There are still things about the college game that remain a mystery to me. Here’s something incoming PK Blair Walsh said to the AJ-C’s Chip Towers that’s in his blog today:
“Today I had my best day in kickoffs yet,” Walsh said. “I hit one on the numbers to the goal line and that’s what they want. They don’t want it through the end zone. You have to kick it about five yards deep in the end zone, about 75 yards, for them to not return it. If [Coach Jon Fabris] wanted that I could to that for him but right now he wants it to the right and on the numbers. So that’s what I’m trying to do. That’s what I‘m shooting for… . I’m on the first team on the kickoffs. That’s where they have me. But all I can control is my performance and that’s what I’m focusing on.” [Emphasis added.]
Now maybe Blair is simply tooting his own horn here, but just for the sake of argument, could someone explain to me why, if your PK were indeed capable of it, you wouldn’t want him blasting the kick out of the endzone for a sure touchback?
20 responses to “Say what?”
As a former kicker I can tell you this is simply a coach’s drill trying to temper an over exuberant freshman. They are teaching him accuracy and leg control. Think of it as wielding a driver on the tee. Sure, you can walk up there and rip it and hope for the best, but it’s the accuracy and the ability to control the amount of power one needs is the ultimate goal. Once Walsh learns restraint and fluidity with his leg, they’ll more than likely let him loose.
CMR penchant for kickoffs to the 5-10-yard lines has vexxed me as well. Given that our KO coverage teams have most years ranked well, my assumption is that Fabris is a stat geek (in addition to being a practice field lunatic) who has discovered that the average field position on KOs out of (or returned from) the EZ exceeds that of directional kicks. I have heard experts note low trajectory kicks not giving coverage teams time to get in optimal position. Who knows?
Ridiculous strategy by Fabris on kick returns. How many times have we tackled anyone inside the 20 on one of those stinking high kickoffs(I can’t think of more than 1 or 2 times)….and how many times have they broken one out to the 35 yard line or further? Too many to count.
As good as our defense has been over the years, we have allowed our opponents the luxury of starting far too close to midfield in many cases. Obviously, the deeper an opponent is pinned in their own territory, the more conservative they have to be as they start the possession. Whatever our strategy has been over the years, it hasn’t been working! Wake up, Fabris!
Fab did the same thing with Coutu. Coutu could’ve easily kicked it through the uprights (especially from the 25) but rarely did he do it. Typically he would kick it to one of the corners with some air under it. While I understand this tactic, some what, I don’t necessarily 100% agree with it. After a big score to tie or take the lead I say kick as far as you can so you don’t give the other team a chance to get any momentum back. If it’s opening kickoff or a 2 TD lead then try to pin’em deep. Maybe kicking off from the 30 has something to do with that as well.
I will always remember the ’03 LSU game. We take the lead on the Tyson Browing screen. The ensuing kickoff is returned near mid field and nearly taken to the house. We all remember how that one ended.
There was also a blatant hold on that kick return that went uncalled.
Sometimes Coach Fab just seems to lose it. If your Kicker can kick the snot out of it go for it.
Also who was the coach of the punt return team that seems to never believe the punt team will fake it. See WVU et. al.
I love Fabris, but this is a dumb move and always has been. If Walsh or anyone else on the team can knock it deep, let them do it!!!
Don’t forget the Gators that year. They did a fake kick on us also.
You’ve got to be kidding me? I thought this was about the biggest reason we recruited this kid. He was kicking the ball to the Bahamas from Ft. Lauderdale last year.
The only logic I see in this is allowing the other team a return and a chance for a turnover. However, it could also be returned for a TD. If Walsh can kick it high enough this may allow good coverage and the ball placed inside the twenty, but kickoff coverage has not been one of our strengths.
I think Fab is the best position coach on the team.
But I’ll be danged if his attitude towards directional kicking isn’t the most stubborn (and I think pig headed) thing he does.
It drives me nuts. If you can kick the hell out of it, then kick the hell out of it.
