the study of the kicking components within sports

Monday, September 30, 2013

NFL Week Four: Kickers Assess Their Misses

Among the secondary job requirements of an NFL kicker is answering media questions regarding missed kicks. Four kickers did so yesterday.

Giants kicker Josh Brown was wide left on a 44 yard attempt at the end of the first half during New York's 31-7 loss to Kansas City.
"[It] just didn’t go where I wanted it to go. For me, it’s very frustrating. It’s not what I expected out of me and it’s not what the team expected out of me. That is very frustrating.”
Browns kicker Billy Cundiff missed a pair of kicks in the second quarter, going wide left on a 37 yard attempt and going wide right on a 49 yard attempt at the end of the half. The latter may have been tipped and followed a successful kick negated by the ever popular icing timeout. Cundiff did connect from 51 yards in the third quarter and Cleveland won the game 17-6 over Cincinnati.
"The first miss had nothing to do with my leg. I consider that a mental mistake. I got rushed and pushed it a little bit left. Statistically I'm 1-for-3, but the way I view it is I'm 3-for-4."
Vikings kicker Blair Walsh was wide left on a 44 yard attempt in the latter stages of the fourth quarter during Minneosta's 34-27 win over Pittsburgh.
“I just pulled it a little bit. I was worried about pushing it down the right hash and instead overcompensated. It’s something I have to work on.”
Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey was wide left on a 56 yard attempt during the second quarter of Dallas' 30-21  loss to San Diego.
“It’s one of those deals where all three of us need to be perfect, especially from that distance. I didn’t feel like the operation was like I wanted it. Obviously the kick didn’t go through.... We’ve been working on that in practice. I feel like some of the work I did in the offseason kind of carried over this season as far as leg strength goes. I was confident and I’m sure Rich [Bisaccia] and Jason [Garrett] were confident. Just unfortunate we weren’t able to put points on the board.”

NFL Week Four: Steven Hauschka & Jay Feely Kick Game Winners

Down 20-3 at halftime, Seattle rallied to tie Houston and send the game to overtime. There, Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka hit a 45 yard field goal for the 23-20 win.
“At the end of the day, I just tried to treat it the same – just another kick. I’ve just got to trust myself. We do it thousands of times in practice, and it’s no different than that.”
Down 10-0 at halftime, Arizona rallied to win it 13-10. The deciding score came with 1:33 remaining as Cardinals kicker Jay Feely hit a 27 yard field goal. But there was more to the story than that.
"There was grass out there? I remember a lot of good grass when I lived here in Tampa. When you have two teams playing on it [Saturday], it's always going to be tough field conditions. You had rain all week, so you knew it was going to get beat up last night and it did. You play in the conditions. You don't make excuses, and we were able to find a way to win the game....

I had a feeling I was going to hit a game-winner before the game even started. Just coming home and being about four kickoffs from my high school -- down the road less than a mile away -- it was fun for me to go to Jesuit and visit my team and some of the coaches that I played for throughout the week. It was a fun homecoming to come back and have dinner with my family and see them all week. To cap it with a game-winner is perfect."

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Big Kickers on Campus, 2013 week 5

A summary of notable kicking during the fifth week of the 2013 college football season: 

Senior kicker Puma Nuredini hit  a 35 yard field goal as time expired to give Charleston a 34-32 win over Notre Dame College.
"I had a feeling the game was going to come down to a kick. The game was going back and forth the whole time. A few of my teammates came near me and tried to talk to me before the kick, but I just did my normal routine and stayed calm. That was the calmest I was all game. It was nothing different...practice or game it's all the same, I still have to hit the ball solid no matter the circumstances. We practice it every time. I was confident, all I had to do is do my job and everyone else do theirs...which we did."
Senior kicker Zack Czap made a 33 yard field goal with 2:24 remaining to give Lycoming a 16-14 win over Widener.
"I knew it was different because I'm in the game and I have to know when things are going on. I've caught myself a few times before just getting too excited, even in practice. But we work on it every day in practice where everyone is crowded around you, and it really pays off in moments like this, and I was able to treat it like any other kick.... I just focus on making solid contact. The ball will go where it's going to go. If you try to aim it, it's not going to go where you want it to go."
Senior kicker Zach Pulkinen made 37 yard field goal with 48 seconds left to lift Bemidji State 41-40 over Southwest Minnesota State

Senior kicker Cairo Santos opened the scoring with a 56 yard field goal in Tulane's  31-14 win over Louisiana-Monroe.

Sophomore kicker Marshall Morgan hit a 55 yard filed goal during Georgia's 44-41 win over LSU.
"Someone said it went into the handicapped section in the front row. I hit a 65-yarder in warmups, and I stroked that 55-yarder as well as I could stroke it."
Fourth-year kicker Samy Rassy made six field goals (24, 37, 12, 30, 30 & 35 yards) during McGill's 53-52 win over Concordia.

Senior kicker Spencer Nolen made five field goals (43, 32, 39, 46 & 30 yards yards) in
St. Xavier's 37-25 win over St. Francis.

Freshman kicker Younghoe Koo hit a 26 yard field goal with 1:56 left to give Georgia Southern a 23-21 win over Chattanooga.
“I was just trying to do what I do in practice.”
Senior kicker John Macomber's 23 yard field goal with 51 seconds to go lifted Holy Cross to a 31-28 win over Dartmouth.

Senior kicker Tad Beuchert made a 44-yard field goal with 3:21 remaining to give Assumption a 26-23 win over American International.

Freshman kicker Chayce Volpert hit a 30 yard field goal with 47 seconds left to give Millikin a 52-49 win over Aurora.

