the study of the kicking components within sports

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Nebraska Cornhuskers 2013 Specialists

Our summer tour of FBS schools looks at the specialists for the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

8/31/13 update:
"The kicking battles at Nebraska still may provide intrigue this fall, though the three Huskers who handled those chores in the opener against Wyoming all had bright spots on their resume. 'I don't know if it's settled. Mauro Bondi is a great kicker, he's very talented and he has a very strong leg,' said senior Pat Smith, who handled the place-kicking chores while Bondi did kickoffs. 'I have to perform every weekend knowing he wants the job. The competition is always ongoing at this level. It keeps us on our toes.' Smith's first appearance was for a 24-yard field goal in the first quarter. "It kind of snuck inside the upright. That's just nerves on the first kick,' he said. 'I was just excited to get that first field goal out of the way. A little closer than I would have liked, but three points is three points.' Smith converted his next four extra-point kicks before his last attempt sailed wide-right. 'It was a little disappointing to have a PAT blocked at the end. I have to see if it was a timing issue or if someone came clean,' Smith said. Bondi said he found out hours before the game that he would be handling only kickoffs. 'I was a little bummed out, but I got to hit a couple of kickoffs," said Bondi, who had four touchbacks and kept the Cowboys inside the 25-yard line on his other three kickoffs. 'You want to pin them as close to the goal line as you can. Sometimes you like to put the ball high to limit their returns and sometimes you just want to limit their play on a return.'

Sam Foltz took over the punting chores, averaging 45.6 yards on five kicks. His first punt went 56 yards and sailed through nearly as rarified air as the fans in the new East Stadium addition. While his last punt was only 31 yards, it pinned the Cowboys at their 6. 'That first one, as soon as it left my foot, I didn't think I hit it well,' said Foltz, who also was the holder for kicks. 'It looked like a lazy spiral and kind of floated in the air a while and he had to fair-catch it. 'There's a lot of room for improvement, to get more hang time. But I was pleased with how the first day went'."
8/16/13 kicker update:  
"Pat Smith and Mauro Bondi are locked in what Husker assistant Ross Els characterized as 'a hell of a battle' two weeks before the season-opening game. 'We are charting everything right now,' Els said. 'And they're neck-and-heck with this thing.' The Huskers are looking to replace Brett Maher, who handled every NU kicking duty the last two seasons.... 
'I can't tell you who's going to kick off or who's going to kick short field goals, long field goals, extra points … it's just too early right now,' Els said. 'We're going to start putting them in tougher and tougher situations, but it's dead even right now'.”
Kicker: Mauro Bondi, sophomore (Boca Raton, FL / West Boca Raton HS)
"Mauro Bondi’s kicks used to make a splat sound. Now they make a thump.'When you hear a splat, it’s not very much power,' Nebraska special teams coordinator Ross Els said. '(Bondi’s) got that thump. He’s hitting the ball really well.' But that wasn’t always the case. Last year, Bondi struggled with getting height on the ball, Els said. 'It was just a second string thing,' Bondi said. 'Now everything is running smoothly.' The sophomore place kicker said he corrected his technique last year and continues to learn from Brett Maher, last season’s starting kicker.... 'We’re pretty close,' Bondi said. 'I try to come out and kick while he’s here. I watch him; he watches me. So he’s been a real good friend, real help, even as far as being out in public helping out and on the field. He’s a big help'.”
Red-White Spring Game: hit a 50 yard field goal, made three extra points, and averaged 60.7 yards on six kickoffs with two touchbacks. Averaged 39.7 yards on three punts, placing two inside the 20 yard line.
Kicker/punter: Pat Smith, senior (Quincy, IL / Western Illinois / Notre Dame HS)  
Smith joins the NU program in 2013 for his final year of eligibility after transferring from Western Illinois. In his junior season with the Leathernecks, Smith made all ten of his field goal attempts, including a career-long 46-yarder against Indianapolis. He averaged 38 yards on 84 punts, with a long of 54 yards coming against South Dakota. Smith was named a 2012 finalist for the Fred Mitchell Award.
Kicker: Spencer Lindsay, freshman (Kearney, NE / Kearney HS)
Redshirt freshman Spencer Lindsay will enter the fall with hopes of pushing for a role in the kicking chores on Nebraska’s special teams. A walk-on from Kearney High School, Lindsay came to Nebraska from the same high school that produced Brett Maher.
Red-White Spring Game: made two extra points, and averaged 60.0 yards on four kickoffs with one touchback.
Kicker: Grant Schumacher, freshman (Lincoln, NE / Pius X HS)
High school: Schumacher connected on 10-of-13 field goals and all 30 PAT attempts as a senior for Coach Tim Aylward's team. He also averaged better than 40 yards per punt and saw action at receiver and defensive back.
Punter/WR: Sam Foltz, freshman (Grand Island, NE / Grand Island HS)
Foltz will battle with Mauro Bondi to earn the starting punter role following the graduation of two-year starter and All-Big Ten performer Brett Maher.
"At Big Ten Media Days, head coach Bo Pelini said Sam Foltz, who is a receiver and a punter, will focus on just one area of his game. 'Sam Foltz had a tremendous spring as a punter,' said Pelini. 'He did a really good job. He’s a good athlete. He is a guy who could conceivably help you at wide receiver, but he did well enough in the spring that we are going to protect him and he’s going to be a punter for now.' Foltz averaged 44.2 yards a punt in Nebraska’s Red-White game on five kicks."
Red-White Spring Game: averaged 44.2 yards on five punts, with along of 55 yards.
Punter: Jordan Bellar, freshman (Norfolk, NE / Norfolk Catholic HS)
High school: served as the quarterback, punter, kicker while also seeing action on defense. As a senior, Bellar averaged 45.1 yards on 30 punts and handled some of the place-kicking duties. As a quarterback, he threw for 1,878 yards and 26 touchdowns, while rushing for 284 yards and four touchdowns, and he added 14 tackles on defense. Bellar earned first-team Super State honors from the Lincoln Journal Star as a punter and was the captain of the C-1 all-state team.
Long snapper: Joseph Rotherham, sophomore (Green Bay, WI / Notre Dame de la Baie Academy)
Rotherham will compete against Miller for the role of Nebraska's long snapper in 2013, following the graduation of four-year starter P.J. Mangieri. Rotherham walked on to the NU program in 2011, and has backed up Mangieri the past two seasons.
Long snapper: Gabriel Miller, freshman (Mishawaka, IN / Penn HS) 
"Miller said he began hearing from the Nebraska coaching staff a week before Big Red Weekend, and he was told that if he attended the event, an offer could be coming his way. He said he felt comfortable with committing after spending time in Lincoln."
High school: Miller was the team's starting center and handled the long snapping chores. For his role in Penn's success, Miller was a first-team 5A all-state selection by the Indiana Football Coaches Association. Miller also earned Academic All-State honors in 2012.

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