK.’ We just snapped the ball and ran with it. I didn’t really have a whole lot of time to think."
With three and half minutes remaining in the game, trailing by a point, and facing a 4th-and-6, the Bucs opted to try a 56 yard field goal by Connor Barth - who had already made three field goals in the game and who earlier in the year had hit a 57 yarder. This time he came up short. Atlanta won 24-23 over Tampa.
"It's in my range. I didn't hit it good. That's all I can say. They've got faith in me, I just didn't make it. It's pretty simple."
Head coach Greg Schiano noted:
"The reason we (tried the field goal) was my confidence in Connor that he was going to make it. I still have confidence in him. If I had to do it another time, I believe he's going to make it. That's the kind of kicker I think we have. It's not like every day he has to hit a 56-yarder and we call it a day. That's a tall order, but we have one of the best kickers in the National Football League."
Although Titans kicker Rob Bironas accounted for most of Tennessee's scoring (four field goals and a PAT) in their 24-19 loss to Jacksonville, his post-game comments were focused on the one he missed from 42 yards:
"Four of five wasn’t bad, but five of five would’ve been better. “That one was on me. I should be perfect out there and I didn’t hit it well.... I’d always rather kick extra points. ... I was hoping we’d put more in the end zone, but I need to make them when I’m out there, and anything inside of 50 or 53 I should make."

NFL Week 12: AFC North - Justin Tucker, Phil Dawson & Mike Nugent

When San Diego extended their lead to 13-3 midway through the fourth quarter, it appeared the game was effectively over. 

But following a quick touchdown, a 4th-and-29 conversion, a 38 yard Justin Tucker field goal as time expired to tie the the game, and finally a 38 yard Justin Tucker field goal in overtime... it ended as a 16-13 win by Baltimore.
"It’s pretty sweet. Being able to come through like this for everybody in this locker room, everybody in the city of Baltimore, and all the fans that came out here, there were a bunch of them, it’s pretty special....

When it comes down to it, this is a job and you just got to do it. Morgan [Cox] threw back two great snaps, Sam [Koch] gave me two great holds and that makes my job pretty dang easy.... We work on stuff like that at practice pretty regularly. [Kicking Coach] Randy [Brown] and [Special Teams Coordinator] Jerry [Rosburg], Morgan, Sam and myself, so we’re prepared for pretty much any situation that can come up during the course of a game."
A pair of field goals were the margin of victory in Cleveland's 20-14 win over Pittsburgh. Kicker Phil Dawson kept his comments short and simple (although he was of course limited to 140 characters by the social medium utilized)
"Hey Cleveland!!! Browns win, Steelers lost. Enjoy"
When Bengals kicker Mike Nugent missed a 48 yard field goal attempt near the end of the first half of Cincinnati's 34-10 win over Oakland, a quick turnover gave him another shot. As time expired in the half, he hit a 55 yarder.
"Hit it or miss it, it can’t have an effect on the next one....

There’s a certain point on the field where you have to put more into it and I think my number is a little bit higher than 55. I was just sitting there thinking, just hit a good, solid ball. Just keep everything the same. Obviously, not the same as the one before. That wasn’t a very solid hit."

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Big Kickers on Campus, 2012 week 13

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

Sophomore kicker Kyle Brindza made five field goals (27, 29, 52, 33 & 19 yards) in Notre Dame's 22-13 win over USC.
"It's just a blessing to help my team out. (My teammates) got me in range all night. On the 52-yarder, I thought I crushed it a little bit on the sand side. It's almost like you're hitting almost solid (sand), kind of like the golf course on a rainy day....