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

Friday, September 27, 2013

NFL Week Four: Free Kickin' Phil Dawson

With four seconds remaining in the first half of last night's NFL game, which San Francisco won 35-11 over St. Louis, the 49ers fair caught a Ram punt at their 39 yard line. Instead of running a play on offense, they opted to make a Fair-Catch Kick, which as kicker Phil Dawson noted:
"It's a little, unknown rule that a lot of people aren't familiar with. Our sideline definitely was prepared for it and we thought we'd give it a try."
Had the kick gone through the uprights it would have scored as a 71 yard field goal. It came up short and wide left, the Rams returned it to the nine yard line, and the half ended.

NFL Rule 10, Section 2, Article 4:
After a fair catch is made, or is awarded as the result of fair catch interference, the receiving team has the option of putting the ball in play by either:
(a) a fair-catch kick (drop kick or placekick without a tee) from the spot of the catch (or the succeeding spot after enforcement of any applicable penalties) (3-9-1 and 11-4-3), or
(b) a snap from the spot of the catch (or the succeeding spot after enforcement of any applicable penalties).

NFL Rule 11, Section 4, Article 3:
Fair-Catch Kick. The rules for a field-goal attempt from scrimmage apply to a field-goal attempt following a Fair Catch (a Fair Catch Kick).
(a) The fair-catch kick line for the kicking team is the yard line through the most forward point from which the ball is kicked.
(b) The fair-catch kick line for the receiving team is the yard line 10 yards in advance of the kicking team’s fair-catch kick line.
Note: A fair-catch kick is not a free kick. The kicking team cannot get the ball unless it has first been touched or possessed by the receivers.
A.R. 11.16 On a fair-catch kick from the B45, kicker A1 touches and falls on the ball on the B33 without any receiver touching the ball. Ruling: B’s ball first-and-10 on the B45 (the previous spot). The clock is started when the ball is kicked.
A.R. 11.17 On a fair-catch kick from the B45, the ball goes out of bounds on the B10:
a) without touching any player. Ruling: B’s ball first-and-10 on the B45. The clock starts when the ball is kicked.
b) after touching any kicking team player. Ruling: B’s ball first-and-10 on the B45. The clock starts when the ball is kicked.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Punters Answer the Big Question: Hawthorn or Fremantle?

The Australian Rules football season comes to its grand conclusion this weekend with the AFL Grand Final, where the Hawthorn Hawks will face the Fremantle Dockers. 

We checked in with a few Aussies, most of whom have become associated with American football punting, to get their thoughts on the big game.

Darren Bennett (from Sydney Australia)
former San Diego Chargers punter, also played for West Coast and Melbourne in the AFL
"Fremantle--- I grew up playing for East Fremantle and I know what it means to all those great Freo families that have felt like second class citizens to the North of the river Eagles fans when they won their premierships..This would rebalance the Perth / Fremantle rivalry... GO DOCKERS!!"
Jamie Keehn (from Gracemere, Queensland, Australia)
punter for Louisiana State University
"Same time last year a picked Hawthorn over Sydney and that didn't turn out too well, but I think this year Hawthorne will take it. They won't loose two years in a row. Hawthorn mid field is going to be to strong and buddy will kick five"
Cameron Johnston (from Geelong, Victoria, Australia)
punter for Ohio State University
"Hawthorn, because their tall forwards like Franklin are too strong for Fremantle defenders and Hawthorn's midfield is easily one of the strongest in the competition. Hawthorn should win comfortably I think."
John Smith (from Leafield England)
former NFL and CFL kicker, now with Prokick Australia
"Hawthorn. Still unable to play 4 quarters of football but will dominate the third (Championship) quarter and come home with a wet sail in the fourth quarter. Individual moments of brilliance will be too much for what is a really solid Freo team."
Daniel Cadona (from Darwin, Northern Territories, Australia)
punter for  University of Louisiana at Lafayette
"Definitely Hawthorn! The Hawthorn Hawks has been my favourite team since i can ever remember. The reasons why they will win on saturday is because of the big game experience that the team has. Hawthorn last one the flag in 2008 and a lot of the players from that year are still playing. They made it to the Grand Final last year but ultimately lost to the Sydney Swans but will be a much better side and more prepared for this week due to the experience. Fremantle are a young side with very little finals experience and very little big game experience in general. Besides the Derby with West Coast they don't play in front of the biggest crowds at the MCG like Hawthorn does when they meet teams like Carlton, Essendon or Collingwood.

Another reason will be the forward line for the Hawks. Lance "Buddy" Franklin, Jared Roughhead and Cyril Rioli are all superstars of the game that will make life very tough for the Fremantle defence. Those three players were very quiet last week in the preliminary final against Geelong, only kicking 1.3 between them. These players rarely have 2 bad games in a row and are very good at producing their best on the big stage. Look for Franklin and Rioli to get goals early in the match. On top of these strike weapons the spread of goal kickers that the Hawks produce each week will also put continuous pressure on the Fremantle side.

Finally, the defence for the Hawks has been their biggest concern over the last few years during their success, but with acquiring Brian Lake, an All Australian Full Back from the Western Bulldogs at the start of the season has strengthen the defence and provided a another big body down there to compliment the running game that the Hawks defence is known for.

