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Breaking Down the Alabama Crimson Tide Kicking: New Placekicker in Week 2

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Plus, consistent but unspectacular in punting and kickoffs

Arkansas State v Alabama
Well, it’s not Tua that’s the problem.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It was not my intention to make the coverage of Alabama’s kicking game into a weekly report, but with the drama that is unfolding, I felt it necessary for a follow-up from last week.

PLACEKICKING:

What in the bleeping bleep is going on with Austin Jones? After missing a field goal, a point-after-attempt and having several wobbly other PATs that went through last week against Louisville, the Temple grad-transfer missed two PATs against Arkansas State and found himself on the bench. Joseph Bulovas took over and was a marked improvement.

The thing that is truly baffling is why Jones was the primary placekicker to begin with. Nick Saban hired assistant Jeff Banks whose specialty is coaching Special Teams to monitor this aspect of the game instead of an afterthought that it had been in the past. Was the fifth-year senior that much better in practice than the redshirt freshman Bulovas?

  • 1st quarter PAT after TD - Jones PAT good but curved to the left after going through. ALA 7-0.
  • 1st quarter PAT after TD - Jones PAT no good, left upright. ALA 13-0.
  • 1st quarter PAT after TD - Jones PAT no good, right upright. ALA 19-0.
  • 2nd quarter PAT after TD - Bulovas PAT good, STRAIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE. ALA 26-0.
  • 2nd quarter PAT after TD - Bulovas PAT good, STRAIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE. ALA 33-0.
  • 2nd quarter PAT after TD - Bulovas PAT good, Slight curve left after going through. ALA 40-0.
  • 3rd quarter 39-yard FG - Bulovas, right hash mark, kick is good, pretty much dead center. ALA 43-7.
  • 3rd quarter PAT after TD - Bulovas PAT good, Slight curve left. ALA 50-7.
  • 4th quarter PAT after TD - Bulovas PAT good, STRAIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE. 57-7.

It looks like Alabama has found their placekicker in Joseph Bulovas. Maybe Saban and Banks thought competition would do him some good. If so, it worked. Let’s hope he can keep it up.

As for Jones, most of his kicks through five quarters curved left or right, whether they went through the uprights or not. He may not see another opportunity until the Tide plays Citadel in November.

KICKOFF:

Joseph Bulovas handled all kickoffs and for the most part did an good job. Remember, there is a new rule that a fair catch on a kickoff spots the ball at the 25.

  1. 1st quarter after TD, ALA 7 ASU 0 - Fair catch 2 yard line even with the numbers, left. Spot at 25 yard line.
  2. 1st quarter after TD, ALA 13 ASU 0 - Fielded at the two even with the numbers, left; tackled at the 22.
  3. 1st quarter after TD, ALA 19 ASU 0 - Fielded at the six even with the numbers, left; tackled at the 24.
  4. 2nd quarter after TD, ALA 26 ASU 0 - Fielded at the goal line left hash mark; tackled at the 15.
  5. 2nd quarter after TD, ALA 33 ASU 0 - Fair catch at the goal line left hash mark. Spot at 25 yard line.
  6. 2nd quarter after TD, ALA 40 ASU 0 - End zone touchback, catch 5 yards deep in the end zone, far left corner. Spot at 25 yard line.
  7. SECOND HALF, ALA 40 ASU 0 - Fair catch 2 yard line outside left hash mark. Spot at 25 yard line.
  8. 3rd quarter after FG, ALA 43 ASU 7 - Fielded at the 10 barely outside the left hash; tackled at the 29.
  9. 3rd quarter after TD, ALA 50 ASU 7 - Fielded at the 15 barely outside the left hash; tackled at the 26.
  10. 4th quarter after TD, ALA 57 ASU 7 - End zone touchback, catch 5 yards deep in the end zone, outside left hash. Spot at 25 yard line.

