Quarterback. Running back. Wide receiver. In this day and age of purely offensive football, everybody wants to score touchdowns. And who can blame them? Put a few moves on a linebacker, burn a safety, put the ball in exactly the right place, and you've got yourself some recognition. It's a great play--you'll be on all the highlight reels and on everyone's fantasy team if you're good enough.
But what of the kicker? Take a walk onto the field, put the ball through the uprights, and get a nice pat on the back from the punter as you head off the field. It requires some skill, for sure, but nobody really cares. Yeah, sure, you made it. And if you didn't, guess what? You suck.
Here's why we'll be looking at the kickers on either team in this week's NCAA Championship game, which ended in a decisive 31-17 win for the Texas Longhorns.
Johnny Greg (@brenstl)
S13 Stats: 14 GP | 54/56 XP | 9/12 FG
Johnny Greg likely would have appreciated a few more field goal attempts this season, as his make percentage was a simple 75%, though with a very small sample size of twelve attempts. While it can be seen that Texas racked up most of their points in touchdowns, as the kicker racked up a respectable 54 PATs made, he missed three field goals, one of which was under 40 yards.
In the championship game, Greg was perfect, converting on all four PAT attempts and hitting on a 43-yard field goal late in the second quarter.
Cody Smith (@cody73)
S13 Stats: 7 GP | 20/20 XP | 4/7 FG
Alabama was the only NCAA team to make a change at kicker mid-season, doing so with the signing of Smith seven games in. Smith was another kicker who certainly would have benefited from a larger sample size--his stats over a 14-game season project to 40/40 PATs made and 8/14 field goals, a season somewhat comparable to that of Greg (though not quite at the same level). One can assume that both Greg and Smith would have produced somewhat better-looking numbers with more attempts, but this is even more so the case for Smith, who made just over half of the seven attempts he was afforded.
In the championship game, Smith accounted for five points, converting on two extra points and one short field goal, though a miss from 46 yards out spoiled his chances at a perfect game.
While the statistics of either kicker this season may appear somewhat discouraging, one must keep in mind two distinct characteristics of both: they are young and they simply weren't able to sufficiently prove themselves. "Young" is especially the case for Smith, who only racked up half a season's worth of experience. And, of course, neither was given a ton of shots at greatness. Smith didn't have a single attempt from over 50 yards out, while Greg was given only one--for the record, a 56-yarder that he nailed. All in all, both players show potential for greatness, and both hope to lead their teams to many a title game in the years to come.