Overall I think the experience and the more structurally sound team that the hawks possess will result in them winning the game and winning comfortably. I predict Hawks by 32."
Alex Dunnachie (from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)
former punter for University of Hawaii
"Hawthorn. Fremantle look like a team on the rise but their inexperience is going to cost them on the country's biggest stage. Hawthorn are proven warriors who have multiple match-winner type players that will be too difficult to shut them all down. Hawthorn by 23."
Dave Lonie (from Palm Beach Australia)
former punter for University of California
"I think Fremantle's pressure that they have put on teams all season will be enough to force turnovers in the grand final and come out on top."
Jay Karutz (from Sydney Australia)
punter for Eastern Michigan University
"I think Hawthorn will have to much firepower in the forward line and desire and leadership in defense through the likes of Mitchell and Hodge. Fremantle who's game is based primarily around defense will keep it close but will be pushed to the edge and probably found wanting with the majority of this Hawthorn side playing in several Grand Finals over the years. It will however be a tight Grand Final which will see Hawthorn get up by about 18 points."
Jake Walsh (from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)
punter for Old Dominion University
"I'm going with Fremantle by 9 points because I think Ross Lyon is a genius. They play a lock down style of footy that makes them often impenetrable and that will hopefully frustrate the Hawks into silly mistakes. "
Darcy Williamson (from Victoria, Australia)
punter for Jackson State University
"I'm a Geelong fan so instinctively I hate Hawthorn. So Freo, hoping they can win their first premiership."
Nick Porebski (from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)
punter for Snow College
"Fremantle for the win. I think the underdogs will get up."
Tom Hackett (from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)
punter for University of Utah
"Freo, simple because the purple haze has finally made it to the last weekend of September and they won't let it go. I think they are playing great footy and match up well against the Hawks."
Tim Gleeson (from Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia)
punter for Santa Barbara City College
"I have always had a little soft spot for the Dockers! Maybe it was their obscure guernsey’s as it definitely wasn’t their theme song! Back in the mid 2000's when Essendon weren't travelling that great, I happened to follow many of the Bombers players who were offloaded (along with Mark Harvey) to Fremantle. I enjoyed the game style they played and happened to follow many of their games, as they were a young team on the rise and quite frankly playing much better football than Essendon. Vice Versa Hawthorn, being sworn enemies of the Bombers, were never really a team I could support. My best friend in primary school had grown up supporting the Hawks meaning that I often had to face a years worth knocking whenever they pumped us. After seeing Richie Vandenberg single handedly beat up the entire Essendon football team, I knew I could never support them. The rivalry continued especially after Matty Lloyd steam rolled Brad Sewell and Campbell Brown lost his marbles.

However, this upcoming weekend I see Hawthorn winning the Holy Grail of football! The Dockers have historically never played well at the ‘G and this being there first GF appearance, I can’t see them putting up much of a fight. They still have a young side and with superstars such as Nat Fyfe and Michael Barlow still with many years of football in them, they should be a dominant force in the years to come. Furthermore, a friend of mine from high school, Sam Grimley, is on the Hawthorn list and was a part of the reserves premiership team last weekend. Many of my close friends back home are great mates with several of the Hawks boys so maybe just this one time I can ride the Hawkers home. I’m backing Nathan Chapman’s (head coach at ProKick Australia’s) alma mater Hawthorn to win by a very comfortable margin!

Hawthorn by 56 points Norm Smith: Luke Hodge (roughy Matt Spangher)"
Ben Graham (from Leopold, Victoria, Australia)
former NFL punter; also a former Geelong Cat
"Fremantle by 15 points. Here's why:
- the pressure Fremantle will put on Hawthorn's midfield will limit the opportunities Franklin and Roughead will get.
- Fremantle's small forwards Ballantyne and Walters will be lively around Pavlich and create scoring opportunities at ground level. 
- Crowley will limit Mitchell's ball winning ability. 
- I had Fremantle for Premiers after the Bulldogs played them week 2 of the preseason where they were unbelievably big, strong and disciplined and had structures around the ground which were hard to break down."

Marn Grook: The (Ab)original Punters

punt [puhnt] -noun
A kick in which the ball is dropped and then kicked before it touches the ground.

Various methods of kicking a ball are used in the various kicking games played around the globe. While punting is best known to our North American audience via American and Canadian football and the players applicably called punters, this particular method is (and probably always has been) especially prevalent in Australia. The Djabwurrung and Jardwadjali Aboriginal clans from western Victoria played Marn Grook, which means "game ball". Technically, it was more a group activity than a game. There were no teams or scoring. It was simply a group of players punting and catching a ball repeatedly. It compares more so to the traditional game of Kemari in Japan or the modern day hacky sack, than it does to any current games known as football. The Marn Grook ball was typically made from possum or kangaroo skin.

The first unanswered question is the age of Marn Grook. It may very well date back thousands of years, however since Aboriginal history is oral we don't know for certain. The first documented evidence dates back to the nineteenth century and the arrival of the Europeans. Robert Brough-Smyth, in an 1878 book The Aborigines of Victoria, quoted William Thomas, a Protector of Aborigines in Victoria, who stated that in about 1841 he had witnessed Wurundjeri Aborigines playing the game.
"The men and boys joyfully assemble when this game is to be played. One makes a ball of possum skin, somewhat elastic, but firm and strong. The players of this game do not throw the ball as a white man might do, but drop it and at the same time kicks it with his foot. The tallest men have the best chances in this game. Some of them will leap as high as five feet from the ground to catch the ball. The person who secures the ball kicks it. This continues for hours and the natives never seem to tire of the exercise."
An 1857 sketch found in 2007 describes an observation by Victorian scientist William Blandowski, of the Nyeri Nyeri people playing a football game at Merbein, on his expedition to the junction of the Murray and Darling Rivers. The image is inscribed:
"A group of children is playing with a ball. The ball is made out of typha roots (roots of the bulrush). It is not thrown or hit with a bat, but is kicked up in the air with a foot. The aim of the game – never let the ball touch the ground."

