During the last four years, the question of who was playing kicker was just as easy as who was playing quarterback. The answer then was Alex Trlica, who made a record 233 consecutive extra points during his career.
He also made clutch kicks in 2006 against UTEP, the Insight Bowl against Minnesota, and the game winning field goal against Virginia in the 2008 Gator Bowl.
Now, Trlica has graduated and after freshmen kicker, Donnie Carona has had a hard time adjusting to kicking in the NCAA, Texas Tech decided to make a change and go with senior Cory Fowler.
Carona was 33-for-37 on extra points, three-for-seven on field goals and has had five kicks blocked. Also, in last week's game against Nebraska Carona had to kick under pressure. Barely making one and having the other blocked.
The question going into Tech’s game against Texas A&M is will Fowler make a difference or is the kicker not the problem? Fowler maybe a different kicker than Carona but both of these kickers have similarities going into this season.
To begin, while Fowler is a senior, he has not had game experience kicking at the NCAA level. As vice presidential candidate Joe Biden would say “Let me repeat,” Fowler has no experience kicking at the NCAA level.
Fowler spent his first three seasons behind clutch kicker Alex Trlica. Carona also entered this season with no experience kicking.
Furthermore, going into this season neither kicker has had to kick under pressure. Now while it is not anticipated that the game at A&M could come down to a kick, it has in previous seasons.
In 2006, the A&M kicker had to make the extra point to put A&M ahead 27-24, otherwise it could have been a Trlica field goal that won the game for Tech and not a Graham Harrell touchdown pass to Robert Johnson.
Also, in that game Trlica had to make the extra point to make A&M have to score a touchdown instead of the tie the game with a field goal.
In 2004, A&M’s kicker had to make the extra point in overtime to prevent Tech from needing only a touchdown and extra point to win. In 2002, A&M’s kicker missed the extra point in overtime, giving Tech a 48-47 win.
On the other hand one of the fundamental differences between the two is Fowler was on the team for three years and saw Trlica and all of the kicks I mentioned previously. Carona the last three years was kicking for Kelly High School in Beaumont, Texas.
So with Fowler getting three years to see Trlica kick, he might of picked up some things from the clutch kicker. This could help him have more success than Carona did.
Now if Fowler does not perform much better than Carona, there could be the question of is it the offensive line?
To address that point, the same line that blocks for Carona on extra points and field goals, is the same one that blocks for punter Jonathan LaCour. So far this season, Tech has only had one punt blocked.
This offensive line is virtually the same one that blocks for Harrell and the Air Raid offense. In the games I’ve watched at Jones AT&T Stadium or on TV, I have not seen Harrell on his backside that much, or our running backs not get out of the backfield.
Therefore, if Fowler struggles it is more of a case of the Red Raiders with two inexperienced kickers.
On the contrary, if Fowler does well it does not automatically make him the answer at kicker. It will take two to three games for coaches and Tech fans to make that decision.