Why A Former Ute Kicker Is Concerned (And Not) With Utah’s Kicking Woes

Sep 3, 2019, 9:55 AM | Updated: 9:58 am

Photo: Steve Griffin / Deseret News...

Photo: Steve Griffin / Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Coach Kyle Whittingham named UCLA grad transfer Andrew Strauch the starter for the 2019 season before Utah’s first game. You can bet your bottom dollar that I, a former Utah kicker, was highly anticipating his debut vs. Brigham Young University.

It was my hope that as the starter, Strauch would show confidence and bring his game experience and accuracy to his rivalry game debut. He was quick to give us faith when he piped a 41-yard field goal in the first quarter; however, moments later it turned disastrous just as the momentum began to swing in Utah’s favor.

Following a Francis Bernard interception returned for a touchdown, the lefty kicker missed the PAT, breaking the 182 consecutive PATs made streak for Utah.

Fun fact: The last PAT to be missed was in 2014 vs Colorado – Tom Hackett’s fat pinky blocked the PAT right off of my foot and it just about broke his finger.

Fast forward to the third quarter and Strauch missed a 25-yard field goal, something that hasn’t been done since the Utes’ inaugural Pac-12 season in 2010. He was quickly replaced by Freshman Jadon Redding, who converted on his only PAT attempt for the evening.

Redding has been named the starter for this week’s game at Rice Eccles against Northern Illinois.

The Utes beat the Cougars in the inaugural game with a score of 30-12, despite the missed kicking opportunities.

Here is why I’m concerned:

1. A kicker has yet to separate himself from the group, which makes me question whether the Utes have someone on the roster capable of rising to the occasion.

2. Historically for Utah, close games have been won or lost by special teams, namely converted field goals. The Utes have been on the winning side of that equation for the last six years. Is this the year the pendulum swings the other way?

3. Having the confidence to close out a long drive with three points has been a convenience for the Utes for a long time, and this new concern may force the Utes to be more aggressive on third downs than anticipated.

Here’s why I am not too concerned:

1. The 2018 National Champions (Clemson) touted a whopping FG% of 70.6% in 2018.

2. The 2018 National Champion Runner Up (Alabama) touted a FG% of 75% in 2018.

3. Coach Whittingham has a way of turning things around quickly and I fully trust that he will take the steps necessary to sort this out.

4. If all else fails, former professional AFL player and athlete Ben Lennon can put it through the pipes.

Andy Phillips co-hosts the Special Forces Gang (SFG) podcast with former Utah punter Tom Hackett. Find the podcasts on any podcast player or on the KSL Sports app. 

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Why A Former Ute Kicker Is Concerned (And Not) With Utah’s Kicking Woes