Certainly he must have SOME reason for this, right? I’d love to see some stats that said the average field position on kicks that are returned and how many go for TDs and fumbles. It’s possible that the average return doesn’t make it to the 20, or that fumbles exceed TDs, or something… we tend to focus on when kick coverage goes bad but ignore it when it goes well (just like referees’ performance, plane flights, etc.) and may not realize that actual success of that strategy.
Stats aside, the kick returner is often a good player, possibly the starting WR, RB, or CB. So making the offensive guys, especially, run a little and get hit hard, means you reduce his effectiveness on the next couple plays, which MAY be worth a few yards. So for instance, if you’re playing Oklahoma and I give you the choice of them starting at the 27 but without DeMarco Murray for a couple of plays… or start at the 20 with him back there… I’m not sure what those 7 yards are worth.
that’s a good point NM. gotta say, i don’t have ANY issues with letting some of the harder hitting special-teamers get an open hit on some of florida’s best returners/receivers as i’m sure we’ll see brandon james, rainey, etc. lining up for kick-offs.
The directional kicking is infuriating. Why risk a return for a TD? Why make our starting DBs run down the field and make a tackle (and risk injury)?
As far as hitting their returner, that logic isn’t quite right, because the other coaches want the ball in their hands. Do you think USC cared if you got one more shot at Bush? Heck no! They wanted Bush in the open field for one more play. Why in the world would we give them a chance. I thought last year that we finally started giving Brandon a chance to kick it deep. Let’s hope we figure this out with Blair. Lord, surely we’re smart enough to figure this out.
Beat Georgia Southern!
NM and Redcoat–that’s absolutely brilliant! No wonder you all have been able to win so many games against us in recent years. I’m sure that our coaches lie awake at night thinking “Oh, please don’t let them kick it to Rainey or James–those guys might get hit and have to go to the sidelines for a play or two.” Or they might be so winded after taking it to the house that they might miss 3 plays. Even 4!
As I think about it, I suspect they also are reconsidering trying to get the ball in Harvin’s hands on offense. Too much risk of injury. Or of being out of breath!
Correct me if I am wrong; but I seem to recall a ballgame that I was at with my father, it was a UGA game and I was about 6 years old, and the kickoff went through the uprights and there were points awarded.
I am not a football moron but for some reason I have this memory, maybe because he did kick it through the uprights and I thought he should have gotten points for it or he actually did and they gave points and have changed the rules. Please feel free to blast away. I think the kicker was Kevin Butler.
No points awarded for the kickoff kick going through the goal post, just a touchback. I think maybe Fab has watched more film/videoes of kick- coverage in a month than most fans watch in their lifetime. If he has an idea and CMR goes along with it, I think I’ll take their opinion over the Monday quarterbacks. Instead of saying its a stupid idea, why not try to learn from them by asking why? You may avoid looking like a goofus.
The point of the directional kickoff is to turn the sideline into another defensive player. If you make the return man field the kick four or five yards from the sideline, he is forced to go the other way so as to avoid getting pinned in. He also has to go east-west to find a hole, thereby making him run longer distances in order to find a hole.
It’s a great strategy when you don’t have a kicker who can BLAST THE DAMNED THING THROUGH THE END ZONE.
I will never understand why you wouldn’t want the opposing team starting at the 20 all the time.
Oh…and Dean, Tyson Browning’s touchdown in the 03′ game at LSU tied the score 10-10. We did not take the lead. We lost 17-10. Just sayin’.
BTW…Dooley used to have Kevin Butler blast the kickoff so far into the stands behind the goalposts that the opposing teams used to stand and watch.
The NCAA didn’t like this , so they instituted a rule where the ball came out to the 30 if the kickoff sailed out of the end zone, effectively negating Butler’s abilities on the kickoff.
After Butler graduated, they changed it back (I’m not sure how long after, but it happened).
In the words of Dave Barry, “I’m not making this up.”
Last year our opponets averaged just over 20 yds per kick off return. Given the risk of injury to some key palyers (Boss Bailey, Fred Gibson, Thomas Brown) or a breaking a big one. I am for kicking it to Oconee County.
Didn’t Coach Richt suggest last year that the NCAA do away with kick offs because of injury risk? Seems like he would be all for Walsh letting it fly, too.