[after the third quarter miss] It's just correcting your mistakes. Taking your mistakes and using them wisely. You have to understand what you did wrong and what you do next. Don't put yourself down, bring yourself up by having the confidence that you know what you did wrong and now you know what you need to do right."
Sophomore kicker Sam Ficken's 37 yard field goal in overtime gave Penn State a 24-21 win over Wisconsin.
"I couldn’t be happier with the way the season ended on a 10-field goal streak. The start of the season going the way it did, it feels really good to bounce back and end the season on a positive note....
I love touchdowns, but when you have that opportunity as a kicker, that’s your dream. That’s really what you want going out onto the field every time."
Junior kicker Sam Brockshus made a 27 yard field goal in the second overtime as Minnesota State won 38-35 over Northwest Missouri State.
"I thought it was good, but then everyone started running at me. It took a few minutes to settle in. It was more relief than anything. I’m very happy."
Junior kicker Andrew Furney hit a 45 yard field with 1:50 remaining to tie the game and cap an 18-point fourth quarter comeback. His 27 yarder in overtime lifted Washington State to a 31-28 upset win over Washington, and gave the Cougars their first conference victory of the year along with the Apple Cup.
"[Before the game My father and I] were talking about the game and how I hadn't had a game-winner yet in my career and it's the Apple Cup. 'Why not today?'....
With everything how it unfolded, how it came together, it was meant to be.... It was actually one of those things where I knew it was good the minute I hit it. That's one of those lifetime moments for a kicker to experience. I'll cherish it."
Junior kicker Chad Christen's 30 yard field goal in the third overtime gave Connecticut a 23-20 win over Louisville.
"I came out of [the Temple] game with a different mindset. I'm glad the guys put me in this situation and that I responded well. I was confident. After I made the one to force the [second] overtime, I felt like I couldn't miss."
Junior kicker Cody Journell hit a 29 yard field goal with four seconds remaining to give Virginia Tech a 17-14 win over Virginia.
"It’s great. I feel blessed being able to come back and play with all my brothers on this team again. The coaches have my back. The way this season has gone, I couldn’t ask for it to go any better. And me being in position to put us in a bowl game again feels great."
Senior kicker Dan Conroy made four field goals (48, 43, 43 & 30 yards) in Michigan State's 26-10 win over Minnesota
Junior kicker Drew Basil made four field goals (41, 52, 28 & 25 yards) in Ohio State's 26-21 win over Michigan.
"The field-goal unit, I can’t say it enough: They blocked their butts off today. Whenever you have the best snapper (George Makridis) and best holder (Kenny Guiton) in the country putting it right there every time, it makes it easier. I didn’t feel any pressure."
Senior kicker Matt Hogan made four field goals (32, 25, 34 & 23 yards) in Houston's 40-17 win over Tulane. For the Green Wave, junior kicker Cairo Santos hit a 32 yarder to finish the year a perfect 21 of 21 on field goals.
"I’m just happy that we got to this point and I became part of history. I never thought that I could do that."
Senior kicker Dustin Hopkins hit a 50 and a 53 yard field goal in Florida's 37-26 win over Florida State

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

Friday, November 23, 2012

100th Grey Cup Special Preview

Sunday November 25th at 6:00 ET in the evening. The Toronto Argonauts and the Calgary Stampeders will play in the CFL's annual Grey Cup.

Following last week's Eastern Finals win, Argos kicker Swayze Waters put it simply:
"We're going to the 100th Grey Cup!!"
His teammate, punter Noel Prefontaine, elaborated:
"At this stage of my career it’s the only thing that I really hope for. With my career coming to an end I look at this as my last kick at the can almost, my last shot to win a Grey Cup and for it to be in my home city it’s going to be tough to contain the nerves because this is monumental for me. For my career, for what I’ve always tried to accomplish as a player, this stage right now is what I dreamed about."
Prefontaine also discussed  some key elements of preparing for the big game
"This is big, as big as it gets. This is, afterall, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The 100th Grey Cup only happens once, obviously. Everyone must know that we must prepare to play and not put any added pressure. The distractions must be addressed....
Once those awards [on Thursday night] are completed, it’s lock down. It has to be and it must be. Everyone must understand why we’re here."
We checked in with both of the specialists, kicker Rene Paredes and punter Rob Maver, from the Western champion Stamps - asking them a pair of questions.

From a kicking/punting perspective looking back over the season, what was the biggest play or game?
  • Paredes: "There were many kicks I had that were great, but I think the 50 yarder in the western semis rightr before half time to give us the lead would have to be one of the biggest kicks. Or the game winner vs. Edmonton. But I think my whole season was great in which I kicked 93% during the regular season."
  • Maver: "Biggest punting game for me was at Saskatchewan in the wind game. Gusts up to 85kmph in your face, and I had to punt 3 times into it in the last 6 minutes of the game. Offence got the ball to mid-field, we covered it well and defence closed out the game. The wind actually blew over a small child in the pre-game, that's how strong it was. I was happy I was able to do my job in those conditions."
What does your upcoming week look like to prepare for the big game?
  • Paredes: "I would be preparing the same way as any other week but since is the Grey Cup, I'll have to fight mentally with all the distractions there will be during the week."
  • Maver: "I'm going to do my best to keep it like any other week. My practice reps, film, workouts, treatment, all of it. Obviously with the change of venue for the week and added media attention with events it will no doubt have a different feel, but I'm going to do my best to keep things as close to normal as possible."