The second question is whether Marn Grook influenced the creation of Australian Rules football. The debate is ongoing. Those who feel it did factor into the modern game look to the common sense circumstantial evidence.
The historical link commonly made between Marn Grook and Australian football is through the experiences of Thomas Wills, the man widely regarded as the father of what used to be called Australian Rules. According to journalist and author Martin Flanagan, who wrote a biography of Wills, there is no definitive proof that Wills used Marn Grook as a model for the game first played between Melbourne Grammar and Scotch College in Melbourne in 1858. However, at the very least, Wills's life story gives grounds for strong speculation that he was influenced by Aboriginal culture.

Wills was raised in Victoria's Western Districts where he regularly played with Aboriginal children. Later, he was to recall watching a game in which they kicked a possum skin about the size of an orange stuffed with charcoal. The game was played between large groups on a totemic basis - the white cockatoos versus the black cockatoos, for example - with the greatest honour going to those who could leap or kick the highest. Later Wills was educated at Rugby School where Flanagan says he was bemused by the English game. Wills's grazier father was killed by Aboriginal tribesmen in 1861 yet, fives years later, he coached the Aboriginal team before it toured England in 1866.

It is this strong and frequent exposure to Aborigines and their culture that has led some to draw the conclusion Australian football is derived largely from a game that could have been played up to 40,000 years ago. However, despite his exhaustive research on the topic, Flanagan prefers not to enter the debate. "What I can say for a fact is that there are a lot of Aboriginal people convinced that it is an Aboriginal game," he says. "There are plenty who will tell you the white fellas just added some rules."
The counter argument looks to the lack of any definitive evidence:
The main proponent of [the first] theory is Jim Poulter, a descendant of settlers who saw Marn Grook played at the goldfields near Warrandyte1 in the 1850s; several years before AFL was established. However, the historian interviewed for the report, Gillian Hibbins, disagrees on the basis that the celebrated inventor of AFL football, Tom Wills, never mentioned the indigenous sport in any of his writings, either personal or professional.

One aspect of the evidence that Poulter refers to is that the ‘Aboriginal’ word for ‘catch’ was mumark. As the story goes, this became the ‘mark’ of the modern game. Although, using the term ‘mark’ to refer to an unequivocal catch and subsequent free kick had apparently been well attested in England for years already. The word ‘mark’ comes from at least two public schools where they marked and ground and shouted ‘mark’ so that everybody would clear away and give them a free kick.

The official history of the AFL maintains that Wills invented the game with direct inspiration from English Public – that is, Private – schools, and not from the indigenous people of the area in which he spent much of his time.
Regardless of the answers, we do know one thing for certain...

Australians know how to punt the ball.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Texas A&M Aggies 2013 Specialists

Our summer tour of FBS schools looks at the specialists for the Texas A&M Aggies.

