I disagree to an extent on your kicking analysis. These coaches had little-to-no way to know what they had from a kicking perspective while they were recruiting the 2018 class. Spring practice, the first hands-on look for the coaches, didn’t start until weeks after recruiting ended. Arkansas is putting its best option on the field. I’m not sure how it could have changed anything in the spring. With a kicker what you see is typically what you’re always going to get.
Colorado State has a couple of quality kickers, probably aided some from playing so many games at altitude. The field goal kicker is 11-for-14 in his career from beyond 40 yards and set the school scoring record the other night as a junior. The punter was fifth nationally in yards per kick last season and is top 10 this year, bolstered by a couple of misplays by Jared Cornelius the other night.
our kicking game has stunk for years. why we can’t find a fg kicker and punter is beyond me. problem is, they are usually recruited walk-ons. we have so many holes to fill we cannot afford to go after one of the quality kickers out there and offer a scholarship. that being said, last staff offered hedland a scholarship and he stunk at arkansas. succeeding at north texas, is it coaching? the punter was highly ranked but he’s been pitiful also. i would venture to say we have one of the worst kicking units in the sec, and from watching CSU, probably would rank low in the mountain west. Who are we looking at as recruited walk-ons this year? is it an afterthought?
cornelius did a pitiful job of fielding punts, then they replaced him with stewart who had one great return. in fact, cornelius has disappeared totally, on the offense as a receiver and as a returner. i wish they would leave number 13 out there to field punts but morris said jared would return punts against north texas.
I know people here get an overdose of “back in the day syndrome”, and I get it. But this kicking problem is particularly galling to those of us who remember that the U of A had a long standing tradition of special team excellence for decades.
We have had several All-America/All-Conference kick returners, including Ken Hatfield, Martine Bercher, Gary Adams (not the QB), Gary Anderson all the way through Felix Jones and Joe Adams. And kickers - many don’t know that Arkansas boasts having the very first Division 1 kicker to make a 60 yarder (Bill McClard, vs. SMU in Novermber 1970 - ironically, just a couple of weeks after Tom Dempsey became the first kicker in the NFL to boot one from beyond 60 yards), and we’ve had all-stars such as Steve Little, Ish Ordonez, Steven Cox, Bruce Lahay, and Kendall Trainor.
But in recent years, that tradition has been totally lost.
I have never thought fixing the kicking game is easy. When you are short on scholarships and lack linemen, it’s very difficult to spend a scholarship on something you haven’t seen yet. They did entice Reid Bauer to walk on. He does not look like the answer, but he’s better than the punter who is on scholarship.
This “back in the day” syndrome has to be tempered by the fact that for many of those years, teams were not limited on scholarships. The 85 limit severely cuts into the numbers in a hurry, and as Clay said, when you don’t have enough OL or DL, it’s hard to use one of your 25 scholarships for a kicker or punter (preferably, one who can do both). Plus, it’s hard to know how a kicker is going to perform. So much of his job is individual (like a batter in baseball), compared to OL play which consists of individuals doing a team job.
Once again I’m hearing the argument that we should be offering more schollies to kickers and punters. Well, Blake Johnson is a recruited scholarship punter, and the guy that our current kicker beat out last year, Cole Hedlund, was also a recruited scholarship player. So much for that. One again, it is impossible to know how a great high school kicker or punter will react to the pressure of performing in front of huge crowds in games that seriously matter.
This is the age old question: would you be better off recruiting five walk-on kickers and hold a scholarship or give a scholarship and then know that none of the walk-ons are going to come because they know you have already picked one (by giving a scholarship). I think getting them to walk-on is the better option – but get a bunch.
Could our kicking problems possibly be “Special Teams” coaching? Our former place kicker could not make chip shots, now with a new coach he’s nailing 50 + yarders. I think our punter, who was susposed to be a world beater, averaged less that 40 yds/punt in high school. I guess coaching him up has not worked yet.
I admit that’s a possibility. However, I can’t believe we’ve had so many consistently bad kicking coaches. I don’t recall who coached Hedlund last year, but no doubt he’s suddenly gotten better for some reason.
I don’t know how to say this but something has inflected this football team… for the lack of a better term…I call it a “losing mentality”. To me it started in 2016 with losing to Missouri and then the complete meltdown in the Belk Bowl. We were at the Belk Bowl and were sitting behind our bench. When VT scored their first touchdown, I watched our players on the bench and coming off the field. You actually saw a physical hangdog change in the team. I have posted this before…After seeing this change, I turned to my wife and told her we just lost the football game. I saw it in last year’s team. Even with the new coaching staff it’s still there. It permeates throughout the program…special teams, offense and defense. You saw it at Colorado. We shouldn’t have lost that game, but we did. For some reason, we can’t rise to the occasion. How do you change it. I don’t have a clue. Maybe a break out game against a quality team SEC team can turn us around.