Special teams, especially in college football, can be quite literally hit or miss.
Teams like Boise State or even mighty Alabama have had their fortunes change on the direction of one kick in recent seasons. Historically, Miami has been the beneficiary of some timely special teams blunders, with the phrase “wide right” coming to mind.
So even with all the focus on quarterback Stephen Morris or the Hurricanes’ potentially rising defense, the role of redshirt sophomore kicker Matt Goudis should not be understated.
Goudis is entering his third season in coach Al Golden’s program. Last season, Goudis saw his only live action, playing in three games. He recorded two kickoffs as well as one punt, which came in relief of an injured Dalton Botts against Georgia Tech.
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Now, Goudis enters the 2013 season with full responsibility as Miami’s starting kicker.
“It’s amazing, I’m so excited to get back on the field and be the guy,” Goudis said.
“I can’t wait. It’s been a two-year journey to start and now, after sitting and learning for two years, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Golden praised Goudis for his conditioning entering training camp. Golden said Goudis has “more explosion in his leg” and is “in better shape than he’s ever been.”
For Goudis, despite his physical talents, experiencing as much live action as possible will be the key before the season starts. While kickers can take as many field goals as they want during training camp, simulating the pressure of game situations is tough on the practice field.
Special teams did perform well in its first taste of game-like action. During the Hurricanes’ scrimmage, Goudis hit all three of his field-goal attempts, all from at least 45 yards out. However, he missed a pair of field goals in a special teams practice on Tuesday.
“To go in the scrimmage, and go 3 for 3, I was really happy with it,” Goudis said. “Kicking is all about confidence and rhythm.”
Goudis does not intend on shying away from the pressure this season. He said his dream scenario would be to hit the game-winning kick against Florida, which visits Sun Life Stadium in the second week of the season.
Golden and the coaching staff also have attempted to elevate the stakes for Goudis during his practice kicks.
“[We] just scream loud,” Golden joked before explaining how he has prepared Goudis for the regular season. “We try to put him in stressful situations and make sure he’s embracing the moment.
“[The defense] was rushing him. We got guys yelling at him, we try to have the defense needle him. You got to make kickers callous.”
Personally, Goudis gave himself lofty goals for the season. He wants to hit 80 percent of all of his field-goal attempts, including 100 percent on all of his tries within 40 yards. Last year, Jake Wieclaw hit 76 percent of his 25 attempts and missed two kicks from 39 yards or less.
Ultimately, Golden seemed secure in letting Goudis line up for any big kicks that may come during the season, claiming to be “very confident” in his kicker’s first year as the starter.
“You can miss three [kicks], but the game will come down to the one that you make,” Golden said.
“I’m really excited about Goudis. I’m excited about his mental toughness right now and the approach that he’s taken.”