NFL Week 12: Shayne Graham thankful & Jason Hanson not-as-much

After four quarters, Houston and Detroit were tied in the first of the Thanksgiving Day games. In overtime, it would take three field goal attempts until the game was finally decided.

Texans kicker Shayne Graham got the first opportunity, but was wide left on the 51 yard attempt.
"I actually had my hands up. I thought I crushed the ball. I thought I stayed true. The thing just had a little bit of a draw to it, which isn’t very typical, especially with no wind....

I hit [my 50+ yard attempts this year] fairly well. They didn’t stay between the poles when they needed to. All the hits I had between those two hits, they were what they were. Made the one to end the game today, made them in overtime last week. I don’t feel like there’s anything I need to stress my mind over. Just hit the ball clean every time."
Lions kicker Jason Hanson was next. His 47 yard attempt hist the upright and was no good.
"It just went right, obviously. I don't know what to say. Just started right and went right at the upright. It doesn't matter if it hits the upright or goes wide, it's no good....
If [a low snap as suggested by the head coach] happens and it's horrible, that's what happens. But I didn't notice any of that. It's a moot point when it's a straight hold and Nick gets it down. Then it's up to me to get it in."
In comments afterward, various Lions were taking up the blame for loss, including Hanson:
"Well, of course, when you’re kicking a field goal to win it, it doesn’t matter what happened before that: all the controversy or the ups and downs in plays. It doesn’t matter then. So it’s the same. It’s the game-winner, no matter how you got there. It’s the same. So, we don’t miss those....
So, being classy, what was [head coach Jim Schwartz] going to say, ‘Hanson sucks?’. But when it gets down to the end and it’s a field goal to win — like I said, it doesn’t matter how you got there, it’s a field goal to win and that’s the situation and that’s how you win and that’s how you lose."
Watching Hanson's kick hit the upright, Graham knew what he wanted:
"I can’t wait for another chance. That’s the first thing I said. I want another chance."
With 2:25 remaining, Graham got his wish. His 32 yard field goal was good and the Texans won 34-31.
"I was happier than anything just to get the chance. I’m a lot happier we had the chance and we made it."

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

NFL Week 11: Assorted Kicking Tidbits & Milestones

Detroit kicker Jason Hanson scored eight points against the Packers, becoming only the third player in NFL history to score 2100 points. He joins Morten Andersen and Gary Anderson.

Buffalo punter Shawn Powell tied a Bills record for one game, by placing five punts inside the 20-yard line against the Dolphins.

With his game winner against the Browns, Dallas kicker Dan Bailey tied Rafael Septien for most career field goals made in overtime by a Cowboy. 

Washington kicker Kai Forbath has made his first nine field goals since joining the team. The 9 of 9 start is the best in Redskins history, surpassing the 8 of 8 start by Graham Gano at the tail end of 2009 and early 2010.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lou Groza Award 2012 Finalists

The national panel of college football experts assembled by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission has selected the three finalists for the 21st Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award.

The three Lou Groza Award finalists will be highlighted on ESPNU during The Home Depot College Football Awards Nomination Special airing Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 6 p.m. (EST). The 30-minute show, hosted by Matt Schick, will include player interviews and analysis from Kevin Carter surrounding finalists for the Lou Groza Award and other members of the National College Football Awards Association.   

