Tell me if you've heard this one before: Wake Forest gets a big lead in a tough road game, loses the lead later in the game and ultimately one man gets the blame.
That man is Jimmy Newman.
Newman is the Persona non grata on campus, as he has been all year, and his ineptitude has just cost Wake another game.
Which begs the question: How bad is Jimmy Newman as a kicker?
Yes, some people will say that he made 12 consecutive field goals and that his kicking percentage is near 90 percent, so how could he be the worst?
Think about it.
What would you rather have in a kicker? One that misses field goals every now and then, but hits the ones that really matter? Or would you rather have the one that hits plenty of field goals that contribute to the win, but could have been made by virtually any other kicker, and then goes on to miss the ones that matter?
The answer to this is easy. Of course, you want the clutch one who hits important kicks. Which brings us to Jimmy Newman.
First off, he missed a field goal and an extra point against Syracuse. The game went to overtime and Wake lost. With those points, there would be no overtime. Wake wins in regulation.
Against Notre Dame, Jimmy Newman ended his streak of field goals by missing another field goal at the end of a crucial drive. After the failed field goal, the momentum swung entirely in Notre Dame's favor, and the Irish went on to win 24-17.
That brings us to Clemson. Wake goes into the game with a chance for a bowl bid—their first since 2008—and an ACC Championship game appearance—their first since 2006—on the line.
Wake jumps out to a 28-14 lead, no thanks to Jimmy Newman who missed a field goal. Then Clemson stormed back.
Wake, clinging to a 28-21 lead sends out Newman who proceeds to miss a 32-yarder that lined up almost perfectly down the middle. Clemson wins 31-28 with a last-second field goal.
So, with a better kicker, Wake could conceivably be 8-2 (5-2 in the ACC) rather than 5-5 (4-3) and be going to Charlotte for the ACC championship game.
Perhaps this is wishful thinking. Of course, Newman can't take all the credit for the losses. The team has fallen apart the whole year in the fourth quarter.
But that does not excuse him either. When my friends and I heard that Newman was a Lou Groza finalist, we laughed for quite some time. None of us are laughing now. All year, Newman has been costing the team games and the possibility of an ACC title.
Maybe he'll even cost them a bowl bid.
So, yeah some will say that this article is reactionary, that Newman has been solid all year and that without his field goals, Wake wouldn't have won any of their games.
To you, I say, ask yourself. Do you think any other kicker, even in NCAA FCS football, could have made those field goals and the ones that have cost Wake games?
The answer is quite simply yes. Many kickers could have made those same field goals. The truth is that Jimmy Newman is not as great as the Lou Groza Award committee would have you believe.
Not by a long shot.
(Photo courtesy of the Winston-Salem Journal)
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