9/24/13 kicking update:
"Josh Lambo, a sophomore walk-on, is now in what coach Kevin Sumlin called Tuesday an 'ongoing competition,' for placekicking duties with former starter Taylor Bertolet. The transition took place on Saturday when the Aggies struggled on extra points. Bertolet missed consecutive attempts in the first half, reminiscent of his struggles in 2012 when he was 67-of-74 on PATs and 13-of-22 on field goal attempts. He is 23-of-26 this season on PATs and 2-of-3 on field goal attempts, with his lone miss being a 31-yarder against Sam Houston State. After an inconsistent season in 2012 and some early struggles in the Aggies' first four games, the coaching staff decided to try someone new in Lambo, who competed with Kyle Serres during training camp. 'What we're doing is based on competition,' Sumlin said Tuesday. 'The ability to play in games and based on how you compete during practice and your success rate during practice, so that's where we are. That will continue to be the case. It won't change this week or next week. That's a work in progress. I think there's some things that both guys do that are positive, but in this business, life pays off on results, so that's where it is'."
 Kicker: Taylor Bertolet, sophomore (Reading, PA / Exeter Township HS)
2012:  scored 106 points including 13 field goals and a school record 67 extra points ... connected on 13 of 22 field-goal attempts (59.1 percent) with a long of 54 vs. Louisiana Tech … averaged 63.1 yard on 103 kickoffs ... his 65 touchbacks ranked No. 3 nationally
Spring Game:  hit field goals of 41, 34 & 34 yards
"One thing Bertolet has in his corner, and is taking advantage of this spring, is that A&M’s former Lou Groza award winner and Houston Texans kicker Randy Bullock is in town finishing up his college degree. 'Randy’s been out there the last couple of weeks, he’s been practicing. He’s on break right now. We’ve had some short conversations. I’ve kicked a couple of times with him and he’s taught me a lot this past break,' he said. 'We’ve gone over things. We had the same tactical errors and how to handle certain situations. He’s called me throughout the season and gave a lot of really good advice. We’re close friends'.”
Kicker: Josh Lambo, sophomore (Middleton, WI / Collin County / Edison Academic Center)
"Josh Lambo was last seen around FC Dallas Stadium in 2011, his final year with the club after being drafted eighth overall in the 2008 MLS Super Draft by then FCD head coach Steve Morrow. Lambo’s career in MLS never really panned out and in 2010, current Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman loaned him out to Tampa Bay of the NASL. He appeared in six games for the Rowdies but by 2011, he was no longer with the club as FCD waived him after the conclusion of the ’11 campaign. The Wisconsin native was on trial with D.C. United during preseason in 2012 but unable to catch on as a goalkeeper, he enrolled at Texas A&M last fall and joined the football team as a kicker. Lambo kicked a PAT in a win over South Carolina last September and is currently listed as the Aggies’ No. 2 kicker on the A&M depth chart heading into the start of two-a-days."
Kicker: Kyle Serres, senior (Spring, TX / Northland Christian HS)
High school: a first-team TAPPS Division II all-state selection as a senior (2008) at both kicker and wide receiver ... was an all-district free safety as well
8/12/13: "Taylor Bertolet was among the players to miss practice time last week because of injuries. Sumlin didn't expand on why Bertolet wasn't participating or when he'll be ready and most of the placekicking repetitions were taken by sophomore Josh Lambo and senior Kyle Serres."
Kicker: Cody Wicker, freshman (Dallas, TX / Jesuit HS)
"This summer the specialists have been working really hard doing the team workouts, and on top of that we have our own personal kicker and punter workouts. My goals for this upcoming season is kicking the best I ever have and competing for the starting spot."
Punter: Drew Kaser, sophomore (Strongsville, OH / Walsh Jesuit HS)
Frontrunner to take over punting following graduation of Ryan Epperson. he was redshirted last year. In 2011:  Saw action in one game … had two punts against Idaho for a 45.5 average … boomed a season-high 68 yarder against the Vandals.
Spring Game: averaged 44.1 yards on seven punts
"This past offseason I have been working on my get off time, hang time, and becoming a more consistent punter. The way I've been able to do so is by working on shortening my steps. This has allowed me to get the ball off quicker and have me keep my legs underneath my body more which has led to me being a more consistent and having more hang time. The goal for the season is to be the best special teams team in the SEC. So my job is to help my team reach out goal."
Punter: Shane Tripucka, freshman (Allen, TX / Allen HS)
"Tripucka has some impressive stats from Allen. He averaged 40 yards a kick in his two seasons as the starting punter and didn’t give up a single return yard. 'I had a few preferred walk-on offers from other schools to, but something about A&M, I just felt more comfortable about it,' he said. 'The coaches, the atmosphere of the school, the football program. The coaches at A&M, something about them stuck with me'.”
Offseason and summer: "It's pretty simple for me. Morning workouts and a lot of drill work. Not so much kicking a lot of balls but getting form and drill work down."
Long snapper: Alex Freeman, junior (Austin, TX / Westwood HS)
"This summer I worked hard at conditioning and lifting to become a better all-around football player. I also made strides in improving my craft of snapping, working with the punters and other snappers to try and increase velocity while maintaining accuracy. Other than that, I took a microbiology class over the summer. My goals for this season are to have 100% snaps. Also, as Rubio always told me, I need to always be trying to snap "faster, faster, faster" so another goal is for us to have less than 2.0 operations all season. Thanks and Gig 'Em!"
Long snapper: Daniel Havens, freshman (College Station, TX / A&M Consolidated)

College Special Teams Players of the Week 4, 2013

The following kickers and punters have been named Special Teams Players of the Week by their respective conference for the fourth week of the 2013 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.

Big 12 - Kansas punter Trevor Pardula
Big Sky - Montana kicker Ben Worst
Big South - Gardner-Webb kicker/punter Jordan Day 
Centennial - Muhlenberg kicker Connor Winter 
ECFC - SUNY Maritime punter John Arny
FBS Independent - Army kicker Daniel Grochowski 
GAC - Arkansas-Monticello kicker Jamie McGee
GLIAC - Michigan Tech kicker Garrett Mead
GLVC - Truman State punter Jacob Lamp 
GPAC - Nebraska Wesleyan kicker Aaron Larraine 
GSC - Delta State kicker Vince Sciorrotta
HCAC - Mount St. Joseph’s kicker Shane Kelly
Ivy - Cornell kicker John Wells 
KCAC & NAIA - McPherson kicker Michael Phillips 
Liberty - Hobart punter Yosh Karbowniczak
MAC - Delaware Valley College placekicker Brandon Snyder 
MAC East - Miami (OH) punter Zac Murphy 
MAC West - Northern Illinois kicker Matthew Sims
MEAC - Florida A&M punter Colby Blanton 
MIAA - Trine kicker Tyler Keck
MSC - Cumberland kicker Beau Baker 
MSFA - Saint Francis punter/kicker Kollin Carman
MVFC - Northern Iowa kicker Tyler Sievertsen
MW - UNLV punter Logan Yunker 
NEC - Central Connecticut State kicker Steve Calitri 
NJAC -  William Paterson punter Julian Frazier
NSAA - Valley City State kicker Thomas Cortez 
Pac-12 - USC  punter Kris Albarado 
RMAC - Colorado Mesa kicker Elijah Williams
SAA - Millsaps kicker Beau Brady
SAC - Newberry kicker/punter Kyle Clark 
SCAC - Trinity kicker/punter/returner Matthew Kennemer
SEC - Arkansas long snapper Alan D'Appollonio
SLC - Southeastern Louisiana kicker Seth Sebastian 
SoCon - Elon punter David Petroni

Lou Groza Award
  • Ryan Bustin, Texas Tech
  • Matthew Sims, Northern Illinois
  • Matthew Wyman, Kansas
Beyond Sports Network
  • FBS kicker: Ryan Bustin, Texas Tech
  • FBS punter: Spencer Roth, Baylor
  • FCS kicker: Ben Worst, Montana
  • FCS punter: Miles Berger, South Dakota
  • Division II kicker: Brent Wahle, Ohio Dominican
  • Division II punter: Kevin Van Voris, West Texas A&M
  • Division III kicker: Brandon Synder, Delaware Valley
  • Division III punter: Cameron Sobleski, Wabash
  • NAIA kicker: Trevor Spaulding, St. Mary
  • NAIA punter: Matt Klingler, St. Ambrose
College Football Performance Awards
  • FBS placekicker: Brad Craddock, Maryland
  • FBS specialist: Ryan Bustin, Texas Tech
  • FBS punter: Trevor Pardula, Kansas
  • FCS placekicker: Ben Worst, Montana
  • FCS placekicker: Ben Tesson, Drake
  • FCS punter: Andy Wilder, NAU
If we missed someone that should be on the above list, please let us know!