Dustin Hopkins, Florida State (senior) 
Hopkins became the all-time leading scorer among kickers in FBS history on Saturday, surpassing Kyle Brotzman, who kicked at Boise State from 2007-10. Hopkins has 448 career points and a school-record 85 field goals. Hopkins is second nationally with 22 field goals and his .846 percentage (22-of-26) is third nationally among kickers with at least 20 attempts. Hopkins is 3-of-4 in attempts of at least 50 yards with a long of 56.
Cairo Santos, Tulane (junior)
Santos hails from Sao Paulo, Brazil, but prepped as an exchange student at St. Joseph's Academy in St. Augustine, Fla. This season, Santos has rewritten the Tulane record books and is one of three qualifying kickers who have yet to miss a field goal during 2012 campaign. Santos is a perfect 20-of-20 on his field goal attempts this season, including a 12-of-12 clip from 40-plus yards and two makes from beyond 50 yards. His 12 field goals of 40+ yards are two more than anyone in the nation and he has hit 24-of-25 PATs (his lone missed PAT was blocked). With one game remaining for Tulane, Santos has a chance to join 1996 Groza winner Marc Primanti as the only kickers in FBS history to stay perfect throughout a season in which they attempted 20 or more.
Caleb Sturgis, Florida (senior)
Sturgis was also up for the award for the nation’s top placekicker in 2011 while placing as a semifinalist in 2009.  The redshirt senior currently leads the Gators in scoring with 88 points this season and is 20-of-24 in field goals and 28-for-29 on point after attempts. The St. Augustine, Fla. native is currently one made field goal shy of tying the UF career-made field goals record set by Jeff Chandler from 1997-2001.  He currently leads the SEC in made field goals and field goal percentage (83.3) while ranking third in kicking scoring and fourth in overall scoring this season.  He connected on 51-yard field goals against Bowling Green and Tennessee to start the 2012 season.
This year’s Lou Groza Award winner will be revealed on ESPN during The Home Depot College Football Awards airing live from the Atlantic Dance Hall at Disney’s BoardWalk at the Walt Disney World Resort on Thursday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. (EST).

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ray Guy Award 2012 Finalists

The Augusta Sports Council has announced three finalists for the 2012 Ray Guy Award. The finalists were selected by a national voting body of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) coaches, sports information directors, national media, and former Ray Guy Award winners. The voters will cast a second round of ballots to decide the winner. The candidates were evaluated on their overall statistics and contribution to the team.  Particular emphasis was placed on the punter’s net average, percentage of total punts inside the 20-yard line and percentage of punts not returned.

Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech (senior)
Allen currently leads in the nation in punting, averaging 48.12 yards per punt this season. That average is more than a yard better than any other punter. Allen has 19 punts of more than 50 yards including an 85-yard punt at New Mexico State, the longest punt in the nation from any punter this season. A Salem, Oregon native, Allen won the 2011 Ray Guy Award becoming the first punter from a non-AQ school to be named the nation’s top punter. No punter has ever won the Ray Guy Award more than once.  
Kyle Christy, Florida (sophomore)
In just his second season with the Gators, Christy has emerged as one of the top punters in the nation. Through10  games, the Brownsburg, Ind. native is fourth in the nation and leads the SEC in punting, averaging 46.3 yards per punt (58 punts, 2,685 yards). He had a career performance on Oct. 20 against South Carolina, where he set the UF single-game record with a 54.3 punt average in the game, the second-best single-season average this year, on seven punts for 380 yards. He also holds a season-long punt of 62 yards against the Gamecocks and three 60-plus yard punts in his career. 
Scott Kovanda, Ball State (senior)
Kovanda has 220 career punts for 9,029 yards and a 41.0 career average.  He ranks fourth all-time at Ball State in career punt yardage, fourth in career punts and third in career punt average. "Scott Kovanda has had an outstanding career here at Ball State both on and off the field," Ball State second-year head coach Pete Lembo says.  "It has been a pleasure to work with him closely the last two years.  I am pleased to see his accomplishments are being recognized despite having a relatively small number of opportunities to showcase his talent this season."
The three Ray Guy Award finalists will be highlighted on ESPNU during The Home Depot College Football Awards Nomination Special airing Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 6 p.m. (ET). The 30-minute show, hosted by Matt Schick, will include player interviews and analysis from Kevin Carter surrounding finalists for the Ray Guy Award and other members of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA).

This year’s Ray Guy Award winner will be revealed on ESPN during The Home Depot College Football Awards airing live from the Atlantic Dance Hall at Disney’s BoardWalk at the Walt Disney World Resort on Thursday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. (ET).

College Special Teams Players of the Week 12, 2012

The following kickers and punters have been named Special Teams Players of the Week by their respective conference for the twelfth week of the 2012 college football season. 

No slight intended to any returners that received such honors, but our focus (as always) is on the kicking end of things.