Under the old rules, kickers were asked to either get a touchback (to the 20) or cause the opponent to field the kick somewhere inside the three to one yard lines, boxed in a corner, and force a return out of them. Under the new rules, it is still unclear as to what the best strategy should be. That said, Bulovas did a very good job of kicking to the corner on all his kickoffs. Seven of the ten landed inside the two yard line. All had good arc and hang time. Fortunately, he got away with the two short kickoffs, #8 and #9.

Rewatching the kickoffs gave me a renewed appreciation for the Tide kick coverage team. Even when Bulovas had short kickoffs, Alabama was able to contain and hold the Red Wolves to short returns. Outstanding efforts by this unit.

PUNTING:

True freshman Skyler DeLong again had a unimpressive yet mistake-free game. He had four punts for an average of 35.0 yards. He has yet to boot an punt longer than 39.

Repeating from last week: The ideal hang time should be at least a tenth of the yardage in seconds. In other words, a 40 yard punt should last 4.0 seconds or more. However at this level, it should be more. I timed each punt three times and listed the averages.

1st quarter (7:05) 4th & 7 at ALA 36, ALA 13 ASU 0

DeLong punt for 32 yds (hang time 4.11 secs), downed at the ASU 32.

An unnecessary delay of game penalty backed the Tide up an extra five yards and, no, it was not a strategic move. Still technically in the game, the Red Wolves brought the house and nearly got a block. DeLong got the punt off with apparently no effect from the rushers. Due to the rush, it is possible he hurried the kick but it was a lousy one landing around the ASU 40 and rolling to a stop at the 32. Alabama’s coverage was able to outnumber the returner, keeping him from fielding the kick.

2nd quarter (1:53) 4th & 5 at ALA 24, ALA 40 ASU 0

DeLong punt for 39 yds (hang time 3.70 secs), out-of-bounds at the ASU 37.

Another block rush from ASU caused a running into the kicker penalty but the 5 yards were not enough to convert into a first down and it was declined (not sure why Saban declined it). The punt landed around the 42 and tailed off out of bounds at the 37. The return man was stationed a good 12 yards deeper for some reason. Teams are going to start moving up to Little League depth.

4th quarter (6:45) 4th & 1 at ALA 29, ALA 57 UL 7

DeLong punt for 36 yds (hang time 4.93 secs), fair catch at the ASU 35.

This one hung up in the air for a long time. The return man, who was ten yards deeper, had no choice but to fair catch. Love the hang time but where is the distance?

4th quarter (1:08) 4th & 4 at ALA 20, ALA 57 UL 7

DeLong punt for 34 yds (hang time 4.30 secs), fair catch at the ASU 46.

Same deal here - short and high forcing a fair catch. However, here the opposition is set up near midfield.

DeLong’s performance to date has been clean yet underwhelming. He has had to execute in a night game neutral site in Florida and a day home game in the friendly confines of Bryant-Denny Stadium. Neither game had much wind. It is safe to say that conditions have not been a factor. Saturday in Oxford, MS will be his first game in hostile territory.

After seven punts in two games, DeLong has yet to kick longer than 39. The two times he did hit 39-yarders, they had weak hang times. On the bright side, all seven of his boots have either been fair catches or downed by teammates. Also, he has not mishandled a snap.

OPP Yards Hang Time
UL 39 3.63
UL 32 4.56
UL 38 4.44
ASU 32 4.11
ASU 39 3.70
ASU 36 4.93
ASU 34 4.30
Average 35.7 4.24

With Alabama playing at Ole Miss this Saturday, freshmen Bulovas and DeLong will be performing on the road for the first time as members of the Crimson Tide.

Poll

Alabama kickers post-Game 2:

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Better than I expected.
    (10 votes)
  • 11%
    Still early in the season. Good enough.
    (44 votes)
  • 46%
    Still needs improvement.
    (184 votes)
  • 40%
    I am still worried.
    (159 votes)
397 votes total Vote Now