Kansas State Football: Kicking Matters

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Kansas State Football: Kicking Matters

This is now the third piece in less than two weeks about kicking.

Not to be too obsessive about this part of the game, but I couldn’t help thinking about kicking—and Kansas State in particular, since the Wildcats generated a lot of points last year out of the kicking game.

Of interest to Husker fans might be the head-to-head battles with KSU.

In Nebraska’s 73-31 dismantling of KSU in 2007, the Huskers averaged 31 yards per kick return versus only 13 for the Wildcats.  Likewise, NU managed to return three KSU punts for an average of 16 yards with another resulting in a fair catch.

The Wildcats only hauled in one punt, and it was a fair catch.

Remembering Osborne’s words at Football 101, the kickoff numbers would make the Huskers twice as likely to score on their drives as the Wildcats—and sure enough, they outscored KSU more than two to one.

Osborne would say the punt return numbers were worth a touchdown or two, and certainly the final margin would suggest that the Huskers got a few extra touchdowns.

The only kicking number that stood out for Nebraska in their 2006 win at Kansas State was that they pinned KSU inside the 20-yard line on four of eight punts, contributing to the Wildcats' three-point afternoon.

But kicking is more interesting when we think about how the Wildcats have managed to win some of their bigger games in the last two years.

The win over Texas in 2007 featured both a kick return and a punt return for a touchdown.  The win over Oklahoma State in 2006 featured a kick return touchdown.

Producing those scores against Texas were James Johnson and Jordy Nelson—two seniors that led the team in kick return and punt return average, respectively, in 2007.

Consider that the Wildcats finished eighth in both total offense and total defense, but were tops by a mile in punt return average (with a stunning 22.5 yards per return and five touchdowns) and had the top punter in the league, Tim Reyer (also a senior).

You realize that they may be in for a tough year trying to outscore opponents now that those seniors are gone.

Add to that the 3-0 spring contest, and there’s every reason to think the backslide that began under Ron Prince in 2007 might easily continue in 2008.

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