ACC - Virginia Tech kicker Cody Journell
Big East - Temple kicker/punter Brandon McManus
Big Sky - Montana State kicker Rory Perez
Big South - Liberty punter Grant Bowden
CUSA - Rice kicker Chris Boswell
Independent - BYU punter Riley Stephenson
Ivy - Harvard kicker David Mothander
MAC East - Kent State punter Anthony Melchiori  
MAC West - Eastern Michigan kicker Dylan Mulder  
MEAC - Howard kicker John Fleck
MWC - Nevada kicker Colin Ditsworth
Pac-12 - Stanford punter Daniel Zychlinski
Patriot - Holy Cross kicker/punter John Macomber 
SLC - Central Arkansas kicker Eddie Camara
SoCon - Chattanooga punter Nick Pollard

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

D2 Conditioner for Kickers & Punters, part 2

We continue the physical installment in our on-going college Q&A series (as opposed to the recent cerebral offering). Checking in at NCAA Division II schools, we asked senior kickers and punters the following question:
What's the most important thing you've learned during your college career regarding training & conditioning for specialists?
Will Lockwood, Bentley
"One of the most important things I have learned while training and conditioning is that the best way to increase leg strength is simply to go out and kick. Weightlifting, running, etc. is helpful but in my opinion the best way to build the muscles needed to kick is to get as many reps as possible either into a net or on the field. Another important thing I have learned is that all injuries/aches/pains need to be given plenty of attention and time to heal. I have seen many fellow kickers rush back from injury only to prolong the pain and sadly in some cases, end their careers early."

Davis Brackett, West Georgia
"Training properly this past off season allowed me to stay healthy throughout this entire 2012 season. I also understand that it is important to effectively train throughout the season in order to maintain strength. Speed training allowed me to increase my leg speed as well which helped me with deeper kicks."

Brad Winters, Lenoir-Rhyne
"As far as conditioning: I did a lot of running and throughout the summer to help develop leg muscle and quick twitch muscle fibers. I did up hill sprints and long distance runs. I did this for about 6 months before camp. Along with a lot of basic drills to help develop good fundamentals. I did only one step punts for about two months 3 times a weeks. Then I switched to full as I neared report date for camp. As far as weight training I did muscle building heavy lifting January thru June. Then I started to do lower weight lifts to help foot speed and quick bursts. Things like lower weight power cleans squats and leg extensions and leg curls. In July I went and worked with Ray Guy and Rick Sang to help tweak anything I wasn't noticing myself. Camps helped me a lot late in July."

Sean Davis, Central Washington
"The most important thing I've learned during my college career regarding training and conditioning for specialists was to always make your conditioning and training a routine. As every kicker knows, each kick is like a routine with the same mechanics. By making everything the same routine it had helped me mature at my position and become a better and more fluent kicker/punter."

Justin Rosenbaum, Fort Valley State
"No matter what position you play, be it kicker, punter, longsnapper, hitting the weights hard and being consistent off the field is just as important as what you do on the field. Knowing you are prepared when you walk on the field builds confidence and at the end of the day every good athlete wants to walk off the game field knowing they have done everything they could to perform at their very best."

Randy Weich, Wayne State
"The most important thing about training as a specialist is attention to detail. As specialists we tend to get complacent and stuck in a routine. Actions that become routine often draw one to lose their attention to detail. As a specialist you have to train in uncomfortable situations that way wind, rain, or snow you are prepared for everything. As far as conditioning is concerned, I have always trained explosively. It doesn't matter if you’re a punter or kicker your job involves a quick explosion which all begins with the correct training. Short sprints, jumping rope, ladders, and assorted cone drills that focus on quickness are my main focus while conditioning. The past three years I have attended Athletes Performance, an elite training facility in Phoenix, Arizona. The trainers and coaches at Athletes Performance are among the best in the country in explosive training. As a specialist you must train to be as explosive as possible while retaining attention to detail."

Felipe Alfaia, Northern State
"My answer might be a little different than most kickers' because of the fact that I learned to kick in college. When I first got to Northern State I had played only one season of football mostly just doing kickoffs and punts. I had no technique at all; I would just kick the ball. Once I walked on the Northern State University football team I realized if I wanted to play I would have to learn how to kick with proper technique or I would never play. I red shirted my first year, and I would work on my field goal technique everyday and I would kick for about 3 hours everyday. I had an upperclassmen kicker help me out and give me some tips and I also researched a lot of videos and information on kicking but ultimately I just went out there and practiced everyday. As far as conditioning, here at Northern State, the kickers have pretty much the same workout as the other players with only a few specialized exercises focusing more on hip flexors and quads. I participated in all of the conditioning practices winter and summer, and all of the weight room sessions which made me stronger and more united with the team which gave me more confidence. One specific exercise that has helped me a lot though, is the kicks on the Vertimax. Vertimax is a platform with bands and pulleys that players connect to a belt around their waist used for jumps and explosive exercises offering resistance. Coach Berner one day told me to tie the band around my ankle and do my regular kicking movement with the resistance of the band and since then I have been using that exercise to give me strength and flexibility. My kicks started to go further, be more explosive, and come out way higher than before so I can definitely say it works."

