WEST LAFAYETTE, INDIANA-- With time left for only one final play before halftime in Saturday's game against Toledo, Purdue head coach Danny Hope didn't hesitate.
"You're 60 yards away and you've got two seconds left before the half; you don't have a lot of choices there to produce any points," Hope said of his decision to let placekicker Carson Wiggs attempt a 59-yard field goal try.
"He's been nailing long ones in practice", Hope told reporters after Purdue's 52-31 season-opening win. "And he's got a great leg."
So it would appear.
Wiggs knocked the 59-yard attempt straight through the uprights (with plenty of room to spare) to give Purdue a 17-point halftime lead and the momentum the Boilers would need to help Hope win his first game as head coach.
The monster kick shattered the old Purdue record of 53 yards, which has existed for less than a year and also belonged to Wiggs, who was only a freshman at the time. In fact, the Texas native set the old school mark with his very first field goal for the Boilermakers.
"I didn't think it'd be too easy to beat the 53", he told me after the game, "but 59 pretty much blew that out of the water.
"I have a lot more confidence this year," the sophomore added. "I feel a lot more comfortable being in that situation. Last year was kind of coming straight into camp and going straight into the season, where this year, I got to have offseason with my snapper and holder. We got our timing down perfectly, and I have 100% confidence in both of those guys. In any situation, I feel comfortable we can make that kick."
Wiggs said the Boilermakers' special teams work on long field goals "once or twice a week" in practice, and admitted that he changes his approach slightly when he's trying an extremely long attempt.
"I like to think that every kick is the same: you want to kick an extra point just the same way you kick a long field goal," Wiggs said. "But from 57 back through 60, you're gonna have to try and muscle up on it a little bit. You have to take away a little technique to put a little bit more power on it.
"I knew as soon as I hit the ball that I struck it really well and that it was going to go straight."
Wiggs fought the temptation to look up right away: "The hardest part is that just like golf, if you bring your head up, you're going to shank it. You want to look up at it fast to see if it's going to go in. I tried to take an extra split second to keep my head down, and when I looked up at it at the peak, I knew it was going in."
So what's next for Wiggs, who's just beginning his first full year as the Boilermakers' starting kicker? 60 yards? 65? 70?
"I like to go out and test my limits every once in a while," Wiggs said with a smile.
With a lot of football left in his career, only time will tell what the distance limit is for Carson Wiggs...if one exists at all.
This article is also featured on FirstandBigTen.com, a Bleacher Report blog dedicated to Big Ten football.
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