Monday, September 23, 2013

NFL Week Three: Spencer Lanning Punt Pass & Kick

During Cleveland's 31-27 win over Minnesota, punter Spencer Lanning averaged 46.8 yards on five punts, placing two inside the 20 yard line. As expected, he also served as the holder on placekicks. But that was only half the story.

In the latter stages of the second quarter, while in holder mode on an apparent 29 yard field goal attempt, Lanning did a little passing, which resulted in an 11 yard touchdown.
"If they covered it, we were going to bring it back in. You try to get set so nobody sees it. They gave us the look we wanted and we got a good snap, a good throw and JC [tight end Jordan Cameron] made a good catch. The only thing I was thinking was not over-throwing him. I just wanted to get him the ball. I didn’t want to zip it out there. We’ve seen guys around the league run the same play and overthrow the guy....
It's all about execution. It never goes exactly how you plan it or how you practice it. I just wanted to make sure everyone was set and I took a peek outside and saw nobody was covering him."
In the latter stages of the fourth quarter, with starting kicker Billy Cundiff hobbled by a quad injury, Lanning did a little placekicking, handling the extra point following the Browns' final touchdown. Since Lanning obviously could not also serve as holder while kicking, QB Brian Hoyer did so. Lanning was equally prepared to attempt a field goal had the situation arose:
It's something I have confidence in. When it comes down to it, it's anything I can do to help the team win."
A day later, Lanning did a little expanding, discussing the prologue and epilogue to his touchdown pass:
"The most training I've had throwing a ball is with my dad out in the yard. As kickers and punters, we have a lot of time on our hands. In college especially, we got some passes in and whatnot. But I have no background playing quarterback, never played Pee-Wee football or anything like that. Coaches just drew up a play and we went out there and executed it....

I've had some guys around the league texting me saying I threw it like a girl. No offense to all the women out there.''

Florida Gators 2013 Specialists

Our summer tour of FBS schools looks at the specialists for the Florida Gators.

9/23/13 update:
"I'm going to open it up with Kyle,' coach Will Muschamp said. 'Johnny Townsend's been a guy that's probably been as consistent a punter as we've had in camp. We'll pull the redshirt off Johnny if we need to.' Townsend was a last-second addition to Florida's recruiting class back in February, when Florida was able to flip his commitment from Ohio State on national signing day. Muschamp's plan was to redshirt him, but Christy's punting woes have caused him to rethink that strategy. 'We need to get more production at the punter position, and that's what we'll do,' he said. After Austin Hardin missed a 41-yard field goal against Tennessee, his job is up for grabs too. 'Austin, I think, same situation,' Muschamp said. 'I'm going to give Brad (Phillips) some live looks this week in practice and see how he responds'."
8/29/13: punting update:
"Seven months after undergoing surgery to repair an injury he sustained when he fell off his scooter - yet played with all season - Christy said he's finally feeling healthy again. But the recovery hasn't been easy. 'To be honest, my shoulder in the spring set me back a little bit, but I think I'm doing pretty well,' Christy said this week. 'I was hoping it wouldn't screw me up at all, but just not being able to catch snaps for a while, it's weird. And then I had to just get back into it.' Christy said he's 100 percent healthy now and looking to improve upon his 2012 season - which is saying a lot.... 'I want to do really well and improve on last year, and live up to all the preseason stuff,' Christy said."
8/26/13 kicking update:
"Redshirt freshman Austin Hardin has won the place-kicking job, edging out senior walk-on, and former Buchholz High standout, Brad Phillips. 'Right now, Austin would be (the kicker),' UF coach Will Muschamp said Monday. 'Brad was slowed by a groin (injury in camp). Brad kicked very well when he kicked, he just didn't have as many attempts or at-bats as Austin did. 'Austin sort of distanced himself as a kickoff guy and for the place-kicking duties. But Brad is a guy who has been in the game before and done it when the lights were on, so that's something we're going to work through during the season'.”
Kicker: Brad Phillips, senior (Gainesville, FL / Buchholz HS)
"My goal for this season is to be a more consistent kicker and to be ready for game situations. Being behind Caleb Sturgis for the past three years has been the best experience when it comes to learning about the kicking game. However, it also left me with some big shoes to fill and a standard that has been set for kickers here at Florida. Although I do have some game experience, I have never played a full season. Competing in the SEC, you play at the toughest, loudest stadiums and need to stay concentrated which is something I have been working on this offseason. Staying healthy and consistent are key for me this season to be one of the top kickers in the SEC. Go Gators!"
Kicker: Austin Hardin, freshman (Atlanta, GA / Marist)
Competing against Phillips for the starting job.
2012: Did not see any action and redshirted.
High school: A three-star prospect according to ESPN and…Rated the No. 1 kicking prospect in the nation by ESPN…Kicked at the Under Armour All-America game…Went 13-of-20 on field goals, including a 59-yard game-winner, and converted all of his extra-point attempts
“It was great for me to learn behind someone who was great at what they did, someone who I think was the best at what they did in America last year. It helped me grow on the mental side a lot.... Brad is great to train with. He’s been here for five years, he kicks a really good ball. I’ll make a kick and I’ll turn around and Brad’s making it too. Each day we’re pushing each other to get better and better and that’s what’s so great about this competition."
Kicker: Francisco Velez, junior (Ocala, FL / Trinity Catholic)
Enrolled at UF in summer of 2010 and walked on in September 2010.
2012: Did not see any game action for the Gators
2011:A member of the UF Scout Team
Coach Will Muschamp noted following Spring practices: "[Phillips] is really kicking well. Austin has done some nice things. Frank Velez has come along as a third kicker we've kind of thrown into the competition. Certainly no one has taken the job yet but I'm very pleased with our progress there. We've got to continue to see that success out of that position."
Punter: Kyle Christy, junior (Brownsburg, IN / Brownsburg HS)
"As a sophomore, Christy was one of three finalists last season for the Ray Guy Award, given annually to the best at his position. He also received several All-American and All-Southeastern Conference honors, averaging 45.8 yards over 66 punts...