NFL Week 11: Adam Vinatieri, Justin Medlock, Mason Crosby & Justin Tucker

During his return visit to New England, Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri made a 47 yard field goal and missed a 58 yard attempt at the end of the first half in the 24-59 loss. Afterward, Vinatieri discussed the requisite booing from the Patriots fans each time he was on the field.
"The same ones that were booing at the end were going ‘Ahhh, you know, we still love you man’. It’s all good, it’s gamesmanship or whatever you want to call it. I respect that. ... I understand the deal. That’s home field advantage that’s what you’re supposed to do, get loud, get rowdy and try to make it hard on the other team. You put your blinders on and just keep going forward."
Panthers kicker Justin Medlock is in a bit of a slump, having missed his last three field goal attempts. Yesterday he missed a 40 yarder late in the second quarter of Carolina's 21-27 loss to Tampa Bay.
"I just pulled it a little bit. I hit it pretty good and looked up and it was way off line. It went dead straight. It’s disappointing.
It’s really about getting into a groove. It’s not happening right now and it needs to happen. I’ve been hitting the ball great. It’s just one of those things. ... It was the only ball I missed all day. Even in warm-ups, I didn’t miss one. It’s got to get turned around fast."
In a slump that is receiving far more media scrutiny, Packers kicker Mason Crosby missed a pair in yesterday's 24-20 win by Green Bay over Detroit. At the end of the first half he missed from 50 yards, both before and after the icing timeout, and then from 38 yards in the third quarter.
"I feel good when I’m out there. My mindset is solid. It's just the line. I’m not hitting it where I need to. That’s ultimately something I have to fix. For me, fortunately, it’s more mechanical. I just have to work through this one....
I hit the ball [on the initial 50 yarder] because they called a timeout right as the snap was going. I hit a ball and hit it real smooth. The second one,. I felt I had a good line but it just turned left a little. It’s something I’ll have to look at and evaluate....
It was just kind of with this team, knowing how we are, we’re going to have another opportunity. [After the 38 yarder Coach McCarthy] just encouraged me in that sense. Everything I’ve been kind of telling myself. We’re on the same page. Obviously, I have to make those field goals. That’s No. 1."
In the evening game, Ravens kicker Justin Tucker made 2 of 3 field goals in Baltimore's 13-10 win over Pittsburgh at Heinz Field. The 41 yard miss came in the second quarter with the game still scoreless.
"I haven't looked at the film yet and won't overanalyze anything until the next day. We had another opportunity, so you just kind of forget about it when you're on the field and think about it later on. So, I couldn't even tell you what I really did....
That felt pretty dang good to make the next kick. I've always said the most important kick is the one after a miss, and that's how you're judged in this league is how you respond after a situation presents itself....
As with any grass field toward the end of the game it will get chewed up a little bit. It is what it is. We kind of expected that."

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Big Kickers on Campus, 2012 week 12

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

Sophomore kicker Jordan Williamson's 37 yard field goal in overtime gave Stanford a 17-14 upset win over Oregon.
"I was just thinking I was going to make it. Everybody on the team had put their hearts out there to keep us in the game, and I felt it was right and time for me to come out and help us win."
Junior kicker Chris Boswell made five field goals (56, 51, 43, 53 and 28 yards), tying the NCAA record for most 50+ yarders in a game, during Rice's 36-14 win over SMU.

Sophomore kicker Justin Haig hit a 45 yard field goal with seven seconds left to lift Marshall 44-41 over Houston.
"I actually prefer to get iced. It’s an extra kick you get to warm up with and practice.... I just tried to go in there and do my job."
Junior kicker Jeff Budzien's 27 yard field goal with 7:30 remaining proved to be the winner as Northwestern won 23-20 over Michigan State

Senior kicker Dustin Hopkins scored a noteworthy 11 points in  Florida State's 41-14 win over Maryland, as discussed in more detail here.

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