How important is the kicking and field position game? How important are kickers? Very. Although we see countless examples throughout the NFL, collegiate, and high school ball, some games provide especially pointed reminders about the importance of the kicking game. Here is another:
Saturday, October 31st, 2015. Stanford's 30-28 Halloween win over Washington State in Pullman featured a "kicking duel" between each respective team's field goal units. Of course, countless games have been won or lost by a field goal or two, that is nothing new. What makes this game particularly impactful is the importance the kicking game played for the DURATION of the game, especially when each team's offense wasn't getting the production needed to convert touchdowns.
--Washington State Placekicker Erik Powell tied a school record by connecting on 5/6 field goals with a long of 47 and added a PAT for a total of 16 points.
57% of Washington State's points came from the field goal unit.
--Stanford and Kicking1on1 Placekicker Conrad Ukropina connected on 3/3 field goals and added 3 PATs for a total of 12 points, including a final 19 yard field goal that put Stanford ahead, 30-28.
40% of Stanford's points came from the field goal unit.
8 field goals, 4 PATs made in this game for a total of 12 field goal unit conversions that accounted for 48% of the points scored.
Yet another example of why the kicking and field position game is so important, and we would submit that it represents 1/3 of the game, along with offense and defense. The kicking game's importance becomes more prominent in games where team's offenses are stalling and rely on the kicking game to put needed points on the board, but it also subtly contributes to countless wins in a multitude of ways: one cannot underestimate the impact of a blocked punt, a booming punt that shifts field position, or a punt or kickoff return that gives a significant field position advantage.
Collegiate coaches and special teams coordinators must commit the necessary time and effort needed in the development of their respective special teams units. They must also devote the appropriate time and resources to the recruitment of top kickers, punters, snappers, and punt and kick returners. Varsity high school coaches can gain significant advantages by focusing on their special teams development.
Whether the kicking and field position game manifests itself through singular events or permeates the game, such as the aforementioned Stanford vs. Washington State game, its importance is undeniable.
Have a great practice week! See you on the field,