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Breaking Down the Alabama Crimson Tide Kicking Against Louisville

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A true freshman, a redshirt freshman, and a senior had erratic results.

NCAA Football: Alabama A-Day Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Last Saturday night in Orlando, everything seemed to be clicking for the Crimson Tide in their 51-14 dismantling of the Louisville Cardinals. If there is one aspect of the game that needs improvement the most, it is the kicking game - mostly the placekicking.

PLACEKICKING:

Temple grad-transfer Austin Jones handled all the placekicking. During Wednesday’s SEC coaches teleconference, Alabama head coach Nick Saban was asked if Austin Jones would be the kicker this weekend for field goals.

Saban gave his signature non-commitable answer: “We are planning to do things in this game like we did the last game and continue to evaluate the situation.

Unlike the quarterback situation, this response leads me to believe that Jones is still the starter but still auditioning.

  • 1st quarter PAT after TD - PAT good but curved to the right. ALA 7-0.
  • 1st quarter PAT after TD- PAT good but curved to the right. ALA 14-0.
  • 2nd quarter PAT after TD - PAT good, late curve. ALA 21-0
  • 2nd quarter PAT after TD - PAT good, late curve. ALA 28-0.
  • 3rd quarter PAT after TD - Good snap, good hold, wide right. ALA 34-0.
  • 3rd quarter PAT after TD - PAT good, curved left at the end. ALA 41-7.
  • 3rd quarter 39-yard FG - Right hash mark, kick is good. ALA 44-7.
  • 4th quarter 27-yard FG - Right hash mark, good snap, good hold, kick no good, outside right upright. ALA 44-7.
  • 4th quarter PAT after TD - PAT good, straight. 51-7.

Most of Jones’ kicks were not perfectly straight on except the last one. They all moved right or left after going through the uprights - mostly right. Remarkably, the 39-field goal was one of his best kicks of the night.

KICKOFF:

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

  • 1st quarter after TD, ALA 7 UL 0 - Touchback; Because of a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty, Bulovas kicked off from the 50 and sent the ball way past the end zone. Spot at 25 yard line. [Side note: while watching the game, I was thinking this would be a good spot for an onsides kick. WDYT?]
  • 1st quarter after TD, ALA 14 UL 0 - Touchback, fair catch 2 yards deep UL at right hash mark. Spot at 25 yard line.
  • 2nd quarter after TD, ALA 21 UL 0 - Fielded at the goal line far to UL’s right corner, tackled at the 16.
  • 2nd quarter after TD, ALA 28 UL 0 - Fielded at the one far to UL’s left corner, tackled at the 25.
  • SECOND HALF, ALA 28 UL 0 - Touchback, fair catch 1 yard deep inside UL right hash mark. Spot at 25 yard line.
  • 3rd quarter after TD, ALA 34 UL 0 - Touchback, fair catch at the 6 yard line inside UL right hash mark. Spot at 25 yard line.
  • 3rd quarter after TD, ALA 41 UL 7 - Due to 15 yard penalty for players leaving the bench area after Josh Jacobs’ 77-yard kickoff return for a TD, Bulovas kicked off from the 20. His kick landed untouched at the 20 and bounced around before the befuddled Cardinal return man fell on the ball at the 24.
  • 3rd quarter after FG, ALA 44 UL 7 - Fielded at the one far to UL’s right corner, tackled at the 15.
  • 4th quarter after Pick-Six TD, ALA 51 UL 7 - Fielded at the three left hash mark, big return, tackled at the Alabama’s 37. For the record, many of the Tide players for this kickoff were not a part of the regular first-team coverage team.

With the new rule, the NCAA has made the jobs of kickoff specialists very difficult. Teams can either concede that opponents will get the ball at the 25 most of the time or come up with something to combat this strategy-killing rule. Squib kicks cannot be fair-caught but they don’t give the cover team time to get down field. Kicking short to the ten or so might tempt returners but the risk of a big return might be too much.

PUNTING:

True freshman Skyler DeLong had a unimpressive yet mistake-free debut. He had three punts for an average of 36.3 yards.

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.

2nd quarter (6:25) 4th & 3 at ALA 41, ALA 21 UL 0

DeLong punt for 39 yds (hang time 3.63 secs), fair catch by Rodjay Burns at the UL 20.

At one’s own 41, a punter should not be shy about unleashing a boomer but he needs to be careful not to roll it into the end zone. With 59 yards to work with, DeLong should’ve let it rip but this was not a great punt in distance or hang time. However, having the opponent take over at the 20 is not so bad.

2nd quarter (2:13) 4th & 4 at LOU 47, ALA 21 UL 0

DeLong punt for 32 yds (hang time 4.56 secs), downed at the UL 15.

DeLong hung this one up high with some back spin and gave a gunner ample time to station himself in front of the goal line. It landed at the 9 and bounced back until the next wave could stop it at the 15.

32 yards does not look good on a box score but an excellent job of hanging it up there for the coverage team to down it and keep it inside the 20.

4th quarter (3:51) 4th & 1 at ALA 14, ALA 51 UL 7

DeLong punt for 38 yds (hang time 4.44 secs), downed at the UL 48.

This attempt was not good. Standing around the 1-yard line with little to no rush, DeLong kicked a ball that fell 20 yards short of where the Cardinals’ return man was waiting at his own 40. It was so short that it was out of view of ESPN’s camera coverage. The ball appears to land around the Tide’s own 40 but fortuitously rolled forward and out of bounds at the UL 48. It was fortunate not to hit a Alabama player on the fly as it could have been downed at that spot or further towards the end zone Bama was defending.

At this point, the game was over and the back-ups were in the game for Alabama. However, this situation was one of those moments when JK Scott showed his value in flipping the field. The Cardinals would take the good field position and drive down for a touchdown.

Poll

Alabama kickers:

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Better than I expected.
    (1 vote)
  • 20%
    Still early in the season. Good enough.
    (66 votes)
  • 56%
    Needs improvement.
    (181 votes)
  • 23%
    I am very worried.
    (75 votes)
323 votes total Vote Now