“I want to win the Ray Guy award, and I also want to get stronger and get my shoulder back to 100 percent', said Christy who had offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum that he played with last season. 'It’s kind of weird to say, but I’d rather get the first down on third down more than I would want to punt, but when I do have to go in there, I obviously want to help us as much as I can'.”
Punter: Todd Fennell, sophomore (Vero Beach, FL / Vero Beach HS) 
Walk-on who joined the team prior to the 2011 season. 
2012: Did not appear in any games for Florida as a redshirt freshman.
High school:  Had 12 punts inside of the 20 and eight punts inside of the 10 during his senior season at Vero Beach…Averaged 39 yards on 30 punts, with an average hangtime of 4.05 seconds during 2010
Punter: Justin Vogel, freshman (Tampa, FL / Berkeley Prep)
Joined the team in the summer of 2012…Did not see any game action.
High School: Averaged 45 yards per punt throughout his high school career…Played defense along with special teams duties and also tallied three interceptions during his time in high school
Punter: Grant Van Aman, freshman (Tampa, FL / Plant HS)
2013: was charged with DUI while riding a scooter in late June
2012: Did not see any game action and redshirted.
High school: Kicked a school record four field goals in the state semi-finals in 2011 and 11 field goals throughout the season, also a school record
Punter: Johnny Townsend, freshman (Orlando, FL / Boone HS)
Townsend will arrive in the fall. Townsend, out of Orlando's Boone High, was a late addition to the Gators' 2013 recruiting class when he opted to sign with Florida after originally committing to Ohio State.
“(Playing time) was something I thought about a lot, and yes, I'm going to have to sit. But I'm going to have that development period behind one of the top punters in the country. I'm going to miss working with Coach Meyer, but I think this is the right decision in the long run.”
Long snapper: Drew Ferris, junior (Carlsbad, CA / San Diego Jewish Academy)
Enrolled at UF in the summer of 2010…Served as the long snapper for every game in 2011 and for one game in 2012 before an injury ended his season.
"This offseason I have been getting into great physical shape along with getting good work in with our kickers and punter Kyle Christy. Really working on snapping and blocking as well. Trying to get in as much a rhythm with the other guys as possible. My goal for myself is to be perfect on every snap and as a group go out and execute when our number is called and ultimately help win games for our team."
Long snapper: Kyle Crofoot, sophomore (Windemere, FL / The First Academy)
2012: Saw action in all 13 games for the Orange and Blue, but did not record any stats…Was the primary snapper on all field goals, snapping to his older brother, John.

NFL Week Three: Stephen Gostkowski & Dan Bailey

Each week we typically compile quotes from kickers involved in close games... so close that they come down to a game winning field goal attempt. This week we focus on two kickers in games that did not go down to the proverbial wire.

In New England's 23-3 win over Tampa Bay, kicker Stephen Gostkowski was good on all three of his field goals, including a 53 yarder on the final play of the first half.
"I usually go back [in pregame warmups] to about a 53, 55-yard field goal. I don’t usually test much more than that. I can see how far it crosses in and get a gauge and then talk to our special-teams coach [Scott O’Brien]. Obviously, you have more wiggle room at the end of the half and the game. You’re more likely to kick a longer field goal at the end of the half or game than you are in the middle of the first quarter, when field position is a different thing,” he noted. “It’s nice to get those long opportunities. We don’t get too many of them around here. You’ve just got to take advantage of them while you can. That kick in December is probably a lot tougher than it was today."
The Patriots' kicker also had touchbacks on all six of his kickoffs in the game.
"I know how much our guys appreciate it and how much our coaches appreciate it. It’s a play that they can’t do anything about. If I can kick it over their heads and they can’t return it, that’s one less chance they have to make a big play. I’ve always prided myself on kickoffs. There are a lot of things that go undervalued in a game. Everything is not flashy and about points. It’s 50 percent of my job and I take just as much pride in it."
In Dallas 31-7 win over St. Louis, kicker Dan Bailey made a 19 yard field goal but missed from 35 yards. It was only his second ever pro miss at home. The first one from two years ago was blocked, and someone else also had a hand in yesterday's miss.
"It actually got tipped. It’s kind of one of those things. You hear and see the ball when you make contact, then you hear something else, and you look up, and it’s not exactly going where you thought it was going to be.... But yeah, I mean, it’s just frustrating. I like to think I make them all. It is what it is. Try to make the next one."

Read more here:

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Big Kickers on Campus, 2013 week 4

A summary of notable kicking during the fourth week of the 2013 college football season: 

Sophomore kicker Matthew Wyman hit a 52 yard field goal as time expired to give Kansas a 13-10 win over Louisiana Tech.
“I was thinking, ‘I do this in practice every day. I can do this.’ You’ve got to be confident to be a kicker. That’s what was going through my mind: ‘I’m going to make this kick. I’m going to drill it.’ I always talk myself up before I go up there.... For a second my leg got caught, but I got it out. I was actually worried that I was going to get hurt. … They finally got off of me, I ran over to the student section and they gave me a warm welcome. It’s weird knowing that [last year] I was up in the student section, cheering, saying, ‘I know I can do this.’ And now I’m here in front of all these cameras. It’s a lot to take in. It’s been a short period of time.”
Sophomore kicker Shane Kelly hit a 32 yard field goal with 15 seconds remaining to lift Mount St. Joseph 16-13 over Hanover.

Junior kicker Steven Calitri hit a 40 yard field goal with 17 seconds left in the game to give Central Connecticut State a 20-17 win over Albany.
"This kick was my third career game-winner. I kicked two game winning field goals in high school at Norwich Free Academy, but this was my first successful game-winning field goal as a college kicker at Central Connecticut State University. Two weeks prior to the Albany game, I had an opportunity against Lehigh University to kick a potential game-winner. Unfortunately, the 40-yard kick missed left over the upright. In the two weeks leading up to the UAlbany game, I maintained my same practice routine and mental preparation. I am grateful for the support from my teammates and coaches during that time.              

As time was winding down in the fourth quarter with the score tied at 17, I knew that it could very well come down to a game-winning field goal attempt. In order to stay calm, I stayed loose on the sideline and kicked into the net. I visualized every situation I could be in such as a long field goal try, hurry field goal, and left hash or right hash. My mind briefly dwelled on the chance of redemption from two weeks ago. I quickly put that miss out of my mind and isolated the task at hand. My teammates and coaches were confident in me to make the kick. When fourth down came, Coach McInerney made the call to kick the field goal and I ran out to the left hash. My holder, Nick Baccarella, gave a few words of encouragement and I took my steps. On every field goal I try to focus on one singular piece of the kick. For this kick it was operation time. I focused on executing my steps immediately on the movement of my snapper, Jake White. The kick happened in a blink of an eye and I knew as soon as I kicked it that it was good. I turned around and said a quick prayer as my teammates congratulated me. The team was able to protect the lead for the remaining 17 seconds left on the clock and that’s when it finally hit me. If it wasn’t for the great play by the offense and defense all game, I would not have had the opportunity to kick the game-winner. I am thankful for having the opportunity to win the game for my teammates, coaches, CCSU fans, my parents and family, and my friends. Go Blue Devils!"
Freshman kicker Isaac Robinson made a 19 yard field goal with three seconds remaining to give Frostburg State a 36-33 win over Case Western Reserve.

Senior kicker Colton Cook's 38 yard field goal in overtime lifted Southern Utah to a 24-21 win over Sacramento State.
"When we went into overtime - all the players were getting excited and telling me to 'keep your damn head down and follow through' ( which they always say to me )... Once the Sac State kicker missed his field goal attempt - the pressure/stress went away and I felt very confident that I would make my kick."
Freshman kicker Vince Sciorrotta hit a 31 yard field goal with nine seconds left to lift Delta State to a 37-34  victory over North Alabama.

Junior kicker Garrett Mead hit a school-record five field goals (31, 19, 24, 37 & 27 yards) to lead Michigan Tech 29-7 over Walsh.
"The one kick that I really thought stood out for me was the 37 yarder because I had to kick it into about a 15 mph head wind and I thought it was probably just the best kick I had overall. For finding out right after the 5th field goal they announced it over the speakers at the game and I thought it helped out the excitement for the game. It's a great feeling to be able to have had a impact on the game and had the opportunity to break a school record. I gotta give thanks to all the other guys on our field goal team because the protection was never stressed, the snaps were spot on, and the holds were perfect which makes my job that much easier."
Junior kicker Brandon Snyder hit a 25 yard field goal as time expired to lift Delaware Valley 20-17 over Albright
Senior kicker Jordan Day's 35 yard field goal with 10:52 to go in the fourth quarter was the only score as Gardner-Webb  won 3-0 over Wofford.
“I trusted that they would do their jobs and I was confident that I could do mine. Nat did a great job getting that hold down. It was not easy at all. I told him, 'That was all you, man.’ … I’ve never been so happy to make a field goal in my life. It was just so nice because of how tough it was in the kicking game all around. It absolutely feels better than last week.”
Senior kicker Brendan Gibbons made a 21 yard field goal with 4:36 remaining to give Michigan a 24-21 win over Connecticut.

Sophomore kicker Bryan Arbes accounted for all of the scoring, with three first half field goals, in  West Liberty's 9-0 win over West Virginia State.

Freshman kicker Brandt Davis made a 20 yard field goal in overtime to give Carleton College a 20-17 win over Hamline
"It was a great opportunity for me to finally end the game. Our defense shut them out and our offense put me in great position. If anything, I wanted to make sure that there work wasn't for nothing. Great snap, great hold and I put it through. It's fantastic when those three elements work together and we had it going last night."
Freshman kicker Jamie McGee's 43 yard field goal with 10:03 remaining gave Arkansas-Monticello a 22-20 win over Northwestern Oklahoma State.

Freshman kicker Jeremiah Carter hit a 28 yard field goal with 16 seconds remaining to give Trinity International (IL) a 41-39 win over St. Francis (IL).

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